satfinder2Properly aligning your satellite dish may seem a job reserved for the professional installer but with this guide, anyone with basic DIY skills can achieve the same. Once done, the reward will be a troublefree TV experience.

To receive a clear satellite picture, the dish must not only have a clear line-of-sight to the satellite but also the correct vertical (elevation) and horizontal (azimuth) alignment. The vertical alignment is the dish angle of elevation, and refers to the angle at which the satellite signals hit the Earth's surface. In the northern hemisphere, they are flat – about 15° the further south you go i.e. nearer to the equator, the steeper they become. On Sicily they have an elevation angle of 45° and right on the equator of 90°. Horizontal alignment refers the position of a satellite relative to where you wish to receive the signal, and requires the dish to be turned towards the east or west until the correct satellite is pointed at. Thus, the elevation and azimuth angles vary depending on your location and the satellite. You can get your dish setup angles calculated for Sky UK by just entering your postcode with our online-tool. Once you have this data, you can proceed.

Step-by-step 

The following steps assume that you have a handy and inexpensive tool called a satellite finder/meter. This little helper is a real time-saver and takes out the strain of the trial-and-error (also known as trial-and-anger) procedure, and all this for only about £10. You can obtain a satellite finder from Maplin, Amazon and eBay . Alternatively, this price comparison site will give you the best deal.

If you don't have a satellite finder, the following steps can still be followed by ignoring the parts with the satellite finder but, again, purchasing a satellite finder is highly recommended.

So, let's get started.

First make sure that the receiver is switched-off. Now disconnect the cable from the LNB (at the dish) and connect it to the finder at the socket labelled TO REC. Then connect the other end of the finder to the LNB using a patch cable.

Now switch on the receiver and make sure that your television is tuned to the output channel of the satellite receiver. Next, use the 'Signal Test' menu built into the Sky digital decoder. To access this menu, first press the 'SERVICES' button on the remote, then in the 'SERVICES' menu, access the 'SYSTEM SETUPand then 'SIGNAL TEST' as shown below:

The display will look like this:

This information will make sure that you lock at the right satellite and will help adjust the polarisation angle of the LNB (sometimes referred to as the LNB skew or LNB tilt) in order to get the best signal quality.

Back to the dish, keep the finder behind the dish face. The sateliite finder's backlight should go on, indicating it is receiving power from the receiver. Start by adjusting the elevation first. Take the elevation angle you obtained before and subtract the offset angle of the dish (usually 20° but this varies from dish to dish). For example, if your elevation angle is 25° and the dish offset angle is 20° then you will need to point the dish up by only 5° from the horizontal. How much is 5°? If you have a wrist watch, look at 1 o'clock, that's 30° (3 o'clock is 90°); i.e. 1 minute is 6°. This will give you a rough idea of how much to move your dish upwards.

Now move the dish slightly time towards the East or West according to your azimuth angle. Use a compass, or look at your neighbours dish, or use your wrist watch to roughly point it in the right direction and then move it only a bit at a time. As you move the dish, the needle of the satellite finder will oscillate, indicating a change in signal strength. If the needle hits the maximum point, turn the sensitivity knob on the finder so that you have a reading of no more than 5. Keep moving the dish very slightly to the left or right and see if the needle goes up or down. If the reading goes up, turn the knob back so that you again have a reading of 5. Keep repeating this to try and keep the reading at 5. You have found the perfect alignment if the reading does not increase by moving the dish either to the left or right.

You still need to check that you have found the right satellite as the finder will pick up any satellite. On the TV screen, there should be at least a quarter of the 'Signal quality' bar displayed, the 'Lock indicator' should show 'OK', and the 'Network ID' should read '0002'. If the 'Network ID' is showing any other details, you have locked onto the wrong satellite and will need to keep moving the satellite dish. Note that Sky digital is located on the third strongest satellite coming from South towards East and on the first strongest satellite coming from East towards South. If everything displays correctly, fix the dish horizontally and do the same for the vertical alignment. Take care when tightening the dish mounting bolts not to move the dish position.

