This post was most recently updated on April 9th, 2019
Basically, I will say we are indirectly going back to the good old days in terms of satellite dish selection. I remember growing up in the mid-80s, all I use to see was big huge satellite dishes installed in hotels or rich individuals houses. Then, even Dstv debuted with a fairly big dish before the later changed to the standard 90cm dish size. The advantages of a big satellite dish are so captivating to the extent that once you are used to a big dish, you wouldn’t want to have anything to do with small dish anymore. Going forward in this article, we shall be discussing big satellite dishes; the types, forms, advantages and how to procure one for yourself
What is a Big Satellite Dish/Antenna?
Let’s give a contextual definition to a big satellite dish. A big satellite dish is a dish-shaped type of parabolic antenna that is bigger than 100-centimetres(1-meter), designed to receive or transmit information by radio waves to or from a communication satellite. The term most commonly means a dish used by consumers to receive a satellite TV signal.
Users often erroneously refer to big satellite dishes as C Band dish. While all big dish is the majorly prime focus, not all of them are C Band only dish. The only big dish that cannot be used for KU Band frequency is a Mesh dish.
Personally, my definition of a big dish is one that has a size that exceeds 1.4meters(140cm). This is my reasons; what is the difference between a 90cm dish and 1meter dish? Very little. If you buy a 1-meter dish (except maybe you bought it for a specific purpose) in an environment where you have the space to install even a 4-meter dish, you are simply shortchanging yourself and minimizing your enjoyment. So if you have a space for a bigger dish, buy the biggest dish you can afford even if it is 1.2meter. However, if money and space are not, a constraint. go as big as 4 meters but do not go bigger than 4meter for a residential area.
Types of Satellite Dishes
The advantages of a big satellite dish are dependent on its huge size. In this section, we shall be highlighting the general types of dish that we have regardless of their sizes.
Pan or Metal/Steel Dish
These are the commonest types. They come in very small or very big sizes. Examples include all 60cm /90cm dishes. Also, industries and companies such as banks use a big metal dish. Some could be as wide as 7 meters in diameter. Shown below is a picture of a pan dish “this material” is best suited for a small dish or a huge dish for industrial or company use. Once a Pan dish gets bigger than 1.8meters, it becomes ridiculously heavy. It is mostly used on small dishes or a dish that will not be moved around in a long time.
The Mesh/Wire Dish
These are the most beautiful set of dishes. However, there are not the best in terms of signal reception. Apart from this, a mesh dish should not go bigger than 2.5meters(250cm) Example is in the picture below. Also, you can’t receive KU Band frequency with a mesh dish.
KU Band and C Band Satellite Dishes
This type is typically based on the LNBf type to use on such dish. For example, an offset dish is often referred to as strictly a KU Band dish while a prime focus is known as a C Band. In this category, the material used in constructing the dish has no bearing. The type of dish is predetermined by the LNBf. See the images below for more clarifications.
A Dish Constructed with Fibre Materials
Locally constructed dishes in developing countries are often made with fibreglass materials. This is because the materials are cheaper than the type used for a mesh or steel dish. Also, It is easy to construct. In addition, It is the lightest which means less money on transportation. It has one of the best reception if not the best. See the image below to have an idea of what a typical fibre dish looks like.
Important articles for further reading:
- How to Manually Track a Satellite Dish Network & Frequencies
- How to calculate the size of dish/antenna to be used for any Satellite TV packages
- Aligning motorized dish to arc of satellites a beginner’s guide with pictorial representations
- Pictures Of Popular Dish $ LNBF Used In Tracking Various Satellite Channels
- Ways to Fix Satellite Dish Signal loss during Bad weather such as; Rain, Cloud, windstorm and snow
- How to spot the difference between an offset and a prime focus dish
Big Dishes Categories Based on the Construction Technique
A typical big dish that measures up to 1.8meters or larger can either be constructed as a whole or split. The purpose of constructing a big dish as a detachable entity is to give room for an easier means of transportation. However, only a metal/steel dish and a fibre dish can take on a detachable construction. I am yet to see a mesh/wire dish that is detachable.
The “whole/Fixed Dish”
The advantage of this type of construction is that it tends to have a slight signal quality over the detachable. This is true especially when you use a fibre material. Whole dishes are suitable when the place where you want to install the dish is very close. Or when the size is not too big. The Picture is shown below:
The Detachable/Segmented Pallet Dishes
This is the opposite of “the whole/fixed dish” it takes more time to construct, and it is more expensive. However, it can be easily transported to far distances. Have it in mind that, if not properly constructed, the dish may start to leak or deteriorate between the petals in no distant time. Of course, a leaking dish will bleed signal. I have an image of a detachable dish below:
Satellite Dish Categories Based on Installation Methods
A Ground Mount Dish
We have the ground mount for houses where space management is not an issue. for ground mount, the dish literally stays on the level ground/floor
Pole Mounted Big Satellite dish
The is when the dish is installed on a raised platform especially a pole. Some can make the pole to be taller than humans so that you can walk up and down underneath it. This is the best option when space is an issue in your house.
