Installing a satellite dish

This is a replacement dish for the Comtech dish destroyed in a downburst event a few weeks ago.  The first part of the job entailed placement of the new dish down on the ground.  The town code enforcement officer was much happier with this idea than mounting it up above roof level along back the building as the old one was.  Of course, this is possible due to the shift in satellites last year to AMC-18.

Finding a good spot on the radio station property was fairly easy.  The studio is located in a business district, thus the side yard requirements where zero feet, which is great.  The building inspector required that we dig a test hole to see what type of soil was there.  It turned out to be fill.  That required the footing design be changed somewhat and stamped by a licensed engineer.  Not a major problem.

Satellite mount pole, waiting pre-pour inspection
Satellite mount pole, waiting pre-pour inspection

The footing is 36 inches wide by 7 feet deep.

A little bit of water in the bottom of the hole
A little bit of water in the bottom of the hole

The mounting pipe has flanges welded to the side of it to prevent it from spinning in the concrete.

Footing poured and cured
Footing poured and cured

After the pour, we let the concrete set up over the weekend.

New dish bolted together
New dish bolted together

The dish is assembled and waiting for lift.  We used a back hoe to lift the dish onto the mounting pole, unfortunately, I was not able to take a picture as I was on a ladder attaching the dish to the pedestal with U-bolts.

Viking 1374-990 3.7 Meter R/O dish installed
Viking 1374-990 3.7 Meter R/O dish installed

Here it is installed and aimed at AMC-18. I used the Satellite Buddy, which makes the aiming job much easier. Once the signal is acquired, I like to peak the Eb/No on the West Wood One carrier, which seems to be the most sensitive to any type of change.

Viking 1374-990 3.7 Meter satellite dish, back view
Viking 1374-990 3.7 Meter satellite dish, back view

Register those C band satellite dishes!

UPDATE:The registration deadline has been extended to October 17th, 2018. Switch back to procrastination mode…

Satellite dishs, WABC transmitter site, Lodi, NJ

Unless you have been sleeping under a rock, you should already be aware of the FCC request to register the C band Receive Only (RO) satellite dishes. This development comes from the never ending drive for more bandwidth from the mobile phone/data networks (remember the desire to use GPS frequencies for mobile data a few years ago).  Normally, this type of registration would require a full frequency coordination study, however until July 18th, this requirement has been waived.  The registration is completed online with the filing of FCC form 312 and a $435.00 filing fee.  West Wood One has supplied and example form (.pdf) which shows the required information for each dish.  Schedule B of FCC form 312 requires quite a bit of technical information required for each dish:

  • Site Coordinates (must be NAD27 according to the instructions on the form)
  • Site elevation AMSL in meters
  • Dish height to top of dish in meters
  • Dish make and model number
  • Dish size
  • Dish mid band gain
  • Emission designator (WWO uses 36M0G7W other providers may be different)
  • Eastern and Western arc limits
  • Eastern and Western arc limit elevation angles
  • Eastern and Western arc limit azimuth angles

Most of this is intuitive.  There are several steps to getting the information in the correct format.  Google maps (or other mapping programs) will give coordinates in decimal format.  To convert to Degrees Minutes Seconds in NAD27 use NADCON.  Site elevation can be found using free map tools elevation finder.  To determine the arc, a smart phone app such as Satellite Finder or Dish Pointer can be used.  If not actually on site, then Dishpointer.com can be used to determine the arc.

My best suggestion is to include as much of the arc as possible for each location.  The future cannot be predicted with any degree of accuracy and it is entirely possible that the current satellite position may not be used forever.

Wind damage

This satellite dish nearly broke off of its mount during a “macroburst” event.  According to the National Weather Service:

A macroburst is a thunderstorm downdraft affecting an area at least 2.5 miles wide with peak winds lasting 5 to 20 minutes. The macroburst is a straight-line wind phenomena not associated with rotation…used to differentiate from tornadic
winds. Macrobursts can produce as much if not more damage as tornadoes due to the size and scope of a macroburst.

On May 15th a large group of severe thunderstorms triggered at least three tornadoes and one macroburst event in eastern New York and Western Connecticut.  Winds in the macroburst area were estimated to be in the 85 to 105 MPH range.

The next morning, it took a long time to get the the clients studio.  Trees where down everywhere, roads were closed, traffic lights not working, etc.  This created numerous detours and traffic jams.  When I finally arrived at a clients studio facility, this was the first thing I noticed:

Comtech 3.8 meter dish with broken mount
Comtech 3.8 meter dish with broken mount

That is an older 3.8 meter comtech dish hanging on by one 3/8 inch stainless steel U bolt.  The funny thing is, they did not complain about this or the lack of satellite service.  The main complaint was that the studios were on generator and some of the lights and air conditioners were not working.

Comtech 3/8 inch stainless U bolt holding up 650 pound dish
Comtech 3/8 inch stainless U bolt sheared off
Comtech 3.8 meter dish support bracket twisted
Comtech 3.8 meter dish support bracket twisted

This dish had originally been put up when AMC-8 was the main commercial radio network bird in the US.  The dish elevation was only 9 degrees above the horizon, so this had to be put up next to the building at roof top level to clear the trees and see 139W.

I was attempting to secure the dish but in the end, the 650 pound dish was too tenuous and the weather was still unstable.  There was other damage to the dish thus we decided to take it down instead.  Even that took a bit of doing.  We were trying find a crane or bucket truck, but all that type of equipment had been pressed into service with recovery efforts.  We finally undid all the bolts and bracing and fell it like a tree.

Comtech dish on the ground
Comtech dish on the ground

The dish was then cut up and put in the dumpster.

The new satellite dish will be installed next to building in a lower position.