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How to Install and Assemble Portable Camping/Caravan FTA Freesat Kits

The aim of this guide is to provide information about the FreeSat digital TV service and more importantly has been written to give a starting point for learning about how to install and assemble a portable FreeSat kit yourself.  Fitting Freesat is within the reach of anyone with basic DIY skills, so we hope this guide will help get you started.

Click here browse all our Portable Freesat Kits!

About FreeSat

FreeSat is a subscription free digital satellite TV service available in the UK.  There is no monthly subscription charge for receiving FreeSat.  FreeSat is the name used by a collaboration between the BBC and ITV, and confusingly is also the same name used by Sky (BSkyB) for their subscription free digital TV service.

Introduction

Installing a FreeSat dish and cabling is normally a relatively easy job for anyone who is happy with basic DIY jobs around the house.  No technical experience is required. Initially it can be a bit tricky to get the dish aligned to receive the correct signal, but with a bit of patience, a compass and a satellite finder it can be completed without any specialist knowledge.

Installation Steps

Below is a brief summary of the main tasks involved when setting up a FreeSat TV system:

1) Locate a suitable position for the satellite dish – the dish needs a clear ‘line of sight’ view of the south eastern horizon with the minimum of obstructions from buildings, trees, etc.

2) Run high quality coaxial cable between the dish and the satellite receiver, and fit F type connectors at each end – ideally the cable run should be continuous without joints, as any break in the cable will introduce signal loss.

3) Attach the satellite dish to the Tripod (see the section below for mounting the dish).

4) Align the satellite dish to point at the Astra 2/Eurobird group of satellites (28.2º East) – a compass and satellite finder is handy for this. It may also be useful to have someone inside checking the signal at the receiver to ensure you have got the right satellite!

5) Finally, sit back and enjoy a cold beer while you and your family enjoy High Definition TV for free!

Choosing a Satellite Dish Location

Finding a suitable place for your tripod and satellite dish is very important, as mentioned above the dish needs to be in a location with a clear view of the south eastern horizon.  Any buildings, trees or other obstructions in the way between the dish and the satellites signal will cause interference or loss of signal.

If the view of the horizon is obstructed by trees, bear in mind that trees move when the wind blows and have different levels of leaf coverage during the year.  Moving trees and increased leaf growth can cause havoc with a satellite signal.

Mounting the Satellite Dish to the Tripod

Physically mounting the dish to the tripod is quite straightforward. Both our Zone 1 and Zone 2 portable kits come with mounting equipment, please follow the directions below.

Assembling and Mounting a Zone 1 Satellite Dish

  1. Remove the pre-assembled satellite bracket from the packaging, pull down the feed leg until the locking feature clicks positively into place.
  2. After determining the correct side appropriate for the installation rotate the swing arm through 90°. Secure into position by passing a second M6 x 16mm carriage nut and bolt through the rotation bracket and swing arm from whichever side is most convenient. These bolts must be only finger tight and will be fully secured during final alignment.
  3. Fit a M6 x 16mm nut and bolt through the elevation bracket on the most convenient side for access and fix finger tight.
  4. Fit the Reflector to the satellite Bracket by passing the Feed Leg through the cut out and secure the Reflector to the Bracket using 4 x M4.8 Crimptite screws,
  5. Check that the LNB skew setting is appropriate to the area. To adjust where necessary loosen the clamp screw and reset to the correct position before retightening. Angle the front edge of the LNB Clamp so it locates under the return on top of the Feed Leg. Whilst supporting the Feed Leg rotate the Clamp down over the Leg ensuring that the location lugs on the Clamp lock securely into place in the cut outs on the bottom of the Feed Leg.
  6. Remove the mounting button from the Feed Clamp and push this through the hole on the top surface of the clamp through into the feed leg, ensuring that the button
    sits firmly on top of the Feed Clamp.
  7. Finally using the pole mount bolt clamp the dish assembly to the tripod. Be careful not to over tighten as this will bend the tripod pole itself, it should be enough to bite the tripod pole.

Zone 1 - Assembly

Assembling and Mounting a Zone 2 Satellite Dish

  1. Take the dish bracket – feed leg assembly, unfold and rotate the feed leg until it reaches the locking position on the dish bracket.
  2. Fix the locked assembly on to the dish using the 4 off M6 12mm painted Pozi-Pan screws and M6 nuts.
  3. Attach elevation bracket to the dish bracket using 4 off M6 x 16 cup square screws and M6 nuts.
  4. Check the LNB skew setting is appropriate to the location. If adjustment is required, loosen the clamp screw and reset to the correct position before tightening.
  5. Finally clamp the dish assembly to the tripod using 2 off M6 U bolts and 4 off M6 nuts.

