FTA alignment procedures (your expert opinion requested)

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AcWxRadar

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Apr 26, 2006
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As for trying what was outlined in the first post of this thread...

Today I aligned my dish using that procedure. It seemed like there was a bigger window of signal on my extreme west or east sats. I found that the window of signal was much narrower and the dish alignment was more accurate (and quicker) when using USALS on my most southern satellite.

DJ Rob,

That sounds like it tightened up the precision on your southern sat, but made the further extreme sats more easily detectable. Is that what you were infering? Does it seem as though it is an improvement, or just that it is different?

Radar
 

Babadem

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May 21, 2007
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As for trying what was outlined in the first post of this thread...

Today I aligned my dish using that procedure. It seemed like there was a bigger window of signal on my extreme west or east sats. I found that the window of signal was much narrower and the dish alignment was more accurate (and quicker) when using USALS on my most southern satellite.

Are you referring to Tim Heinrichs' method or the modified version by AcWxRadar? :confused: Was setup any easier or faster?
 

AcWxRadar

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Apr 26, 2006
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Please allow me to request some information from all of you. I would like to know:

What receiver you have and what motor you have and how far (in degrees) you can position the motor east or west from your site longitude while using USALS.

I have:

Coolsat 5000
PowerTech DG-280

When I select USALS, and any satellite that is less than 59.5 degrees east or weat of my longitude, the motor drives there just fine.

If I select a satellite that is greater than 59.5 degrees east or west of my longitude, the motor won't budge.

If I select DiSEqC 1.2 I can drive the motor further by stepping it.

What response does your system give you?

Thanks everyone, I am just trying to tie some information together here from this thread and a few others.

Radar
 

skysurfer

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Dec 1, 2006
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I tried to do the USALS thing today but had issues with my traxis 3500.

I went into installation, satellite setup, and then changed the positioner to USALS and hit enter and went into the USALS screen. I st my local longitude and latitude and then selected "go to reference'. My dish was drive to the zero position that I have been using all along with the handheld diseqc position controller and its "zero" button.

How do you get it to drive to the position it calculates for the satellite of interest. As I type this, I have AMC-5 (my extreme sat) on the screen and I"m in the USALS menu. I have the sat long at 79w, my latitude and longitude below that, but I don't know what to select or do to get it to figure out and move my dish to 79 deg W so I can try some adjusments to find the satellite.

This whole USALS thing made me realize something that might be a slight part of my issue. I've been using AMC-15 Ku as my due-south sat, and in fact I probably shouldn't be using it. I'm at 106.5 deg W (to the nearest 10th of a longitude). AMC-15 in its center of box is 1.55 deg away, while Anik F1R in its center of box is .8 deg away. My thinking is I better use Anik F1R Ku-band for my due south peaking needs since it's closer to due south than AMC-15 Ku-band that I have been using since it launched and went active.

How do I know how much to slew off of the zero position to the west in order to do my Ku-band peaking on Anik F1R -- or just don't worry about it too much since I"m within 1 deg of Anik F1R Ku?

Edit: the scale on the hh120 motor seems to be marked in five deg increments, not enough resolution for me to offset by .8 deg to do my due south aiming.
 
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DJ Rob

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Sep 8, 2003
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Are you referring to Tim Heinrichs' method or the modified version by AcWxRadar? :confused: Was setup any easier or faster?

I tried both actually. Both took a lot more time than just aiming towards your most southern sat with USALS. And it just seemed like to me with the Geosat Pro dish that the signal beams become more wider as I went from zero out to the most extreme satellites.

Your results may very since it probably has to do with the dish you use and LNB. Or maybe the more skewed the dish is, the wider the beam seems on this kind of dish.
 

glen4cindy

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Sep 14, 2004
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St. Louis MO, area
Please allow me to request some information from all of you. I would like to know:

What receiver you have and what motor you have and how far (in degrees) you can position the motor east or west from your site longitude while using USALS.

I have:

Coolsat 5000
PowerTech DG-280

When I select USALS, and any satellite that is less than 59.5 degrees east or weat of my longitude, the motor drives there just fine.

