Update on my first true FTA setup (long)

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badpistacio

Thread Starter
SatelliteGuys Family
Nov 19, 2009
36
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Monterey, CA
Ok, today I took down the old Dish Network dish I was using to get 119W and started the setup of my new motorized 90cm dish equipment. Due to lack of yard space, it's going on the roof. I got the mast perfectly vertical (the bubble of the inserted level couldn't have been more centered.) I downloaded Radar's guide for setting up a motorized system which is incredibly thorough. Got the dish on the motor and the motor on the mast, connected everything and grabbed my compass to aim at 121W, which is my true south target. I was also using one of Sadoun's meters. Using the compass, I got a line-of-sight target about 80 yards away and aimed the dish. The meter told me I was pretty good but when I pulled up slightly on the dish, the level improved, so I adjusted the dish elevation slightly. Inside, I set up the Coolsat 5000 for a motorized setup and sent the dish over to 125W to do a manual scan of 12138 V 30001. Hit "ok" and... nothing. Huh? So I head up to the roof and pull and push on the dish a bit and the meter is quiet. I do the initial setup twice more and get nothing. So I leave the dish pointed at 125W and loosen it enought to move it more left and right / up and down. I finally get a signal and lock it all down. Inside, I decide to blind scan 125W for giggles. And I start seeing 12151 V 3978 among others. And I realize NOW, I'm on 121W, not 125W. So it's time to start over. I leave the dish where it is and get a new line-of-site target on the roof. Inside I send the dish to the incorrect true south point so the motor is on zero. On the roof I spin the rig to my new target a little westward and the meter looks good again. Ok, so now I'm really on 121W. Inside I try a blind scan again and discover I'm on 123W! Geez. Start again. Finally, I get 121W dialed in and move it to 125W and when I blind scan I get the ones I expect to see! Create, V-Me and PBS. Awesome!
Except when I tried to scan across the arc, I'm not seeing anything toward the east. Tomorrow, when it's light outside, I'll work on seeing where I'm off on the the other satellites but at least I know I'm pointed at the right ones! Thanks to Iceberg and Radar and a few other experts for the help so far. :)
 
Tron

Tron

SatelliteGuys Master
May 6, 2005
6,599
33
Metro New Orleans, LA
Two degrees separation is generally VERY close on the pole. Adjust the dish to 123W perfectly, then move the dish slowly west until you lose quality on 123W. Blind scan again, and you'll be on 125W. Its that close. Of course, you may need to change your dish elevation just a tad as I did when I repointed my fixed dish from 123W to 125W, but those satellites are relatively low on my arc.
 
Bill_KY

Bill_KY

SatelliteGuys Pro
Apr 2, 2008
713
0
Northern Kentucky
What is 'true FTA"?

This really should be started as a separate thread, because it is not the main subject of the original thread. It is also called thread hijacking.

It might mean a dedicated set up to receive FTA.

I think it means channels that knowingly and purposely who broadcast to the FTA audience. Most of the programming on 97W Ku Band could fit that category.

Not true FTA might mean feeds that are unencrypted, but really not intended for the general audience either.
 
Last edited:
B

badpistacio

Thread Starter
SatelliteGuys Family
Nov 19, 2009
36
0
Monterey, CA
What is 'true FTA"?

What I meant was a dish bigger than 18" that could catch more than 119W. I've learned by reading this forum that there's more to life than Ion, Angel One and NASA. ;)
 
AcWxRadar

AcWxRadar

SatelliteGuys Pro
Apr 26, 2006
4,575
4
40 miles NW of Omaha. Omaha?
Ok, today I took down the old Dish Network dish I was using to get 119W and started the setup of my new motorized 90cm dish equipment. Due to lack of yard space, it's going on the roof. I got the mast perfectly vertical (the bubble of the inserted level couldn't have been more centered.) I downloaded Radar's guide for setting up a motorized system which is incredibly thorough. Got the dish on the motor and the motor on the mast, connected everything and grabbed my compass to aim at 121W, which is my true south target. I was also using one of Sadoun's meters. Using the compass, I got a line-of-sight target about 80 yards away and aimed the dish. The meter told me I was pretty good but when I pulled up slightly on the dish, the level improved, so I adjusted the dish elevation slightly. Inside, I set up the Coolsat 5000 for a motorized setup and sent the dish over to 125W to do a manual scan of 12138 V 30001. Hit "ok" and... nothing. Huh? So I head up to the roof and pull and push on the dish a bit and the meter is quiet. I do the initial setup twice more and get nothing. So I leave the dish pointed at 125W and loosen it enought to move it more left and right / up and down. I finally get a signal and lock it all down. Inside, I decide to blind scan 125W for giggles. And I start seeing 12151 V 3978 among others. And I realize NOW, I'm on 121W, not 125W. So it's time to start over. I leave the dish where it is and get a new line-of-site target on the roof. Inside I send the dish to the incorrect true south point so the motor is on zero. On the roof I spin the rig to my new target a little westward and the meter looks good again. Ok, so now I'm really on 121W. Inside I try a blind scan again and discover I'm on 123W! Geez. Start again. Finally, I get 121W dialed in and move it to 125W and when I blind scan I get the ones I expect to see! Create, V-Me and PBS. Awesome!
Except when I tried to scan across the arc, I'm not seeing anything toward the east. Tomorrow, when it's light outside, I'll work on seeing where I'm off on the the other satellites but at least I know I'm pointed at the right ones! Thanks to Iceberg and Radar and a few other experts for the help so far. :)

Badpistacio

Oooh! I can just feel the excitement! :D

You are so close to being right on target and all you need now is to refine your alignment angles. I call this the "tweak and peak" phase. This is where you really let time and patience be your boss and a light touch and finesse will serve you well.

