How to Position a Satellite Dish With a Compass

Updated April 17, 2017

Most professional satellite dish technicians use a hand-held electronic satellite finder to position or point your dish when they set it up. For most people these are an expensive and unnecessary inconvenience. You can do the same thing with a compass and a little finesse. Dish Network and DirecTV use the same method.

Turn on your satellite receiver and TV. With proper remote control set-up, the satellite receiver and the TV can be turned on using your remote.

Navigate through the menu screens to "Point Dish." On most Dish Network receivers, the point dish screen can be accessed by pressing 6-1-1 on the number pad from the main menu. If your satellite provider is DirecTV, navigate to the "antenna-pointing" menu screen.

Enter the Postcode for your location. The azimuth, elevation, and skew angles are now displayed. These angles determine where to point your dish. Note: DirecTV equipment will refer to the skew angle as the "tilt" angle.

Use your compass to point the dish to correct azimuth angle. The azimuth will correspond to the degrees marking on your compass. If your compass does not have degree markings, approximate the angle. Due south is 180 degrees; due east is 90 degrees; due west is 270 degrees. Once the dish points to the correct azimuth, secure the locking nut to hold this position.

Adjust the elevation and skew angles after the getting the azimuth angle set correctly. Markings on the dish mount show the scale for the correct elevation and skew angles.

Go back to the TV and select "check switch" from the "point dish" screen. This will take you to another menu screen called "installation summary." Select "test" and wait for the receiver to complete the check switch test. After the check switch test is complete, cancel to the point dish screen and check your signal. If you have a green bar in signal strength meter, your dish should be pointed correctly. If the signal meter shows a red bar or is empty, check the previous steps to ensure the correct execution of the steps.


Someone on a cell phone or walkie-talkie in front of the television will save you a lot of trips up and down the ladder to your dish. Your helper will be able to see the signal meter on the point dish screen and tell you when you have pointed the dish for optimal signal strength.

Things You'll Need

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

Rebecca Moore has been a writer since 1994. She has been published on various websites and in numerous print magazines. Moore attended Living Word Bible College and Leeward Community College. Moore enjoys spending time at garden shops and botanical gardens and experimenting with hydroponics and square-foot gardening.