Need SatelliteGuys Assistance for C-band Feedhorn Alignment Tool Project

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Titanium

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Used to have a telescoping rod version back in the day. They tended to be easily damaged then not point to center. Abandoned this old school tool years ago in favor of a laser level. Maybe one of the old timers might have one for sale if you want to try one, but not a very good product in my opinion.

The angle finder on the feedhorn is an interesting thought, but the dish could be aimed completely wrong in elevation and azimuth and the feedhorn still can be positioned to receive the reflected signal. You could use a angle finder to confirm the proper feedhorn elevation position if the reflector was already properly set and aimed at the Southern satellite, but I would never use a level on the feedhorn for aiming a dish. Introduces too many additional variables. :D




Brian Gohl
Titanium Satellite
 
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tekjunkie02

SatelliteGuys Pro
Aug 9, 2012
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Right, I remember those, not much more than an old transistor radio antenna screwed to a cup..LOL They were shaky and flimsy.
I was thinking on those lines, but brought up to todays technology level.
I was thinking a problem with the laser is, or could be, that you can aim a dot at a point from numerous angles and not really be able to tell if it is pointing straight.
And, how do you find the center spot to point to?
The crossed string idea is good, but may be difficult for some dish installations.

BTW, thanks for the three screw scalar that comes with the C1-PLL. That helped get things straightened up on my dish.


Used to have a telescoping rod version back in the day. They tended to be easily damaged then not point to center. Abandoned this old school tool years ago in favor of a laser level. Maybe one of the old timers might have one for sale if you want to try one, but not a very good product in my opinion.

The angle finder on the feedhorn is an interesting thought, but the dish could be aimed completely wrong in elevation and azimuth and the feedhorn still can be positioned to receive the reflected signal. You could use a angle finder to confirm the proper feedhorn elevation position if the reflector was already properly set and aimed at the Southern satellite, but I would never use a level on the feedhorn for aiming a dish. Introduces too many additional variables. :D




Brian Gohl
Titanium Satellite
 

Titanium

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No real short cut to centering the scalar: Mechanical measurement from multiple points around the rim of the reflector to the center of the scalar. Make sure all measurements are exactly equal and the scalar will be centered.

Next, make sure the scalar face is parallel to the reflector. Finally make sure the feedhorn is aimed directly into the center of the reflector.

The laser aiming and string shadowing the dish center is just another way of double checking for correct feedhorn positioning and aiming.

You are right! There are many variables that must be correct before a dish will perfectly track. Scalar/feedhorn positioning and aiming is often overlooked, but really it should be set even before starting to aim the dish.


Brian Gohl
Titanium Satellite
 
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Bassplayer 1964

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Sep 13, 2011
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No real short cut to centering the scalar: Mechanical measurement from multiple points around the rim of the reflector to the center of the scalar. Make sure all measurements are exactly equal and the scalar will be centered.

Next, make sure the scalar face is parallel to the reflector. Finally make sure the feedhorn is aimed directly into the center of the reflector.

The laser aiming and string shadowing the dish center is just another way of double checking for correct feedhorn positioning and aiming.

You are right! There are many variables that must be correct before a dish will perfectly track. Scalar/feedhorn positioning and aiming is often overlooked, but really it should be set even before starting to aim the dish.


Brian Gohl
Titanium Satellite
I need to get myself another laser pointer. Mine gave up on life and won't do anything:(
Guess I need a green one but I gotta make sure those fighter planes are not flying over the dish farm as they were yesterday, don't need one of those hung up in my bud:D
On a serious note what sort of adapter has everyone been using to mate up with the throat opening of the LNB below the scalar?
 

richyrich

SatelliteGuys Pro
Sep 2, 2008
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Brian,

Are you able to apply a measure at skew also? The mating of the two dims x at y at z are the trooper tools that make your leveling; as i use my cell app for each measuring in agreement to the dishes same as aiming mount; you might as well add the USALS and Compass bytes through hor./vert. for "snap shoot" micro calculate and the dishes earthly spot on the map; which in a sensors array which can move the two axises with motors while the dish moves down the road! I would like the skew to show as lines on the dish like taking aim at a telescope and hanging a picture frame on a wall; only twisted for lnbf skew requirement! I know it would cost more, but techs need to set it arguably at the same time.

