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Published July 2010.
See also Jan 2012 update at the end of the article

Installing a satellite dish for Freeview and other services

This short article outlines my experience installing a satellite dish to get the Freeview services from Optus D1 and other available services from Optus D2. I bought a 75cm dish and all the kit from Freeviewshop.co.nz. I already had a satellite receiver, a Zinwell ZDX-7500FTA. This is not a Freeview approved model, it was around long before Freeview (NZ) was born.

Parts from Freeviewshop

Dish Azure Shine 75cm
LNB Ku 11.3GHz round body x2
Bracket for D1 and D2 LNB's.
RG6 Coax Cables 1 x 10m and 4 x 2m
Wall mount assembly
2-way 22kHz switch
Diplexers Satellite/UHF x2
Zenus SF95 Digital Satellite Finder Meter
Two telescopic stays (recommended for high wind areas)

This kit of parts cost NZ$357.50 and I was charged $43 for freight to Wellington.

Assembling the parts

On delivery by the courier, the box had an alarming rattle. Some of the components which had been taped into the satellite carton had come loose, but in the event nothing had been damaged. The initial assembly instructions were mostly clear although I did initially have some doubts about which holes to use to mount the LNB arm to the dish rear plate. The photo of the initial assembly shows the sealing of the LNB connectors with self-amalgamating tape and silicon grease, something which is not mentioned in the instructions.

Dish assy

The orientation of those LNB's is important. The instructions do include a good photo of this. You will have to fine tune the LNB position once the dish is in place.The LNB for Optus D1 is in the centre (primary) position.

Outside install

The wall mount kit footing supplied straddled across my weatherboards and I decided it was too flimsy. It would be OK for a flat wall surface. I found a 6mm aluminium plate 480mm high and of the same width of the footing. I bolted the footer to this plate and screwed the plate to the wall in 5 places (into a stud of course). The aluminium plate gave much better lateral stability to the mount. After this, it was just a matter of slipping the dish and backplate onto the wall mount. I initially set the elevation to 40 degrees as per the marks on the dish mount. The elevation bolts can be trial-tightened at this point; elevation is to be fine-tuned later. Although Freeviewshop's instructions do give precise bearings to the satellite, you can't aim the dish from that information unless you happen to have a very accurate compass handy. As a first approximation, you can just look at neighbouring dishes or simply pan around until you get a peak reading on the satellite meter. I opened Google Earth and drew a line from my home on the bearing supplied, noting that you do need to add the local magnetic variation to the magnetic bearings in the table. I then extended the line until it intersected a prominent landmark that I knew could be seen from home. This gave a good aiming point. To peak the dish, you need a receiver and a satellite meter. The receiver has to supply the dc needed for the satellite meter plus the LNB. If nothing else, you set the receiver to 'H' or horizontal polarisation, which will supply 18Vdc to the LNB and satellite finder. Most services on Optus D1 are H polarisation. Now in theory, with the LNB connected via the satellite finder to the receiver, the finder should light up and ready to indicate the presence of a satellite.

In my case I got no reading at all. Thinking I had a faulty satellite finder, I resorted to a spectrum analyser which indeed found the satellite pretty much where I had initially pointed the dish. I emailed Freeviewshop about the satellite finder and got a prompt response from Lars, who politely suggested I might not have found the sensitivity knob at the side. Well, I had in fact seen it but thought it controlled only the volume of the beeper within the meter. It was set to half way. When I put the finder back in line, I had to advance the knob to almost maximum before the meter read anything at all, but that was indeed the answer. More on the meter at the end of this story. See the final installation below:

Installed pic

The picture shows the Aluminium mounting plate, the two side supports and the two-way LNB switch fitted inside a small plastic DSE box on the wall. Once the dish is pointed as best as can be done, all mounting bolts must be firmly tightened. The side stays are fitted only after you are sure the dish is pointed correctly and the mount is locked off.

