Question for experienced FTA'ers - how long does it take you to get signal? (1 Viewer)

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thisBUDsforyou

SatelliteGuys Guru
Dec 9, 2007
141
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There was one thread here about people who have set up a dish, plugged everything in and instantly had signal and lots of people have apparently done that at least once, just as lots of golfers have hit a hole in one at some point in their careers. On the other extreme was the memorable thread of Iceberg helping out Iafire over a several week period which ended with Iafire jumping for joy on the roof of his shed when he finally got G10. My first time getting a signal it probably took something like 2-3 hours over a couple of days with my 3ABN dish. Then this weekend with the Starband dish I just put together it took me something like 2-3 hours over Saturday and Sunday to figure out I was too low on elevation and raise it up enough to get signal.

But I'm guessing that dish pointing is a skill you get better at with practice. So here's the question for the old hands here - when you're setting up a new dish on a new mast in a place where you've never put a dish before, how long on average does it take you to lock? 5 minutes? 15? 30? an hour?
 
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updatelee

SatelliteGuys Pro
Jul 22, 2006
1,604
111
CFB Edmonton
aprox 30sec, often less.

level the post/pole 100%, make sure its bang on, perfect.

set elevation on dish

swing left to right slowly, and stop when you have signal.

now adjust for best signal left/right.

now adjust for best signal up/down.

done.
 

iafirebuff

SatelliteGuys Pro
Feb 10, 2006
4,392
8
Waterloo, Iowa
I can now point a dish from 30w to 148w in under 5 min.

When I first started, I had it stuck in my mind that the set up was like Dish or DirecTV - that is set elevation, move the dish h to h and watch the meter on the screen to peak it. Everyone told me to blind scan, but I had it stuck in my mind that I needed to find a signal on the receiver first. I had a signal meter inline that I would aim with, but then I would have nothing on the signal meter on the receiver. After it finally dawned on me that I needed to blind scan to see where I was at, I got it.

Now, I go out, set the elevation, set up my compass to get in the general area, set my receiver to the satellite I want, set it to an active TP (I check Mike Kohl's list to make sure I have one programmed in), watch the meter on the receiver and bingo - I get it right away. I say five minutes which would include fine tuning/peaking the dish. It takes longer to set up my littl tv, receiver and pick up my tools than it does to set it up.

When I added a motor to my set up back in the fall, it took longer to unpack and assemble the motor than it did to set the dish/motor up.

I might add, that I have had lots of pratice, as I used to take an old Primestar dish out on Friday nights and the weekend, and sit in my yard going from satellite to satellite just to see what was out there - so I set up and tore down alot (before motor).

Sorry for the long winded babble :)
 

VinceT3

SatelliteGuys Pro
Jun 12, 2006
2,101
5
Rainsalot Florida
To get my E* dishes aligned it usually only takes me 15-20 minutes.. the FTA dish which has like 10 lnbs on it takes good part of a day or two to get it reasonably close.. I don't think I've every gotten it right.. :)
 

thisBUDsforyou

SatelliteGuys Guru
Dec 9, 2007
141
0
aprox 30sec, often less.

level the post/pole 100%, make sure its bang on, perfect.
I'm beginning to see the wisdom of this, even on my temporary lashups where I'm setting up on milk crates out in the driveway. If the mast isn't plumb your elevation is going to be messed up as you move left and right.
set elevation on dish
Elevation seems to be the critical part - once you've got the elevation right finding the right azimuth should only take a few minutes, assuming the mast is plumb. Maybe that's what's been messing me up - working with a mast that's out of plumb and not having good tricks for setting elevation accurately.

