Buying Satellite





Installing your own satellite system is not as difficult as you think. Any reasonably competent DIYer should be able to do it by following these ten basic steps




If you've any doubts about your DIY abilities, do not feel comfortable using power tools up a ladder, or have any qualms about drilling holes in your brick and woodwork DON'T DO IT. Leave it to the professionals!



Step one is to carry out a site survey, to work out where your dish is going to go.  It's a good ideal to acquaint yourself with the rules and regulations regarding dish installation, size and location first, these are outlined in a booklet available from the Department of the Environment: 'A Householder's Planning Guide For the Installation of Satellite Television Dishes', it is available from: DOE, PO Box 135, Bradford, West Yorkshire, BD9 4HU; reference number 91 PLAN 0084.


Your dish needs to have an unobstructed line-of-sight view to the Astra satellites, they lie low in the Southern Sky, at a bearing of 19.2 degrees West of South, so get hold of a good compass and work out the direction the dish will have to point, dishes on neighbouring properties will give you a good idea of the general direction. Depending where you live in the UK, the satellite will be between 20 and 30 degrees above the horizon, the further North you live, the lower in the sky they will be. 



Once you have established that you can site a dish on your property you must decide where you are going to put it, the DOE booklet has plenty of useful advice about environmental consideration, pay heed to them or you may have to take it down again.


Satellite dishes are quite heavy, so you need to choose the mounting point with great care, because not only will it have to bear the weight of the dish, but the not inconsiderable effects of  wind loading as well. The distance between the dish and the TV should be as short as reasonably possible, cable-runs over 20 to 30 metres may result in some loss of picture quality,  plan where the cable is going to go and work out how much you will need, plus a few metres to spare.



Now is the time to make sure you have the right tools for the job. You will need a good sturdy ladder, long enough to get you safely into position; an electric drill, masonry bits, and don't forget the extension lead. You will also need a set of spanners, screwdrivers, and it's a good idea to have set of safety goggles as well. You will need the correct sized wall-fixings, these should be detailed in the instructions that come with you dish, don't be tempted to skimp, and if in doubt err on the side of caution. Enlist the services of a helper who can steady the ladder, and do any fetching and carrying when your hands are full, and help with the final alignment.



The design of dishes varies enormously but most of them arrive in bits, and you have to assemble the various parts, not forgetting the LNB, before you can bolt it to the wall. Follow the manufacturers instructions to the letter, you don't want anything falling off now, or later! It's a good idea to have a dry run first and familiarise yourself  with everything. Fix the dish to its mount whilst it's on the ground, that way you won't have to figure out how it all bolts together when you're twenty foot up a ladder!


This is also a good time to prepare the cable, (make sure it's the right sort, for the job), and lay it out, remembering to leave plenty of spare at both ends, identify the entry point, where the cable enters the house. Fit the dish-end connector if it hasn't got one, and wrap some waterproof tape around the connector, again it's easier to do these things on the ground.



Secure your ladder safely into position, remembering to observe height limitations. Mark out the positions of the holes on the wall, either using the mounting bracket or, better still, a paper or card template. Drill the holes and insert the fixings, then fix the mounting bracket securely to the wall. Come down the ladder and have a cup of tea because the next step is the most hazardous one. Dishes are heavy, so tie it securely to a length of rope, making sure you don't use or foul the bolt holes, run the rope to the top of the ladder and down again, and give the other end to your helper, so if you loose your grip the dish won't crash to the ground. Now offer the dish up to the mounting bracket and slot in the mounting bolts, fit the retaining nuts and tighten them up just enough to allow some movement, come down the ladder and have another cup of tea.



Time to make sure everything is working okay. You can make your life a lot easier if you can set up the receiver and a portable TV close to the bottom of the ladder. Connect up the STV receiver to the TV, and the other end of the cable, tune in the TV to the STV receiver's test signal.  Most STV receivers are pre-tuned, so set it to a known operating channel, preferably one that is not encrypted (SKY News, CNN, MTV, Cartoon Network/TNT etc.). Now, with your compass and the right-sized spanners get up the ladder to the dish and set the bearing as accurately as you can; next with your assistant watching the TV, start to move the slowly dish up and down. Hopefully at some point in its travel the mush on the screen will change, you may even get some sort of picture and sound, your helper should keep up a running commentary. If nothing happens change the bearing by a degree or two and repeat the exercise until you get a signal. If nothing happens ask your assistant to try an alternate channel on the opposite polarity, (CNN if you're tuned to MTV etc.), and try again. When you get a signal tell your assistant to double check the station ident or logo, to make sure it is coming from Astra and not one of the adjacent satellites.



To get the best possible picture you will need to make three critical adjustments, to the bearing and azimuth of the dish, and the offset of the LNB; be methodical and only adjust one thing at a time or you will almost certainly get into a mess. Once you've got some sort of picture on the screen begin by moving the dish slightly East or West, your helper will be telling you all the time how the picture is looking, you should quickly determine the best position. Lock off the bolts and do the same thing with the azimuth adjustment. By now you should have a reasonably good picture, but it won't hurt to go back and tweak both settings again. The final adjustment involves rotating the LNB slightly, and this should eliminate the last of the sparklies on the picture. Ask your assistant to retune to a channel on the opposite polarity and observe the results, making any minor adjustments to get the cleanest picture, then run through all of the other channels, to make sure they're all right as well. Wrap some more waterproof tape around the connector and LNB socket.



Assuming all is well it's time to run the cable. Start at the dish end and leaving a small loop under the LNB tape the cable securely to the underside of the LNB arm in a couple of places, and run it behind the metalwork so that it is flush with the wall. As you come down the ladder pin the cable to the wall at regular intervals, using saddle clamps, then run it along the wall until you reach the entry point, pinning the cable to the wall as you go. Try to be as neat as possible, avoiding any sharp bends that might crush the cable.



The hole through which the cable passes should be at a slight downwards angle, to prevent water running into the opening. Leave a small drip-loop in the cable and seal the hole, to stop water getting in. Indoors make sure there's a good length of spare cable between the wall and the STV receiver, so you can move it at a later date. Connect everything up once again and check the picture is still okay. Lastly, re-check the dish to make sure all the fixings are tight and tidy up.



R.Maybury 1993 0911




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