Buying Satellite





So, you've decided to take the plunge and have satellite television installed in your home, what have you let yourself in for?



There's no two ways about it, having a satellite dish and receiver installed in your home can be disruptive. Depending on the site, the system and the competence of the installers it could take a couple of hours, or a couple of days; fortunately the majority of satellite installations fall into the former category and most engineers will be in and out of your home in less than a morning or afternoon.


Before the first hole can be drilled the site has to be properly surveyed. You will of course need to accertain whether or not you can have a dish installed in the first place, though whoever is doing the survey should already be familiar with local planning regulations, whether or not your property has a listing order, or if there are any housing association restrictions. If there are any problems the necessary permission must be sought before the installation can proceed. If all's well the the direction and position of the satellite(s) has to be determined -- in relation to your property -- and a suitable location for the dish found.


Finding the satellite is the easy part, seasoned installers can often make a pretty good guess at which way the dish should point, without consulting their compass first, either that or they took a crafty peek at where  the other dishes in the street are pointing, before they arrived. Finding a suitable place for the dish is not so easy, and this is one of the reasons satellite television got such a bad name in the early days, due to inappropriate and unsympathetic dish positioning.


The dish must have an unobstructed line-of-sight view of the satellite, or satellites, in the case of Astra's 1A, 1B and 1C, which from the Earth appear to be in a fixed position, fairly low in the Southern sky, (19.2 degrees East of South). It simply won't work properly if there's anything in the way, and that includes trees, so be on your guard if you're having a dish installed in the Autumn or Winter, that's if you still want to be watching satellite TV channels the following Spring...


A good installer should be able to come up with at least couple of satisfactory positions for your dish, which they should discuss with you beforehand. If you're at all unhappy with the suggested locations ask them to explain the problems to you, and if there are no viable alternatives you might consider one of the more discreet dish designs, either a mesh, or a flat plate antenna. You might even think about having the dish colour keyed in with its surroundings, or camoflaged, in any event it is wise to sort these things out before the dish is up on the wall, and remedial action becomes that much harder, and more expensive! This is also a good time to discuss the cable run. For technical reasons it should be as short as possible, but unless the dish is going to be more than twenty or thirty metres from the TV there's no reasons why it cannot be routed well out of sight and around any obstructions so that it is as unobtrusive as possible; once again you should make your preferences known, and have the final say.


Letting someone into your home, to drill holes in your walls, can be an emotive issue, but it has to be done, and if it is done properly it will have no effect on the value or structural integrity of your property, or pose any threat to you and your neighbours. Dish mounting brackets are normally held in place by three or four expanding masonary bolts. The installer should ensure there is plenty of  built-in redundancy, so in the unlikely event that one or even two of the fixings fail, or we have a repeat performance of the 87 hurricane, the dish won't come tumbling down.


The point at which the cable enters your house must be chosen with great care, for aesthetic reasons, as well as practical ones but equally important are the precautions that must be taken to prevent water getting in. Ideally the hole should be slightly inclined, with the exterior entry point below the exit point inside, this will stop water running in.


The drill will create some mess inside and out, so it's a good idea to ask the installer to show you exactly where the entry point is going to be, and move any breakables, pictures, ornaments or pets before they start drilling, a good installer should do this anyway, and make sure that there's something to catch the dust and drill waste, and when they've finished, clear up afterwards.When the cable has been pinned into place double check that the gap between the cable and the wall or woodwork has been completely sealed and waterproofed, and there's a 'drip loop', to stop water from running down the cable, on to the hole.



Inside there should be a generous length of cable from the dish to the STV receiver, this will allow you to move it around, should you decide to rearrange your system at a later date. You will have to make a decision about how the satellite tuner connects to your TV, and VCR, if you have one. The simplest approach, and the one to go for if your TV and VCR are more than five years old, is to 'daisy-chain' it into the aerial lead. If you want to record STV programmes then the STV receiver has to be connected between the aerial and the VCR, with one of the VCRs and TVs spare channels tuned into the RF output of the STV receiver. This job has to be carried out carefully, to prevent the VCR and STV receiver interacting with each other, before the installer leaves make a test recording, and check all of your TV channels, to see if there is any interference. The picture quality in this type if set-up should be acceptable, but if you have the chance ask the installer if they can lmake use of your TV (and VCR's) AV terminals. This will require special leads (usually with SCART connectors), and it's important that the installer shows you how use the system as you may need to use controls and settings on the VCR that you won't have bothered with before. However, it's usually worth the extra bother and expense as the picture will be noticably sharper, and if you have a stereo TV you will get greately improved sound quality as well.




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Copyright (c) 2006 Rick Maybury Ltd.