|Occasionally, I'm asked if using a satellite finder is necessary to set up a satellite dish. In reality, the answer is no - because a signal meter is already built into the receiver of your satellite system. However, I'll explain why the satellite signal finder is a very helpful addition to your setup equipment. I'll also offer some easy tips on the use of this tool.
About 10 years ago I upgraded my home satellite system from a BUD (Big Ugly 10' Dish) to DishNet. This prompted me to bring our home satellite system when we traveled in the RV. I bought a Winegard single LNB dish. This dish has its own stand and sits on the ground. Set-up involved working outside the RV, pointing the dish somewhere in the right direction. My wife sat by the TV watching for some sign of a signal on the meter. This was often a frustrating process, but eventually we managed to get a signal.
In observing more experienced RVers set up their dishes, I noticed they used a satellite finder. I eventually bought my first satellite finder and discovered greater control of my set ups.
I soon became more proficient with the finder and could tune in the satellite much quicker. This led me to invest in a Dish 500 dish with dual LNB's. I now could get signals from both of the DishNet satellites.
The finder made it much easier to pull in that second signal. Later, DishNet added our local stations on a 3rd satellite. Now I carry and set up two dishes for all my home programming.
The satellite finders are very user friendly. Just run a 3' or 4' RG-6 cable from your LNB head down the inside of the LNB arm and out the bottom. Plug this cable into the LNB input port of the finder (usually on the left side). Plug the cable from the receiver into the REC port of the finder (usually on the right side). When the receiver is powered ON, it supplies the needed power to operate the finder.
Turn the dB gain knob of the finder clockwise until the needle on the meter is about in the middle of the scale. Assuming you are not ON the satellite at this time, move the dish left - right - up - down slightly, until you start to get a signal. The needle will go higher as the signal gets stronger.
The meter won't tell you if you are on the correct satellite. When you start to get a signal, check the meter on the receiver to be sure you are on the correct bird. Then, continue adjusting to get the maximum signal. If you max out the needle on the scale, you may have to lower the dB knob . This often happens with a dual LNB head because you are receiving double input signals.
If you are using a dish with 3 or more LNB heads you will most likely max out the meter scale, as there will be too much input for the finder to handle. In those cases, here's a trick that works well. Cover all LNB heads, except the one for the main satellite, with aluminum foil. This will block the signal to those heads while you tune in the main one. Then uncover the others, one at a time, to check and adjust those signals. This works very well on those dishes for HDTV, where you need to hit 3 or more satellites.
The distributor who supplies our satellite finders is now offering a much more high-tech meter that actually shows the picture from the satellite you are hitting as well as many other features. We have resisted purchasing this meter due to the +$300.00 cost.
We would like to hear from our readers if there is an interest in a meter of this level. If there is a demand, we would consider stocking them on a trial basis.
Let us know.