Keeping a written log of your findings is a great help (i.e. which sats require your dish to be adjusted up to improve the signal and which ones require the dish to be adjusted down, to the east or to the west). You can use this information to plot a sort of graph or your arc alignment. Plot this graph before you make any actual physical adjustments (otherwise you will alter your data before you can judge it).

This will provide you with an overall view of the entire situation. Then, at a glance, you can compare your results with those "dish mis-alignment" charts and home in on the angle that requires the most concern.

Here is where I wish I could point out one transponder from each satellite that you should peak the signal quality on. Unfortunately, in the real world application, it doesn't work this way. There are numerous variables that affect the results and if I told you to peak for the MAXIMUM quality on one transponder on a particular satellite, then it might throw off the alignment for another transponder on a different satellite. Therefore, at times, you must split the difference and strive to achieve the best acceptable signal from the most satellites, rather than perfection from just one.

In my personal opinion, mastering the setup and alignment of the motor and dish are more enjoyable than actually watching the channels. This is the funnest part of the challenge and when you actually see the results, that is your reward. It is just so much fun!

RADAR
 
B

badpistacio

Thread Starter
SatelliteGuys Family
Nov 19, 2009
36
0
Monterey, CA
Radar,
I started plotting this afternoon and I'm resisting the urge to make any adjustments just yet. I took a print of your guide up on the roof with me and wrote the plot on the back of one of the pages. :) Once I get all the way across the sky, I'll cross reference the results with what you explained in the book. Thanks for the help!

Tron,
Thanks for the idea of watching for the signal to drop off. I'll use it.
 
AcWxRadar

AcWxRadar

SatelliteGuys Pro
Apr 26, 2006
4,575
4
40 miles NW of Omaha. Omaha?
Badpistacio,

Just to elaborate on my own experiences... Getting a single, fixed-point dish aligned was no problem whatsoever. But, when I got to setting up my first motorized dish, it actually took me a couple of seasons to really and honestly perfect it.

The very first attempt was really not too bad, but I ran into several mechanical problems that misled me. I discovered many obstacles along the way that were not reported in the manuals or other instructions.

1] A warped dish reflector.

2] Slop in the dish elevation bracket.

3] Soggy ground that caused the tripod that I was using to sag or droop after a couple heavy rains, and 70 mph winds that caused me to start all over again.

4] Trees and other obstacles obstructing my LOS.

5] Human error on my part (once I overtightened my motor bracket bolts and warped the mounting bracket which generated angle errors).

6] Trying to dial into low power signals (like RTN) that misled me during the process.

7] Interferences from other satellite or transponder signals.

8] Switches that went bad during the process.

9] Human error once again, this time for not planning sufficient time to experiment. Then forgetting where I was in my process and having to start all over again.

10] Weather related issues, once again. I would haul all my equipment and tools out to the dish site and barely get started and it would start raining and hailing on me! Then I would rush all the equipment back indoors and wait out the storm, then haul it all back out only to have the storm come back around a second, a third and then a fourth time!

11] Changing equipment (motors or dishes) in mid stream and trying to adjust to that.

Yep, all these factors really try your patience. But, I kept trying. Each time, improving my results. After going through all of this, I know what problems to look for and what to expect and how to plan the installation better.

All of this proved valuable to me as the experience was very rewarding in the end and now the process is so much easier and actually very enjoyable. I hope that you will enjoy it, too!

RADAR
 
Cham

Cham

VE4GLS
Pub Member / Supporter
Dec 19, 2008
2,463
1,015
Boonies
I have to second Radar's comment:
"In my personal opinion, mastering the setup and alignment of the motor and dish are more enjoyable than actually watching the channels. This is the funnest part of the challenge and when you actually see the results, that is your reward. It is just so much fun!"

I have had lots of trial and error setting up my TVRO equipment but it has been fun and I am sure will continue so... I am sure you will get it working great!
Have fun!
-C.
 
Tron

Tron

SatelliteGuys Master
May 6, 2005
6,599
33
Metro New Orleans, LA
Good luck Badpistacio, and keep us informed of your progress! :) 125W is worth the trouble, believe me. I have a fixed dish there for the content.
 
Blindowl1234

Blindowl1234

SatelliteGuys Pro
Dec 16, 2008
2,034
90
SouthWest Ohio
All these things are fun when its warm and sunny....No fun when it's really cold or snowy.....been there...done that lol....Blind
 
B

badpistacio

Thread Starter
SatelliteGuys Family
Nov 19, 2009
36
0
Monterey, CA
I started adjusting the aim of my dish yesterday and here's what happened: when I scanned 125W, my receiver locked onto some channels from 123W as well as 125W. Do you guys suggest I tweak it a bit further over so it doesn't think the 123W channels belong to 125W? Or because it's only two degrees, should I just ignore it?

Thanks again for all the help.
 
Y

Yurek99

SatelliteGuys Guru
Apr 7, 2009
133
0
Ottawa
With 90 cm dish you should be easy to separate them. If you want to get DVB-S2 on 125 W, you have to be 'on the spot'
 
Tron

Tron

SatelliteGuys Master
May 6, 2005
6,599
33
Metro New Orleans, LA
Agreed, you should move your dish a tad to the west. If you are still picking up 123W, you're probably not aligned as well as you could be. Don't forget to peak elevation if necessary.
 
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