Advantages of a big satellite Dish over a Small Dish
The advantages of a big satellite dish are so overwhelming to the extent that it has only one major constraint and one minor one. Within the context of this article, we define a small dish as those satellite dishes that is between 40cm to 90cm wide. The width is measured in diameters. On the contrary, big dishes are those that measured between 1.2meters(120cm) and above. Therefore, there are numerous advantages of a big satellite dish over its smaller counterpart. Some of these are listed below. I will be listing them below:
- It is overall cheaper than managing multiple small dishes
The only time you feel the huge impact of price is during the initial setup. After that, you live to enjoy your big dish. Considering the uncountable FTA, feed channels and test transmission channels available on a big dish, you may do without a PayTv subscription anymore. A big dish will save you cable bills while still enjoying most of your favourite channels. Note: You will have sports channels as FTA on a big dish, but they may not be dedicated sports channels.
- Similarly, it is only possible on a big dish to watch most of your favourite programs free of charge and Legally without any piracy/anti-piracy worries. A small dish will eventually frustrate you to buy pirated devices or go for PayTv subscriptions.
- Furthermore, Big satellite dishes offers unrivalled flexibility and convenience in its operation. Once you have fully installed a big dish, especially with a motor/jack. All you need to do is to program the positions and use your motor’s remote control to rotate the dish from one satellite position to the other without going out to touch the dish. Ultimate FTA, feed channels tool.
- In addition, if you are the adventurous type, you can get an IKS/SKS decoder for you big dish. If you do this, you will have limitless access to premium quality channels including sports such as football tennis and so on. Nut wait a minute, cardsharing could be illegally used. popular satellite tv packages on cardsharing(Cccam) using a big dish includes Hotbird, hispasat, 19.2e and so on.
- Better and stronger signal quality: The quality of signals is better than on smaller dish on the same frequency. This translate to the fact that you can view through bad weather
- Cross-band and multi-band viewing is possible only on a big dish: You can combine both c band and ku band LB on one bid dish. On the contrary, a small dish is an offset one. No offset dish can use a C Band LNB. However, a big dish can use both a C Band and A Ku band LNB conveniently.
- The expanded viewing experience: Also, the bigger the dish, the more channels you receive overall.
- Ease of Installation: Contrary to the belief, A big dish is easier to install than a small one. I mean the reflector is wider and it can only go either that is, you make more use of the elevation as oppose to the azimuth. All you need to is the experience.
- Only on a big dish can you receive unique channels that no local package may be able to give. For example, very few satellite tv providers show adult movies on a small dish. On Hotbird for example, you can get up to 200 absolutely free of charge.
What Are the Disadvantages of Owing a Big Satellite Dish
- Space: I personally believe that this is the most painful disadvantage of a big dish. If you don’t own a space where you can install one, there is no way you can get one. Regardless if every other factor
- Piracy concerns: Assuming you are a satellite installer or a popular dish components dealer. And let’s say DStv or similar content providers are on the lookout for those helping pirates to pirate their contents, your big dish could draw attention to you during a general raid or when activating on a tip-off. However, if you do this personally, no one can come and harass you even if you use a pirated box to watch paytv contents. At least this is not a law in Nigeria yet. Be warned, being an individual doesn’t give you free access to commit a crime. You may still be prosecuted especially in developed countries such as the USA, UK…
- Security concerns: Sadly, in areas where insecurity is the order of the day, you can use a big dish to draw undue attention to yourself especially from thieves who might think you have just hit it big. Therefore, don’t install a big dish in residential areas that are not fenced.
- Financial constraints: Buying a big dish is an exercise that involves a huge investment. This largely depends on how big it is though.
Quick Handy tips for tracking Satellite Tv positions with a Big Dish
- If you have the luxury of installation space, please take your time to buy the biggest dish that you can afford. Don’t rush to buy 2.4 meters dish when you can afford a 4 meters dish. Remember, that difference in size has a very huge impact on signal reception and quality.
- Don’t buy a mesh dish if you ever want to consider a KU Band installation in the future. Mesh dishes cannot work with Ku Band LNB
- A big dish can only be rotated in two directions. You either go east or west. All that is left to do is to tweak your lnbf.
- For maximum enjoyment of a big satellite dish, please try and motorise yours.
- For maximum reception, get a metal dish or fibre dish as opposed to a mesh dish
- Another word of advice is that you should combine both Ku Band LNBf and C Band LNBf on your big dish so that you can enjoy the best of both worlds.
- Finally, take care of your big dish and don’t expose it to strong windstorm otherwise, you can damage it. To ensure this, make sure you are not mounting it on too tall a pole. let it be as close to the ground as possible.
