How to fine tune a motorized dish

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AcWxRadar

SatelliteGuys Pro
Apr 26, 2006
4,575
2
40 miles NW of Omaha. Omaha?
So do I aim the dish at 97w or the dish and motor at 97w my location is 32.750 N 97.488w I set the usals on the receiver to 32.75 N and 97.5W
JMC,

Sorry that the guides confused you. After you have spent more time experimenting with your equipment and have re-read the guides then the directions will become more apparent to you.

I happen to have the same dish (1.2M GeoSat Pro) and the identical motor (DG-380) as you have. My receivers are Coolsat 5K and AZBox Premium Plus.
My longitude is ~96.4°W so I am nearly directly north of your location near the Omaha, NE area.
Chaskuchar is just a short distance away and he also has a similar setup, so he can also give you some valuable hints.

The first two most important items that you must adhere to are the plumb of the dish mast and the elevation (latitude setting) on your motor. Be very critical about both.
The plumb of the mast can be easily verified with your bubble level, but you must also ensure that your bracket that attaches to the mast is square on the mast.

When I first started out as a greenhorn, with a lesser quality motor than the DG-380, I made a mistake that cost me weeks if not months of frustration in tracking the full arc properly.
I unknowingly deformed the motor bracket by overtightening the mounting bolts. My mast was plumb, but the bracket was now off and that really messed things up. There was no repair but to buy a new bracket.

Another stumbling block for me was with my first Winegard 76 cm dish. When I was tweaking the dish elevation the weight of the dish would allow the bracket to warp or twist and that would introduce an error for me. The gauge of the metal was thin enough to allow a twist that through my alignment off.

Therefore, be aware of and look for oddities like this. They are not common, but they could occur and when they do, they will leave you scratching your head.

As for the elevation (latitude) setting of the motor, you should use a dial inclinometer to verify the angle. Placing the inclinometer against the flat surface of the bottom of the motor will read out the elevation (convert the elevation to your latitude by subtracting the elevation from 90°). This allows you to be the most accurate as opposed to relying upon the factory stamped degree scale on the motor bracket.

Your coordinate entries to the USALS system are correct for your location. When you initially align the dish and motor, you should be selecting the satellite at 97°W. That is going to be your HOME or due south satellite. Here, when you command the receiver to drive the dish to this satellite, the motor should be damned close to zero degrees on its reference scale and the dish itself should be pointing in the direction of 97°W.

Ensure that the motor's reference scale is at zero degrees after you have sent the command to move to this satellite. You'll have to look under the motor to view the scale. It might not be really easy to discern if the pointer is reading perfectly zero (actually it should be off zero by about 0.5°) but it should be very close. Please note that this scale is not really a fine resolution scale. If it looks like it is off more than 1° you might need to rezero the motor first. There is a procedure to do that in the manual for the DG motor, but I doubt that you will be required to perform this task.

Once you have a good signal from 97°W and have peaked it by adjusting your azimuth and elevation angles, then you can proceed to fine tuning the entire arc.

Best method I have found to do this is to have all the satellites entered into your receiver and set up to use USALS. Have at least one known strong TP listed for each of these sats.
Command the receiver to drive the dish / motor to the furthest satellite (east or west) that you can still obtain a viable signal from and adjust your DISH ELEVATION to optimize your signal quality. Then command the receiver to drive the dish / motor to the OPPOSITE end of the arc to the furthest satellite that you can still obtain a viable signal from and "tweak" your AZIMUTH alignment to optimize your signal quality. Repeat this process of adjusting the DISH ELEVATION on one side of the arc and the AZIMUTH on the other side of the arc until you can make no further improvement to the signal quality. Just remember, adjust the DISH ELEVATION on one end of the arc ONLY and the AZIMUTH on the other end of the arc ONLY.

From your location, you should easily be able to track the arc from roughly 38°W to 155°W using this method. There is a limit to how far USALS will track as it stops working beyond ~58-59° +/- from your HOME satellite (which would be 97°W). USALS apparently will not calculate beyond this limit and the motor just will not move to a satellite further away than this. For satellites beyond this limit, they have to be set up to utilize DiSEqC 1.2 motor control.

Hope that this information will benefit you in your pursuit to track the arc. Best of luck!

RADAR (aka Gordy)
 

jmc98

Thread Starter
Supporting Founder
Supporting Founder
Jan 11, 2005
822
43
32.750N 97.488W Fort worth Tx
JMC,

Sorry that the guides confused you. After you have spent more time experimenting with your equipment and have re-read the guides then the directions will become more apparent to you.