I might add, that I have had lots of pratice, as I used to take an old Primestar dish out on Friday nights and the weekend, and sit in my yard going from satellite to satellite just to see what was out there - so I set up and tore down alot (before motor).
That's pretty much what I'm doing now, temporary setups to get the hang of aiming a fixed dish before I attempt to set up a motor or a toroidal. How did you set up your Primestar out in the yard? That's a very heavy dish.
 

iafirebuff

SatelliteGuys Pro
Feb 10, 2006
4,392
8
Waterloo, Iowa
I took a 5 gallon bucket from Home Depot, and stuck a 2 3/8 pole (about 3' tall) into the bucket and filled it up with cement - I think it took 2 or so bags. I just carry it to where I want it to go and set it up :)
 

red2grass

SatelliteGuys Family
Feb 3, 2005
65
0
SF Bay Area
This is an interesting idea. But two bags of concrete mix is more than 120 lbs before you mix it with water. I can't move a 120 lbs bucket around without help from someone else.

I took a 5 gallon bucket from Home Depot, and stuck a 2 3/8 pole (about 3' tall) into the bucket and filled it up with cement - I think it took 2 or so bags. I just carry it to where I want it to go and set it up :)
 

lumpkin666

SatelliteGuys Pro
Feb 21, 2007
941
0
USA
This is an interesting idea. But two bags of concrete mix is more than 120 lbs before you mix it with water. I can't move a 120 lbs bucket around without help from someone else.
a cheap $15 utility dolly/cart/hand-truck/whatever they call it in your area can be quite helpful in this arena
 

thisBUDsforyou

SatelliteGuys Guru
Dec 9, 2007
141
0
I took a 5 gallon bucket from Home Depot, and stuck a 2 3/8 pole (about 3' tall) into the bucket and filled it up with cement - I think it took 2 or so bags. I just carry it to where I want it to go and set it up :)
hmmm I may have a suitable hunk of pipe and a big bucket down in the basement. Only problem is it's about 10 degrees here, too cold for concrete to set properly. Maybe I could mix it up in the living room ...
 

Anole

SatelliteGuys Master
Sep 22, 2005
11,819
12
L.A., Calif.
While I'm all for seeing pictures of you mixing up some cement in your living room . . . - :rolleyes:
I made up such a 5gal toy several years ago (and on a warmer summer night).
The base isn't big enough to sustain a 36" dish in any sort of winds.
Nor, will it handle the offset loading of a motor.
Well, my 5' fence post will not.
If you keep it shorter, it'll do better, but then of course, you'll have to bend down to work on it . . . :)

And while I did get two 60 lb bags of quickcrete, it took only one, along with a few spare rocks ... to do the job.
The other bag is still awaiting my pleasure out in the garage.
Be sure to put a horizontal bolt in the bottom end of the pole, or pound it flat, anything so it won't spin.
 

stogie5150

Crazed Cajun Rebel
Jan 7, 2007
3,819
46
Slidell,LA
I don't time myself, but I can tell you it isn't five minutes...just because I enjoy tinkering with the equipment....so I take my time, put anti-seize on the bolts that need it, take my time with the cabling...but when it gets down to aiming if you start with a plumb mounting pole it will not take you long once you understand everything that's involved. :)
 
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DirectDishNet

SatelliteGuys Pro
Nov 25, 2007
1,052
0
Davenport Iowa
For me the easiest way to do this is to set the receiver to a active transponder, Set the elevation and lnb skew, Open the window ,turn up the volume real loud and gently move the dish untill i hear the signal beep going crazy. I have a birdog but somehow it is just easier to use the volume on the TV with FTA.

Setting your receiver to a HOT ACTIVE transponder is crucial.

Start to finish takes about 10 minutes.
 

DirectDishNet

SatelliteGuys Pro
Nov 25, 2007
1,052
0
Davenport Iowa
Sounds like most of the people who have been doing this awhile can get signal in ten minutes or less. Guess I have some practicing to do before I get that good.

It's eazy.
The first time I pointed a FTA dish was for a customer. The install took 30 minutes, The dish pointing took 2 day's........I was so imbarresed...... He wanted it pointed to the old Telstar 5 for Arabic channels. I didn't know at that time that you had to adjust the lnb skew -20 +20. I almost gave up, I was so pissed I hit the dish with my wrench, said a few choice words and was climbing down the ladder to tell him I give up..... I was half way down the ladder and he came screaming out of the house ("You Got It!!..You Got It!!.It's 40%!!!").........lol.....
 

