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How to: Install a satellite dish (For Freesat, Free-to-view, Sky)

  • 05-12-2009 3:30pm
    #1
    Registered Users Posts: 509 ✭✭✭ PyeContinental


    Recently I put up my own satellite dish and I was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was. I think that anyone who is competent with general DIY tasks will find the same. There were a few things I learned along the way, so I've decided to write this to help anyone who is thinking about installing or has decided to install a satellite dish themselves.

    To put up the dish, you'll need a ladder, a spirit level, hammer drill, a screwdriver and a couple of spanners or a ratchet and sockets (13mm and 10mm). To help point the dish, a compass is handy to find the rough bearing. A "Satfinder" signal meter is useful too, and can be found on ebay for around a fiver.

    I bought a package on ebay which consisted of a 60cm elliptical (Sky style) satellite dish, an octo (8-way) LNB, mounting bracket and L-shaped pole, fixing bolts, rawlplugs, 100 metres of RG6 satellite cable, 20 F-connectors and weatherproof rubber cable boots, and two boxes of cable clips, which was only €80, including postage from the UK to Ireland. You may be able to find even better value out there, especially if you don't need or want an 8-way LNB. A quad LNB would probably be enough for most people (you need one connector per satellite tuner, and there are two tuners in a PVR such as the Humax Foxsat-HDR). Regarding the cable, CT100 cable is better quality as it uses copper shielding whereas the RG6 uses a silver coloured foil.

    I followed the assembly instructions that came with the dish to screw the mounting bracket to the back of it. 10mm bolts are used throughout. After you have the dish assembled, you can attach the LNB to it by pushing the spigot (bung at the end of the bracket which holds the LNB) into the end of the arm. There are 5 numbers writen on the side of this bracket to make it easy to set the correct angle of skew for the LNB. For most of the Republic of Ireland and south west England and Wales, you should set it to number 2. For Northern Ireland and most of the rest of England, Wales and Scotland, you should set it to number 3. However, you can experiment with this later and see what gives you the best signal.

    A nice advantage of a satellite dish over a tv aerial is that it doesn't have to be at a great height. Unless there are any tall objects such as trees or houses very close to you, mounting it on a wall which has a view of the southern sky will be just as good. You will probably have a choice of two or maybe even three walls on your house. This is safer for you, as you don't have to climb on to the roof, and will probably mean that the dish will be more sheltered from wind and rain. It's a good idea to put it up high enough so that it's out of reach of people from the ground.

    To fix the mounting plate and L-shaped pole, you'll need to drill holes for four 10mm plastic wall plugs. Use a spirit level to keep it straight and mark off your drilling points. 13mm bolts are used to hold the mount in place. Once you fit the dish on to the pole and secure it, you can then go on to align (point) it correctly.

    Although you could use an accurate compass to help you point at the right satellite, there are several very useful websites which use google maps to help you align your dish:

    http://www.satsig.net/maps/satellite-tv-dish-pointing-uk-ireland.htm
    http://www.dishpointer.com

    In the case of FreeSat, this is the Astra2 satellite group at 28.2E. This is the same satellite group that Sky uses to transmit its channels from.

    You could use a compass to find due south, and then move the dish back 28.2 degrees towards East. However, using these websites, you can choose your location and the satellite you want to point at, and it gives you all the figures you need to align your dish correctly. It will also draw a map of your location and draw a line along where you should be pointing. This can give you a surprisingly good guide to line up against, especially if you compare to any landmarks or road intersections.

    For the most accurate reading, I used a normal GPS car satnav to find out my coordinates, from the "current location" screen. I then put these in as my location. If you don't have a GPS, you can choose your approximate location on the map, or you can also get pretty accurate coordinates by going to google maps and zooming in on your location, then right clicking and choosing "Center map here", then right click again and choose "What's here?". The GPS coordinates will then be displayed in the search bar.

    As for the vertical alignment of the dish (aka: elevation, or beam elevation) you can let those websites calculate this figure for you. In Ireland it's going to be somewhere roughly between 20 and 22 degrees. The elliptical style dish looks like it's almost horizontal when it's correctly elevated, but because of the shape of the dish and the way the LNB is skewed, its focus is actually much higher. There's a gauge with notched markings on the back of the dish which allows you to tighten the bolts off at whatever the correct degree of elevation is for your area.

