Repurpose HughesNet dish?

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Timothy Buchanan

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Feb 11, 2017
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I am trying to use a HughesNet dish (no longer a subscriber) to receive FTA on Galaxy 19. Equipment is a X2 M1 HD+ receiver and universal LNB for 10.7-12.75GHz input. I mounted the LNB on a bracket that put the end of the horn close to the position and angle of the HughesNet horn. I set skew on the back of the dish (close to -9.7 for my location), the elevation of 44.3 degrees, and slowly moved it through 167 degrees. Though I get a signal strength of 80 to 83 percent, quality remains at zero.

Have I missed something here, or is the HughesNet dish not suitable for FTA (it's about 33 inches wide). If the dish isn't suitable, is it possible to buy a dish that will slip over the present mast? It is firmly mounted to the house, and has an outside diameter of 2 and 7/16 inches. Thanks for any help.
 

KE4EST

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If you have the focal point correct, you should get most transponders on G19 with that dish. Your LNBF most likely is not designed for an elliptical dish and the dish is a tad on the small side but it should work, like I said, for a lot of the channels.
What were you using to check for signal, I will assume a receiver. That signal reading just lets you know that the receiver sees the LNBF.
Do you have your LO(Local Osc.) set properly in the receiver? Should be set to Universal 9750/10600.
Did you have a known active transponder selected?
If not choose 12152 H 20000. If it is not there manually enter it.
Then try again.
 

Shicks4

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Aug 29, 2015
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I been experimenting with the dish network family of dishes, and have had pretty good success with all of them doing multi feed including the dish 500. The most important part is making sure the lnbf is pointed at the focal point and is the right distance from the dish. If i recall the dish 500 distance was 18 inches and a turbohd dish was 17 1/2 inches. What i did was measure the distance while the factory lnbfs were installed then built my own bracket that would alow me to position the lnbfs in a very close location to where the factory lnbfs were. I have one i just did today that is getting the nbc cozi mux on 103w and 97w. Wish i could get the lpbs mux but these dishes just cant do it. Also I just set the dishes with no skew and set my skew with the lnbf. Tried a directv dish and didnt have much luck, but it had been dropped and i tried to straighten it. That may be why it wont work but it is possible. Ill have to upload a few photos later when i have my phone with me.
 

Brct203

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Dec 24, 2016
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I have had similar experience as Shicks4, I have several re-purposed Dish Network dishes and one DirecTV, with some good success. Of course a 22" dish won't give the same quality as a 48", but should be enough to get started and receive many channels. I am actually getting the Chinese channels on 95W on a Dish 500 with a cheap X2 universal LNBF, and 97W on a TurboDish. The main challenge actually is not so much signal strength as it is interference from adjacent satellites as the smaller dishes are not as selective (wider beam width) as the larger ones. Some transponders on 97W can be degraded by similar frequencies used on 99W, etc...

If you are certain that you installed the LNBF feedhorn opening more or less at the same distance than the HughesNet one was, it should be ok. The height is not as critical as it can be somewhat compensated by the elevation, but you should still try to get it as similar as possible.

Also, I have noticed that the elevation marking on dish mounts can be a bit inaccurate... So you might want to try 3 degrees lower, then sweep the area horizontally very slowly with the receiver tuned to a known transponder, and repeat the same thing each time one degree higher in elevation until you get something. I don't know why, but I have found that the CCTV transponder on 95W is usually quite easy to find. Once you get one satellite, it's much easier to move the dish by small increments to jump to the next one etc...

Good luck and let us know!
 
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Timothy Buchanan

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Feb 11, 2017
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Colorado
If you have the focal point correct, you should get most transponders on G19 with that dish. Your LNBF most likely is not designed for an elliptical dish and the dish is a tad on the small side but it should work, like I said, for a lot of the channels.
What were you using to check for signal, I will assume a receiver. That signal reading just lets you know that the receiver sees the LNBF.
Do you have your LO(Local Osc.) set properly in the receiver? Should be set to Universal 9750/10600.
Did you have a known active transponder selected?
If not choose 12152 H 20000. If it is not there manually enter it.
Then try again.
Thanks for the prompt reply. I'm using the receiver and set to Universal 9750/10600. A blind scan goes through a list of transponders including 12152 H 20000. It shows a quality level bouncing from zero to 20 or so while this is going on. I'm wondering just how critical the exact focal point is and how I can measure this. Most of my radio work is below 10 MHZ, so this is new to me.

