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blekenbleu
10-02-2010, 02:43 PM
Disclaimer:
1) I bought the Android DishPointer app (1.6.1) this morning.
2) I typically use Droid (currently 2.2) only for auto navigation and playing MP3s.
Consequently, I am far from expert for either.

Problems:
a) My Droid compass is inaccurate, with poor repeatability.
b) The camera image is hard to view in sunlight.

Procedure:
1) Also download a smartphone Compass app. Practice calibrating the compass. Since compass accuracy is an issue, getting a good feel for compass performance is important. For example, Motorola Droid magnetic headings are meaningful only with the Droid display held in portrait orientation. While the DishPointer app nominally compensates for that, Droid compass calibration gets thrown off by rotating between portrait and landscape.
2) Use the Google Maps widget at Satellite Finder / Dish Pointing Calculator with Google Maps | DishPointer.com (http://www.dishpointer.com/) to plot satellite vectors which intersect features identifiable in Google's Satellite view and are also visible from the dish location. You may have to go back and forth a few times to find targets which display clearly on the phone screen.. These become your smartphone compass calibration targets. In my case, those vectors were 123W G-18 and 115W XM-4. After compass calibration, DishPointer on my Droid would occasionally agree, briefly, within a degree, for pre-selected calibration targets.
3) Position the phone beneath the dish.
4) Overlay a calibration target with DishPointer's red cross and note the DishPointer Sat reading. For example, mine might read 118 for the 123W target.
5) Slew the phone to view the satellite locus. Adjust satellite numbers according to error noted in step 4. Note potential line-of-sight issues for adjusted satellites.
6) Slew back to a calibration target. Note the new error.
7) Repeat steps 4-6 until the two errors agree.

Conclusion and observations:
This is a neat app, but depends strongly on compass accuracy. Less than 7 hours have passed since I bought it, and it will probably never be used again before the Droid gets replaced. On the other hand, it saved a lot of time by identifying those tree limbs likely to interfere. (Our dish looks directly down a driveway; only a few limbs on trees either side are of concern.) There are too few ways to grasp a Droid without inadvertently triggering something; hopefully other phones are better candidates for this app.

AlanSH
10-02-2010, 03:22 PM
Just a quick note:

When you have calibration targets, you can lock the compass and then move the satellite arc with your finger. That would save you the steps 4-7.

The best calibration target is an existing satellite dish pointed at a known satellite. You just need to point your phone in the direction of the lnb arm and you can immediately tell if the compass is off (you need to stay away a bit of dish). You can then lock the compass and move the arc with your finger and all satellites would then be in place - perfect for multi-lnb dishes and determining which trees to trim.

Apart from that I agree that you download a free compass app, and get a good feel for compass performance. Very important.

Reigster at SatelliteGuys