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· Legend
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I live in a 10-story building that is in the middle of a concrete renovation project. The building management removed my DTV dish from the balcony while I was out of the country, along with *everything* else on the balcony, railings and walls included. All it is right now is a flat slab of concrete, which isn't likely to change for one or two additional months, minimum.

I have a large sliding glass door inside from the balcony, with a good view of the sky.

Should I be able to set up my dish, propped up inside my apartment, facing where the dish used to face, and receive an acceptable DTV signal? It would have to "see" through the glass door.How sensitive is the dish alignment?

My DTV service is on hold (because of my trip overseas). Will I be able to align the dish prior to asking them to turn the service back on?

I should add, I have the large oval dish. It's fairly heavy. I suppose I could attempt to mount it to my heavy-duty camera tripod?

I'm guessing I can do this, as I see DTV dishes mounted on top of motor homes. They have to align the dish somehow, every time they stop somewhere. I haven't yet called DTV about this, as I think (based on past experience) I'll get far better advice here in the forum.

(...and if the advice here is to go ahead and try it, is there a guide for how to set up a satellite dish based on your location, in my case 33139?)
 

· Beware the Attack Basset
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Several details were omitted:

1. Big oval is relative. What words appear on the dish?

2. Is the slider single or multiple pane

3. Is the glass Low-E? (this can be a show-stopper)
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
On the dish it says "Slimline".

Er, what is a "slider"?

The glass dates back to the 1970's, so it's probably not anything fancy.


The system is the new style system with the single "bulb" shaped device, whose name I will think of as soon as I send this, and only the single wire coming from it to the receiver.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
SWM LMB.....!!!! I leave the US for half a year, and I forget all this stuff. Bummer. Thank you!!

I'm pretty sure the glass is just a single piece of glass. It's thick and heavy, but I don't remember anything about the glass being double paned.

I don't really have any other options.... I can't do anything outside of my apartment until they finish the concrete work, and maybe the painting as well, but I guess I don't need to wait for the painting.
 

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We tested a dish in a window many years ago and it worked rather good. I cant remember what the signal reduction was but it was plenty useable. Now this was for an 18" dish so it was only looking at ku 101. Not sure if 99 or 103 would be more adversely affected. So you will be able to at least watch sd programming.
 

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I think that you are likely to have a couple of issues beyond whether or not the signal will be able to see through the glass.

First, years ago, when you only had to only hit one satellite, a quick ad hoc pointing of the dish was pretty simple. Now, with having to hit 3, perhaps 5 satellites, a much more precise pointing is called necessary, and that will be especially true if you have any signal degradation due to the glass.

Also, even if you can get it pointed precisely, you might have difficulty maintaining that accurate pointing with a temporary do-it-yourself mount. If you spent the money to buy a tripod intended for mobile use with the dish, you might be ok, but I have my doubts whether even the most stable photography tripod would provide even close to the stability that you would need to eliminate movement of the dish and loss of the signal.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Unfortunately for me, I think you guys are correct. I spent most of this morning trying to get something done, and I haven't received even the slightest blip of a signal.

I unplugged the DVR and let it go through all the self testing. Fine.

I found the antenna wire coming from my old balcony setup, and disconnected it, leaving everything else intact. I propped up the antenna against a chair and my tripod, and hooked up the cable.

According to DTV, for area code 33139 the dish should point at 225.9 degrees. Using my pathetic iphone as a compass (I need to find the little plastic one DTV sent me years ago, or buy a good one) I'm now aimed within a degree or two of that setting. Until I get a better compass, I can't be sure.

The elevation is supposed to be 52.1 degrees. Having no good way to measure that, I downloaded another silly iphone app, which starts at 0 degrees (phone level) and works up to 45 degrees. At that point it switches to a new setting, measuring from the vertical, so I had to go to 90 - 52.1, which should be around 38 degrees. According to my iphone, I'm reasonably close.

I had no intention of any of this being accurate. I did think it would get me some kind of reception on the signal meters from the DVR, but no go. There is no signal at all. I was going to move the dish around, a little bit at a time, and try to get a stronger signal that way. It's not possible though, when everything just reads zero.


Re-evaluating everything, I tried to see the sky the way my dish now does, and while I've got it so that the window frame shouldn't interfere, the slab of a balcony from the floor above me blocks at least 1/4 of the view. There's no way around that, unless I lower the dish, meaning place it on the floor and try again.