Note that when using a compass you will need to subtract about 2-3 degrees from the azimuth angle for the magnetic variation in the UK.

For satellite reception, the 'skew' angle of the LNB is also important. The 'skew' angle represents the horizontal/vertical plane of the LNB. When a satellite dish is facing towards a satellite at due South, the plane of the LNB will be vertical (straight down). As the dish is moved around either East or West to receive other Satellites the LNB will need to be tilted (rotated), clockwise for West and counter clockwise for East. Use the calculated LNB skew angle only as a starting point, but since some LNBs (especially for the mini dish) are already internally tilted and also some satellites send the frequencies somewhat rotated, it cannot be fully relied on. So, the best way to adjust the LNB skew is to set it at zero degree and then to rotate it in very small steps both ways while keeping an eye on the signal quality bar on the TV screen. Once this is at maximum, fix the LNB.  Note that on some LNBs, the rotation is achieved my moving the cable socket at the bottom of the LNB laterally.

This is all ther is to it – not really rocket science. Now you can enjoy your favourite channels. And should you still have some problems, check out the troubleshooting reception problems section

 


38 Responses to “The Perfect Satellite Dish Alignment – a How To Guide”

  1. UKSatelliteHelp.co.uk » Archive for Tuesday, August 7th, 2007 says:

    [...] For the lowest prices check out kelkoo which lists all the prices from amazon, eBay, etc… and for more detailed instructions, see the perfect satellite dish aligment how to guide. [...]

  2. sebastian says:

    can you advise which sat one might point at for UK FTA channels to be received in South of France?
    Thanks.

  3. Alan says:

    That would be Astra 2 at 28.2 East. If you have a dish large enough you would get all the BBC and ITV channels plus loads of other *minor* channels (Sky three, Five US, Five Life, etc…). For the latter the dish doesn’t need to be even big. A mini-dish should do. But for BBC and ITV you need a substantially larger dish. All these channels are FTA. If you had a Freesat viewing card and a digibox you could also receive Channel 4 and Five with a small dish.

  4. randy says:

    I purchased a satellite finder off of ebay and hooked it up to my fta box to test it out….I was already pointed at the satellited i wanted so i had a good signal 85+ but the signal meter from the finder was stuck at zero and never moved from that spot….. the only time i saw the meter move was when i was carrying it…. is it broken or am I doing something wrong?

  5. Karl says:

    Great guide, can’t wait to get up the ladders! Quick question. Sat Pointer says I should elevate to 23.5 deg for Astra 2. My dish offset angle is 24.62 deg. Does this mean I have to point my dish DOWN by one degree?

  6. Steve says:

    At last!! After spending lots of time up a ladder in the rain ‘tweaking’ the position and using nothing but the sky ‘signal test’ to tune the dish my will to tweak finally ran out…until…. I found your 2 websites, took a ten minute trip to Maplin to buy a signal tester and hey presto!!!! between your sites and the £10 gadget I have prooved that the installer who came initially was (as previously thought) ‘a few degrees’ out of line in more ways than one! So thank you for providing the information allowing me to fill up on junk TV once more! Steve

  7. Tone says:

    Thanks for this – very helpful though in the end what seemed to fix my reception problems for Sky, here in the the UK was pushing the LNB properly back into the slot of the short pole extending from the front dish. It seems the horizontal and vertical alignment for the dish can’t be adjusted as it is bolted into place – clearly Sky don’t want you using “their” dish to tune into any other satellites! Also the LNB doesn’t seem to actually move very far, could this also be “set” by Sky?

  8. Billy says:

    Hi
    I want to use Conaxsat Mini Receiver in Ghana Accra, how can i set my dish it i want to get Nss7, and Nss10
    Thanks plz email me back

  9. Alan says:

    Billy:
    Align your dish using DishPointer. Read the manual of your receiver on how to do a scan of the channels.