    At this point, the “Satfinder” tool is useful for fine tuning the dish alignment. The general method is to connect one side to any connector on the LNB, and the other to a battery pack. You turn up the sensitivity dial until you hear the squeak and the dial reads max, and then turn it down until you can just barely hear it and it is only slightly registering. Then you move the dish left and right ever so slightly, finding the middle point between where it cuts out and comes back. Once you have the centre point, lock off the horizontal axis (this is also called Azimuth by the way). You can go through the same process to fine tune the vertical axis (beam elevation) if you like also. Check the strength and quality readings on your satellite receiver to confirm.

    There are actually lots of satellites all along the southern sky, from east to west. They are all in geostationary orbit at the earth's equator. This “belt” of satellites is known as the Clarke Belt, in honour of the science fiction writer, Arthur C. Clarke, who once predicted that satellites like these could one day be used for telecommunications.

    While trying to align your dish, it is quite easy to think you have it pointed at the right satellite, but actually have it pointed at something else by mistake (often Astra1). Keep this in mind if you appear to be getting a strong signal but can't seem to tune anything in. Satellite signals can also bounce off windows and metal, such as garage doors and carvans. Bear this in mind too if you seem to be getting a signal but it's not coming from where you think it should be.

    Once you have your dish pointed correctly at the Astra 2 satellite group, you should also be able to pick up transmissions from the Eurobird1 satellite because it is so close, at 28.5E. There are some channels which you may wish to tune in manually, and you can get a list of them all with their tuning info at http://www.lyngsat.com/28east.htm

    You might need to put a bit of thought into how to route your cables into your house and the best route to take. The type of tiles on my roof allow me to lift them very slightly so I can slide the cables underneath them and into the attic. Once there, I can distribute them where they need to go around the house. It's good to keep some slack outside and below the poiint of entry so that water is less likely to be ducted along the cable. Try not to make the cable runs much longer than they need to be though, so as to keep signal attenuation to a minimum. Your receiving equipment actually powers the LNB in your dish by sending a voltage up to it through the satellite cable too.

    In addition to using the protective rubber boots at the end of the cables to the LNB, I also cut an empty plastic bottle in half and used some elctrical tape to fix it over the connection points to help further shelter it from wind and rain. I put a cap in the top of the L-shaped pole and wound more tape around that. I smeared copper grease on all the mounting nuts and bolts to help protect them from rusting also.


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Comments

  • Registered Users Posts: 531 ✭✭✭ tomslick


    Good info. This should stop the usual "how to" questions. Thanks mate.


  • Registered Users Posts: 7,138 ✭✭✭ snaps


    Nice post mate. Can i just add for reference that www.dishpointer.com is a very usefull website for aligning a dish, as it gives you landmarks compass directions etc for the relevant satellite your trying to find (Using google maps)


  • Registered Users Posts: 509 ✭✭✭ PyeContinental


    Thanks guys, it is nice to know the typing was appreciated!
    I did actually mention dishpointer.com, snaps!


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 1,528 OK-Cancel-Apply


    That's some nice clear info there. Might also be worth mentioning the different dish sizes and the beam strength zones, i.e. 50cm minimum for zone 1, 60cm for zone 2 etc..


  • Registered Users Posts: 502 ✭✭ Finne1993


    Excellent post, well done, think it might be a good sticky for any diy'ers on Boards who fancy taking a stab at installing their own set up.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 509 ✭✭✭ PyeContinental


    Thank you. I'm very happy I took the time to write it up now.
    Yes, a bit more about the dish options would be good alright.
    I suppose some pictures would be good too.


  • Registered Users Posts: 7,138 ✭✭✭ snaps


    Thanks guys, it is nice to know the typing was appreciated!
    I did actually mention dishpointer.com, snaps!

    Yes you did, good point. I missed that reference. Hope this helps people.


  • Users Awaiting Email Confirmation Posts: 3,129 ✭✭✭ Samson


    Sticky.


  • Registered Users Posts: 592 ✭✭✭ DERICKOO


    great post man


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 47 ✭✭✭ izzygill


    Well done,great post


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  • Registered Users Posts: 509 ✭✭✭ PyeContinental


    Thanks again guys. I'll be really pleased to think that this might de-mystify the process of putting up a satellite dish for some people who might have been thinking it was beyond them.