--------------

All this sounds pretty idiotic to me - it would be great, if it just got me a signal for long enough that my DVR could connect long enough to "sync" and allow me to watch my pre-recorded programs, but even that now seems impossible.

My balcony won't be useable again for 1 or 2 months, and I'll be going back to India again in September. DTV says I can't leave my system in "suspended mode" any longer, so I don't know what they're going to do. If they insist on cancelling the service until I get an acceptable place to mount my DVR, that's no a problem for me, unless they want my DVR back. If I keep the DVR, I'll eventually get DTV hooked up again. If I lose my DVR, meaning all my recorded shows, that will be the last DTV will ever hear from me.


Back to reality. I did speak to a very sympathetic support person at DTV, who turned on my account, but gave me 3 weeks of credit so nothing will be charged for that long. The DTV installer is supposed to come to my place on April 21 and hook up my temporary setup, if I haven't yet got it going. I guess I should just wait for that to happen, and then decide what to do, but if worst comes to worst, and he tells me it's impossible, then what????? ........... :-(


Maybe one of you can help me with this question - if half the view is blocked, but the dish is aimed properly, should the signal level meter show *anything*? I'd feel better right now if I had some kind of signal being received, even if it was too low to get a picture.

Also, is there any way to get my DVR to start showing the pre-recorded material? Since it has been disconnected, and lost power, it won't show me the list of recorded shows. Can they send me some kind of signal over the internet to get it going?
 

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Do you have a way to try to do this outside so you can make sure the method you are using is correct? The reason I say this is if the window in fact completely kills the signal or the overhang is in fact too low that explains the lack of signal. In other words take those 2 elements out of the equation. Sounds like the way you are doing now you have way to many variables you are juggling to have any luck of getting a signal. You need to eliminate some of the guess out of this.

Are you sure about what meter screen you are using? Do you have the right dish/switch type checked. If swm lnb are you using a power supply to power it?

Regardless the first thing you are going to want to do is get the dish mounted to a pole or the original mount in such a way that it is absolutely vertical. Assuming you have the original mast that came with it the cheapest way to do that is to mount it to a board like a 4' x 4' and then load that board with some kind of ballast so it can stay still as you work with it. Get some carriage bolts with the nut on top side so when you tighten the bolt down it will dig into the wood and also leave the bottom of board some what flush.

You mentioned elevation 52 degrees, your dish should have been on a vertical pole already so it should be set at 52 degrees now. This is off the scale on side of dish. You can probably see where the "nuts" were if you loosened it and lost the original position. Then its a matter of using your phone compass be aware of metal influencing the compass so step back into the room to get an approx guess at where it points see if there is some kind of landmark in the distance to use as a reference to point at. You really should only be working with moving left right as the tilt and elevation should remain somewhat fixed.

I dont have experience alinging a slimline without a meter so cant comment on the response of dish moving to meter on screen moving. I know on the newer Dishnet stuff you can pass right through the signal if you are moving too fast. Its as if you have to catch it just right or move REAL SLOW for the on screen meter to work. Now with my sat meter you see the signal come and go in real time. So move in tiny increments, pause, move again.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks for the reply, but I think I'm stuck.

Yes, if the window (and the light blue protective plastic they put outside of it to protect the glass) is blocking the signal, I'm dead in the water. I like your idea of just removing the tape around the sliding door, and opening it - just to see if I then get a signal.

As to the variables in the DVR, I hope I did what's right. Everything was still plugged in and connected just as it had been. The *only* change I made was to take the cable that used to go outside, and instead attach it to the inside dish. I'ts a different physical cable, but it's from the DTV guys, so it should be the right type of cable. I shut down and re-started the DVR, and put in my zip code. Everything I see on the screen looks reasonable, and the orientation and angle matches what I've been trying to use.

Since earlier today, I removed the dish assembly from the short mounting post, and now have it on the floor of my apartment so the balcony above me won't be interfering very much, if at all. I've checked, and re-checked, and re-re-checked everything, and I'm pretty sure I'm with a degree or two (or three) of what it ought to be. I don't have any way of making a real mount for it.

