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Dish Set-Up Problem

Discussion in 'DIRECTV General Discussion' started by Psyclist, Jun 2, 2010.

  1. Jun 2, 2010 #1 of 25
    Psyclist

    Psyclist Cool Member

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    Jun 2, 2010
    Hello everyone. Got a problem with a dish set-up from couple of years ago. Wife arranged to have an independent company come out and install a dish for DirectTV 2 years ago. I wasn't there at the time, but the installer did a poor job and the reception is not very good. This place has a 1200' hillside just to the south which is the problem, I'm thinking.

    Strangely, it seems to work during the winter months better than the summer months. Some channels we don't get at all, some pop in and out and some work fine. It's a part-time place for us, so it hasn't been a major priority, but I would like to get it fixed.

    I was referred to this forum by someone who said I might be able to get some help on how to fix it. Two nearby neighbors have it working fine. We are more at the base of the hillside, so I'm thinking I need more height.

    I don't really have a lot of confidence in the company that came out originally to do the install. Besides, they say they won't climb a ladder and I'm thinking I need to get this thing 10 or more feet off the ground. The house is even more at the base of the hillside, so attaching to the roof is probably out of the question. I don't think trees are probably a good option (movement). There is a pole for the electrical drop that might work. Currently, the dish is about 150 feet to the east (is that too far away?). Also, once I move it, I'm not sure how to tune in to the signal precisely.

    Anyway, is there a way to find someone reputable to do this kind of thing (rural eastern Washington) or, better yet, is there a reliable way to "do it yourself?"

    Any help is greatly appreciated - thanks!
     
  2. Jun 2, 2010 #2 of 25
    jdspencer

    jdspencer Hall Of Fame

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    What dish and what are your signal strengths on each satellite?

    I may work better in the winter because that's when the trees have lost their leaves.
     
  3. Jun 2, 2010 #3 of 25
    Psyclist

    Psyclist Cool Member

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    Thanks for your reply, jd. I can't answer those questions until I get back over there in a few weeks. I think I know how to do check the signal strengths. Last time I looked at that (and my memory is real fuzzy on this), it seemed like they were in the 50-60 range - do those numbers make sense?

    Could be leaves. Never thought of it, but there is a row of poplars just to the south.
     
  4. Jun 2, 2010 #4 of 25
    veryoldschool

    veryoldschool Lifetime Achiever Staff Member Super Moderator DBSTalk Club

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    I'd spend some time here: http://www.dishpointer.com/
    You can drag the cursor around and get some idea of what might work for a location.
     
  5. Jun 2, 2010 #5 of 25
    carl6

    carl6 Moderator Staff Member DBSTalk Club

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    Signal levels of 50 to 60 are marginal at best. You should normally have high 80's or 90's. There are many factors involved. As veryoldschool noted, dishpointer.com can be very handy to help find a good dish location. On the other hand, your dish may be in a good location and may only need some minor adjustment of azimuth or elevation.

    Rather than the independent company, why not simply have DirecTV work the problem?
     
  6. Jun 2, 2010 #6 of 25
    jdspencer

    jdspencer Hall Of Fame

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    Those numbers are way too low. You should be able to get mid 80s or higher.

    You need more height on the dish and/or get it as far from the hill as possible. Use the dishpointer site, it's great.
     
  7. Jun 2, 2010 #7 of 25
    Psyclist

    Psyclist Cool Member

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    Cool site (dishpointer). I can see how to get around the poplar trees for a less obstructed line, but it involves going another 50 feet or so away. That would be about 200 feet from the box.

    I can't get any further from the hillside due to a lake, so I need more elevation it seems.

    How far can the dish be away from the receiver/tuner?
     
  8. Jun 2, 2010 #8 of 25
    Ken984

    Ken984 Active Member

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    Bossier...
    150' is pushing it. There are signal amplifiers for legacy systems but I would try to keep the cable as short as possible. Keeping it closer to the house and raising it might be the best solution.
     
