Naive Noob attempting basic Sky MiniDish “install” – a little help?

Nick -D-vB

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Hi all,

After having to watch the cup final in SD yesterday I have finally cracked! )(-red

I can’t install a dish on my flat (luddite land-lord etc) but I am hoping to be able to perch a dish on my window sill occasionally when there is something on BBC / ITV HD I really want to watch. I think I have a clear line of site to Astra 28.8 and there are several dishes on flats near to mine that I assume are working (have asked their owners to split the feed to me but they are not interested, worried about sky warranty bollocks etc)

When I am able to install a permanent rig I’ll get some decent kit but for this experiment a mate at a local electronics shop has sorted me out a few bits and bobs for free. Beggars can’t be choosers so…

I have an old 50cm(?) Sky analogue dish but that is really too big for the window sill so he also gave me a Sky minidish which I would much rather use. That has a Cambridge industries “Geo Universal G88” digital elliptical LNB fitted to it but it looks a bit battered, and he couldn’t say for sure if it was working, so he also gave me a Skyware SX1019/S - but am I right in thinking that this just wouldn’t work, or would be to hard to align by hand, on the minidish?

Just to make matters worse the minidish looks a little bit warped on one corner, it is *very* slight (and could actually just be my eyes) would this drastically effect the performance of the dish?

Also, according to:

http://clarkson-uk.com/find-a-sat/

My elevation angle needs to be 24.74, I know the dish I have was originally installed just a few miles away but the angle seems to be set to 35 degrees??? (when the wall mount bar is horizontal) there is no arrow as a marker to I assume it is measured from the centre of the fixing bolt?

In terms of cable I have a ~10m length of thick high-grade NTL cable (copper core + silver foil shield) would this be OK to use for the time being? It also has a join in it (using a passive female-female “grub”) would this be a big problem?

I don’t have a decoder yet (saving up for a Dreambox) but have two DVB-S cards for my PC (FireDTV + TechnoTrend / Nova-S) I naively assumed that I might be able to align the dish using the software signal bars or SatFinder software (BDA drivers just lie about signal stats btw!) but after 3 hours of fruitless “waggling” I am going down to Maplin to get a meter / buzzer, don’t have a lot to spend so will one of these do the trick:

http://www.maplin.co.uk/module.aspx?ModuleNo=48325&doy=17m5

http://www.maplin.co.uk/Module.aspx?ModuleNo=48328&&source=14&doy=18m5


I have got the rough angle by eye from the dishes next door but I don’t have a compass / spirit level to hand, do I stand a hope in hell without them? Just to make things even more complicated there is a row of trees about 10 meters from the window I need to use, they are not very dense but are about 5 meters higher than the window. 8(

But, a flat on the ground floor (almost directly bellow me) has a dish that seems to be pointing directly into these trees, if they are getting a single I assume I should be ok on the 3rd floor up ??? Also, if the dish is sitting right on the edge of the window sill how much clearance would there need to be directly above the dish as the roof over-hangs a foot or so.

Sorry for all the daft questions and extraneous information but I’m getting nowhere fast, I have read through the guides posted on here and other places but they are all assuming a permanent install from a fixed bracket.

I know I might seem naïve to attempt this, all you guys with proper rigs must just think I’m wasting my time, but it’s the best I can do for the time being. If anyone can help clear up some of these questions or give me a few pointers I would really appreciate it.

I’m going to give it another shot today so I look forward to hearing any suggestions ASAP. :)

Thanks,
Nick,
 

rolfw

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Providing the LNB is a working one (the Skyware should be fine), the installation should be straightforward, particularly with a sat-beeper meter.

The Sky minidish face should be near vertical for most on England, perhaps leaning back a little for the south and forward a little for the north.
 

Nick -D-vB

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Thanks for replying so fast, I think I will try swaping the LNB.

What should the skew be set to?

All the guides say about -11.9 for me, the LNB clap has degrees on one part and 4-3-2 on the side marker.

Is skew just for fine-tuning after I get the dish lined up?

Also would it matter if the top of the window opening over-hangs the dish by a few inches? The window is about 1m heigh.

I am just off to maplins now, would you go for the beeper over the meter then?

Thansk again,
Nick
 

rolfw

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The skew will make a small difference to signal quality on a minidish, but does not need to be on any particular preset to lock on the satellite, you can play with it when the dish is aligned. :)

If the window is South to SE facing, then you could probably get away with a tripod mount inside the window.
 

Nick -D-vB

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rolfw said:
If the window is South to SE facing, then you could probably get away with a tripod mount inside the window.

That gives me some hope, which Dish / LNB combo should be easiest to align by sight (luck) ?

If the LNB / cable is working OK I can't work out why I couldn't get a hint of a signal after 3 hours of trying???

I get higher signal level when the dish is disconnected! lol Is that normal?

ps- a DVB-S card should be able to power the beeper just like a normal decoder right?

really don't want to fry the cards...
 

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The smaller the dish, the more chance you have to align it by luck, although I have aligned my 1.1m like that once.

But really, you have to be methodical in your approach. Set the elevation about right, then slowly sweep the dish from one side to the other. If you get nothing, alter the dish elevation and repeat.

Once you get a signal lock of any sort, do a quick scan and see what channels you get, then check what sat you are on, using Lyngsat.

If you still get nothing, there is either a fault somewhere, or you are pointing completely the wrong way.

