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This site is to help people on the move such as caravanners and long distance lorry drivers who wish to have the pleasure of satellite television whilst touring both in the U.K. and on the Continent. For most people this will mean Sky Digital (Astra 2 at 28.2° East together with Eutelsat at 28.5° East) which enables them to receive all their favourite BBC and ITV plus many other programmes.
A quick and easy setup procedure will be described in the 'Satellite Location' page which has been developed over a number of years and should take no more than a couple of minutes to establish a picture.
Any dish arrangement can be used, homemade, (like the ironingboard left), tripod, whatever, but my preference is for a pivoted upside-down dish with hinged rear legs, because it is very easy to make minute azimuth, elevation and true vertical adjustments, without the need of level ground, tools or to handle the dish face. Being able to adjust for true vertical gives a slightly higher signal output than a tripod on sloping ground, this becomes very important when setting-up in a low signal area eg France/Spain
My objective in formulating the design was to get rid of the popular tripod vertical pole together with the crude ubolts and clamp fixing, which are OK for one off installations but I think totally unsuitable for daily setups.
The procedure uses an accurate computer-calculated 'look-up' table with settings for magnetic azimuth (compass bearing), dish elevation and LNB offset. A wooden pointer is used to retain the compass bearing instead of trying to remember its exact direction. There is an alternative in place of the paper chart for GPS owners using a hand held instrument which can be used to display Latitude , Longtitude and Magnetic Declination having arrived at the camping location. This information can be fed into a programmable calculator or a laptop to calculate the exact compass bearing, satellite elevation and the LNB setting. Alas, car based sat nav systems although outputting Latitude and Longitude settings do not provide magnetic variation data.
To make the elevation adjustment easier, an indicator has been designed
sits on the face of the dish or the LNB arm and the pointer/plumbline gives a direct signal elevation reading irrespective of the slope of the terrain. The guide which sits on the dish face can be used with a slight mechanical adjustment on both UPTURNED and NORMAL mode dishes, (it is also an asset for setting up motorised systems giving very accurate
elevation angles needed when adjusting the True south position) This was originally made for a
65cm Channel Master dish with a dish offset of 22.5°, but has since been altered to suit dish
offsets adjustable between 19° -26°. The dish offset figure is the received signal elevation when the dish face (in NORMAL mode)is set to true vertical. The figure is usually quoted by the dish manufacturer in the supplied installation notes. Do not worry now if you do not have this information available. We will calculate it later in the 'First Time Setup' page.
Another useful aid is a set of 11 hardboard triangles each with a base length of about 10 cms (4") and angles of 15°, 17.5°, 20°,22.5°, 25°, 27.5°, 30°, 32.5°, 35°, 37.5° and 40° which are used to see if clearance is available above trees in the path of the required satellite. Nothing can be more aggravating than siting the van only to have to move it later having found that trees interfere with the signal. Always check beforehand. This is even more important if your dish is not on a long wander lead but attached to your caravan. How many times have we all seen the game of musical chairs played by Motorhome owners with very expensive self seeking dishes having to change pitches to avoid trees to obtian a signal. I noticed a Dutch caravanner recently who had a portable self seeking unit on the ground (cost 2000 Euros) using a wander lead. Such is the lure of television for some of us when on holidays.
Below is a part of the UK mainland chart with just 6 towns listed. Settings are provided for 4 satellites. If a satellite is described as having a position of 28.2° East, this means that its position is 28.2° East of True South, and 5° West, is 5° West of True South. As our direction finding equipment has to be the simple compass, these figures must be converted to magnetic bearings which unfortunatly change with geographical position and also time. In the West of Ireland the difference between Magnetic South and True South is presently 7 degrees, this difference being greater than the angular separation of the satellites.
Magazines such as 'What Satellite' and 'Tele Satellite & Numerique' (when in France) provide many FTA (Free To Air ) channel listings for all satellites together with setup details (transponder frequency, polarisation H or V, Symbol Rate, Fec etc). A better source for this information is now www.lyngsat.com which is a must for all users of Free to Air (FTA) receivers, who often have to add transponder information deficient in the incorporated receiver software and also in order to keep up to date with added channels.
...........60 cm folded.....................................snow/sand cover..............................motorised..........
..............39 cm comag..............................comag folded ...............................comag step.................
The 'look-up' table for the U.K. mainland has about 140 locations listed, which are arranged on a regional basis similar to the BBC Digital 5 day Weather Forecast, (this makes the selection of the nearest site easier). Other country 'look-up' tables have about 65-80 locations listed and are presently available for France, Spain & Portugal, Italy, Germany, and with self updating, they should last many years.
With a little practice the following 'Satellite Location' procedure will ensure a speedy picture taking just 1-2 minutes after all connections have been made, which will be a great help especially when it is raining and your favorite programme is about to start. In addition, this site looks at the various equipment options for a low cost installation giving the greatest flexibility.