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How to set up a satellite dish with no meter

Updated February 21, 2017

Professional dish installers use a signal strength meter to pinpoint the satellite's location. For a homeowner, buying a meter is unnecessary. If you can read a compass and operate a wrench, you can align your dish in under an hour. Your satellite provider will give you the two pieces of information you need to accurately align your dish -- azimuth and elevation. The azimuth is a compass heading you use to point your dish in the right direction. The elevation is the angle you will need to tilt the antenna above the horizon. For best reception, place your dish where it will have an unobstructed line-of-sight path to the satellite.

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  1. Loosen the mounting bolts on your dish with a wrench.

  2. Use your compass to determine the correct azimuth for your location.

  3. Point the dish in the direction indicated on your compass. Tighten the bolts that allow the dish to be moved from side to side.

  4. Tie a fishing weight to a 25 cm (10 inch) piece of string. Tie the other end of the string through the centre hole in the protractor.

  5. Align the bottom edge of the protractor with the satellite's receiving arm and tape it in place. The weight and the string should swing freely across the face of the protractor.

  6. Tilt the dish up or down to bring the string over the proper number for your elevation.

  7. Tighten the mounting bolts that allow the dish to tilt.

  8. Tip

    Most satellite receivers have a set-up screen that monitors signal strength; this will help you aim your dish. Consult your system documentation for instructions on your specific make and model.

    Contact your satellite provider for the azimuth and elevation for your location.

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Things You'll Need

  • Wrench
  • Compass
  • Tape
  • Protractor
  • String
  • Fishing weight

About the Author

Finn McCuhil is a freelance writer based in Northern Michigan. He worked as a reporter and columnist in South Florida before becoming fascinated with computers. After studying programming at University of South Florida, he spent more than 20 years heading up IT departments at three tier-one automotive suppliers. He now builds wooden boats in the north woods.

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