INSTALLING YOUR OWN
Ku-BAND DISH SYSTEM
The past year has seen a voluminous increase if the sales of hardware for the reception of Ku
signals in India. Small dish antenna systems for reception of the DTH signals from the NSS 6
satellite have proven, for the past year, to be the driving force in the industry. With the start of
the DD DIRECT DTH service, sales of dish receiving systems reminded one of the start of the cable
industry in the mid-nineties, when the launch of every new satellite of channel in India, would
send sales of dish antennae, LNBs and receivers soaring. Similar is the case of what is happening
now with Ku-system sales.
Lets look at the dish first.
However, many questions arise. The use and
installation of the Ku antenna is not the same as for
a C-band antenna. In fact we receive numerous
queries at our office, whether an existing C-band antenna can be used for reception of Ku signals. The answer is yes and no - depends on how good quality your existing antenna is. If it's a solid sheet or perforated antenna (with tiny holes) then yes, however you would have to change your LNB of course.
If you are using the old chicken-mesh type of antenna, then no way are you going to be able to receive Ku signals with it. Parabolic Dish Geometry Offset and Prime Focus Offset dishes are commonly found in DTH systems. The surface of an offset fed dish is a section of a larger prime-focus parabola. The feed assembly, which is still located at the focus of the larger "parent" dish, appears to be offset from that portion of the reflective surface in use.
Since the feed/LNB structure is offset, it does not block incoming signals.
In practice, no dish is perfect for a number of reasons. The feed at the focal point is bigger than a "point" so it intercepts some signals arriving from directions slightly off the main axis. Also, irregularities and imperfections in the shape of the surface causes reflection errors so that some off-axis signals are detected while some targeted signals pass by unobserved.
The installation of home DTH systems has become easier as dish size has shrunk and as technology has improved. With the introduction of small-dish systems installation has evolved to the point where a technically oriented consumer should be able to manage the entire process. A simplified overview of the process is presented in this article.
The first step in any installation is the site survey, a critical yet often occasionally neglected step.
This involves making a number of decisions that include:
* Where the dish will be located. This involves finding a position with a clear view of the satellite. A
dish must have a clear line-of sight view because any obstruction absorbs or reflects microwaves
and subsequently lowers the amount of signal received. Moisture in trees is a particularly strong
absorber of microwaves, especially in the higher Ku band frequency range.
* How the dish will be grounded. A well electrically grounded system reduces the potential for damage resulting from power surges or nearby lightning during a storm. In extreme cases, severe injury or even death could result, including damage to television sets or receiving equipment. A ground point must be connected to the home electrical ground connection or a grounding rod.
* Where will the satellite receiver will be placed relative to other audio/video home entertainment components. More than one television set as well as an audio system that consists of a DVD player, or your cable set-top box might be hooked up. Don't forget, all DTH signals are in stereo sound, especially the music channels. You may want to hook-up the audio to your stereo system for great sound.
STEP-BY-STEP INSTALLATION PROCEDURE
Any satellite system can be installed by following a series of rather straightforward steps. Although the complexity of each step may vary between installations, most jobs are quite similar.
Here's a general procedure for installing fixed dishes.
An offset dish is angled more towards the horizon than a prime focus parabola.
Signals striking a dent are reflected away from its focus. This loss of gain with surface imperfections becomes more important at higher frequencies.
Thus, a dish that may be perfectly adequate at C-band may not have a "tight" enough surface tolerance for quality performance at Ku-band frequencies.
* How the dish will be mounted. The
small DTH dishes can be supported on poles, roofs, terraces, on external walls, or on grills outside windows and in balconies. The mounting chosen should be rigid and structurally sound as well as safe. High winds can topple even the smallest receive dish. You may need permission from your building society to install a dish on the external wall of the building - or on the terrace.
* Cable routes from the dish to the indoors satellite receiver. Coax can be run in underground conduits, down the side of buildings or through false ceilings. The goal should be to keep cable runs as short as possible and out of sight.
Small-Dish Roof And Wall Mounts These mounts were designed to support a 36 inch dish used.
The crucial supports must be securely attached to the underlying structure, rafters in the case of a roof mount and with lag bolts of sufficient size in the case of the wall mount.
1. INSTALL THE DISH SUPPORT
Satellite dishes are usually mounted on poles that are set in concrete.
However, other types of supporting structures can be successfully used. The critical element of this
step is to be sure that the pole is mounted in a perfectly vertical (plumb) orientation. Any tilting in
the east/west direction can result in poor tracking.
2. TRENCHING AND CABLE RUNS
The route from the dish to the indoor equipment is then prepared. Conduit of 1" diameter or larger
is recommended when cable is to be installed underground. This ensures that extra cable can be
pulled in or the old cable can be repaired at some future date. Use solvent to connect joints so the
conduit is leak proof. Install a separate large diameter grounding conductor, if it is not part of the
cable. Lay the conduit and cable in the trench but do not cover it up until the entire installation has
been completed and everything is working properly.