I happen to have the same dish (1.2M GeoSat Pro) and the identical motor (DG-380) as you have. My receivers are Coolsat 5K and AZBox Premium Plus.
My longitude is ~96.4°W so I am nearly directly north of your location near the Omaha, NE area.
Chaskuchar is just a short distance away and he also has a similar setup, so he can also give you some valuable hints.

The first two most important items that you must adhere to are the plumb of the dish mast and the elevation (latitude setting) on your motor. Be very critical about both.
The plumb of the mast can be easily verified with your bubble level, but you must also ensure that your bracket that attaches to the mast is square on the mast.

When I first started out as a greenhorn, with a lesser quality motor than the DG-380, I made a mistake that cost me weeks if not months of frustration in tracking the full arc properly.
I unknowingly deformed the motor bracket by overtightening the mounting bolts. My mast was plumb, but the bracket was now off and that really messed things up. There was no repair but to buy a new bracket.

Another stumbling block for me was with my first Winegard 76 cm dish. When I was tweaking the dish elevation the weight of the dish would allow the bracket to warp or twist and that would introduce an error for me. The gauge of the metal was thin enough to allow a twist that through my alignment off.

Therefore, be aware of and look for oddities like this. They are not common, but they could occur and when they do, they will leave you scratching your head.

As for the elevation (latitude) setting of the motor, you should use a dial inclinometer to verify the angle. Placing the inclinometer against the flat surface of the bottom of the motor will read out the elevation (convert the elevation to your latitude by subtracting the elevation from 90°). This allows you to be the most accurate as opposed to relying upon the factory stamped degree scale on the motor bracket.

Your coordinate entries to the USALS system are correct for your location. When you initially align the dish and motor, you should be selecting the satellite at 97°W. That is going to be your HOME or due south satellite. Here, when you command the receiver to drive the dish to this satellite, the motor should be damned close to zero degrees on its reference scale and the dish itself should be pointing in the direction of 97°W.

Ensure that the motor's reference scale is at zero degrees after you have sent the command to move to this satellite. You'll have to look under the motor to view the scale. It might not be really easy to discern if the pointer is reading perfectly zero (actually it should be off zero by about 0.5°) but it should be very close. Please note that this scale is not really a fine resolution scale. If it looks like it is off more than 1° you might need to rezero the motor first. There is a procedure to do that in the manual for the DG motor, but I doubt that you will be required to perform this task.

Once you have a good signal from 97°W and have peaked it by adjusting your azimuth and elevation angles, then you can proceed to fine tuning the entire arc.

Best method I have found to do this is to have all the satellites entered into your receiver and set up to use USALS. Have at least one known strong TP listed for each of these sats.
Command the receiver to drive the dish / motor to the furthest satellite (east or west) that you can still obtain a viable signal from and adjust your DISH ELEVATION to optimize your signal quality. Then command the receiver to drive the dish / motor to the OPPOSITE end of the arc to the furthest satellite that you can still obtain a viable signal from and "tweak" your AZIMUTH alignment to optimize your signal quality. Repeat this process of adjusting the DISH ELEVATION on one side of the arc and the AZIMUTH on the other side of the arc until you can make no further improvement to the signal quality. Just remember, adjust the DISH ELEVATION on one end of the arc ONLY and the AZIMUTH on the other end of the arc ONLY.

From your location, you should easily be able to track the arc from roughly 38°W to 155°W using this method. There is a limit to how far USALS will track as it stops working beyond ~58-59° +/- from your HOME satellite (which would be 97°W). USALS apparently will not calculate beyond this limit and the motor just will not move to a satellite further away than this. For satellites beyond this limit, they have to be set up to utilize DiSEqC 1.2 motor control.

Hope that this information will benefit you in your pursuit to track the arc. Best of luck!

RADAR (aka Gordy)
So I went to try to make sure I was tracking the arc on the western sats and my quality was jumping around on 97w so I started messing with the dish and now I can't find the satellite anymore I know I am aimed in the general area what should I look for next ?
 