If I select a satellite that is greater than 59.5 degrees east or west of my longitude, the motor won't budge.

If I select DiSEqC 1.2 I can drive the motor further by stepping it.

What response does your system give you?

Thanks everyone, I am just trying to tie some information together here from this thread and a few others.

Radar


I am not really sure how far I can drive it, but, I know that in trying to set up Hispasat at 30 W, my motor will not respond. The farthest east I have tried to go is 58 W. I tried 148 W, but, my house is in the way of seeing a signal.

I don't know how to use 1.2 to find Hispasat. I know how to drive the motor by hand, but, I have no idea how to actually find a satellite like that.
 

Mr Tony

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Nov 17, 2003
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Tried to get Hispasat on my 2nd motorized.
Pansat 1500
SG2100

can go exactly 60 degrees (93W to 33W) if I try farther with USALS it say "out of range". I can motor with 1.2 but cant get 30W...the dish hits the mast and then goes back to true south

cant try 60 degrees west as there is no satellite and the dishes would hit the roof :)
 

AcWxRadar

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Apr 26, 2006
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40 miles NW of Omaha. Omaha?
I tried both actually....

Both took a lot more time than just aiming towards your most southern sat with USALS....

And it just seemed like to me with the Geosat Pro dish that the signal beams become more wider as I went from zero out to the most extreme satellites.

Hi Rob,

In all honesty, I did not expect or mean to ellude that either procedure would be much less time consuming, but I am wondering if it could make the tracking of the arc more accurate.

I take it as a general assumption that it is required to physically align the dish and motor for the best signal on the "nearest" true south satellite first. Regardless of whether you use USALS or not. This point is a prerequisite in my opinion.

When you locate the (hopefully) most nearest true southerly reference satellite, you would align both the dish elevation and the motor azimuth for optimum reception. The motor azimuth referring to east to west rotation of the motor mount on the mast, of course.

Then, motor east or west to a verifiable and reliable satellite and readjust the motor azimuth to peak the signal. Then return to true south and confirm that the signal is still peaked. If not, adjust the elevation and then motor back to the east or west sat you used before and confirm that the signal is still peaked. Repeat these steps for these two satellites until the signal is optimized.

Is this not the practice that is generally accepted by most?

This is the method that I have always used and providing that the mast is pefectly plumb and the dish is attached (aligned) properly on the motor tube and the motor latitude angle was properly set, then this should track the arc perfectly. Of course, this is barring any errors which may be interjected by using a satellite or TP that may be slightly inclined or, at the time, "out of the box".

Next, and this is where I found Tim Heinrich's procedure to make some plausible sense to me, how can a person refine the tracking of the arc to the utmost possible accuracy?

I mean not only elevating the signal quality or level on a few select satellites to a maximum, but capturing as many satellites on the arc as possible with more than just acceptable signal quality levels.

This is what I like to refer to as a calibration "SOP". This technique would require all the steps previously discussed, but would take the same basic principles and expand upon it. With a specific, prescribed set of operating procedures (SOP) that would work in all cases to really refine the dish and motor to the track of the arc.

I am hoping that my objective, my principle and my proposed procedure are not being misunderstood. I am just trying to determine if there is any validity to this suggestion from Tim Heinrich's. If there is, then maybe our standard, existing procedure could be refined to improve our results. It may require additional time beyond what we are doing currently, but the results may be more pleasing and more accurate.

Using USALS, if the receiver can be trusted to adhere to the calculations accurately, would be a necessity in this SOP. Using manual positioning via DiSEqC 1.2 would be extremely time consuming and probably inaccurate. You would have to physically go out and measure the degrees that motor moved somehow to get an accurate evaluation of the process. That would be far too much work in my opinion. Doing it that way, you may as well stop with just the first two sats and consider your dish and motor perfectly aligned from there.

Pendragon has questioned and doubted the accuracy of the USALS programming in various receivers, and proved it inaccurate in several cases. I now have to wonder whether the whole concept that I am pondering is useless or whether it is even more necessary than I had suspected. In other words, if you could trust USALS to be 100% correct, this SOP might be a helpful aid. If USALS is incorrect, then this SOP might actually be more of a necessity than a perk.

