Portable satellite dish for caravan

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Robbie

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#1
Does anyone have experience of using a satellite dish for use in a caravan? I want to take my digital satellite receiver with me when I go off in my van and I would welcome any help in my search
for a suitable small dish for Hotbird or Astra. I intend to use it in the UK and also when I visit France and Spain. I have seen a small square dish advertised in What Satellite - a bit like the old squarial -and I recall seeing an Arcon Sweety? advertised some time ago and I was wondering if these would be suitable?
 
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jdhz

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#2
Yes, analogue and digital. I did quite a bit of research and found the dish options to be:

freestanding (£50 to £100)
through the roof manual (£250 to £450)
through the roof automatic (£1000+)

There are quite a few manaufacturers but the ones I found were:

http://www.telecogroup.com/teleco/html/eng_teleco_products.html
http://www.maxview.ltd.uk/lesuire/mobsat.html

I opted for a Voyager 65 through the roof manual from Teleco (italian)because I wanted to be able to get analogue and digital in Europe. It has a 65cm dish with universal LNB and cost about £300 inc vat (about the same in Italy). I fitted it myself which was not too difficult but I had to find out where the roof "joists" were and also deal with the slightly sloping roof. It is fitted so that the mast is inside the main cupboard (caravanners will know what I mean). I did consider the freestanding dish but decided it would be too inconvenient setting up and storing.

I used the dish with analogue in Germany/Austria/Italy/France last summer and it worked very well. I fixed a 360 degree scale around the bottom of mast so to locate the required direction I simply measure the direction that the caravan is pointing, subtract/add that to the direction needed and turn the mast to that value. The elevation is read off the adjuster at the bottom of the mast. I have a simple (£35) satellite meter to help locate the required bird but it is not usually needed (for analogue at least) but it did help to start with. The meter has a 22khz tone switch which makes it useful when locating digital signals.

The audio output of the receiver is fed to the caravan radio so we don't need the TV out just to listen to the BBC news.

One final tip, I have also bought a 12v mains inverter. This supplies up to 150 watt at 240v from the 12v caravan battery which is enough for the satellite receiver and even the tv if you have not got one with a 12v option. So motorway stops and sites without 240v are no problem, but (as experienced caravanners know) don't feed from the car battery as the drain can be quite high.

Since the holiday in Italy I have upgraded my home system to Sky digital but so far only tried it from the caravan in the drive outside my house. Finding 28.2E was more difficult and it was easier to find 19.2E using the meter and then adjust. The problem is that the digital receivers take a couple of seconds to lock so fine tuning can be slow if you have not got a suitable meter.

So if you want to get digital in Europe (you do not say Sky or otherwise) my advice would be to get at least a 65cm dish and be prepared to spend time learning how to find the satellites. If it is Sky digi then be aware that you will find some of the channels easier to get because the two beams, one of which covers more of Europe. The excellant www.lyngsat.com site gives more detail. Use of Sky digi in Europe is covered elsewhere on the board.

Since I started on the caravan satellite kick I have upgraded my home system to 90cm motorised useing Hauppauge DVB-S in a pc under NT and Linux. So it all worked out more expensive than I first thought!

Do let me know how you get on.
 
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Robbie

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#3
Thanks for your very comprehensive reply. I have looked at the Maxview site and sent for their literature. I don't want to start drilling holes etc. in my van so I'm looking for a free standing base on which I can mount the dish. Maxview showed a picture of one and I shall go for that.

I have a motorised system with an Echostar LT 8700 and a Humax F1VACI with an Aston Seca cam, but I shall look for a basic digital receiver with a CI slot to take away with me. I don't fancy disconnecting my system each time I go away. I also have an old Nokkia Pal/D2Mac receiver which I can use for setting up the dish on site. I'll be quite happy to stick to either Hotbird or Astra so that I can watch Sky News and the film channels when I'm away.

The signal quality and strength from Hotbird is much better than from Astra here, but would you know which is better in mainland Europe?

