How to calculate satellite azimuth & elevation

Written by rebecca moore
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How to calculate satellite azimuth & elevation
A typical satellite dish for home TV viewing (satellite tv dish image by Kathy Burns from

Re-pointing your dish after it has been moved can be a difficult task for someone who has no experience working with satellite dishes, but with a little bit of practice, you will be an expert in no time. These instructions apply to a Dish 300, a single satellite dish antenna.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Compass (preferably one with degree markings)
  • An adjustable crescent wrench

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  1. 1

    Determine the optimal azimuth and elevation angles for the needed satellite by navigating through the menu screen to the Point Dish screen. The correct angles can be determined by inputting the zip code of your location.

  2. 2

    Point the dish to the correct azimuth. The azimuth is the compass direction. Due north is 0 or 360 degrees, due east is 90 degrees, due south is 180 degrees and due west is 270 degrees. Other angles are determined in one-degree increments from 0 to 360 around a circular horizontal plane parallel to the surface of the earth.

    Once the dish is pointed to the correct azimuth angle, the elevation angle should be set. The elevation angle is how high up to the sky the dish should be pointed. With an elevation angle of 0, the dish would be pointed parallel to the ground. With an elevation of 90 degrees, the dish would be pointed straight up. Your elevation should be somewhere between 20 and 55 degrees. Your dish will have marks to determine your elevation angle setting.

  3. 3

    Tighten all the nuts to prevent the dish from being moved by high winds or by contact with another object.

  4. 4

    Look at the Point Dish screen on your TV. If your dish has been pointed correctly, it should be locked on a signal with a green bar at the bottom of the Point Dish screen. You will hear a steady high-pitched tone indicating the signal is locked.

  5. 5

    Check to see if you have a red bar at the bottom of your Point Dish screen. If you do, select "check switch" on the Point Dish screen. This will take you to the installation summary screen. Select "test" at the bottom of screen and wait while the receiver runs a check switch test. Once the test is completed, exit to the Point Dish screen again and you should now see the green bar and hear the high-pitched steady tone.

  6. 6

    Look at the bar at the bottom of the Point Dish screen. If it is blank, you are not receiving a signal. Repeat the process until you see a signal indicated on the screen. Once you are locked on a signal with a green signal indication, exit out of menus and allow the receiver to acquire the signal. You can now tune the receiver to your favourite channel and watch your program.

Tips and warnings

  • Most dishes in use today receive multiple satellites (Dish 500 or Dish 1000). These dishes will have a third angle called the skew angle. Like the elevation angle, the settings are marked on the dish. The skew is adjusted by rotating the dish either clockwise or counterclockwise.

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