Today, it would put the riflescopic pattern (looking through a riflescope with open crosshairs you see) onto the dish so that the skew is seen!

The center laser dictates distance number using reflective technique for focal point; riflescopic pattern of skew at compass reading could use usals and plug the number onto the dish for each satellite entered. Well yea, it is going to be an item with robotic movements; but instead of moving the dish; only draws skew lines (2 at 90 degrees) for linear progressive!

I will buy one as soon as i can find one on the internet; your lnbf dual NA with your laserguide!
 
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Titanium

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Thanks for the suggestions. At this time the functions and features are established. The CAD is complete and ready for economical production.

Developing the LFA tool to be marketed to the average price conscious hobbyist for scalar and feedhorn aiming assistance. The LFA was not designed to be the advanced Swiss Army Knife for the professional installer. Unfortunately, the features suggested would make the product very expensive and depart from the target use and market. Targeting a $45 MSRP and not a computerized USALS/GPS/laser measurement tool with character projection costing hundreds of dollars.




Brian Gohl
Titanium Satellite
 

jmc98

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Jan 11, 2005
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Thanks for the suggestions. At this time the functions and features are established. The CAD is complete and ready for economical production.

Developing the LFA tool to be marketed to the average price conscious hobbyist for scalar and feedhorn aiming assistance. The LFA was not designed to be the advanced Swiss Army Knife for the professional installer. Unfortunately, the features suggested would make the product very expensive and depart from the target use and market. Targeting a $45 MSRP and not a computerized USALS/GPS/laser measurement tool with character projection costing hundreds of dollars.




Brian Gohl
Titanium Satellite
Any update on this project as to when this tool will be available for purchase?
 

Titanium

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The CAD is brilliant and the sample unit allows laser alignment as well as signal pass-through to the feedhorn during the alignment process. Very nice to be able to peak signal quality readings while observing the physical alignment.

As it stands now, amortizing the nylon injection mold cost over the first limited production run would set the retail cost far above the target MSRP. The projected cost of the finished unit currently exceeds the target retail price. My assumptions are that a 1k production run would be a multiple year supply and the product would reach break even after 500 units are sold at MSRP of $70. Extremely risky proposition, as I feel that the LFA unit price must be in the $45 range to appeal to most potential buyers. At $60 - $85 only technicians or advanced hobbyists would consider investing in a limited use tool.

Have explored other outside the box production options, but found no method for significantly reducing the unit manufacturing cost. This feedhorn alignment tool would have a very limited customer demographic and the development costs would need to be covered in the sales of the first and potentially only production run if standard manufacturing methods are used.

Limited on demand production potentially could be done on 3d printers if an appropriate robust material could be sourced to provide the fit and finish for proper operation and longevity. The 3d printer materials that I have experimented with do not provide smooth operation of the locking collar without significant surface polishing. The additional finishing process brings the production cost to match traditional injection mold costs for small runs.

I feel that this type of project is perfect for 3d printing, but the 3d revolution is so new and radical shifts and consolidations are constantly re-shaping and shifting the market. There is light on the horizon as new 3d printer mediums are being introduced every month. The print resolution and finish is rapidly improving and the cost of the raw materials is dropping.
 

primestar31

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How about putting out a pre-buy, PRE-pay offer at all the various sites, and see if you collect enough money for a manufacturing run?

Just throwing out the idea, as you may not have thought of it. I'm sure throwing it out might have people responding and giving additional thought and response to various logistics ideas on handling it.
 
