Satellite Dish Installations

27 December 2018

The relatively small size of present day digital satellite antenna means that these may be practically fixed just about anywhere. In particular, these compact satellite dishes are especially suitable for city dwellers.

While many opt to have their new satellite dish installed by a professional, the actual installation process is not difficult; all you need are basic DIY skills.

The only real difficulty that may arise in the process is when aiming the dish to get the best signal from the satellites. This is a crucial step and it is this step which may warrant professional assistance. Remember that the satellite dish is your main link to those satellites floating around in space, so it has to be aimed properly to pick up the signals; a self-installation kit may be of assistance here. 

Selecting the best location for your Satellite Dish

First, you have to decide on the exact location where best to install your satellite dish. There are a few issues that you need to take into account here. These shall include:

1] Remember that DSS satellites are in a geo-stationary orbit above the equator. Therefore, a satellite dish must point South when you are located north of the equator and North if you are located south of the equator.

2] Choose a location that is easily accessible in case you need to clean snow or debris out of your satellite dish, or to re-adjust the dish in case it has lost its alignment. A suitable location is to attach the dish to a post which has been sunken in the ground.

3] The chosen location should be unobstructed by trees, branches, buildings, etc. In addition, make sure that the growth of new foliage does not impede your system.

4] Ideally, the selected location should allow you to take a route that is as straight and as close to your television set as possible. At the same time, ensure that the selected location is away from power lines and other service utilities.

6] Finally, refer to the included instructions for any specific details.

Choose a method of installation that allows your system to withstand the elements year-round and still remain perfectly aligned and rigidly mounted. Remember that system movement can reduce signal reception to the point of complete loss.

Always do a trial run on the ground for coax cable installation from the satellite dish to the place where it will enter your house. Make sure it is long enough to reach both points. Attach the cable to the satellite dish and then run it across your yard and into the house through a drilled hole.

Attach the cable to your television set. Seal all outdoor electrical connections with weatherproof sealant, and bury the incoming receiving line below the frost line level.

Finally, ground the unit and the incoming receiving line by following local electrical code standards; this is both a safety consideration as well as a potential code requirement. Place an inexpensive coax grounding block such as the one shown at the point where the antenna cable enters the house; then run a wire from the grounding block to your home’s ground rod.

To determine the best location for your satellite dish, follow these few simple steps:

1] Determine which satellite carries your most frequently viewed programs and figure out its location on the solar arc.

2] Locate the area outside your home that is nearest to your television set.

3] Turn and face south – or north if you are located south of the equator.

4] Look from east to west, following an arc that mimics the sun’s path across the sky.

5] Observe any obstacles, such as trees or buildings that may obscure the line of sight along the arc. This is the most critical step prior to installation


Most TV satellite dish installations are either ‘pipe in ground‘ i.e. with the antenna attached to a pipe that is placed in concrete, or ‘outside wall‘ where the antenna is attached to a wall with fasteners that are permanently embed in the wall.

Satellite positions are given in orbit slot degree coordinates and are true, not magnetic locations. These slots will be based on an azimuth that must be viewed as true rather than a compass position. Since a compass will have a magnetic variation, ask your local airport for that variation. To read true azimuth, turn in the opposite direction of the variation the number of degrees the airport gives; e.g. for 3 degrees west, you will have to turn back the compass dial 3 degrees east for the correct azimuth reading.

However, a simpler alternative to find your satellites is by using one of the many online satellite finder calculators; these not only give you the satellite position but in most cases, even the settings required for your antenna based on your location. For North America, Dish Pointer represents an excellent application; all you have to do is to either select the satellites you want or the LNB setup you have, and then find your location on the included Google earth map; the application will instantly give you the angle of elevation, the true and magnetic azimuth, and the dish skew. These values are required to setup or ‘tune’ your satellite dish. 

Some Definitions:

Before explaining how to use the elevation, azimuth and dish skew to setup your satellite TV antenna, it is best that we first define these terms as applicable to the world of satellite TV reception.

Elevation refers to the ‘look’ or up-down angle between the dish pointing direction (directly towards the satellite), and the local horizontal plane.

Azimuth refers to the rotation of the whole satellite dish assembly around a vertical axis, or supporting pole. By definition, North is 0 deg or 360 deg, East is 90 deg, South is 180 deg, and West is 270 deg.

Skew refers to the polarization angle of the electric field. The term ‘Dish Skew’ refers to the dish tilt necessary to get the satellite dish position such that the LNB will be in exact alignment with the electric field of the incoming satellite signals. Setting the dish skew is necessary only when pointing to more than a single satellite.

To set the dish skew, stand behind the dish and rotate it clockwise until the scale on the dish reads the same angle as the required dish skew for your setup. If your dish has a reversed scale, the scale reading should be 180 minus the skew angle.

‘Tuning’ Your Satellite Dish

Once you install your new dish, you will surely want to get the maximum number of channels. There is only one way forward – get that satellite TV antenna tuned for perfect reception!

The following steps will help you tune your satellite dish for the best signal; however, first ensure that your satellite antenna meets the following conditions:

The line-of-sight to the satellite is free of obstacles and obstructions.

The supporting mast is rigidly mounted and perfectly level, otherwise all settings will be wrong.

The reflector part of the satellite antenna (the dish) is not warped.

Tuning Process:

1] Adjust the antenna reflector azimuth angle to match that necessary for the particular satellite. This adjustment is the east-west movement of the reflector on the vertical mount and is given in azimuth degrees.

2] Adjust the elevation angle; this adjustment is from the horizon to the sky and is given as elevation in degrees above the horizontal plane.

3] If you are tracking more than one satellite, you also need to set the dish skew as further detailed in the skew definition above.

4] Ensure that the antenna signal line is connected to the receiver and the receiver is turned on and positioned on a beacon channel; the beacon channel is transmitted from the satellite to peak your antenna to it.

5] Begin tuning by slowly moving the reflector first to the east in one-degree increments for a total of three degrees, then in the opposite direction (west) while monitoring the receiver’s signal meter. Peak the signal to the highest scale at this point. Ideally, this should be done using an inexpensive satellite finder or signal ‘strength’ meter like the WS International Satellite Finder; these allow for a more precise adjustment thanks to their greater signal sensitivity.

6] Lock the antenna azimuth adjustment on the mount once the signal level is maximized.

7] Perform the same procedure as in steps 4 through 6, using the elevation adjustment, first up and then down for peaking. Lock the satellite dish elevation at the point of maximum signal reception.

8] Ground the antenna and the signal line entrance into the residence to electrical code standards as detailed earlier on in this guide.

The next step is to plug your receiver into a household outlet; turn your television set on and make any necessary adjustments to the satellite system settings. Once ready, you can relax and enjoy your new satellite TV system!

Pointing A Satellite Dish

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