I'll let you know how I get on.
 

2old4this

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#4
Robbie,
where is "here"?
If you mean the UK, then I'm surprised you get better signal from Hotbird. It should be the reverse. So maybe your dish is not properly aligned.
If you have a single dish with two LNBs then of cours that could explain it. The standard two-LNB setup is that the dish is aimed at Hotbird (since it is the weaker) so that the "offset" LNB is the one picking up the now highly deflected Astra signal (since it is strong enough to survive the indignity).

Check out the footprint info at Lyngsat (links posted elsewhere on this board too).

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Robbie

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#5
I live in Lancashire and the digital signal is much better on Hotbird than it is on Astra. The signal strength is 100% and quality is over 90%, whereas on Astra the signal strength varies from about 60% to 80%, and quality from about 45% to 65%. Ned 5 and Veronique have the lowest figures and occasionally the picture freezes. I have been up to the dish and adjusted it using the signal quality meter on the Humax but it was spot on. There are no problems with the analogue signal on Astra. I can only assume that it is the beam which is centred on the Netherlands rather than the UK.
 

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#6
Of all the 55 sats or so visible in Europe transmitting on hundreds of different beams, only one part of one beam of one sat is centred on the UK: the western lobe of the Turksat1C "west beam" (centred on London)...

Astra1 beams are centred on France & Germany. Hotbird beams are cenntred on Denmark & Austria (or thereabouts). And Astra beams ARE stronger than Hotbird beams.

You didn't say what kind of dish set up you have. Is it steerable or fixed with multiple-LNBs? Or do you have 2 dishes?

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Robbie

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#7
I have a 1.05 metre Swedish Microwave motorised dish which is set up perfectly. I bought a new universal LNB to replace my quad band LNB with ferrite polariser when I bought my Humax. I had thought that the "new" LNB might need rotating to increase performance, but it is tricky getting at it and I would have to move the dish to its west limit to adjust it and then back to Astra again, and I couldn't be bothered to do this. I'm not good with heights either.
 

2old4this

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#8
Astra transponders should be giving 80-90% strength and quality from your site.
There's no such channel as Ned5 or Veronique, though there are Net5, RTL5, and a Veronica.
RTL5 is on 12344/h/27500 fec 3/4 (tpx97 Astra-1F)
Net5 & Veronica are on 12574/h/22000 fec 5/6 (tpx 109 Astra-1G)
Both beams are dbW 52-53 at Lancashire/UK.

By contrast, here are the beam strengths of the Hortbird sats at your location:
Hotbird1 KS beam: 49
Hotbird2/3/4 KS beam: 52
Hotbird2/3/4 KW beam: 50
Hotbird5 KS beam: 52
Hotbird5 KW beam: 49

(data from satcodx)

So I would check your dish alignment.
How far down the arc can you see?

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jdhz

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#9
With respect to the moderator, what has this ongoing discussion got to do with "Portable satellite dish for caravan"?


:-ohmy
 
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Robbie

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#10
I have just checked the signal detection on my Humax and I got the following:
Veronica and Net 5: Signal Strength 81% Quality: 30%
RTL 5: 92%/30%
C+1 NL: 84%/40%
Kiosque 4: 100%/60%
Canal+ Azul: 100%/60%
Taquilla 9: 81%/20%
Taquilla 3: 84%/40%
Sky News: 83%/40%

I haven't moved my dish to the east or west extremes for some time but the analogue signals were good with no sparklies and I used to get Canal + Belgium on 27 west, when it was in the clear, with no problem
 

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jdhz is right - we're moving off topic. The link was the question as to whether Hotbird or Astra would be stronger elsewhere in europe, but the premise (that Hotbird is stronger in the UK) is actually false - hence the discussion on dish alignment etc.

Robbie - I think your comment is a little harsh given that jdhz was the one who first gave you your "very comprehensive reply"!

I'll close the topic now as I believe it is complete.

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