Your last paragraph makes me think this whole idea is hopeless, as there's too much I don't know. My idea was to use the signal meter to fine-tune the signal, but I haven't yet even seen a single blip to indicate I'm getting anything at all. I guess I ought to remove the masking tape and open the door... there's always the chance that the glass and blue tinted protective plastic are blocking the signal.

I suspect the guy from DTV is going to get here next week, take one look, tell me it's hopeless, and to call back when my balcony is ready. What DTV will do at that point is my biggest concern. If it does come to that, any advice as to what to do?



Small update - after writing the above, I figured I'd open the door and test what I've got with a clear view of the sky. No-go. The door won't budge. I suspect the guys doing the work wedged it shut from the outside, to prevent anyone from opening the doors this way. I'm stuck. The only thing in my favor is I hope DTV would prefer to wait for me to be ready once again, rather than forcing me to switch to AT&T service. I hope.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I gave up on the first method, and propped the dish up behind a window that faces West. The dish is now oriented within (I think) +/- 3 degrees of the 226 degree azimuth, and the 52 degrees elevation. No results yet. I need to get some better tools.

How close do I need to be in terms of degrees before I get any kind of a signal at all?

Also, the DVR screen lists:
Azimuth: 226
Elevation: 52 degrees
Tilt: 54 degrees


Anyone know what "tilt" means? I would have thought it meant the same thing as elevation...
 

· Beware the Attack Basset
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mikemyers said:
How close do I need to be in terms of degrees before I get any kind of a signal at all?
Probably within 1-1/2 degrees or so on Ku and closer on Ka. This is not horseshoes.

As for the numbers to use, consult http://www.dishpointer.com.
Anyone know what "tilt" means? I would have thought it meant the same thing as elevation...
Tilt is the clocking of the dish on the back. It compensates for your look at the Clarke Belt not being "level" from left to right (unless you reside on 101W or 110W depending on the LNB).
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Wow..... as usual, I ask something here, and end up knowing a lot more about things I never even knew existed...

Let's see - I did go to the various DTV support pages, and got as much information as I could. I then called DTV, got tech support, and the person there said they had no knowledge of the difference between "elevation" and "tilt". They checked the web, and asked around - no answer. I was told only the field technicians could explain that.

Clarke Belt.... unless you're talking about Superman, I'm going to do a lot more research on the internet. I'm guessing you mean that it's an angle between the left and right sides of the dish?????

I drew things out on a piece of paper, based on a map, and my ability to measure 226 degrees. I think I've got the azimuth pretty close (but probably not close enough).

For the elevation, I gave up on the iphone, which can't even tell me my desk is level. I downloaded an image of a protractor, and added lines to represent what should be level and what should be vertical at 52 degrees.



Here's the drawing in use, with a "plumb bob" testing to see if what's supposed to be vertical really is:







Still absolutely nothing from either tuner...... If I have time, I will go to the hardware store and buy a compass.

..........or more likely, just admit defeat. I'll post something here after the 23rd, when things will either be fixed or finished or on hold.
 

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with this type of dish you must have it mounted on a pole that is fixed and vertical. Then you can understand how to adjust for elevation. The tick marks on the right side of the dish mount tell you where to set elevation. If the pole is not plumb then the number has no meaning. If this dish was working before this angle will be close to dead on for you already as long as you mount it to a plump pole.

It looks like in the photo you are trying to measure the elevation angel by the reflector. That method can only work with a dish where the lnb is prime focused in the center of the dish. These are usually only 8' plus dishes that do this. Your dish has an offset angle built into it (not sure exact angle 20-25 degrees or so). In other words you are pointing it 20+ degrees too high and you are looking at the ceiling. Now you could take a reference measurement off of a working dish in your area and set yours to that angle but thats the whole point of them telling you dish angle is 52 degrees. If you were to do this measure from the lnb arm though.

Tilt or skew is the angle the dish is set at to look at more than one satellite at a time. If you only looked at one sat at a time with a round dish there is no tilt or skew. This setting is set and fixed on back of dish before you even try to align the dish and is also why the dish MUST be on a pole that is plumb.
 

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Well your pictures are worth a 1,000 words. Your dish is basically aimed directly into the wall above your window. Unless something can be dramatically changed I think you are doomed on this.