  10. Ian says:

    Hi, what is the datum for elevation on a sky mini dish, i beleive it is NOT the LNB arm.
    is it true that with the dish face vertical that will give around a 26 deg elevation??

  11. garry christian says:

    hi, i have had a 1.2m motorised dish sitting in my garage for a few years and thought that id make use of it, so i got an installer set it up which he has done but now says that he needs the manual for the reciever ( which i dont have ) so he can get it up and running ! AD-300IP annalog/digital

    any help would be much appreciated as i have a 1.2m dish in my garden that doesnt work, ( and you can imagine how popular that is !!!! )

  12. Steve says:

    Hi i have tried to set up my sky on the west coast of ireland. originally I just took my box and it all worked as I had a dish installed(although old). My next visit I got nothing so i put up a new dish and bought a meter. I get the screeming from the meter when trying to align but no reception. Can anyone advise what i am doing wrong please.

    Steve

  13. neil osmond says:

    Can you help me ? Suddenly I am having problems when it rains with the signal. This has not been a problem before, but now the picture breaks up! Any ideas?

  14. Alan says:

    @Steve: You’ve got the wrong satellite. Check for the Network ID.

    @Neil: Any growing trees or a new building? If not probably a very slight misalignment. Withou loosening the bolts, push and hold the dish in each of the 4 directions and watch the quality bar. If it get’s better loosen the bolts and do a very very small adjustment in that direction.

  15. Danny says:

    Hi
    I have a satalite dish set up in 1993, if i am correct its receive Astra 1b 1c, the receiver was dead and has not been use since 95. I wonder is this Astra 1b 1c still exist? If I have a new receiver will the existing set up still work (assume the LNB, cable etc are still function) ? Or I better forget it to have a complete new system?
    Appreciate any comments and advise

  16. Alan says:

    @Danny: Your dish was pointed at 19.2 East, there are still lots of Astra satellites on that position (1B and 1C are gone but there are new ones). If you get a new digital receiver, everything should be fine. Just check that the LNB is of Universal type so that it works with the digital channels. There are lots of German channels on that position.

  17. ray says:

    hi,can you give me an answer on my problem,im a truck driver doin mostly Germany,i have a sat which works perfectly,but when i am nr Hamburg/Bremen or South nr Wurzburg/Heilbronn i find it very difficult to recieve ANY UK station,The Frequency 10,891 is the most difficult,To me these Locations are both at the bottom of the Arc over central Europe,could this be the reason? regs ray

  18. Alan says:

    @Ray, 10891 is on Astra 2D which means you need about 80-85cm Dish in Hamburg. But you should be able to get Ch4, five and all the cheapo channels with a 40cm dish.

    It has nothing to do with the bottom of the arc, all about footprint and dish size (and correct aiming of course).

  19. englishteeth.co.uk » Freesat part 3 says:

    [...] relevant sections of Martin Pickering e-book on numerous rainy evenings as well as this post on The Perfect Satellite Dish Alignment – a How To Guide, but I was still [...]

  20. Mike Farrimond says:

    Used your tips and Dishpointer widget to move my 1.8 meter motorised dish.I live in Samos Greece and it and the tips helped it all go smoothly. It took alot of tweaking but I got there, many thanks

  21. Matt says:

    Hi

    Can someone help if I live in belgium and I want to get sky tv do I have to point my dish at the astra satellite or can I point it at any of the satellites on the dish pointer website.

    Thanks

  22. Lawrie says:

    Hi I want Sky HD+ in marbella, what is the smallest size dish I will get away with and what is the recommended?

  23. lee says:

    hi there.
    I have a sky digital system, but have recently switched to cable television.
    and was wandering if i could re-position my sky dish to pick up another satellite and recieve free channels.
    Can this be done ?