If the 33 inch dish is marginal, maybe I should look for a larger dish that I could bolt to the existing mount?
 

KE4EST

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Yes, focal point is critical. Sounds like you are doing a transponder scan. If you are not locked on the bird you will not be getting transponders scanned in.
Go manually through your list and stop and leave it on 12152. Then slowly start trying to find 97W from what you think it should be at via dishpointer.com.
Change elevation 1/2 a degree up or down and pan again slowly. Repeat, repeat, repeat, until you lock a steady quality signal much higher than 20.
 

Shicks4

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I have noticed also that just a tiny bit of skew goes a long way. Thats why i zeroed out all the skew on the dish and set it from the lnbf. Seems like there was something like a 1/4 to 1/2 inch of play on the depth before i noticed a huge difference in quality going down. Also if you arent pointed as close as possible to the exact focal point on the dish especially on the main feed (if doing a multi feed) you lose a lot of quality. I dont know how you are tuning your dish but i have a tripod that i put a fence post in and leveled up and then used a receiver that i use as an aiming receiver right near where the tripod is and i adjust everything before tightening down. I got 2 dishes ready now to go up on the roof this weekend the testing was so successful. If you are trying to do this while its installed on your roof i think you will get frustrated pretty quickly. I think the dish i did today took about 2 1/2 hours including building the bracket i used but i spent a half a day and most of the evening learning what to do last friday. So it could take a while. If you are getting quality bumps you are getting close and sometimes just a little goes a long way. Generally when im messing with these smaller re-purposed dishes i always do east to west peak, peak elevation, then east and west again then move to the lnbf and move it left and right to aim it at the center of the dish then tweek in and out then turn it for skew. The last 3 steps you just repeat and repeat till you get it peaked in. I noticed just tiny movements make a huge difference with the lnbf movements. Good luck, im sure you will get it with time.
 

lamp

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Apr 23, 2013
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I have one of those Hughes Net dishes, it works very well, good quality dish. But you must find the exact focus point and offset angle. Use 8 little square mirrors, one inch square. Attach mirrors to the dish in cross pattern (vertical and horizontal) but not near the middle with 2 mirrors on each leg of the cross. Point dish at the sun, use a piece of card stock paper moving it in and out to see the best focus point, and move dish left, right, up, down, to see where the reflected lights converge in the tightest pattern. Set LNB at that point. Also make sure LNB is pointing straight at the center of the dish. This cannot be done indoors with some bright light, this only works using the sun.
 
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Timothy Buchanan

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Feb 11, 2017
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Colorado
Thanks, guys, for all the help. I will take the dish down, check position of the LNB reference the old one, then re-try. I will lock on to 12152 and sweep with elevation set up and down each time. I'll report my results.
 
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stecle

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I have one of those Hughes Net dishes, it works very well, good quality dish. But you must find the exact focus point and offset angle. Use 8 little square mirrors, one inch square. Attach mirrors to the dish in cross pattern (vertical and horizontal) but not near the middle with 2 mirrors on each leg of the cross. Point dish at the sun, use a piece of card stock paper moving it in and out to see the best focus point, and move dish left, right, up, down, to see where the reflected lights converge in the tightest pattern. Set LNB at that point. Also make sure LNB is pointing straight at the center of the dish. This cannot be done indoors with some bright light, this only works using the sun.

I am going to try the mirror thing with a dish I have when it warms up. A couple of questions. Aren't you introducing 2 variables into the equation by both moving the dish and checking the focal point?

My plan is to sync the sun with my center Satellite (Galaxy 19), and then look for the focal point. For example at 1:32 pm on May 15 the sun will line up with Galaxy 19. Someone posted an astronomy link on how to achieve this.

My guess is that it would take a few days to determine the focal point as you would have a short window before the sun moved off center.
 

lamp

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Apr 23, 2013
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When using the mirrors with the sun, the sun acts like a satellite but with visible radio waves. As you move the dish and little card board around you find exactly where the most concentrated amount of visible waves can be collected. That is where you want to fix the lnb so it can do the same with the real radio waves from the satellite.

This also establishes the correct offset angle. The light is scattered if the offset angle is off. I have attached a picture showing some dish angles. From horizontal the dish should be be angled up the amount of the elevation plus 90 degrees. The offset is the amount the dish is pitched forward or down from that.

The time when the sun is directly behind a satellite is the perfect time to check where is a good spot to put a dish. At that exact moment you can put a dish anywhere the sun is shining. You will have "line of sight" to the satellite anywhere there is sunshine.
 

