This post was most recently updated on April 9th, 2019
In this article, I will unravel the puzzle surrounding the orbital satellite positioning and the right size of dish to use. No wonder the title of the post is; “predetermine dish size to be used in tracking any satellite package. In other words, I will give you hints on how you can know the exact size of the dish/antenna to buy for a particular satellite position /package. For example, how do you know that a 60cm dish is big enough to track Eutelsat 36e(DStv) in most West African countries? How do you know that for Hotbird in Nigeria, you will need at least a 3meters (300cm dish)?
Basic Satellite Dish components
Before we proceed with how to predetermine dish size, let us get familiar with some basic Dish components. Of course, we can’t get enough of them as they are indispensable to satellite installation.
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The Satellite dish/Antenna
A satellite dish is a dish-shaped type of parabolic antenna designed to receive electromagnetic signals from satellites, which transmit data transmissions or broadcasts, such as satellite television. This is one of the most important items to be considered when tracking satellite channels
The LNBF KU Band & C-band:
Stands for “Low noise block Feed” converter. Is that part of the dish that sticks out on the arm back to the dish It converts the hi freq sat signal to a lower block frequency pictures below:
The LNB(coaxial) Cable:
This is another item you must get before attempting to track any satellite. The abbreviation LNB stands for Low Noise Block. It is the device on the front of a satellite dish that receives the very low-level microwave signal from the satellite, amplifies it, changes the signals to a lower frequency band and sends them down the cable to the indoor receiver. Therefore the “LNB CABLE ” is that rope/cable that the LNBf uses in transmitting signals from the satellite dish to the receiver.
The Diseqc Switch
(Digital Satellite Equipment Control), pronounced “Die-Sec”, is a special communication protocol for use between a satellite receiver and a device such as a multi-dish switch or a small dish antenna rotor.
- F connector: The F connector is a coaxial RF connector commonly used for “over the air” terrestrial television, cable television and universally for satellite television and cable modems. without this connector, you won’t be able to fasten your LNB(coaxial) cable to your LNBf and your receiver. See the picture below:
satellite signal splitter:
We have a 2-ways, 3-ways, 4-ways splitters. the job of this is totally different from that of a DiSEqC switch because it split the signal from one dish among various receivers. It is ideal for houses where we have many decoders and it minimizes how many dishes you install to watch one satellite package picture below:
The heavy-duty actuator /Jack/motor for big Satellite dishes
A linear actuator is an actuator that creates motion in a straight line, in contrast to the circular. Typically though, the term “hydraulic actuator” refers to a device controlled by a hydraulic pump. Air actuators are not necessarily used for heavy-duty machinery and instances where large amounts of weight are present. Since big dish is typically heavy especially the one made of steel from 2meters and above, you are advised to use a jack. see picture below:
- SATELLITE FINDER (Sat-finder)
First off, a satfinder is an electronic device used in finding satellite tv signals and tracking them. some of them even come with a compass that helps you detect the location you are targetting. It works for DIRECTV DISH.
Predetermine dish size: definition of important terms
The following terms have to do with the non-visible aspect of satellite tv dish installations and configurations.
- dBW: The expression dBW refers to the power radiated from the satellite in the direction towards the contour line 45 dBW is the same as 10^(45/10) = 31622 watt transmitter feeding an omnidirectional antenna. dBW is unit of EIRP
- EIRP: In radio communication systems, equivalent isotropically radiated power (EIRP) or, alternatively, effective isotropically radiated power is the amount of power that a theoretical isotropic antenna (which evenly distributes power in all directions) would emit to produce the peak power density observed in the direction. More explanation on this later in the post.
- Frequency, polarization and symbol rates: In layman’s language Frequency; Early satellite television was broadcast in C-band radio — radio in the 3.7-gigahertz (GHz) to 6.4-GHz frequency range. The digital broadcast satellite transmits programming in the Ku frequency range (11.7 GHz to 14.5 GHz )
- A symbol rate, also known as baud rate and modulation rate. It is the number of symbol changes, waveform changes, or signalling events, across the transmission medium per time unit using a digitally modulated signal or a line code. The symbol rate is measured in baud (Bd).
- Polarization; For example, vertical polarisation is when the electric field is vertical. When people talk about polarisation they are referring to the electric field vector. References to ‘vertical’ and ‘horizontal’ are frequent since terrestrial antennas are normally vertical or horizontally relative to the ground. Check out the following illustration: DStv Eutelsat 36e has the following frequency, polarization and symbol rates; frequency = 12245, polarisation is H, Symbol rates = 27500.
- Satellite degrees briefly explained: If you have something like Eutelsat 36ºE it means your dish will face east and if you have “W” you are facing west.