  • Registered Users Posts: 85 ✭✭ jd6677


    Very useful guide for people. Fair play for taking the time to write it.

    JD


  • Registered Users Posts: 3 mudahawn


    thanks great help


  • Registered Users Posts: 102 ✭✭ GhanGee


    I recently installed a disk and pointed to Astra 2/Eurobird group of satellites (28.2º East). Had no major problem to get "locked" to Astra2 (yesterday I even tested on Eurobird1 as well) but when I tried to ADD CHANNEL and entered all required parameters for [FONT=Verdana, Arial]Frequency, Polarisation, Symbol Rate and FEC then "Find channel" showed me nothing (No channels found)[/FONT]

    FYI, I have SKY+HD BOX with Both, "Signal strength" and "quality" are about 80-85%. I know I locked to the right satellite as I compared Network ID. Of course I did use different parameters to add channels for each satellite.

    Could this be a problem with possibly outdated parameters to add FreeSat channels on those satellites?

    Thanks in advance for your suggestions


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 16,763 Tigger


    i just installed the hd ross system from homebase

    its nice it was €120 and it went up easy
    thanks to all you guys that answered the questions others asked (i used the search function) ye made it easy

    one thing i used that i found else where was the satelite instillation app on the ipod
    i found it great for deciding where to put the dish looks amaing to (mabey i'm easily impressed)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5AFtcgYRcu4&feature=player_embedded

    anyway thanks to all the lads that help out people on this forum i'll probably never post here so i wanted people to know how much help they've been

    regards
    tig


  • Registered Users Posts: 102 ✭✭ GhanGee


    alrite, I got sorted. Few days ago I found Troubleshooting doc which's explaining basic problems and I only red it yesterday, so I RESET the device (later used option RE-BUILD as well) through ENGINEERING menu (Service-0-0-1-Select) once done the "no satellite found" message disappeared. With white SKY (expired) card I can watch about 200 channels (80% junk) and managed to ADD some FreeSat (BBC/ITV) channels, the HD ones have excelent quality.

    Now I hope I can fix problem with RECording too, anyone any idea? Is there a way to record "any" channels (even non-Sky) on Sky+HD box ? I'd like to use the hard drive once I have it there 8-)

    Btw: I used the same iPhone/iPod app (although I had neighbours dishes as a reference)


  • Registered Users Posts: 457 ✭✭ tazzzZ


    Ok was looking for some help. I am after buying a Panasonic G20 tv which has a freesat box installed on it. I also have Sky+HD. My question is this: Can I use my SkyHD wiring and dish to get freesat while still using it for the Sky?


  • Registered Users Posts: 4,983 ✭✭✭ John mac


    tazzzZ wrote: »
    Ok was looking for some help. I am after buying a Panasonic G20 tv which has a freesat box installed on it. I also have Sky+HD. My question is this: Can I use my SkyHD wiring and dish to get freesat while still using it for the Sky?

    yes.
    you will need to run an extra cable from the lnb.


  • Registered Users Posts: 257 ✭✭ Edg3


    Followed your instruction to a T and while the set up flew by we've yet to get a signal on the tv :( We're using one of the Walkers Combi Boxes from Power City. Was grand to set up, used an app on my phone to align the satellites but still our scans are picking up nothing.
    Im more a computers guy then a TV guy so Im ballparking all my guesses :)


  • Registered Users Posts: 68 ✭✭✭ AtomMcC


    Edg3 wrote: »
    Followed your instruction to a T and while the set up flew by we've yet to get a signal on the tv :( We're using one of the Walkers Combi Boxes from Power City. Was grand to set up, used an app on my phone to align the satellites but still our scans are picking up nothing.
    Im more a computers guy then a TV guy so Im ballparking all my guessethat norts :)
    I had the same problem. I used the Satellite Director app. I eventually found that something was putting my phone compass off and I had the dish pointing in the wrong direction. I'd bet it was either the dish or the ladder.
    I resorted to trying again a little further away from the dish and it worked.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 257 ✭✭ Edg3


    I'll give that a try, with that app, I was using Satellite AR on Android.
    We used the websites and they said the direction to point it, we got it close as dammit (using my compass) but still nothing being picked up.
    Satellite is set to "2" on the LNB, we have the dish at 25degrees (so the sites said) but when we run the scan nothing shows up. It only shows one satellite to. Its just a pain, climbing up and down to the dish every time we need to make an adjustment. Told them we should have got one of the detectors but NO!


