Basic Tutorial

beginner's guide to setting up satellite tv for recreational
vehicle In preparing this tutorial we are assuming two things - first, you have a TV set in your RV and second, you are presently signed up with a satellite service provider like Dish Net, DirecTV, FTA, StarChoice or similar. That said, let's begin:

THE RECEIVER - You will need to bring along the receiver for your satellite system. The receiver is the box that the cable from the dish plugs into and has a another cable that goes into the back of your TV set. Many satellite companies provide multiple receivers, so you can use them in different rooms of your home. If you don't have an extra receiver and you plan to use your RV frequently, it might be more convenient to invest in a second receiver to leave in your RV. The satellite provider will bill you for additional receivers, however.  Your receiver will  have a menu program to provide you with the exact positioning coordinates for your dish at each new location, using the local Zip Code for that area. Consult the receiver's instruction manual to locate that menu.

THE DISH - While satellite dishes are all very similar looking, they are each, very different, in their application of usage. Even within the various companies, (Dish Net, DirecTV, etc.) some types of dishes and LNB's (the head on the end of the arm sticking out in front of the dish) won't work with some receivers. It is essential that you use the dish and LNB that are correct for your system. If you can easily reach the dish and LNB head for your system, they should have a model number or type printed on them somewhere. If this involves climbing on the roof, then it might be wise to call your satellite provider and have them tell you what type of dish or dishes and LNB's you might need for your receiver. I say "dishes" because some systems require two dishes to get all the channels.  One dish may receive signals from several different satellites and has the majority of the programming, while the second dish receives the local stations (*see below).  You can also purchase an RV Satellite Dish, but these generally only receive one satellite signal at a time and you will get limited programming or be required to move it back and forth to different satellites. The standard, roof-top, type dishes are designed to be set up once, on your home, and are seldom, ever moved again. They are, therefore, not exactly "user-friendly" in adjustment. You will have to loosen nuts and bolts to make adjustments and the adjustment systems are somewhat clumsy and hard to move. That is where our Satellite Dish Conversion Kit becomes very handy. Read more about this kit in the listing.  Connect a 3' cable to the LNB head.   You will see why further on down.

THE TRIPOD - Once you get to where you are going, you will need to set up your dish onto a support and align it to receive the satellite(s) signal(s). The easiest method is to use a tripod.  We offer two styles of tripods, which will accommodate most all TV satellite dishes being used.  Consult our Tripod Selection Chart to determine the correct tripod for your needs.  They are both easy to set up and take down and provide a nice, solid mount.

THE COMPASS - You will need an accurate compass to point your dish in the correct direction. We offer a Lensatic Engineer Compass that has been modified to mount on top of our tripod.  (It won't fit other brands of tripods.) This allows you to "pre-align" the tripod, so when you mount the dish you are within 2 or 3 degrees of being pointed correctly. Pre-aligning the tripod and not the dish is important, since the steel in the dish deflects the compass needle and you won't get an accurate heading.  Keep the dish well away from the compass while aligning the tripod and be aware that ANY large steel structure, like your RV or vehicle, can effect the sensitive compass needle by as much as 15 - 20 degrees.

THE SATELLITE FINDER - It pays to invest in a Satellite Finder. This is a small, electronic box that has an indicator needle and emits a variable pitched sound as the satellite signal gets stronger. It is temporally connected between end of the 3' cable on the dish and the cable leading to the receiver while setting up the satellite dish, then removed when setup is completed and a RG-6 coupler put in its place. It saves running back and forth between the dish and the TV set to see if you have a signal. Worth its weight in gold. We offer several models to choose from, with a lighted dial and other features and we supply a FREE RG-6 Coupler with each Satellite Finder.

THE LEAD-IN CABLE - You will need a length of standard, RG-6 coaxial cable to run between the dish and the TV input connection on the RV. It's best to have too much cable, than not enough. Depending on the trees around your campsite, you might have to be creative in finding an open spot to get a clear view of the satellite. We have found that two, 50' cables work better than one, 100 footer. Most times you can get by with one, 50 footer and don't have to mess around with 100' of cable. But, on those few times you need a few more feet, just couple on the second 50 feet, using a RG-6 coupling fitting, and you can reach most areas of the average campsite without a problem. It's best to have 2 or 3 of these coupling fittings handy. You can buy the cables and fittings at Wal-Mart, Radio Shack or similar type stores, in the TV department. Many people have the 3' cables around the house, as they come with most TV sets, VCR's, DVD players, etc. and never seem to get used or they can be purchased at the store. When connecting the cable to your RV insure the cable within the RV does not have and power amplifiers or splitters as these will create a problem with the signal from the dish.  You should have a dedicated line from the dish to the receiver, with no splitters or amplifiers.

AIMING THE DISH - With practice, you will become more and more proficient at locating and fine-tuning the satellite signals. As long as you have a clear view of the area of the satellite you should be able to get a good, strong signal, without a problem.

*A note about local satellite reception: The local stations often come in on a separate satellite, depending on your provider. Some locals use "spot" signals, where the signal is confined to a small area (where you live) and you can't get that signal if you move the dish outside that area.  Check with your satellite provider about "spot" signals if you are interested in getting your local stations when on the road.

This concludes our tutorial and gives you a little more insight into what is involved in bringing your dish on the road. When you make your purchase from us, we do supply technical support to those who need it, and are always glad to answer any questions you might have.