Useful Tips on how to track Hispasat and Hotbird on a Big Dish
I want to give you a tip on how you can track and program hispasat 30w Ku Band and Hotbird 13B 13E Ku Band on a big dish. This case study is for a southwestern state in Nigeria, West Africa. You can tap from the knowledge to track Ku channels on any Big dish
- The big dish: We used a 3.6-meter(for hispasat, this is required) dish. you can try tracking only Hotbird with a 2.6 but you won’t get most of the channels
- A heavy-duty actuator Superjack
- A well constructed LNB holder for the ku band lnb placement.
- Get a raised platform if your dish is on a pole.
- Wedge or markers. In my case, I cut some plastic pipes into size to mark each major position
- 22 by 24 spanner that you will use to fasten or unfasten the screw on the neck/tripod. see image below:
- Tracking frequencies for canal 22w Ku frequency(10986(V) 30000), DStv Eutelsat 36B @36E Ku(12245 h 27500), Hotbird 13e Ku (10719 V 27500) and hispasat 30W Ku(10891 V 27500).
- A satellite TV finder or a good FTA decoder that can be used to track.
Steps to track hispasat 30w & Hotbird 13E on the same big dish
- After assembling your Dish fully, the very first thing you need to do is to locate where West is in your area. You can use a compass or a sat-finder that comes with GPS facilities for this.
- Next, install your Ku band and C band to the dish. Don’t let the Ku band LNB be too far from the center. See image below
- Once you locate “West” track canal 22w with this frequency(10986(V) 30000) and make sure you get up to 97/98% signal strength. Once you get this, mark the position where you got the canal signal as shown below:
- Now that you have received and locked 22w, loosen the elevation bracket of the dish as well as the bolt and nut that is binding the heavy-duty linear actuator to the dish reflector. Now, input DStv frequency into your tracking device and move the dish to east-west to track DStv. Use the following frequency for DStv; 12245 H 27500. And make sure you get not less than 97 to 100% signal quality. See image below on how to elevate a big(3.6m/4m dish)
- Immediately you have received the highest signal quality of Dstv, tight the neck of your dish and change the frequency in your sat-tracker to that of Hotbird 13E. Use this particular TP to track Hotbird: 10719 V 27500. Make sure you get like 91% or at least 86% on this frequency. If you get anything less, then you may not receive other more important channels on Hotbird. Once you achieve this, lock the dish and put a marker as you did with 22w earlier. See image below:
Frequencies to get all sports channels(like football) on Hotbird 13E KU
The following frequency contains the best sports channels on Hotbird. You can only receive them with the biggest satellite dish possible. For example, 3.6 to 4 meters dish will receive everything in southwestern Nigeria while 2.6 to 3meters can only receive a few.
- 11278 V 27500(Eleven sports 1,2,3).
- 11449 H 27590: NSports
- 11488 H 27500
- 11681 H 27500
Now, How to track Hispasat 30W KU on a Big dish
Let’s continue from where we stopped. Now to track hispasat, just change your frequency back to that of canal 22w and rotate your dish to the west.
- Now, input hispasat 30W tracking frequency which is; 10891 V 27500.
- After doing this, start elevating your dish downwards in small increments. remember that 30w is beneath 22w. Once you receive the hispasat signal, mark the position and tight your dish. you can then blindscan.
- Finally, you can now fully tighten the bolts and nuts on your dish including that which fastened the heavy-duty actuator to the dish.
Final notes on using a heavy duty linear satellite dish actuator
I will strongly advise you use an actuator for your big dish. If yours is 1.8 to 2.4, you may use a lightweight actuator. However, if you own a 3 meters dish or larger, buy a super jack popularly known as heavy-duty satellite linear actuator. Take note of the followings when using a jack
- Mark each position and store them on your actuator’s control. That way, you won’t need to go out to manually align your dish when you are moving from east to west. You can label 22w position 1, Hotbird 2 and so on. To go to Hotbird from 22w, you just press 2 on your remote control.
- Don’t let your actuator cable to be too from your tv or wherever you place its control
- Buy only original jack for your big dish.
- Later today, I will upload a short video on how a heavy-duty actuator works. keep a date with us.
Video of How a Heavy-Duty Linear Satellite Actuator Rotates a Big Satellite Dish
The image below illustrates how the rotation of a big dish occurs with a Superjack. In the video, I rotated the dish from Hotbird 13E to Hispasat 30W. Happy viewing.
Where or How can I Acquire a Big Dish in Africa?
I have a lot of guys who can build a high-quality fibre dish. If your location is very far, you can request for a detachable one. However, only serious buyers should contact me and if you are not buying around 3 meters or bigger please don’t contact me
You can definitely get a 1-meter to 2.4-meter dish easily in your locality. To contact me, send an email with your purchasing inquiries to “info @ lemmymorgan.com” and I will take it up from there.