3. ASSEMBLE THE MOUNT
Whenever possible, the mount should be assembled independently of the dish and then lifted onto
the pole. Bolting the dish and the heavy mount together and then lifting them onto the pole
together can easily warp the reflective surface. This mistake should be avoided.
It is also usually easier to set the declination angle on the mount at this stage.
4. ASSEMBLE THE DISH
After assembly, the dish can either be lifted onto the mount so it sits horizontally like a bird bath
or it can be rolled into alignment with a vertically oriented mount. Secure the reflector to the
mount. Then attach the feed support struts or buttonhook to the dish. While most large reflectors
must be assembled, some smaller dishes of 8 feet or less in diameter are pre-assembled.
Assemble reflectors on a flat surface and do not tighten the bolts until all pieces are in place and
the accuracy of the panel alignment can be ensured.
5. LNB SUPPORT
The next step is to secure the dish onto the LNB support arm by attaching four pan head bolts, to
mount the LNB and then to attach the coaxial cable to the LNB. It is easiest to complete this step
on the ground and then lift the lightweight assembly to its final location and attach it to the
mounting bracket. Before fixing the LNB to the support arm, route the coax through the center of
this arm and back down the supporting pipe.
Use only RG-6 coax with at least a 60% woven braid. Install an F-connector on the cable end,
screw it onto the LNB, waterproof this connection and finally bolt the LNB to the support arm with
the supplied hardware. Take the coax from the dish and run it into the home to the satellite
It is important to create a drip loop in the cable on both sides of wall, a loop that has its lowest
point below the grounding block, so moisture will drip off below and not into the connection.
After bolting the LNB and feed together lower the dish by adjusting the elevation angle and
possibly by loosening the bolt in the clamp so the LNB/feed assembly can be attached to its
supports. It is crucial to always install a weather cover to protect the LNB. Attach the dish to the
Then after bolting the LNB and feed together, also bolt these components onto the mount.
6. ELECTRICAL CONNECTIONS
Complete the necessary connection to the LNB, and to the indoor receiver. Be sure both the dish
and receiver are properly grounded. Always attach a copper or aluminum grounding wire to the
pole and run it to a grounding rod or to a point where it can be electrically secured to the home
ground. The BIS defines codes regarding installing and wiring grounding attachments for electronic
equipment. Proper grounding is essential to protecting life and property.
7. POWER ON AND ALIGN ANTENNA
Carefully set the elevation and declination angles. Then check that all wires are connected
correctly, turn on the power and align the dish to the arc of satellites. Set the azimuth and
elevation angles and turn the power on. Fine tune the alignment of the dish to optimize signal
reception. The azimuth and Elevation angle is relative to your location on the map, and the
location of the satellite which you are trying to receive. See section at the end of this article which
deals with Determining Aiming Angles'.
Two basic instruments are required to both conduct a site survey and aim a dish:
An angle finder or inclinometer and a compass.
When a polar mount is installed, these instruments are used to aim the mount towards true south
and then to set the polar axis and declination angles. When installing a fixed dish an az-el mount,
adjusting the azimuth and elevation angle can target each satellite. The azimuth is measured in
degrees of rotation from true north and the elevation in degrees up from the horizon.
The azimuth (Az) heading as well as Elevation (El) angle towards any chosen satellite can be found
by calculation or from computer programs. For example, NSS 6 has different azimuth and
elevation angles in the various parts of the country. Some of these are in the table alongside. In
Bombay, the NSS satellite has an elevation angle of 56° and a compass heading of 128°East.
It would therefore be found by rotating 128° from the north compass heading and then by aiming
up to an elevation of 56°.
If a tree or any other obstruction blocks the view, the proposed installation site would have to be
changed. The Az & El settings are the same for installation anywhere in the same town / city.
Elevation angles are measured with an angle finder (also known as an inclinometer or protractor).
The protractor (also referred to as the 'D') from a school geometry box serves the purpose quite
well. Placing it on a long ruler or any other straight edge increases sighting ease and accuracy
when it is used in a fashion similar to sighting a rifle. The ruler can then be raised until the desired
elevation is reached. If a protractor is used, its base must be kept level before checking elevation
angles. When the correct elevation and azimuth angle is found, check to ensure that no objects
are blocking a clear view to any satellite.
There is an important difference in the process of aiming an analog C-band TVRO and a DTH digital
dish. With C-band analog, even with a faint signal received, a hint of a television picture appears.