PREDETERMINE THE SIZE OF DISH NEEDED TO GET A PARTICULAR SATELLITE PACKAGE IN YOUR LOCATION
It is very likely you have been hearing stuff like “track DStv with a 90cm dish”, “track Hotbird 13e with 3meter(300cm dish” and other technical jargons. You may also wonder why can’t receive Hotbird in Uganda. Or are you upset that you can’t get you cannot get canal reunion @ 16E in Nigeria?
Dear readers, we don’t just come about all this measurement and calculations by guessing. There are values and figures that you must know, some requirements must be met before you can nail a sat bird in your location. Were this not the case, We will e watching Skysports in Nigeria using a 90cm dish.
The first step to receiving a satellite signal in a particular location is the strength of the beam(dBW) and the footprint of such satellite. Now, even if the footprint extends to your location but the eirp is weak, it means you will need a very big dish to get the signals from that particular satellite.
Analysing how to predetermine dish size also(EIRP calculation)
Now, the image above just explained EIRP. The simple rule here is: the larger the EIRP value, the smaller the dish that will be required to successfully track channels from that satellite. Also from the above diagram, the grey areas stand for the eirps, the yellow for the smallest dish you can use to get any channel on that satellite position, and the red background represents the dish sizes that can manage to receive the signal from that satellite. Lastly, the blue column represents the dish size which can get a very good signal.
In a layman’s language, if you have a satellite dish which covers your area and has 35dBW, it means the least dish you can use to get any signal from that satellite is a 3meter(300cm) dish while the best dish to use is a 480cm(4-meters) dish.
Getting details on a particular satellite tv package and its EIRP
To start with, This post is courtesy of lyngsat and similar sites. In addition, lyngsat is a very useful website where you can get general information about satellite TV tracking. Amongst others, you can easily specific info such as TPs, eirp, and so on. A very useful page on lyngsat is the lyngsat-maps.com. certainly, you can get the map and eirp for any satellite of your choice from this page.
Noteworthy, to get the EIRP of a particular satellite on lyngsat, all you need to is the name(e.g MyTV) and position(E.G 16degeast or West) of such satellite. Peradventure you don’t know the degree, just make sure you know the satellite name. Next, make sure your search keyword is pointed to www.lyngsat.com.
Trust me, you will certainly get the map, the footprint and the dish size(EIRP) required to get the signal. Now, let me give you a practical example. For example, to search DStv Africa’s map on lyngsat maps, just type the followings into google.com search engine box.
Firstly, input the satellite name followed by www.lyngsat-maps.com. For example, when you search for Eutelsat 36ºE, use the following search terms “EIRP for Eutelsat 36e www.lyngsat-maps.com“. Amazingly, you will the followings: http://www.lyngsat-maps.com/interactive/Eutelsat-36B-Sub-Sahara-Africa.html as your result. For convenience, I have reproduced the results in a graphical form. Study the image below carefully.
Interpretation of the EIRP image
The above is a map for Eutelsat 36B at 35.9°E on lyngsat maps. from the get-go, you can see so much information about this satellite package. We are meant to realize the followings:
- The highest beam/ EIRP for the Satellite; Eutelsat 36B at 36ºE is EIRP 48dBW
- The largest dish required to receive this signal is 190cm to a 240cm dish. Nigeria, we can receive the signal with a 90cm dish
- Also, the footprints of DStv(36degE) do not extend to North African countries like Egypt and so on. That is to say, even if you have an 800cm(8-meters) dish in Egypt, you may not receive any channels Eutelsat 35.9°E
Similarly, my search for hotbird which is tagged “the WIDE beam” yielded the following results. T http://www.lyngsat-maps.com/interactive/Eutelsat-Hot-Bird-13C-Wide.html
If you want the map and EIRP for I search canaplus SES 4 at 22.0ºW, here you are: http://www.lyngsat-maps.com/footprints/SES-4-West-Africa.html. From the foregoing, there is no end to the number of the satellite you can search on this wonderful site. Just keep searching and exploring.
This is a very useful tool that will help you predetermine dish size needed for your preferred satellite package. Once you do this, you won’t waste your money on a dish that is not up to your requirements. Fortunately, you can’t go wrong when you buy a very big dish. The reverse is the case if you buy a dish that is too small. A small dish can be useless if your target is FTA channels
How to get other details that are useful for satellite tv installation for example frequencies
Congratulations as you now know how to predetermine dish size required for any satellite tv package. Next, you may need to get other values of a satellite tv packages like frequency and symbol rate. In this case, you are going to search on www.lyngsat.com and not lyngsat-maps.com. Especially relevant, still use www.google.com as your search engine. I will recommend the following search phrases: “eutelsat 36e www.lyngsat.com” or dstv africa www.lyngsat.com …. and you will get results similar to the one below.