  9. Jun 2, 2010 #9 of 25
    veryoldschool

    veryoldschool Lifetime Achiever Staff Member Super Moderator DBSTalk Club

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    There are amplifiers and there is using RG11 coax. Both can extend the length of coax between the dish & the receivers.
     
  10. David MacLeod

    David MacLeod New Member

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    first thing is to try aligning (or getting it aligned) it where it is, the company might just have done a bad job.
     
  11. Psyclist

    Psyclist Cool Member

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    The dishpointer site is helpful, but it's by no means precise. Is there a device that you can walk around with that will give you some more precise information? I imagine the professionals have them and I also imagine they're expensive. I saw an iphone app on the dishpointer site that does something along those lines. Is there anything else out there?

    I could probably get closer to the house on the south side of these poplars with an increase in the elevation (i.e., pole). I'm guessing it's possible to do it with, say, a 10' or 20' pole or something along those lines. Currently, the top of the dish is about 5' off the ground. Moving south about 75' gets more toward the base of the hill, but it also naturally raises the elevation about 10 feet and gets on the right side of the poplars. I think the original installer checked that area out and found it unsuitable, but a pole would probably do the trick there.

    If I had a device that I could walk around with to test various scenarios, that would be helpful.
     
  12. Psyclist

    Psyclist Cool Member

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    Jun 2, 2010
    Is there a simple relatively inexpensive device for that? Can they be rented?
     
  13. veryoldschool

    veryoldschool Lifetime Achiever Staff Member Super Moderator DBSTalk Club

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  14. BattleZone

    BattleZone Hall Of Fame

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    The industry standard device is the Suunto "Tandem", which is a combo compass and inclinometer.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    They are about $175.
     
  15. David MacLeod

    David MacLeod New Member

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    if not comfortable with a DIY method call directv and have a tech sent out to realign. that is simplest route.
    I used my receivers to tweak and lowest is usually 88 at worst. most are in 90's.
     
  16. Psyclist

    Psyclist Cool Member

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    Jun 2, 2010
    Thanks for all the advice, folks. I will do some tinkering next time I'm there.
     