Tuning in the receiver

The receiver now has to be set up. The method will vary from receiver to receiver. A Freeview-approved receiver is usually fairly automatic but of course it only lets you have Freeview. In my case, I had to set the two Freeview frequencies, which are 12456MHz and 12483MHz, the H polarisation and the local oscillator frequency, which is 11300MHz for these LNB's. Once this process is done, the receiver should indicate both strength and quality. Strength is already as good as it gets if you pointed the dish properly. Quality should be improved by rotation of the relevant LNB and by altering the skew of the LNB holder. It should be similar to the position shown in the first photo. You will have to put your TV screen somewhere that you can see it from the roof, or ask for spousal assistance in peaking the quality reading. To get services from Optus D2, you need to switch to the other LNB and repeat the process of tuning transponders and peaking the quality. Tighten off the Allen key fasteners on the LNB bracket and also screw in the small PK screw to properly clamp the LNB mount holder to the arm. I did wonder what the screw was for initially. For each transponder, you then 'scan' for programmes and the receiver adds them all to a list. I won't go into details of the whole process for my receiver because it will be different for others. I had to assign the state of the LNB switch to 'Off' for D1 and 'On' for D2. That took me a while to figure out on the Zinwell but it is possible. Anyone who wants the excruciating details can email me.

What programmes do I get

On the D1 satellite, there are all the Freeview services plus four SBS Tasmania feeds. The TV1 and TV2 programmes are available twice if you tune the SKY transponder. I think these are better quality than from Freeview's transponder. My receiver is not HD. From the D2 satellite, I get NHK World, PressTV and Russia Today all in English plus a myriad of foreign programmes, which can be interesting for the landscapes if nothing else. A good source of what is available is at Lyngsat. There is a page for every satellite so for D2 just put a "2" in place of the "1" in the URL. The site tables give the frequencies and polarisations for every service from each satellite. You will get only those services on the 'NZ' beam or the 'NANZ' beam.

My thoughts on the Freeviewshop kit

Good overall. The Azure Shine dish is well coated but I will update with a 'rust report' in due course. Lars was very helpful and replied promptly to emails. I did think the kit could have been better packed and not all the hardware was provided. What was missing were screws to attach the mount to the house and screws for the side stays. There was no mention of the need to PIB-tape and seal up the connectors. You need a few cable ties and cable clips too. I have misgivings about the Zenus SF95 Digital Satellite Finder Meter. See next paragraph.

The Zenus SF95 satellite finder

This meter is the digital readout model. See picture below.

Satellite Finder

This meter is a simple RF power indicator. You connect it in-line between the LNB and receiver. It receives its dc from the receiver as long as the receiver is set to provide LNB power. The errant sensitivity control is just visible on the right of the unit. It has to be at least 90% of maximum setting for the unit to give a reading at all. The other silly thing is that the tone sounder varies in volume as the RF level changes, but does not vary in pitch, which would be more sensible. I understand the lower-tech version with an analogue meter does vary the pitch of the sounder.

I did some simple level checks on this meter with a cw signal generator. At 1GHz, with the sensitivity control at maximum, 100% reading is obtained with about -30dBm input. The reading reduces to 0% at -42dBm. Lowering the frequency, the sensitivity remained the same down to 750MHz, and was 6dB less sensitive at 600MHz. I could not check above 1GHz. The 'Attenuator' steps change the reading of the meter but not the sensitivity. For someone used to operating professional test instruments, this is a fairly dodgy device, but I have to say it does the job, with care in adjusting it. Get the analogue one instead, if only to get audible pitch variation with signal level.

Axino-tech Consulting & Services , July 2010.

From: Axino
25 January 2012

Update

18 months on from the original installation and time to note a couple of issues with the AzureShine dish design.

First, rust. There is very little. None of the dish itself shows any rust, but some of the hardware supplied does. The hardware is not stainless steel, merely plated. The allen key heads attaching the LNB brackets have some rust as do the nuts holding the dish to the rear bracket. Not too serious yet but I have squirted them with a rust removing solution and then made sure they are properly gunked up with silicon waterproofing.

Secondly, I have twice in this time had signal & quality reduce to the point where SBS and most transponders from Optus D2 couldn't be received. These events occur after severe windstorms which, you will appreciate does occur in Wellington from time to time. The problem is the arm holding the LNB's. It is too long, being anchored only at the rear of the dish, as you can see from the photo above in the main article. I have watched the LNB's flutter significantly in strong winds, being displaced to and fro by an estimated 5cm at a rapid pace. It is a wonder the Doppler limits didnt come into play. Anyway, I have added a stay to the LNB arm from one edge of the dish, which holds the arm much more firmly. After each loss of signal event, I restored normality by fairly small adjustments of the skew and a re-tightening of the arm bolts at the back of the dish. With such a long arm, small changes are significant.