I am using a Coolsat 5000 receiver and I feel very confident in the USALS program within. I can drive to any satellite east or west or near due south and everything is spot on. The signal may be lower than I desire, but still well above acceptable limits. I cannot improve it though fooling the system or manually flexing the dish east/west or up/down. It seems to be spot on in all axis.

Once or twice satellite 74 W (ONN) gave me a problem with azimuth positioning, but all othe satellites were true to the arc at the time. I did not try to boost 74 W and it eventually returned to a good signal level. Iceberg recently commented on the very same thing with 74 W and I wonder if they are not steering the sat within the box very accurately.

Radar
 

skysurfer

SatelliteGuys Pro
Dec 1, 2006
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Once or twice satellite 74 W (ONN) gave me a problem with azimuth positioning
(...)
I wonder if they are not steering the sat within the box very accurately.

I think they are fairly accurately steering H2 within its box. If Intelsat/Horizons don't stationkeep it to +/- .05 deg of its operating longitude, they are in violation of the satellite license.
 

AcWxRadar

SatelliteGuys Pro
Apr 26, 2006
4,575
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40 miles NW of Omaha. Omaha?
I think they are fairly accurately steering H2 within its box. If Intelsat/Horizons don't stationkeep it to +/- .05 deg of its operating longitude, they are in violation of the satellite license.

I would expect that, too. However, it is illegal for a freight train to sit and block an intersection, but they just pay a fine and do it again tommorow. AIG executives didn't stay within the "BOX" or work within the lines and follow the rules either and they all got bonuses! HA! HA! :mad

Maybe I would get a raise if I did something at work that I wasn't supposed to do? You think? Ha ha, just being facecious, SkySurfer.

I am sure there is another reason as to why their satellite signal was temporalily screwed up. What it was? I wouldn't have the slightest clue.

Radar
 

skysurfer

SatelliteGuys Pro
Dec 1, 2006
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I am sure there is another reason as to why their satellite signal was temporalily screwed up. What it was? I wouldn't have the slightest clue.Radar

Weather at the uplink? Mispointing of your dish motor? I'm sure motors don't go to the same spot precisely every single time so there might have been some incidences where your motor hit Horizons-2 off a click or two (so to speak) - or USALS moves the dish from a reference point to Horizons-2 that wasn't quite right when the command was given?

those are some of the things I can quickly think of.
 

AcWxRadar

SatelliteGuys Pro
Apr 26, 2006
4,575
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40 miles NW of Omaha. Omaha?
Weather at the uplink? Mispointing of your dish motor? I'm sure motors don't go to the same spot precisely every single time so there might have been some incidences where your motor hit Horizons-2 off a click or two (so to speak) - or USALS moves the dish from a reference point to Horizons-2 that wasn't quite right when the command was given?

those are some of the things I can quickly think of.

Sky,

There was something much more influential than all that. I was pondering solar interference. Solar Outages. When I observed it, it would have been close to that time of the fall. Iceberg just recently mentioned it, and that may have coincided with the spring outage occurance.

The symptoms were not what a person would expect, but I can find no other reason for it and the timing (season) seems awfully coincidental.

If it occurs again around October 5th - 12th of this year near 10:30 am, it might give credence to this.

It doesn't match the symptoms as I stated before, but I can find no other reason for it to change without other intervention, except the st positon, and that shouldn't make that much of an error, unless the sat drifted out of the box.

I gues we'll have to monitor it often and see what is going on at the time that it happens again, if it ever does.

Radar
 

skysurfer

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Dec 1, 2006
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I tried to do the USALS thing today but had issues with my traxis 3500.
(...)
This whole USALS thing made me realize something that might be a slight part of my issue. I've been using AMC-15 Ku as my due-south sat, and in fact I probably shouldn't be using it. I'm at 106.5 deg W (to the nearest 10th of a longitude). AMC-15 in its center of box is 1.55 deg away, while Anik F1R in its center of box is .8 deg away. My thinking is I better use Anik F1R Ku-band for my due south peaking needs since it's closer to due south than AMC-15 Ku-band that I have been using since it launched and went active.

and I think I'm actually making progress for the first time in a month and a half since the dish changeout and trying to get the 120cm properly on arc.