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AcWxRadar

SatelliteGuys Pro
Apr 26, 2006
4,575
2
40 miles NW of Omaha. Omaha?
So I went to try to make sure I was tracking the arc on the western sats and my quality was jumping around on 97w so I started messing with the dish and now I can't find the satellite anymore I know I am aimed in the general area what should I look for next ?
JMC,

OK. You know that you had the signal from 97W locked in originally, albeit a little shaky, right? Then you tweaked on the dish (and/or the motor) and you lost contact with that signal. Therefore, you should simply realize that you are merely just misaligned. You could attempt to retrace all your steps to get back to square one, but probably the better method would be to just start from scratch with this:

Take a small, portable TV and your receiver out to the dish with you so that you can monitor your signal quality in real time.
Use short cables and NO switches to eliminate any errors and bad connections there.
Select your receiver's dish set up menu (or the manual scan mode if you have such). Some menu that allows you to select one specific TP and view the signal quality meter.
Select sat 97W and a good strong TP to monitor.

Loosen the motor clamps where it attaches to the mast and gently swing the motor east and west on the mast within the general direction where you know you should be.
Move the motor extremely slowly and in very, VERY small increments - then stop and wait just a short while before moving it more to allow time for your system to detect a signal.
If you move approx 3° east and west of where you started from, and you haven't pinged on the signal yet, then...
Raise your DISH ELEVATION 1° and try swinging the motor east and west once again. No signal pinged yet? Try going 1° higher. If still nothing, start going lower.
Repeat this process until you relocate 97W. I doubt you are off very far, so it shouldn't take too much effort to reacquire the signal. Just remember to be methodical and patient.

Once you have reacquired the signal from 97W, go ahead and tweak your adjustments to optimize the signal quality on that one TP. Write down what your signal QUALITY meter shows.
Then go through all the TPs on 97W and pick out the five or ten highest (signal quality) TPs and write down what the signal QUALITY readings are from each of them. You might also scan the entire 97W satellite and use the total TP count as a guide for comparison. You can use this information later as a guideline as to what the best quality readings you might expect, but also to possibly compare to other's readings with the identical receiver and similar equipment. If someone else is getting 80% Q with a PROF 7500 tuner on the same sat/TP and you are only getting 50% max, or if you are missing a lot of TPs, then we have to look at other problem areas, but don't worry about that now. Just get 97W back on the radar (no pun intended).

RADAR

(PS Nice avatar!)
 

jmc98

Thread Starter
Supporting Founder
Supporting Founder
Jan 11, 2005
822
43
32.750N 97.488W Fort worth Tx
JMC,

OK. You know that you had the signal from 97W locked in originally, albeit a little shaky, right? Then you tweaked on the dish (and/or the motor) and you lost contact with that signal. Therefore, you should simply realize that you are merely just misaligned. You could attempt to retrace all your steps to get back to square one, but probably the better method would be to just start from scratch with this:

Take a small, portable TV and your receiver out to the dish with you so that you can monitor your signal quality in real time.
Use short cables and NO switches to eliminate any errors and bad connections there.
Select your receiver's dish set up menu (or the manual scan mode if you have such). Some menu that allows you to select one specific TP and view the signal quality meter.
Select sat 97W and a good strong TP to monitor.

Loosen the motor clamps where it attaches to the mast and gently swing the motor east and west on the mast within the general direction where you know you should be.
Move the motor extremely slowly and in very, VERY small increments - then stop and wait just a short while before moving it more to allow time for your system to detect a signal.
If you move approx 3° east and west of where you started from, and you haven't pinged on the signal yet, then...
Raise your DISH ELEVATION 1° and try swinging the motor east and west once again. No signal pinged yet? Try going 1° higher. If still nothing, start going lower.
Repeat this process until you relocate 97W. I doubt you are off very far, so it shouldn't take too much effort to reacquire the signal. Just remember to be methodical and patient.

Once you have reacquired the signal from 97W, go ahead and tweak your adjustments to optimize the signal quality on that one TP. Write down what your signal QUALITY meter shows.
Then go through all the TPs on 97W and pick out the five or ten highest (signal quality) TPs and write down what the signal QUALITY readings are from each of them. You might also scan the entire 97W satellite and use the total TP count as a guide for comparison. You can use this information later as a guideline as to what the best quality readings you might expect, but also to possibly compare to other's readings with the identical receiver and similar equipment. If someone else is getting 80% Q with a PROF 7500 tuner on the same sat/TP and you are only getting 50% max, or if you are missing a lot of TPs, then we have to look at other problem areas, but don't worry about that now. Just get 97W back on the radar (no pun intended).

RADAR

(PS Nice avatar!)
Thanks for the help got it tracking ku 30W to 125w

Jeremy
Go Big Red from a Texas huskers fan
 
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