Robbo:)
 

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You still need an HD receiver as the two PC cards mentioned are only for SD.
If you plan to go the PC card HD route, then your PC has to be up to it, as it needs a lot of resources.
Might be cheaper to buy an FTA HD receiver like Pace ~ 100 pounds or even cheaper if you look around.
Or the Dreambox HD if you can wait until the piggy bank is overflowed.:)
 

Nick -D-vB

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Thanks for the input guys. :)
Robbo71 said:
The smaller the dish, the more chance you have to align it by luck.
I will stick with the minidish then, or would using the non-elliptical Skyware LNB make it harder anyway?
Robbo71 said:
But really, you have to be methodical in your approach. Set the elevation about right, then slowly sweep the dish from one side to the other. If you get nothing, alter the dish elevation and repeat.
That was my basic approach, but not having a braket to keep it steady really isn't helping, I will try attaching a 4 axis spirit-level to the arm.

The main problem is the inaccurate / delayed software signal meters, I might have more luck with the beeper.

There are just too many variables, my main problem is not knowing which are the important ones!
HB13DISH said:
You still need an HD receiver as the two PC cards mentioned are only for SD.

I know they aren't DVB-S2 tuners but I think some FreeSat decoders only have DVB-S tuners so it looks like BBC / ITV HD

(and maybe C4 & 5 when they turn up) will be sticking with DVB-S for the time being.

I've got the software side of things covered, I helped beta test the first wave of H.264 stuff back in 2006 when the trials first started.

I couldn't even get 20fps on my Athlon FX 2.8GHz rig at the time, now I get less than 5% CPU usage with my 8800GT using DXVA!

I'm a complete noob at setting up a dish but I've been playing with DVB software for a while...
HB13DISH said:
Or the Dreambox HD if you can wait until the piggy bank is overflowed.:)
lol, it's got to be Dreambox, with any luck I should be able to take a hammer to Mr Pig in a few months...

I thought about one of those DM500 mini-dreamboxes but I don't think they do one with a DVB-S2 tuner yet?

Probably best to get a "proper one" anyway.


Thanks again for you help guys, I'll keep you posted.

Cheers,
Nick
 

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The Skyware LNBs are designed for a minidish, I believe, but either way it wouldn't make much difference to the beamwidth, and thus the difficulty in aligning.

Yes, having the dish firmly clamped to something would make things a lot easier. :)
 

Nick -D-vB

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[tube]xos2MnVxe-c[/tube]

It's Alive !!! :)

View attachment 16099



Looks like the first LNB was dead after all.

I should have done this months ago.



Thanks for all you help guys.

Cheers,
Nick
 

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rolfw

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Did it for you, you only put the Youtube reference number inside the BBcode brackets. :)

Well done. :)
 

Nick -D-vB

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Thanks mate 8)

It only took 5 minutes with the new LNB and a working meter.

Is there any problem leaving the meter connected in line 24/7 btw?
 

rolfw

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It may attenuate the signal slightly, but the power draw is negligible, you do of course need to attenuate the meter to stop it buzzing. :) Why not put an "F" barrel connector in line, then the beeper can be taken out and inserted easily.
 

Nick -D-vB

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rolfw said:
It may attenuate the signal slightly, but the power draw is negligible, you do of course need to attenuate the meter to stop it buzzing.
There is a grub connection in the cable anyway so I can swap it out easy enough,

just wondering if its ok to leave it in while I'm having a look around? It won't harm the cards / lnb at all?

In terms of giving the cards the best signal with the meter still in line is it best to turn it right down or just enough to stop it beeping?

Also, the firedtv card has a pass-through on the tuner, can I connect the nova-s in line to?

I know they will fight over the lnb switching but that can't damage the cards or lnb can it?

Sorry for all the questions, I will do some reading up now I have it working.

Thanks again,
Nick
 

rolfw

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Turning it down is turning up the attenuation, so just do it enough to stop it beeping. The loop through can be used OK, perhaps disable the LNB power on the second card.
 

Nick -D-vB

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Thanks for clearing that up, I'll leave you in peace now and go do some reading... 8)
 

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Regarding the LNB, a little bit of info for you, if it's a Skyware SX1019/S, it's for minidishes, if it's a Philips SX1019, it's for round dishes. The only difference between them is the feedhorn behind the white cover, one's oval (/S) and ones round (no /S)... :)

I like the Skyware (and more recently Wistron) LNBs cos you can skew them properly unlike the other lot where you have to unscrew something or pull on the socket to twist it, and even then you don't get a good level of skew... :(
 

Nick -D-vB

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Thanks for that, luckely its a SX1019/S. But my mate in the shop thought it was for a round dish.

Just out of interest would it work at all on the 50cm Sky analogue dish?

I thought I had read the arm angle was wrong on those dishes or something?

That knackered Cambridge Industries G88 had horrable skew ajustment btw,

the cladding still rattled around even after you tightened it up.

Thanks,
Nick
 

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'Nick [D said:
Thanks for that, luckely its a SX1019/S. But my mate in the shop thought it was for a round dish.

Just out ifinterest would it work at all on the 50cm Sky analogue dish?

I thought I had read the arm angle was wrong on those dishes or something?

That knackered Cambridge Industries G88 had horrable skew ajustment btw,

the cladding still rattled around even after you tightened it up.

Thanks,
Nick

It would work on a round dish, but it would only see an oval section of the dish reducing the overall performance. I think your round dish might be 60CM, as most late analogue dishes often were 60, unless there was some reason to use a larger dish... :)

Those plastic clad LNBs (Cambridge and Raven mainly) are terrible, once the plastic perishes in the sun and starts falling apart, then you lose signal and often people pay sky £65 for a monkey to come swap it for another £10 LNB... :(
 

Nick -D-vB

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I don't think the analogue dish is round, it's in the shed now but I remember it looking oval (taller than it was wide)

does that make it useless for digital, or just harder to align even with a non elliptical LNB?

btw, just found they're showing Last Crusiade on BBC HD 8)

It doesn't look up-scaled either, must be a new film transfer?
 
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