First, I found USALS activates just by trying to tune a signal. The traxis will go to the sat and then try to tune the selected entry. I don't know why anyone couldn't have told me that was how things work after I set up the satellite detail to use USALS. ;)

so that I figured out USALS, I had USALS command my dish to go to AMC-5 and found out it stops at about 77 deg W (just east of AMC-5). With my due-south sat still mistakenly 105 deg W, it should make sense that if I were using Anik F1R ku at 107.3, then the USALS would stop the motor about 79W (AMC-5) with the same amount of movement from zero position.

My plan is to violate Tim's instructions and move the motor/dish about the post until AMc-5 pops in - and then go to zero position and see if that puts the dish in the ballpark of Anik F1R - my closest due south sat. If it does, then use my diseqc hand controller to slew across the arc while looking at the spectrum analzyer to see if most sats look pretty well locked in. If I can see most or all of the arc as I zoom from limit to limit, then I can do Tim's thing of elevation at east extreme, azimuth at west extreme and fine tune things from there so I can get maximum signal possible throughout the arc.

USALS seems to help as it slews the dish to a calculated postion (instead of me having to figure out how much to drive my dish east from the zero position to find an extreme sat to peak on or look for).
 

AcWxRadar

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Apr 26, 2006
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40 miles NW of Omaha. Omaha?
USALS seems to help as it slews the dish to a calculated postion (instead of me having to figure out how much to drive my dish east from the zero position to find an extreme sat to peak on or look for).

This is the BIG advantage for USALS use and exactly why they developed it (at least according to STAB).

You don't have to manually seek out each satellite and record the position. Once you have locked onto one satellite manually, it is "supposed to" calculate the position of all other satellites.

I say "supposed to" because some of us have found that certain receivers aren't implementing USALS properly or are introducing errors somehow.

I do believe in and trust the Coolsat 5000 in regards to USALS, at least to an extent. For every satellite that USALS will drive to, I find them to be right on the mark (usually). The only problem I have detected with my Coolsat is that USALS will not even attempt to move the dish/motor to a satellite further east or west than ~59 degrees from my longitude position. I haven't determined why this is as of yet.

One great thing about USALS when the receiver is accurate, is that you can drive the motor to the satellite within a reasonable proximity. If your motor is not perfectly aligned in azimuth, you can switch over to DiSEqC 1.2 and fine step it east or west just a wee bit and find it, then select the RECALCULATE/SAVE function to store the position. If you find that you have to fine step the motor X number of steps east on nearly every satellite, than you could deduce that the azimuth of the motor is too far west.

Radar
 

skysurfer

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Dec 1, 2006
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ok, I"m about 90% or better of the way there!

I think Tim's aiming instructions can be modified to do elevation at center arc and azimuth at either extreme sat - I don't think it necessarily has to be elevation at east extreme and azimuth done at west extreme. Center arc is very important as I found out - get that set right (and use the right due-south sat) and your arc should be good enough to find a extreme sat to the east or west in order to proceed to finer arc tuning.

I moved my dish a smidge west (polar axis adjustment), found AMC-5 with my signal meter, peaked up on elevation a little bit better just so I could help assure center arc would show up, then went to zero position and found my correct due-south sat of Anik F1R was waiting for me, then repeaked elevation for best signal and went back to AMC-5 and adjusted azimuth for best signal and now the whole arc appears to be fairly locked in.
It's fairly breezy now so the 120cm is bouncing around so my test of db s/n measurements will have to wait for a calmer day to see if I'm done or if more fine tuning needs to be done.

I'm sitting here amazed the angular difference between 2 deg spaced sats at center arc causes that big of tracking error! Using a sat 2 deg east of due south caused the arc to fall off after about 20 deg of arc on either side, while using true due south sat to peak keeps the whole arc in line.