Zone 2 - Assembly

Pointing the Dish at the Correct Satellite

Assuming the dish is fixed to the tripod and that you have run coaxial cable between dish and Freesat receiver, the final step is to align the dish so that it is pointing at the correct satellite group.

There are number of satellites in orbit over the Equator in Africa that are transmitting over Europe, but to receive a Freesat signal you need to find the Astra group of satellites located at 28.2º East from due South.  From that group of satellites, we are particularly interested in the signal from Astra 2D, which is aimed directly over the UK and parts of Ireland.  Interestingly the Astra group is currently the first satellite group you will find as you swing a dish from East to South, which makes it a little easier to find. Also located at 28.2º East is the Eurobird 1 satellite, which transmits the FreeSat Electronic Programme Guide (EPG) and the software for Freesat receivers.

In addition, the dish needs adjusting to point at the correct elevation in the Sky.  In other words, the dish needs to point at the right height in the sky so that it collects a signal from the correct satellite.  The standard FreeSat or Sky mini-dish is actually an offset focus type dish, which means that the dish reflects the signal down towards the LNB.  This offset focus design means the dish is normally mounted in an upright vertical position for most locations in the UK, rather than being pointed up into the sky.

Steps for Aligning a Satellite Dish

Below are some simple steps that should help make it easier to align a satellite dish:

  1. Ensure the satellite feed cable is connected to the satellite receiver at one end and connected to the LNB on your mounted dish at the other end – you may want to connect a satellite meter inline on the cable to assist with location and fine tuning of the best signal (a short patch lead with F connectors at each end will be handy for connecting up a satellite meter inline to the satellite feed cable in this way). Important Note: Don’t turn on the satellite receiver until you have connected up the coaxial cable.  Satellite receivers supply a small voltage (18V) up the satellite feed cable for controlling the LNB, so make sure you connect everything up before turning the satellite receiver on, otherwise you could damage your receiver.
  2. Turn on the Freesat receiver, press Menu on the remote control and choose the Information option. You will see values for Network ID, Transport Stream, Signal Strength and Signal Quality. We are initially interested in Network ID and Transport Stream as these will help identify what satellite we are receiving a signal from – we are looking for Network ID 003b and Transport Stream 090b.  Before the dish is aligned these values will be zero.
  3. Go back to the dish with a compass and point the dish so that it is aimed directly South. If you are in the UK and it’s a standard FreeSat/Sky mini-dish ensure the rim of the dish is vertical, i.e. the rim is standing upright (see the diagram below). Next VERY slowly move the dish to the East until your satellite meter indicates a strong signal and the Network ID on the TV shows 003b and the Transport Stream is reading 090b.  It’s likely you will find a number of strong signals with other values before you get to the 28.2º East group of satellites. This step is easiest with the help of someone indoors who can confirm the Network ID and Transport Stream values, but can be accomplished by finding a strong signal with a satellite finding meter and then going to check the values on the TV yourself.
  4. Once you have the receiver locked on to the correct satellite the final step is to fine tune the position of the dish to obtain the best signal strength. Move the dish on the mount in very small increments first left and right horizontally and then up and down vertically to get the best possible signal strength. This is where the satellite meter becomes especially useful as you can fine tune to your heart’s content. Otherwise you will need to rely on the Signal Strength and Signal Quality values displayed on the TV screen, which obviously requires two people.

Troubleshooting Dish Alignment

If you are not able to locate a signal with Network ID 003b and Transport Stream 090b then it’s likely you are pointing the dish in the wrong direction, either horizontally or vertically.  You may also be moving the dish too fast and moving it straight past the signal before the satellite receiver gets chance to lock on.

An alternative method of finding the correct Astra 2D signal is to start the swing of the dish from as far East as the dish will point.  Sweep the dish towards the South until you find the first strong satellite signal.  The Astra satellite group at 28.2º East is currently the first signal you should find. This may be easier than starting the sweep from due South.

A satellite meter is especially useful if you are working alone as you can first find a signal, make small adjustments to get a good signal and then go and check on the TV screen to see if the satellite receiver is locked onto the correct satellite.

Click here browse all our Portable Freesat Kits!

Thank you very much for choosing to shop with us, we do hope you have had an enjoyable and rewarding experience. If you have any other problems or require further help, please call or email us on: websales@trade-works.co.uk and we will endeavour to respond as quickly as we can.

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