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Journeyman

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Jun 17, 2014
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Lower cost ? alternative idea:

Reverse your mount to the centered dish surface with Magmount or adhesive?
Mount a small 1\4"? mirror to the center of feed horn cap. Like those blue ones you send out.
Use it to reflect laser back to red disk around the LOW powered slow pulsed laser source. At superimposing you have good alignment. Might need to wear red filter glasses to see the weak laser spot in the sunlight. Or use a shadow casting piece of plastic. OR just a black shield tube several inches long surrounding the laser and it's target disk. The cap can be rotated and remounted to check it for warpage while laser is on (perpendiculatity?). Alignment accuracy might be limited by the surface plate issues the laser is mounted on. That could be checked with an aiming target put over the mirror. Does repeating this at both ends lead to unlimited precision? Is this collimating?
A slight dispersion lens on the laser would further increase saftey for installers and low flying aircraft if the feedhorn was removed with laser on. More advanced models can use photosensors around the laser source driving a tone generator.
Thanks for the inspiration, If I had time I might make one using a more common laser with attenuation filter over it for saftey.
Maybe side mount it to my magmount digital inclinometer.

Have a great summer everyone. I hope to check back here occasionally.
 

gabshere

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Aug 20, 2006
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has this project stalled because of price ?

I'm trying to develope a low cost prototype, my cost range right now on paper looks to be in the $10 range. It could go lower if i can locate the battery holder cheaper than $4.25. I'm going to spend the next week to procure the supplies to build said prototype...
 

Titanium

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Yes, the molds make this project cost prohibitive.

Thinking outside the box... Investigating using the Amazon 3d print service and have a conversation going on with a few members. Might be a project that I provide the laser and Amazon provides the product?
 
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gabshere

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great , I will still proceed in procuring prices for my prototype but it wouldn't be a professional design . found a cheaper battery tray. trying to locate other parts prices
 
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ZandarKoad

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I'm going to buy one, and I've never touched a C-band dish in my life. But I've installed an serviced every other type of dish I know of. Now I'm learning the distribution and head end field. It's only a matter of time before I build out a headend that I want cband in.

But I'd be more interested in a pro level tool... Can you have two versions, with the pro level at 7x or 8x the price to help subsidize the consumer version?

I'd be putting money down now if there was a kick starter!
 
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Titanium

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This thread is referenced in a current post, so I thought that an update is due. The project model name is: LFA (Laser Feedhorn Alignment)

Here is a capture of the CAD screen showing a generic Flat Scalar with the LFA parts.

Left to right:
  • Adapter to fit the LFA into the scalar ring for scalar alignment
  • LFA housing that clamps over the feedhorn or the scalar adapter
  • Sleeve Collar
  • Laser Pointer

LFA.JPG


The Amazon 3d print service was so expensive on this project that it made zero sense. The printing service must not have been too popular. Good luck even finding the Amazon 3d service on their site! Here is a direct link if you want to see the crazy prices offered on printed product. http://www.amazon.com/b?ie=UTF8&node=8323871011&tag=satell01-20

If there is still interest in the project, I will look into the current generation of 3D printers, new materials and processes that might be more suitable for a small run project.
 

Titanium

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The 3D printer prosumer market has stalled and is in regression. I had been quite excited as more build mediums were being developed and looked like it was just a matter of time before a suitable nylon type was to be introduced. Now it appears that the only options are a commercial build. When I bid this to a Bay area fabricator the actual housing build cost was about $65 each.
 

BigRyan

SatelliteGuys Pro
Aug 2, 2014
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Texas
This project reminds me more of a laser collimator that we use for collimating Newtonian telescopes. The laser hits the center of the mirror which has a small circle in the center and bounces back into the collimator which has a hole and target on it so that you can line both paths up perfectly. Maybe there is a design that would include a small magnetic mirror that is placed in the center of the dish to bounce the laser back into the device in a similar fashion.
la1_foc.jpg


Or what about an elastic band with 4 lasers that would be a "one size fits all" solution.
 
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