DIY Satellite Dish Realignment
August 18, 2012 7:06 AM   Subscribe

My satellite dish may have slipped slightly out of alignment. Is realigning it a DIY job, or should I call a professional?

I think my satellite dish has become marginally misaligned. I am in the UK, and I am getting the Astra 1N channels, but Eutelsat 28A channels either give no image/sound, or sometimes flicker in and out. If the satellite dish was easily reached I wouldn't hesitate to go and monkey about with it, but it's attached to a wall 25 feet off the ground. Before I fetch a ladder, is this something I can do myself, would it help to buy one of the cheap satellite realignment gizmos, or should I just call out an engineer?
posted by roofus to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (6 answers total)
Here in the US I've had no problems setting up my own dual-LNB dishes on trees, stumps, and posts without any meters except for the decoder setup audio meter; then again I know how to figure out where the satellites are in the sky and aim for them.

That said, I'm not 100% sure if European dishes are the same, but it shouldn't be an issue doing simple fine-tuning. Before undoing any bolts I would use a permanent marker to draw a line across the gap for each axis you mess around with, so that you can put each one back the way it was. Is there an audio signal meter in the decoder box setup? If so, use that and try small adjustments on each axis one at a time and see if any of those adjustments fixes things. Also check the mounting surface, since if it's loose that will cause misalignment.
posted by crapmatic at 8:04 AM on August 18, 2012

I was on holiday in a chalet in the French Alps a couple of years ago and someone knocked the satellite dish out of alignment. It was only a few feet off the ground, but still took a couple of hours of fiddling around to get back to a usable signal. I wouldn't want to be running up and down a ladder checking the TV; at the very least you need one person up the ladder and another within shouting distance checking the signal on the TV.
posted by pipeski at 8:25 AM on August 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Seconding not doing it alone. It is SO IRRITATING doing any of these kinds of adjustments without another person. Honestly, I wouldn't do it without a very steady place to stand, a relatively recent installation (rust = enemy) and a partner. And walkie-talkies.

(Which is to say, the act itself is trivial; doing it right can be arduous enough to pay someone else to take on the hassle.)
posted by SMPA at 9:04 AM on August 18, 2012

From my husband:

The first step is to find the signal strength meter from the satelite receiver set-up menu. If you can't find it, then don't mess with it, and call someone. If you find the meter, then you can adjust the dish yourself, either with the help of someone watching the meter, or by turning the volume way up and listening to it. The worst that can happen is you will need to call someone anyway.

If you have the meter up and working, try flexing the dish up, down, sideways to see which way it is out of alignment, before you start turning wrenches. Only adjust in one direction at a time, then adust in the other direction to fine tune it.

Good Luck!
posted by hollyanderbody at 10:24 AM on August 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

The first step is to make sure whatever pole it's mounted on is perfectly plumb. If it is, you should have no trouble realigning the dish. If it isn't, you'll curse for hours and never get it right.
posted by wierdo at 7:12 PM on August 18, 2012

Oh, and you might try bumping the dish just a bit to the east. Eutelsat 28A is actually at 28.5, while 1N is at 28.2. If you're receiving one and not the other, it can't be too terribly far off. However, if you're not comfortable on a high ladder, just call someone. There's no sense in risking injury over this 5 minute fix.
posted by wierdo at 7:24 PM on August 18, 2012

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