Then fine adjustments can be made to improve reception. In contrast, digital receivers usually
either lock onto the signal, if it is strong enough, or give no indication of a signal, if it is weak and
below "threshold." Therefore the aiming angles should be set as accurately as possible before
powering on. Once the signal has been acquired, then the signal strength can be monitored for
fine tuning. One saving grace with small dish systems is that the beamwidth is so wide that aiming
errors of even a degree or more will not have a major impact.
The next step is to adjust the elevation and azimuth (compass heading). The DTH system has
fortunately been designed to make this process quite easy.
The dish can be rotated to the correct elevation by loosening one bolt and then reading the angle
as marked on the side of the LNB support arm. This is accurate to within at least a half a degree
when the pole is vertically aligned. The compass heading is set by sighting with a compass and
then by rotating the dish about its support arm by loosening the bolts behind the dish.
A database of channels is mostly pre-programmed into the satellite receiver.
Simply turn the power on, select the main menu from the remote control or front panel buttons,
select "Options," then "Setup" from the next menu, and finally tune channels from the menu.
Once the aiming angles have been manually set the receiver can be used to peak the signal. Again
select the main menu via the remote control or front panel buttons, select "Options," then "Setup"
and "Dish Pointing" from the two subsequent menus and finally "Signal Strength Meter" from the
Most digital satellite receivers provide an on-screen signal strength meter, which show up as a
progressive vertical or horizontal bar on the TV screen.
This can also be used for fine tuning the alignment. The process involves adjusting the elevation
and then the azimuth to peak this meter.
The system requires a three second wait between each read-out on the meter to allow it to
complete its cycle. Both a graphic display and a number that varies between 0 and 99 are provided
to facilitate this process.
Once the setup has been done, sit back and auto-tune the receiver using the remote.
Most receivers will automatically tune the downlink frequencies and the other parameters, and
store these in memory.
These can also be manually tuned, by going into the setup menu as described earlier, and
manually inputting the downlink frequency of the channel you wish to watch, along with the
polarization of that transponder, the Symbol rate (SR) and the FEC. These parameters for the
various channels are also available on the CHANNEL GUIDE pages of each months issue of the
SATELLITE & CABLE TV magazine, or on the CHANNEL GUIDE pages at the website
Look Angle Table: NSS 6 at 95 Degrees East
All angles in Degrees
Location Lat Long AZ EL Location Lat Long AZ EL
Ahmadabad 23.05N 72.67E 133.62 53.13 Jodhpur 26.30N 73.13E 137.83 50.82
Allahabad 25.47N 81.90E 151.58 56.81 Jullundur 31.30N 75.67E 145.97 47.91
Amritsar 31.58N 74.93E 145.11 47.25 Junagadh 21.53N 70.53E 128.89 52.57
Andaman 12.00N 92.67E 168.91 75.63 Lucknow 26.92N 80.98E 151.13 54.90
Bangalore 12.97N 77.58E 125.58 64.70 Ludhiana 30.92N 75.90E 146.02 48.40
Bhopal 23.27N 77.60E 141.57 56.44 Madras 13.08N 80.30E 130.79 67.03
Bhubaneswar 20.25N 85.87E 155.09 64.07 Maldives 5.50N 73.00E 103.35 63.48
Bombay 18.93N 72.85E 128.56 56.37 Panaji 15.50N 73.92E 124.73 59.66
Calcutta 22.57N 88.40E 163.22 62.53 Patna 25.62N 85.20E 158.22 58.11
Chandigarh 30.70N 76.90E 147.37 49.13 Pune 18.52N 73.92E 129.48 57.57
Delhi 28.67N 77.23E 146.26 51.24 Salem 11.63N 78.13E 123.63 66.09
Dibrugarh 27.48N 94.97E 179.93 57.90 Sholapur 17.72N 75.93E 131.36 59.84
Hyderabad 17.33N 78.50E 135.17 62.20 Srinagar 34.10N 74.85E 146.80 44.86
Imphal 24.73N 93.97E 177.53 61.05 Trivandrum 8.68N 76.95E 114.86 66.59
Indore 22.73N 75.83E 138.03 55.71 Vishakhapatnam 17.70N 83.40E 145.97 65.32
Jabalpur 23.17N 79.98E 145.71 58.02
Jagdalpur 19.07N 82.08E 144.93 63.19
Jaipur 26.88N 75.83E 142.45 52.07
Jalgaon 21.02N 75.65E 135.60 57.01
Azimuth & Elevation
Jalna 19.83N 75.97E 134.52 58.21
Jalpaiguri 26.50N 88.83E 166.39 58.28
Jamnagar 22.47N 70.10E 129.46 51.55
Jamshedpur 22.78N 86.20E 158.21 61.52
Jaunpur 25.73N 82.68E 153.30 56.91
Jeypore 18.85N 82.68E 145.95 63.77
Jhelum 31.07N 72.17E 140.79 46.11