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Tool to align satellite dish?

Discussion in 'General Satellite Discussion' started by Bill Mullin, Jul 21, 2008.

  1. Bill Mullin

    Bill Mullin Legend

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    Jul 23, 2002
    I'm sure this has been covered before but I didn't find anything?

    A storm 2 nights ago blew my Dish antenna out of alignment. I have an appointment in a few days to have a Dish technician come out and realign the antenna, but the cost will be $49 which seems excessive for a couple of minutes of work.

    Is there a tool (meter?) that I can buy to do this task myself? If so,

    - What is this tool called?

    - Where can I get a good deal on this tool - eBay?

    - Does it come with instructions? FWIW, I need to see 100, 119, and 129. Interestingly enough, 119 is the bird that has been lost!
     
  2. FTA Michael

    FTA Michael Hall Of Fame

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    Jul 21, 2002
    *I* wouldn't drive across town, climb a ladder to someone's hot roof, then climb back down and drive back home, not for just $49. But maybe you would?

    Anyway, the only tools you need are a cell phone, a 7/16-inch wrench (or adjustable wrench, not as easy to use), and a friend. (But don't call your friend a tool.) If your dish is on the roof, you'll also need a ladder to get there.

    Set your receiver to check the signal quality on 119, and position your friend with the cell phone in front of it. Go to the dish, loosen the bolts a little and move it very slowly left-to-right and/or up-down until you get a signal reading (if you don't have one when you start). Then tweak the position of the dish until you've maximized the signal quality, and tighten it there.

    For more help, check the Dish Network web site under Installation. Good luck!
     
  3. Bill Mullin

    Bill Mullin Legend

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    Jul 23, 2002
    Believe it or not I don't have a cell phone! I must be from a different generation, phones aren't something I get a lot of use out of.

    I did look up installatin on the Dish Network and got 100's of hits, but the closest I found to tweaking a signal was correct azimuth/elevation settings for my zip code.

    Since I posted my original message, I see that I can get a signal meter on eBay for under $15. To use such a tool, I guess I need to set my receiver to 119, disconnect the coax at the dish, connect the meter using an additional short length of coax, then I use my 7/16" wrench and adjust azimuth/elevation for peak signal. All good so far, but the only thing I don't understand is - how does the meter know that I wish to peak on 119 rather than some other satellite? :confused:
     
  4. FTA Michael

    FTA Michael Hall Of Fame

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    Jul 21, 2002
    If it's like the sub-$20 satellite finders that I've seen, it doesn't. It'll help you find the best strong signal where you're pointing, but it won't tell you which one.

    IF your azimuth and elevation settings are accurate, then the signal finder should help you get the right satellite. (Now we've added a compass to the tool kit.) If you get the azimuth from Dish, it typically includes the magnetic declination for your location. If you get it from someone else, you'll probably need to add/substract the declination from your compass reading.

    Or you can just pay the $49, then take pictures and mark the direction that the dish is pointing. The next time a storm hits the dish, you'll have a good starting point to repoint it.
     
  5. Bill Mullin

    Bill Mullin Legend

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    Jul 23, 2002
    Good tip . . . I'll do that then get one of the $15 meters. Thanks!
     
  6. Tom Robertson

    Tom Robertson Lifetime Achiever DBSTalk Club

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    Nov 15, 2005
    Does your friend have a cellphone? :)

    I've also moved a receiver and small TV to the dish (depending upon where the dish is located).

    If you're already getting some of the orbital slots, a cheap meter might do the trick. Tho I wonder if you don't have another problem since the others are coming in. Waterlogged LNB for instance.

    Cheers,
    Tom
     
  7. FTA Michael

    FTA Michael Hall Of Fame

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    Jul 21, 2002
    Tom's got a good point. If you can still get 110 and 129, and you were getting all three satellites from the same wide dish, then the dish should be pointed correctly. It could be a bad LNB or bad switch. Maybe that $49 is worth it? :)
     
  8. Bill Mullin

    Bill Mullin Legend

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    Jul 23, 2002
    The Dish repair person just left. The first thing he did was to replace the old coax barrel with a new barrel . . . the problem immediately went away! This barrel was fully inside the house, so it's beyond me why this should have gone bad after 18 months, but he told me this was very common. While at it, he also shortened the lengths of the center connectors going into the barrel, which he said will hopefully keep this problem at bay for more than 18 months this time.

    I've never heard of anything like this . . . barrels should last a lifetime and work fine the whole time, but I guess up in the GHz frequencies all the rules change!!

    While at it, he tightened all the hardware on the antenna and tweaked it slightly, although he told me that the tweaking only improved the signal marginally.

    So, I definitely got my $49 worth! Additionally, I've decided to not get a signal finder, since from what I just saw I don't think I'd get much use out of it. :)
     
  9. Tom Robertson

    Tom Robertson Lifetime Achiever DBSTalk Club

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    Woohoo! Glad he was able to solve the problem for you!

    Is that a damp or humid location? Sometimes that can cause some corrosion.

    Cheers,
    Tom
     
  10. Bill Mullin

    Bill Mullin Legend

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    Jul 23, 2002
    We're in the Sonora Desert . . . very dry. The house did come equipped with a humidifier but we've never turned it on. Makes the problem with the barrel harder to understand than ever! :confused:
     
  11. SatHookUp Network

    SatHookUp Network New Member

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    Jul 23, 2008
    Bill, you need a satellite meter. You can get them for cheap on Ebay or pay up to $600 for a professional meter like a satellite buddy or Birrdog ($450)
     
  12. BaldEagle

    BaldEagle Legend

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    Jun 19, 2006
    I've got an inline meter and never use it. The tone from the onscreen meter on the TV works better for me. I just open a window close to the dish and turn up the sound so I can hear it and always (almost) can find a good signal fast.

    Have a dish on a tripod that I use in the motorhome and a month ago was having a little problem because it was storming outside and windy, couldn't hear the signal meter very well. After a minute or two I could not hear a signal lock then rain and lightning started to fall. Went inside and decided to try again when the weather was better. The next day turned on the meter and to my surprise the signal was very good. Had left the adjustment bolts loose and the wind aligned the dish for me. Went out and tightened the bolts and that was the best signal (75+) I've had since the new meter came out.
     
  13. SatHookUp Network

    SatHookUp Network New Member

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    Jul 23, 2008
    You look at the first peak on the right which will be the 129 then slowly go to the 2nd peak which is the 119. go back and run a check switch and hopfully you got it
     

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