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Sunday, September 15, 2013

FTA Satellite, Part 4: Installation

 Installation of a single satellite FTA system is a relatively easy task, provided that you done a little homework and have the right tools for the job. The tools needed are a magnetic level, compass, satellite finder, open end and socket wrenches, screwdrivers, and of course your FTA receiver, dish and mount, and coaxial cables.

Your first task once you decide what satellite you want is to determine the location for your dish. For most installations this will be on a roof. If you are installing on a roof, most dishes will come with a "J-pipe" mount that includes all the mounting hardware you need, but I would also recommend using some asphalt sealant between the roofing material and J-pipe to prevent water intrusion. You can also install your dish on a pipe set into concrete. A pole set in concrete should be a heavy weight metal water pipe, not the galvanized "top rail" for chain link fencing that I often recommend for mounting OTA antennas.

Now you'll need to determine where your dish will be pointed, and for our example, we'll use satellite Galaxy 19. For your installation you'll need to determine if trees or buildings are in the way, and ajust the location of your dish installation accordingly. To do this we'll use

 Simply choose the satellite you want, and enter your address. You can zoom in and move the pin to the exact location where you want to install on your property. Write down the dish elevation, azumith, and skew that results. To determine if your dish will be blocked by trees or structures, go to Dish alignment with Dishpointer.

 Once you've determined an install location with a clear view, it's time to mount the dish. Assemble the dish and mount according to the instructions that came with it. If installing on a roof, mount the J pipe solidly on the roof using a level and the hardware provided. If you're setting a post in the ground, make sure you dig down at least 2 feet, and below frost level if you live in an area where the ground freezes, and let the concrete set for a week before mounting your dish on the post. Whatever way you choose to mount it, it is essential that your use a level to get the post perfectly vertical, otherwise pointing the dish becomes difficult for a single dish satellite, and if you want to add a motor drive later it will be impossible to align correctly.
Azimuth and Elevation
Next you'll want to pre-set the "altitude" to the elevation you got from dishpointer, and mount the dish on your vertical post. Set your altitude as accurately as possible.
Altitude adjustment
Next, determine TRUE north with your compass, and point your dish in the direction you found for "Azimuth". Remember, 0 degrees is North, 90 is East, 180 is South, and 370 is west. Do not tighten the bolts completely, you'll need to be able move your dish to find signal. Mount your LNB and roughly adjust the skew.
Skew adjustment - facing dish
Now you'll need to connect your receiver to a TV, and run coax from the receiver to your LNB. You will then use a short piece of coax to insert your signal meter into the line, so you can see the meter while you adjust the dish. Power on your reciever, and make sure the power to your LNB is on. (see your owners manual, it's in the setup menu). You can also set your LNB frequency now, for me it's 10750.

Once you're set up and powered on, your signal meter should light. If you're pointed to close to the correct location, you will hear a tone from the meter. if not, move your dish slowly a few degrees east or west and back. When the meter peaks tighten the azimuth bolt slightly, and slowly move your dish up and down until your meter peaks, and lock down the altitude bolt loosely. Repeat this process until your meter peaks, then fine tune your skew angle on your LNB. You now have locked in a satellite. Hopefully, it's the one you wanted! But if it's not, that's okay - once you discover what satellite it is, you can figure out how far off you are and start again.

While your receiver may have a list of satellites pre-installed, I'm going to suggest that you start by adding a satellite. Following the directions in your owners manual, add a satellite (choose "Ku band), and then do what is called a "Blind Scan". This is like when you scan to find channels OTA with an antenna. It may take a while, but eventually on Galaxy 19, you'll have a list of over 200 TV channels, and about 50 audio channels. Compare what you see on your TV with the channels listed on FTA list for your desired satellite. Does what you see on the TV look like what you see on FTA List? If it does, then you're on the right satellite. Congratulations! Now clean up, grab your owners manual and familiarize yourself with your new system. I would first go through your channels and add the ones you like to your "favorites". If you have the wrong satellite, figure out which one you DO have, and use that information to re-aim our dish and do another blind scan.

Here's some pictures of my installation. I'm using a WS International WS9036 satellite dish set on a post with a Star Com SR-4604 mini Quad LNB (Allows me to feed up to 4 receivers), and 3 receivers: an Openbox S10, an X² Premium HD (both HD capable), and a X2-fta Dvb-s Mini (SD).

If you are having any problems or have questions, there are a lot of resources on the internet. In fact, before you decide if you want to attempt this, visit some of these sites and forums. Read and learn, and ask questions - don't go into this blindly. But it's really easier than you think. I procrastinated for months, but once the post was in the ground, I was watching TV in under an hour.



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