Considering the results are better with my 120cm than with the 90cm dish, I think I"m fine. I"ll try it out for awhile as peaked and if I find any problem signals, I may go try some fine peaking adjustments to get the arc in better than I have it now.

I'll have to go hit up my c-band dish soon as I changed out its feedhorn and repeaked it a few weeks ago and did the same thing of mistakenly using AMC-15 as my due south sat instead of Anik F1R, so it may have its tracking arc slightly out of phase with the true c-band arc. A aiming correction should make things go from pretty good to great I would think.
 

AcWxRadar

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Apr 26, 2006
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ok, I"m about 90% or better of the way there!

I think Tim's aiming instructions can be modified to do elevation at center arc and azimuth at either extreme sat - I don't think it necessarily has to be elevation at east extreme and azimuth done at west extreme. Center arc is very important as I found out - get that set right (and use the right due-south sat) and your arc should be good enough to find a extreme sat to the east or west in order to proceed to finer arc tuning.

I have found that making the dish elevation adjustment at the due south or zero position of the motor is a better policy.

I have observed that if you try to adjust the dish elevation (I am speaking of an offset Ku band dish here) when positioned at any satellite east/west of center, gravity works against you.

The weight of the dish and LNBF and hardware tends to pull or twist on the mounting brackets/hardware related to the dish elevation and that allows the dish to fall or twist to the left or the right. If you make the dish elevation adjustment on either side of the arc, you might unknowingly introduce an azimuth error because of this.

If you make the elevation adjustment at dead center, gravity works with you and helps center and retain the square of the dish brackets or at least it doesn't fight you as much and it reduces these errors.

It may not appear to be much of an error when you are viewing the dish bracket, but overall it creates a very large change in the dish aim. The error is small at the source of the error, but it is amplified like a lever arm when it comes to the reflector pan aim.

Therefore, I don't like Tim H's recommendation in the light of this problem.

Radar
 

skysurfer

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Dec 1, 2006
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one more followup - today was a calm wind day so I popped in a few of my most visited sats.

USALS moved the dish to H2, AMC-5, G17, G19, AMC-21 accurately but for some reason was inaccurate on G18. I had to give G18 a few manual bursts east to get it at max signal.

I am thinking I might use USALS setting when the sats accurate and use the diseqc 1.2 setting when inaccurate (such as G18, do the diseqc 1.2 control unstead of USALS missing the bird every time).

If I can't do a hybrid setup, I might as well use diseqc 1.2 and my spectrum analyzer to program in each one. My dish is on arc with no obvious polar axis issues since USALS has hit 4-5 of them spot on going by signal strength on the screen, my tuning meter and what it looks like on my spectrum analyzer with no co-sat interference seen.

EDIT: something occurred to me. I could just edit G18's "longitude" in the USALS menu until it is spot on - so it might read 117.5 or whatever in the menu just for the USALS calculation for that satellite to work correctly.
 

Wescopc

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EDIT: something occurred to me. I could just edit G18's "longitude" in the USALS menu until it is spot on - so it might read 117.5 or whatever in the menu just for the USALS calculation for that satellite to work correctly.
That is the way I do it - works great.
Bob
 

AcWxRadar

SatelliteGuys Pro
Apr 26, 2006
4,575
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40 miles NW of Omaha. Omaha?
EDIT: something occurred to me. I could just edit G18's "longitude" in the USALS menu until it is spot on - so it might read 117.5 or whatever in the menu just for the USALS calculation for that satellite to work correctly.

I have had to do that on occasion with 74.0 W Horizons 2.

Every once in a while, the signal quality from ONN will drop on me but I can peak it back up by changing the satellite orbital degree in USALS. I change it to about 74.2 to 74.4 W and it is maxed out again.

A few days later or maybe the next week, it will change and I can put it back to 74.0 W. This is the only satellite I have to fuss with and it seems strange why it is doing this.

Radar

EDIT: I have to state that when the signal drops for me on ONN, it is still well above the threshold level for my Coolsat 5000 receiver. Normally it it 90-94%, when it drops, it is mid 80% range, so still excellent, but I don't understand why it is doing this. This does not only happen with my own installation, but at least two others nearby.
 
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