June 2017
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Engineering Radio; the satellite reaiming tour 2017!

As previously discussed, the migration from AMC-8 to AMC-18 is in full swing. There is less than two weeks left to complete the re-aiming process.  All totalled, we have 24 of these things to re-point and all but two of them  are done.  Toward that end, I have this down to an art:

  • Go inside and make a note of the signal strength on the satellite receivers on AMC-8
  • Look up the elevation angle on dish align app for AMC-8 then compare that to what the inclinometer reads, note the difference between the calculated and actual readings
  • Look up the elevation angle on the dish align app for AMC-18, apply the difference noted above to the final value
  • Connect the XR-3 satellite aiming tool to the LNB, make sure LNB power is on and the unit is set to AMC-18, C-band
  • Elevate the dish to the AMC-18 final elevation angle calculated above
  • Note the azimuth on the dish align app, look at the satellite picture and pick out a land mark.  Swing the dish towards the land mark
  • As you start to see signal from various satellites, swing more slowly.  If the elevation angle is set correctly, when the dish passes AMC-18 at 105 degrees W, the XR-3 will lock on
  • Peak the signal (azimuth and elevation)
  • Rotate the LNB feed horn for maximum signal to noise ratio
  • Go inside, check satellite receivers, reprogram carrier frequencies as necessary

It is pretty easy. I can do the whole thing in about thirty minutes if there are no rusted bolts, etc. I wonder how many small station owners will wake up on July 1st with no satellite programming?

Comtech Satellite dishes, WABC transmitter site, Lodi, NJ

The Applied Instruments XR-3 (XR-S2ACM-01) VSAT-ACM  satellite signal meter with AMC-18 locked.  This hand held tool is great and makes aiming any dish a snap.  As the sky around AMC-18 is a wee bit crowded, it is easy to mistakenly find the wrong satellite.  With the Identify function, the satellite the dish is aimed to will be displayed, then the dish can be adjusted accordingly to the correct bird.

Applied Instruments XR-3 satellite signal meter

There are many different flavors of dishes; Comtech, Patriot, Prodelin, etc.

Prodelin 3.7 Meter satellite dish

These are all about the same to work with, the only difference is the degree of rust and deterioration on the mounting hardware, the age of the LNB and number of bees nests that need to be removed.

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7 comments to Engineering Radio; the satellite reaiming tour 2017!

  • Gregg Richwine

    “I wonder how many small station owners will wake up on July 1st with no satellite programming?”

    Apparently, a lot! In Radio Magazine this morning, Greg Monti of WWOne was quoted as saying only 66 percent of their receivers are reporting as being on AMC18 with two weeks to go. Wow.

    Four of my free-lance clients have dishes. One is EWTN on Galaxy 15, so no move there. For two others, the group owner had a sat contractor replace one old dish and refit the other. The last dish I moved, pretty much using the procedure listed above, except using my SDR to tune it up. We had all of this wrapped up last month.

  • Paul Thurst

    Wow! That is surprising. Welp, rates for re-aiming the dish goes up on July 1st.

  • Bill

    We moved most everything from the 3.8 M Comtech to the old Prodelin 3.2 M dish to make it a leisurely move. I put tape over the now red status lights on the XDS that were on the 3.8 M dish. It was now pointed at the horizon while we replaced the LNB & coax.

    Used the iPhone’s level to rough set elevation & offset. From the sat aiming website found a distant building to aim at. And there was a satellite showing on the spectrum analyzer! Checked the WWO & SGIII and there was no EB showing.

    The day we were going to aim it with real tools, I took the tape off the Premiere XDS and WOW. EB of 7.6! Was that close. Still took an hour to walk it in. WWO EB is between 13.5 and 14.3 now.

  • Bill

    So, is the programming on AMC-8 still “up”?

  • Chucky

    Gregg wondered out loud whether anyone would not re-aim their dish. A pair of AM stations in Hawaii did exactly that.


  • Bill

    Last week WestWoodOne started interrupting the audio on AMC-8 feeds and they did get calls. One was because the engineer didn’t know one their receivers was still hooked to what they thought was a decommissioned dish.

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