Mr Tony

SatelliteGuys Pro
Supporting Founder
Nov 17, 2003
295
43
Mankato, MN
honestly it depends on location and what satellite. As an example,. I am at 93W so I have approx 8 satellites all within a degree of each other elevation wise (87,89,91,93,95,97,99,101) so if I want one of them, just set the elevation and get in general area and blind scan. Whatever shows up then I know. If you live in an area with only one or 2 satrellites near same elevation it can be harder

But if you are trying to find an island satellite (like 30W) that can be fun as there are no satellites with KU nearby. So that can take a while

I usually dial up a strong transponder that I want and slowly aim towards it

But on the bright side I can wheel out my C-Band dish in front of the garage, drop it and get aimed at the western satellites (131-139) in about 30 seconds :)
 

tvropro

On Vacation
Mar 9, 2007
6,872
0
It's eazy.
The first time I pointed a FTA dish was for a customer. The install took 30 minutes, The dish pointing took 2 day's........I was so imbarresed...... He wanted it pointed to the old Telstar 5 for Arabic channels. I didn't know at that time that you had to adjust the lnb skew -20 +20. I almost gave up, I was so pissed I hit the dish with my wrench, said a few choice words and was climbing down the ladder to tell him I give up..... I was half way down the ladder and he came screaming out of the house ("You Got It!!..You Got It!!.It's 40%!!!").........lol.....


When ever I set up a FTA ku dish. I set static Elevation, Azmuth, & Skew for the area. With those settings done it's a heck of a lot easier.
 

be236

Well-Known SatelliteGuys Member
Jan 5, 2007
33
6
Yeah, once you install (attach the dish to a firm plumb pole), the actual aiming the dish is pretty straight-forward...
 

i4tas

SatelliteGuys Pro
Sep 10, 2005
791
4
Northern USA
I took a 5 gallon bucket from Home Depot, and stuck a 2 3/8 pole (about 3' tall) into the bucket and filled it up with cement - I think it took 2 or so bags. I just carry it to where I want it to go and set it up :)

I did that for a while... got sick of the wood shims - does not work the best on grass. Eventually buried the bucket in the ground... I highly recommend doing this, has not shifted at all after a winter or two and I can always remove it…but still use it later.


I can point a dish in a couple minnutes, sometimes when I want to perfect my signal it takes an entire day. Time is not dependent on tempature [-11 to 100].
 

Larry1

SatelliteGuys Pro
Aug 24, 2005
1,586
122
Port Hope, ON Canada
I don't time myself, but I can tell you it isn't five minutes...just because I enjoy tinkering with the equipment

Exactly. I can spend more than 15 min tweaking and re-tweaking the LNBF trying to get both, the way I want it and the maximum signal. May have it on the first try, but the tinkering part of me want to try to get it better.
Also, sometimes you get it in your mind that the signal should be in a place where it isn't because you have misread or have inacurate markings on your dish.
 

rv1pop

SatelliteGuys Pro
On the 8000 mile trip in my motor home for the first 6 weeks I did not get ONE fix. But I kept trying and finally figured out hoe to use a big chunk of cardboard and my GPS to locate true south and then the angle for azmuth for G25. Then with the receiver on, tilt up and down for elevation and the last two weeks, every time I tried it worked..... Now if I was smart like some others here, I would be able to figure out elevation first then the gps and a 50 foot string - maybe it could be first time every time --- but I don't think so. BTW - I put a stake where I want the dish, set a waypoint tie 50 foot string to stake and take the gps to the end and line up so the first waypoint is due north, stake the string there, take my BIG cardboard protactor at the first stake, line it up and, so far, that has worked. Kinda funny but going along I10 for 6 days, the elevation did not change enough to be a problem - but I wanted picture, not high SQ.
 
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