Archive for the Installation Guides Category

Some reduction in signal strength in fringe reception areas like Spain and Italy during the night are actually caused by the sun. So even at night time the sun is still a factor in TV reception.

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This week, Channel 4 HD moved satellites and frequencies, in anticiaption for its inclusion onto Freesat HD.

A number of people in the UK have been experiencing break up in pictures on C4HD in the last few days. This means that your satellite dish is not aligned up to the satellite as good as it should be, either it has been moved in winds, or was not installed correctly in the first place.

Why has this suddently made a difference? Well most of the Sky pay channels come from the 3 Astra satellites at 28.5 degrees east of south, Astra 2a, Astra 2b, Astra 2d. C4HD is now on Eurobird 1 satellite at 28.2 degrees east of south. So if your dish is pointing slightly more West that it should then you may be experiencing problems.

For many people living in UK TV fringe reception areas, like the Costa Blanca, Spain, Portugal, Italy or any other Mediterranean areas, reception of UK TV by satellite is always tricky. In some areas even on giant 4m satellite dishes many of the UK TV channels like BBC and ITV may still not be available for 24 hours a day.
But there are two times a year, March and October, when living in a sunny climate can cause even more issues with UK TV reception. (more…)

If you have been using a simple satellite “beeper” and Dishpointer to help you align your satellite dish for UK TV and getting a nice and strong signal, your sky box says a big signal, and you get the “no satellite signal being received” and you are unable to get UK TV channels, then the likelyhood is that you have aligned your satellite dish to the wrong satellite!

There are a number of satellite in the sky, and a simple “beeper” unit cannot distinguish between them.

So, with reference to The Perfect Satellite Dish Alignment – a How To Guide, you may find your Network ID is not “0002”.

Different satellites have different Network IDs, and these IDs are used to help identify the satellites.

For example:
Astra 2 at 28.2’E – Network ID = 0002
Astra 1 at 19.2’E – Network ID = 0001
Hotbird at 13’E – Network ID = 013e

So now you can tell if your satellite dish is on the correct UK TV satellite, or if you are on the wrong satellite!

With the launch of Freesat, some people might decide to get a second satellite dish installed (e.g. in order to get the Freesat exclusive ITV HD channel). The problem is that you need to get a planning permission for a second dish if the building you live in is less than 15m in height (this applies probably to most terraced houses) and the smallest dish is larger than 60cm in any direction.

There are also some other requirements for designated areas, listed buildings, dish sizes and dish locations. A handy interactive guide or the full guide can be found on the Planning Portal Site.

Click here if the video doesn’t show.

These satellite finders are really useful little helpers when it comes down to perfectly aligning a satellite dish.

In this YouTube video we can see how sensitive the meter is. This sensitivity allows finding the sweet spot of the satellite dish. Here, we’ve got already a perfectly aligned dish, the meter is at the maximum. Even the slightest movement of the dish to either side of the perfect alignment reduces the signal level (and audio tone) of the meter. You can see that once the fine-tuning is finished, the signal level is again at the maximum.

Some people are trying to align their satellite dishes with the on-screen digibox signal bar which is way too slow, inaccurate and not sensitive enough for a good alignment. Save yourself the hassle and get one of these satellite finders – the prices dropped down to almost 5 quid (they were 40 quid 5 years ago).

For more detailed instructions, see the perfect satellite dish aligment how to guide.

Setting up your system to receive a UK satellite signal from Spain, France or anywhere in southern Europe through your Sky Digibox isn’t a problem. All you need to do is change a few settings.

Programmes on the Astra 2 cluster of satellites are 'beamed' down to create three footprints: North, South and UK. All of the Free To Air and Sky programmes are received within these footprints. An up-to-date list of programmes that are available on each footprint can be obtained from www.ses-astra.com

In the UK, you should be within all three of the footprints, and with the right equipment, you should not have any problems receiving all of the Astra transponders. Outside of the UK, problems of reception and dish alignment can occur. The default frequency of the Sky Digibox is set to a transponder on the North beam. If you travel southwards and move out of the North footprint, you may need to change the default transponder of the Digibox to match the South beam.

To change the default transponder setting, you will first need to access the hidden INSTALLERS SETUP menu. First press the SERVICES button on your Sky remote and then '4' to access SYSTEM SETUP.

System Setup Menu

Although it is not displayed, you will need to press '0' then '1' then SELECT to access the INSTALLERS SETUP menu, then select '2' to enter DEFAULT TRANSPONDER.

Installer Setup Menu

The following display will then show:

Default Transponder Menu

Select 'Frequency (GHz)'. By typing in the relevant numbers, change the settings from 11.778 to 12.129. When the changes have been made, select 'Save New Settings'. Press BACK UP to return to main screen.

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

 

Screenshot: No satellite signal is beeing receivedHave you just spent ages setting your system up, but all you're getting is a pixelated or even no picture at all, or is your display showing a strong/high signal strength bar but a weak/low signal quality bar? Make sure you haven't overlooked some cruicial steps and requirements for good reception.

With digital reception, a weak signal will cause the picture and sound to block or disappear. You should check the following (in order of priority):

  • Is the dish pointing at the right satellite? Check that under 'Services > System Setup > Signal Test' the Network ID reads 0002 (for Sky UK).
  • Is there a clear line-of-sight between your dish and the satellite? If not, you need to consider moving your dish.
  • Is the dish size large enough for the satellite you are aiming at and for your location? Check that your location is within the footprint of the satellite transponder.
  • Is the dish aligned correctly? A slight misalignment will cause a large reduction in signal strength.
  • Is the skew angle of the LNB correct? A wrong skew angle will cause low signal quality even though the signal strength is high.
  • Are the F-connectors fitted correctly? If the copper insulation touches the inner copper wire, or if the F-connector doesn't touch the outer shielding wires, strong interferences  can occur which result in a reduction in signal quality.
  • Is the coxial cable suitable for digital satellite reception? You should only use high-quality cables with proper insulation.
  • Is the cable run too long? With cable runs of over 20 meters, some signal loss will occur. This can be compensated with a signal amplifier/booster.
  • Is your digibox or LNB faulty? Try borrowing one from your neighbour's/friend's.