  17. Michael H..

    Michael H.. Member

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    Before spending a lot of time and money (please excuse the posting word count - previous post modified for your circumstances)... there are several variables at work which you need to assess. Your geographic location, which determines the 3 rotational params, eastern WA places you in the ~ 140° AZimuth / 33° ELevation / 107° SKew(TIlt) range (put your address into dishpointer to get the exact numbers). For an EL of 33° the TAN is 0.65, or for every horizontal 100', you can't have any obstruction higher than 65'. For the 1200' peak to your south, the peak (not the base) must be a distance at least 1200' / 0.65 = 1850' from the dish, and any intermediate point on the slope must fall below the 33° EL line, or it becomes the critical line of obstruction. Putting the dish 10' higher on a pole translates to 10' additional clearance, 1210' vs. 1200', and can also be accomplished by moving the dish 10' / 0.65 = 15' to the north. Not much benefit here. Elevating on a pole is mostly to address local (immediate in/to your yard) issues, where 10' additional height to clear treetops is a common occurence. Because you are getting a signal, it is not likely that the peak is the culprit. Since your signals fluctuate seasonally, that is one indicator that trees are. Look from behind the dish and scan across the outline of the hillside terrain. Do the trees extend above the outline? If so, then if there is an obstruction issue, then the trees are the problem. The dishpointer page satellite app you mentioned can also provide you with some useful information. The image depicts several geo-stat orbital slots, which appear to decrease in elevation from E-to-W (left to right). This image depicts a location from the eastern US. The image you would get from your western US location would be the opposite. The orbital slots would rise from E-to-W (left to right). This is visually evident from the 107° SK, which means that the dish is "counter-clocked" 107° - 90° = 17°. If straight up were 12:00, then your dish is SKewed to ~ 11:25, the chord formed across the left to right edges of (looking from behind) the dish approximating the rising range of sat orbital slots. This is significant because 3 (of the 5) more important slots, 99°, 101°, 103° (the others are 110° and 119°), are at the lowest elevation. The dish is pointed to the 101°, and the 17° counter-clocking orients the dish to pick up the 99° slightly lower and to the left, the 103° slightly higher and to the right, and the 110° and 119° further higher and to the right respectively. Back to the dishpointer... a nice feature is that it will "do the trig" for you. Position the cursor as close as possible to the dish location, and vary the second (obstruction) cursor along the "101° pointing line" and it will display the distance of the obstruction from the dish and the maximum obstruction height. If the tree(s) in question exceed that maximum, short of cutting off the tops, you need to go back into dishpointer and move the dish location cursor (and eventually the dish) to a suitable location, back away from the trees. A few points... 1st, before you move anything, attempt to peak the dish in the current configuration, and only if this doesn't fix the problem, then look into re-positioning the dish... 2nd, I personally wouldn't buy any signal detectors, etc. The meters on the receiver setup are fine, other than SWM-LNB's, which d-enable the receiver meters under setup. Once every few months, I'll help out a friend with aligning a dish. Unless you do several of these a day, it just isn't cost effective... or necessary. Since your dish has been up there a couple of years, I'm going to guess that it's a non-SWM-LNB. 150' of cable from the dish is approaching the limit. I normally would say RG-11 is overkill (and $$$)... the weak links in a cabling system are the connectors. 200' might make me reconsider RG-11, but before you go that route, limit the connectors, i.e. a single (no daisy chain) quad-shield buried-rated cable with moisture-shielded compression connectors between the dish and receiver (or Power Inserter). 3rd, I wouldn't get the same installers out there that screwed up your installation the first time. As they say, insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting that they'll align it right. At least go through the "steps" and if the fix is something you're just not comfortable taking on, at least you'll have a solution from which to determine if your chosen installer has a clue...
     
  18. Psyclist

    Psyclist Cool Member

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    Jun 2, 2010
    OK, I was back over the weekend and did a little more studying of the situation. I don't have the exact GPS coordinates, but using dispointer, I can come to within a few feet. If I need to get more exact, I can probably do that next time.

    Dispointer gives me the following information:
    Satellite: 91.0W Galaxy 17 | Nimiq 1, 2
    Elevation: 29.2°
    Azimuth (true): 145.4°
    Azimuth (magn.): 129.4°
    LNB Skew[?]: -22.4°

    That's all more or less greek to me. If understand correctly, "Elevation" refers to the angle of the up/down tilt of the dish - 29.2° according to dishpointer.

    There's a scale on dish/mounting tripod and this is a picture:

    [​IMG]

    Next pic is of the other scale - it says "tilt" but I'm not sure what that means in terms of the dishpointer information:

    [​IMG]

    Also, when I look at the direction of the signal on dishpointer (the green line), I assume that the dish is supposed to be pointed directly on that line. I can tell by looking at the dish, that it is not pointed on that line, but is several degrees to the right as I'm standing behind it.

    So, it seems to me that the dish is 1) pointed incorrectly, 2) has the wrong "elevation," and 3) I'm not sure if "tilt" is azimuth or if the azimuth is set correctly. Any help in interpreting this is greatly appreciated.

    Oh, and by the way, I took a picture of the signal strength (haha) - not very good at all:

    [​IMG]
     
  19. Psyclist

    Psyclist Cool Member

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    Jun 2, 2010
    OK, I see the azimuth refers to the left-to-right rotation.

    I don't see anything on the dishpointer site about the tilt value. :scratch:
     
  20. jdspencer

    jdspencer Hall Of Fame

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    When setting the elevation use the front edge of the washer behind the nut, not the center of the nut.
    And the Skew is the same as Tilt.
    And most importantly, the mast must be plumb.

    And more importantly, you need to select the correct satellite from the drop down menu.
    Then press the GO button.
    Which I'll assume should be the DirecTV SL3. Which is under the multisat section.
     

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