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Shicks4

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A buddy of mine has a hugesnet dish hes going to give me and ill play around with the one i have and post the results for you. I do know i tried these dish network dishes and they work perfect for galaxy 19 but not so much for either pbs on ses2 or amc 21, all i was able to pull in was the patient channel and the mta mux on ses2 and montanna pbs on amc21. Hoping the larger hugesnet dish might pull one or the other in.
 

Timothy Buchanan

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Feb 11, 2017
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Colorado
I pulled the dish down and checked the distance and angle of the LNB against the Hughes LNB, matching as closely as possible. I swept with different values for azimuth elevation and skew. But the best I could manage was about 35% quality. So now I'll look for a replacement dish. I'd like to get one that could slip over the oversized J pole bolted to the house, 2 and 7/16 inches o.d. Any suggestions?
 

Shicks4

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Aug 29, 2015
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I pulled the dish down and checked the distance and angle of the LNB against the Hughes LNB, matching as closely as possible. I swept with different values for azimuth elevation and skew. But the best I could manage was about 35% quality. So now I'll look for a replacement dish. I'd like to get one that could slip over the oversized J pole bolted to the house, 2 and 7/16 inches o.d. Any suggestions?
Dont throw out that dish just yet, my buddy didnt bring me that dish yet but soon as i figure out the angles and everything ill post what i find here with photos. It should do pretty good on 97w. Ill even pull out my x2 m1hd+ and use the same receiver you are. Right now im just using the sathawk pro receiver i got with my first setup. I beleive with the dishnetwork turbohd dish im using i get 64% Q on 103w ses3 and the second lnbf pointed to 97w is between 45 and 50% Q and i think the turbo hd dish is a lot smaller then the hugesnet dish. But a 90 cm should pull in nearly anything you want.
 
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Shicks4

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I noticed yesterday while i was goofing around with my commercial 1.2m that on lyngsat the hughsnet tps are horizontal and vertical. Has anyone tried to use the factory lnbf to receive fta signals? I hope to get the hughesnet dish from my buddy today and hope the wife dont have too many honey dos that i might get to play with it some today and ill try the factory lnbf before I do anything else. Just a matter of figuring out the LO of the lnbf I guess and hopefully it will work.
 

danristheman

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It should have it on the label you only need the RX side not the TX side. If its KU not KA band tria.
 

Shicks4

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Aug 29, 2015
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It should have it on the label you only need the RX side not the TX side. If its KU not KA band tria.
Limited testing with that dish last night, i came up with nothing. But once i get more time again ill put it back on the tripod and give it another go. Doesnt look too hard to take that lnbf off either and mount some sort of contraption to hold a standard/universal lnbf.
 

Shicks4

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Aug 29, 2015
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I pulled the dish down and checked the distance and angle of the LNB against the Hughes LNB, matching as closely as possible. I swept with different values for azimuth elevation and skew. But the best I could manage was about 35% quality. So now I'll look for a replacement dish. I'd like to get one that could slip over the oversized J pole bolted to the house, 2 and 7/16 inches o.d. Any suggestions?
I managed to finally put this dish on the pole outside the shop. I took the factory lnbf and transmitter off but left the mounting bracket. First thing i did was change the skew setting on the dish to 0*. Next thing i did was set the dish elevation to what it says it should be for my location via dishpointer. I wasnt able to get any signal. Next thing i did was take my trusty turbohd dish i had modified and used my digital inclionmeter to check it against the hughesnet dish. the numbers didnt jive. So I jacked the Hugesnet dish to a setting that matched the readings on my turbohd dish and started slowly scanning east and west. I managed to hit 103w. then i peaked the dish on the nbc mux that has cozi ending up with about 61% Q. After it was said and done the elevation on the hugesnet dish scale read 51* where dishpointer said it should be 46.4* according to my location. I have found that the Dish Netowrk dish scales can be set to pretty close to what dishpointer says, apparently the scale is different on a Hughesnet dish. Bear in mind I did this with the lnbf zip tied to the existing holder. I then started bending a new bracket to hold the lnbf. Havent finished yet but when i do ill post photos if you are still interested. I tried to tune the pbs mux on 125w only received montanna pbs. Didnt try LPBS but im going to assume it wont work either. Now the 1m hughesnet dish I got works great, pulling in the pbs mux at a whopping 81% Q.
 
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