Friday, 20 November 2009

How to Install a Freesat Satellite Dish and Freesat Receiver

For many people who are considering moving to freesat from their current television setup, one of the big put offs is the fact that you have to have a satellite dish installed and positioned so that you can start picking up freesat. The big problem with this is getting someone to come and install the dish for you can be rather expensive - especially when you see things like sky giving away free installation with their packages. What you have to keep in mind is that sky make their money from monthly subscription packages, so it behoves them well to give away the satellite dish installation and get you up and running so you can watch TV without any fuss or bother. But Freesat, as we know is free to air satellite television and being as it is a Channel 4 and ITV initiative and that they aren't making money out of you by charging you extra for fancy television packages like sky does, they can't afford to give away the installation of the dishes. But of course, you can hire a trusty freesat dish installer who will come around to your house and put up your satellite dish and wire it in for you, drill a hole through your wall and point the dish in the right direction so you can start watching all that great TV on a Friday night instead of going out ('cause you know, the economy and all that - we are all staying in all the time now - hopefully that means TV will get better because there will be more viewers, but I expect all it really means is that we will get more adverts because viewer numbers will be up).

Hang on, so what you're saying is all you need to do is put the dish up, drill a hole in the wall to pass the wire through and point the dish in the right direction? And they charge how much for it? Well, yes. I mean if you are reasonably handy with the tools and the DIY and you already have the equipment, it might make sense to do the install yourself. It isn't as hard as you think - really the most difficult thing about it is setting the dish in the correct position to point at the correct satellite.

Before you rush off to buy a brand new satellite dish to install your Freesat with though, you might want to check if you already have a satellite dish installed. Maybe from a previous tenant or if you previously had Sky and then cancelled it? Anyway if you have a dish sitting around not being used it is worth hooking it up to your Freesat or Freesat HD digibox to see if you can get a signal out of it. See, many consumer satellite dish installations use the same satellite to get their feed from so Sky and Freesat need to be pointed towards the same satellite, even though they receive different channels. That's a good thing for us.

If you don't already have a dish installed and you want to give it a go yourself, then here are a few tips and hints to help you on your way.

You will need a few things to install your satellite dish properly:
A ladder - handy for getting up a little bit so you can install your satellite dish out of the way.
A drill - to drill holes in the wall to install your satellite dish and possibly to drill a hole through your wall to pass the wire through.
A satellite dish (44cm is big enough to receive Freesat)
High quality coaxial cable
Satellite finder meter (you don't need this, but if you have it it makes things easier)
F connectors to connect your cable to your dish. You might also need some crimping tools.

Do buy yourself good coaxial cable. It is the life line between your satellite dish and your freesat receiver, and really, you want to minimise any interference from other electronic devices so that you get the best signal. There really is little point in installing a HD freesat box and a good satellite dish and having youself state of the art television if your cable is a let down. Get double shielded cable at the very least.

Your connectors should also be high quality - a good snap and seal connector will be a little more expensive, but it will also protect your cable against moisture and are relatively easy to install.

Ok, the actual steps to set up your satellite connection to receive freesat on are as follows:

Find a good satellite mounting point. You will need a clear view south east to mount your dish, so find a suitable wall on your house to put the dish on. Look around, it is likely that at least one of your neighbours has a satellite dish already installed, and that can give you a good clue as to which side of your property is the best to install your dish.You might have to mount the dish high up to get a good clear view of the horizon. Ideally you want nothing between your dish and the horizon because any obstacle be it a tree or a building or anything else will cause interference. Also, do double check if you are installing in winter because trees will be bare of leaves. In summer they will fill out and you might find your satellite dish becomes obstructed suddenly, so take that into account when you choose a good spot.

You satellite dish will probably have a built in wall mount which you can use to bolt the dish to the wall. Some dishes need a wall mounted pole to allow them to correctly swivel, but if your dish is new, it probably doesn't (especially if it is a 44cm dish). Fix your dish to the wall. Make sure it is secure, and then connect up your coaxial cable to the dish and run it into the house. You might have to drill a hole through your wall to get the wire in, or if your dish is mounted high enough, take it through the eaves into the loft and then wire it up to your living room or television viewing room.

Connect your cable to your freesat receiver, but do not yet turn on the receiver.

We are now ready to find our satellite. We are interested in the Astra 2D satellite as this is the one that broadcasts the freesat signal.

You want to make sure that your cable is properly connected to your satellite dish and through to your Freesat recevier. Don't turn the freesat box on though, until you are sure everything is properly connected. Once it is, turn on the freesat box and press the Menu buttton on your remote and select the option that says Information. Basically you want the option on your menu that will allow you to see the signal strength and quality. At this point, it is usually handy to have a friend or relative around so that one of you can watch the screen while the other moves the dish into the correct place. Use a compass and get your dish pointing directly south and then slowly move the dish east until you get a strong network strength signal and the Network ID is 003b. The Trasport Stream on your TV should be 090b. Now you have your dish locked onto the Astra 2d satellite, you can do a little fine tuning of the satellite dish so you get the best freesat signal possible. To do this, you will want to maneuver the dish in very small steps left and right and up and down until you get the strongest signal strength reading on your TV.

Work slowly since if you swing your dish around too fast, it won't get a chance to lock on to the signal properly.

Well that's about enough, I hope you all enjoy your freesat viewing and installation.