  • Registered Users Posts: 68 ✭✭✭ AtomMcC


    Edg3 wrote: »
    I'll give that a try, with that app, I was using Satellite AR on Android.
    We used the websites and they said the direction to point it, we got it close as dammit (using my compass) but still nothing being picked up.
    Satellite is set to "2" on the LNB, we have the dish at 25degrees (so the sites said) but when we run the scan nothing shows up. It only shows one satellite to. Its just a pain, climbing up and down to the dish every time we need to make an adjustment. Told them we should have got one of the detectors but NO!
    Skew setting "2" on the lnb sounds right. Elevation depends on where you are but my setting is around 21 degrees. Hope you get it sorted. I got one of the Sat finders to fine tune the dish. Easy to use and ensures perfect reception. You really need the dish pointing at the correct satellite first though.


  • Registered Users Posts: 257 ✭✭ Edg3


    We got it sorted today. I used the app on the phone, sat right behind it and tweaked and twisted and fiddled til we got it exactly right. Working now 100% :)


  • Registered Users Posts: 103 ✭✭ fighterman


    Hi,

    I am trying to put in Freesat in a holiday house that my mother has recently bought and done up.

    This house is in rural county Kerry. What would the recommended size of dish be?

    Is there a guide to appropriate dish sizes for the different regions of Ireland?

    Thanks


  • Registered Users Posts: 14,787 ✭✭✭✭ The Cush


    fighterman wrote: »
    This house is in rural county Kerry. What would the recommended size of dish be?

    A standard 80cm dish will do the job.


  • Registered Users Posts: 509 ✭✭✭ PyeContinental


    Have a look at the Astra 2 coverage maps here:
    http://www.insatinternational.com/astra_footprint.php

    The very west of county Kerry is right on the periphery of the area that recommends getting a dish larger than 60cm. However, the standard 60cm elliptical Sky dish will probably work fine, even in rain

    This is the dish you need from Satellite.ie:
    http://satellite.ie/acatalog/Sky_Freesat_60cm_mesh_dish_including_quad_lnb.html
    You get the dish including the LNB which has four connectors. You need one connector per standard satellite tuner box or two for a satellite recorder box.

    EDIT: I see The Cush recommends an 80cm dish, so perhaps he knows from experience that a standard 60cm dish may not be enough to guarantee uninterrupted reception on all transponders (groups of channels) in bad weather.
    Here is an 80cm dish:
    http://satellite.ie/acatalog/80cm_Dish_by_Andrews_.html
    They can tend to be buffeted a bit more in the wind and so I think can be more likely to be moved out of alignment more easily. However, the dish itself (not fixtures) are less prone to rusting.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,474 ✭✭✭ walus


    Just refreshing the topic...

    I've got the freesat up and running with a reasonable signal strength and quality (65-75% for both) on almost all channels. However some channels (kids stuff) can not be received and the box produces black screen and no signal message. I had the dish lined up on one of the bBC channels and optimized for it. Can it be that for others the signal is not strong enough? I always thought all freesat channels are transmitted from the same satellite. I'm bit puzzled with this.

    ”Where’s the revolution? Come on, people you’re letting me down!”



  • Closed Accounts Posts: 2,278 ✭✭✭ Thurston?


    What size dish are you using, & what part of the country are you in?


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,474 ✭✭✭ walus


    Cork. Size of a dish - not sure it is a regular Freesat/Sky dish. Everything was working fine in the previous house.

    ”Where’s the revolution? Come on, people you’re letting me down!”



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  • Closed Accounts Posts: 2,278 ✭✭✭ Thurston?


    walus wrote: »
    Cork. Size of a dish - not sure it is a regular Freesat/Sky dish.

    So the kind of elliptical, perforated dish pictured here? There are 2 sizes of Sky dish: zone 1 & zone 2. Zone 2 is recommended for Ireland, although I've noticed some zone 1 dishes installed. (Not by Sky themselves I wouldn't think.)

    Zone 1 is about 45cm top-to-bottom, zone 2 about 60cm. The correct LNB skew setting for Cork would be no. 2 on the Sky LNB.


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