    Thanks in advance

  24. Alan says:

    Sure, you could point it at 19.2 East to pick up tons of German channels or 13.0 East for many italian and french channels. English channels are a bit rare. But mind that a Sky box is not that wonderful for picking up other satellites as each channel must be entered manually.

  25. David says:

    I do not have a satellite finder,but i would like to set up my dish manually, i have always set the receiver(strong) to dish setting and selected a satellite e.g hotbird, then i see red lines indicating poor signal. Then i keep moving the dish to all directions(very slowly) hoping to get the green lines,but i have failed to get the signal. i have done this many times. plz help.

  26. kevin findlay says:

    i have my sky dish on the ground due to council not letting me put it on the building,if i move it 6feet up on a pole will i lose the signal?

  27. Richard Hill says:

    Hi Alan, great site.

    What size dish will I need to get channels on Astra 1 19.2 degrees East, in Cheltenham, Glos?

    Thanks

  28. Brian says:

    I have large trees in close proximity to my house. Engineers have advised there is no signal strength for satellite. My neighbour can however get a reception on their dish. Is it possible for me to install a dish and direct it off my neighbours in order to get a reception.

    Thanks

  29. walfer101 says:

    Hi,
    Thanks for this website… good advice however we still have problems. We live in Luxembourg and have just purchased a UK freesat receiver. We have set up the satellite dish as required but have absolutely no signal strength on the freesat receiver. We purchased a signal finder (a little box that screams at you when it finds a satellite) but the the signal strength is just not moving on the receiver. Can anyone helps us as we really do not want to pay a fortune to get someone out to just tweek it.
    Thanks

  30. Dennis Axisa says:

    Hi Alan,
    I have a Nanoxx 9600IP receiver and i have also the satfinder. First you mention that first you connect it to the LNB. Do you mean directly or to the motor, as i am trying to connecting t from the motor then to the receiver? Can you be more specific please. Thanks

  31. satandpcguy says:

    Dennis Axisa:
    You should connect your satfinder between the motor and the LNB.

  32. Clive says:

    Daft question I know but…. I’ve up to a point set up a freesat and read the importance of a clear line of sight betwixt dish & satelite. This makes sense but I look around and see dishes in some locations which appear to point directly at neighbours walls. How important is this please. So far I’ve been unable to ‘fix’ the dish with perfect clear line of sight but get a pretty good reception although I suspect some channels have eluded me so far.
    If someone can clarify this for me I’d be extremely grateful please and of course will help me determine the final sighting of the dish…many thanks!

  33. satandpcguy says:

    Clive: signals arrive at the dish at about a 30 degree angle. So if there is a wall in the way or disrupting that line of sight then you will lose some of the signal coming to the dish. The signals in the UK are relatively “strong” so sometime full line of sight is not required.
    What channel have eluded you so far on your Freesat system?

  34. MICHAEL OBRIEN says:

    can you please inform me please relivent satellite set up req for northern cyprus to receive uk tv , sky and other providers which satellites angles and other relivent other and dish sizes thanks for your help here…

  35. satandpcguy says:

    MICHAEL OBRIEN: UK satellite tv comes from 4 satellites located at 28 east of south. Some channels you should be able to receive on a 1m dish, others like BBC and ITV you may need something upwards of a 3.1m or 4m dish.

    If you want angles then use http://www.dishpointer.com

    For other satelliite Tv providers on other satellites best look at lyngsat.com, as there are a vast number of other satellite TV providers using all sorts of different satellites.

  36. thomas worku says:

    how can i keep the strength of my satellite dish above 90% it is decreasing to 70%

  37. satandpcguy says:

    strengths and quality will vary depending on which frequencies you are watching. it may also vary (but not by much) during the day)

    If you want to imporve strength then realign the dish, bigger dish, better performing LNB.

  38. dave23 says:

    Please help!!!!! Going nuts with this dish. Get full signal strength and around 95% signal quality, but the signal quality jumps to nothing every few seconds. have spent lot of hours in the rain, am I missing something obvious????