Note that the signal the dish is picking up is reflected in the dish onto the LNB (box) on the arm. So when you think of an imaginary line from the white circle in the LNB to the center of your dish and then project another angle twice the angle of the white circle to the center you will see that that line is aimed right above the top of your window. To even start, you need to have some mount that will let you get your dish below the height of the window.

I am also confused between two of the pictures. One makes it look like it is on a tripod and the other makes it look like it is on a standard J-pole. And from the looks of the j-pole mount it is anything but vertical. Nothing will work correctly unless the mounting axis of the dish is perfectly vertical. So, the location of the dish and the axis of the mount are of utmost importance before you do anything else.

(On edit, I see bigglebowski was posting while I was typing. But, I think we agree in principal that your dish is not even seeing outside.)

As far as the elevation goes, you should see a red mark on the steel plate behind the elevation settings. I think it is on the slot side away from the dish. That is the marker you use with the numbers stamped on the elevation holder on the mount.

Tilt is managed by three bolts that are secured to the piece that attaches directly to the dish with the four mounting bolts. This part of the mount has different values stamped into the metal. If I remember correctly, the value for a totally horizontal tilt is 90 (but I am not near my dish at the moment). Unless you have changed this, just leave it alone. The values will not have changed from what they were when things worked.

I hate to burst your bubble, but I don't think you are going to get things working until you get access to your patio. This is a bit beyond a first-timer DIY project. But, then again it depends on your patience and how much you want the service.
 

· Beware the Attack Basset
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I assumed that you were going to mount the dish in the sliding glass door. There are many obstructions in the window you've chosen and the signal you're trying to get isn't particularly fond of anything but dry air or vacuum. It isn't even clear from the photos that you have a clear line-of-sight.

I was going to suggest that you open the door but since you're working with a sash, opening the window doubles the trouble on the top side.

Also, judging from the way the dish is tilted back, I'm betting it is pointing straight up at the ceiling and that's not going to get you anywhere. The 2" tube that the dish is mounted on must be plumb. If the tube doesn't have a bubble level in the top of it, you'll need a level of some sort to assure that the tube is truly plumb.

As bigglebowski points out, ALL measurements except for azimuth are made on the mounting bracket on the back of the dish. There are scales for both elevation and tilt that you MUST use. No amount of building jigs or templates is going to replace the built-in scales.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Wow...... I'm glad I posted the photos. I think I understand what you guys are saying. Apparently, even when I thought things were lined up, it wasn't even close.

To answer a few questions, the tripod wasn't doing anything other than helping hold the dish in place. The mounting bracket underneath used to be attached to a wall - I wish the tube was just straight, so it would support the dish from below. I'll look at that again - maybe I can do what you're suggesting.

The biggest thing I hear you guys saying, is to ignore the dish itself, and only pay attention to the readouts on the scales that are part of the mounting fixture. I didn't know that before, but it makes sense. I'll try again either later tonight, or in ten days.

Thanks!!
 

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If you want to get a rough idea whether the dish is positioned in a location where you are actually seeing out the window and to the sky, you can try this. It won't give you a 100% accurate indication, but it should be close. Take a yardstick and place one end at the base of the dish where the LNB arm is mounted. Place the other end of the yardstick so that it is resting on the top of the LNB assembly. Where that end is pointed will be close to where the dish is pointed. Again, it won't be exact, but it will give you an idea whether you have any obstructions between the dish and the satellite. Of course, you would want to do this after you think you have the dish set up with close to the right azimuth, elevation, and skew.
 

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harsh said:
I assumed that you were going to mount the dish in the sliding glass door.
That is what I was thinking from the start, or at least a large glass only window.

mikemyers said:
The mounting bracket underneath used to be attached to a wall - I wish the tube was just straight, so it would support the dish from below. I'll look at that again - maybe I can do what you're suggesting.
Were there a couple of struts that went on the wall too? I suggested earlier to mount the dish pole to a board, that would be weighted down. You would remove it from the dish mount to do this. The 2 struts would help you adjust for level and also then keep the pole level when the heavy dish goes on it. Of course you would loosen the hardware at the foot of the dish mount to line it up for the floor and tighten when level. If you have not loosened any of the adjustments on the dish until now then all you would be adjusting for was azimuth since all tilt (which should be set initially and left alone) and elevation would be very close.
 
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