HOW TO: FREESAT SATELLITE TV – A DIY INSTALLATION GUIDE
A straight forward introduction for the DIY enthusiast to assist with understanding how to receive freesat TV channels (a subscription free digital TV service in the UK). The aim of the guide is to provide information about the freesat digital TV service and more importantly has been written to give a starting point for learning how to install freesat yourself. Fitting freesat is within the reach of anyone who has basic DIY skills, so we hope this guide will help get you started.
Freesat is a subscription free digital satellite TV service available in the UK. There is no monthly subscription charge for receiving Freesat. Freesat is a name used by a collaboration of the BBC, ITV and C4.
FreesatfromSky is the name given to the ability to receive Free To Air (FTA) channels using a Sky satellite receiver. If you have a satellite dish and a Sky receiver it is possible to receive most of the FTA channels without a Sky viewing card. For a one off fee of £20 you can obtain a Sky viewing card that additionally lets you watch Channel 4, Five and Sky Three. Sky receivers can be bought very cheaply second hand through eBay and elsewhere.
In May 2008 the BBC and ITV launched Freesat which offers viewers all available channels on the Freeview TV service (available with an aerial) except with the added bonus of high definition TV channels from the BBC, ITV, C4 & NHK World (a HD receiver is required to watch high definition channels)
Both Freesat and FreesatfromSky are transmitted from the same Astra 2/Eurobird group of satellites located at the same position in the sky (-28.2° east of due south), so if you have a satellite dish setup for either of these services you can swap between receivers without having to change the position of the dish.
Installing a Freesat dish is normally a relatively easy job for anyone happy to do basic DIY jobs around the house. No technical experience is required. The most difficult part is likely to be actually physically mounting the dish to the building. Aligning the dish in order to receive the correct signal can also be tricky but with patience, a compass and a satellite finder it can be completed without any specialist knowledge.
Brief summary of the installation process
- Locate a suitable position for the satellite dish – the dish needs a clear view of the south eastern horizon with minimal obstructions.
- Run high quality coaxial cable between the dish and the satellite receiver, fit F type connectors at each end – the cable run should be continuous as a break in cable will cause signal loss.
- Attach the satellite dish to the building.
- Align the satellite dish to point at the Astra 1N / Astra 2A / Astra 2B / Astra 2D / Eutelsat 28A (28.2°E) group of satellites.
- Your box will already be pretuned if purchased with www.tradeworks.tv, so you can relax while watching high definition TV for free. Humax Boxes will need to be tuned in via the onscreen setup guide. Enter your postcode (this will not work unless you have a good signal) and set auto tune away.
Choosing a dish mounting site
Finding a suitable mounting site and actually attaching the dish to the building can be the toughest part of your installation. The dish needs to be mounted in a position which has a clear view of the south eastern horizon with no obstructions e.g. buildings or trees as these can cause interference or signal loss. Normally the higher the dish is mounted on the building the less obstruction to the signal. You have to take into consideration that trees move in the wind and have different leaf coverage throughout the year. Moving trees and increased leaf growth can cause havoc with a satellite signal.
Satellite dish mounting options
Using the built in wall mount is an option when mounting your satellite dish, these are commonly used because they have little if any obstruction to signal. Your freesat 45cm (zone 1) or 60cm (zone 2) mini-dish will come with a built in wall mount that can be bolted securely to an external wall. The mount features a swinging arm that can be used to point the dish in the right horizontal direction. This is the simplest and easiest way to mount a satellite dish. Alternative methods include tripod mounting, where the dish is mounted on a tripod. This leaves no long lasting imprint on the building so perfect for temporary situations such as camping, caravanning or holiday homes.
Pointing the dish at the correct satellite
Assuming that the dish is fixed to a mount and you have run coaxial cable between the dish and the freesat receiver the final step is to align the dish so it is pointing at the correct satellite group.
There are a number of satellites in orbit but the satellites you need to find in order to receive a signal are the Astra 1N / Astra 2A / Astra 2B / Astra 2D / Eutelsat 28A (28.2°E) group of satellites.
The Astra satellites are aimed directly over the UK and Ireland, it is the first signal you will receive when swinging your dish east to south, which makes it easier to find. The Astra group of satellites is located at 28.2° east from due south.
The dish needs to be adjusted to point at the correct height in the sky, this needs to be done in order to receive a signal from the correct satellite. The standard Freesat or Sky mini-dish is an offset focus type dish, which means 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
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.
Don’t turn on the satellite receiver until the coaxial cable is connected. Satellite receivers supply a small voltage (18V) up the feed cable for controlling the LNB, so make sure everything is connected up before turning your satellite receiver or you could damage your receiver.
Turn on the satellite receiver and select channel BBC one (101).
Go back to your satellite dish and point the dish so it is aimed south. If it is a standard FreeSat/Sky mini-dish ensure the rim is vertical i.e. the rim should be upright. Next SLOWLY move the dish east until your satellite meter indicates a strong signal. You may find other strong signals with other values before you find the 28.2° East group of satellites. If you purchased a FreeSat box from www.tradeworks.tv it will be pretuned with the UK FreeSat Channel listing. Once you find a good signal the channels will work. You may need to adjust the dish slightly in order to find the best possible signal.
Once you have the receiver locked onto the correct satellite the final step is to fine tune for the best quality picture. This is done by moving the dish ever so slightly in all directions until you find the best signal strength.
This is where the satellite meter will come in handy as you now need to fine tune your dish in order to get the best possible picture on your TV. Without the satellite meter you will need to rely on the signal strength displayed on your TV screen which of course requires two people.
Troubleshooting Dish alignment
If you are getting a no signal message even though your meter says you have a good signal you may be pointing the dish in the wrong direction and connected to the wrong satellite. If you’re connected to the wrong satellite you will need to keep moving the dish until you find the signal which displays a picture on your TV screen. You may also be moving the dish too fast, and moving it straight past the signal before it gets a chance to lock on.
An alternative method of finding the correct satellite is to move the dish east, then start moving it SLOWLY south until you find a signal. The first signal you will find will be the Astra Satellite group. This may be easier than the sweep from due south.
A satellite meter is extremely important if you are working alone as you can first find a signal, make small adjustments to find the best quality signal, and then check on the TV screen to make sure you are connected to the correct satellite.
Important Safety Notes
If your satellite dish needs to be placed at some distance of height please ensure to follow good safety practice.
If you need to use a ladder please read the Government health and safety executive leaflet for ladder safety before starting work – http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg405.pdf
Where to buy?
We sell a range of different Freesat self install kits on our main shop here… We have everything you need to install your own kit. We have various different kits for every occasion ranging from simple dish and cable to full multiroom high definition boxes. We even sell portable mount tripods. Tripods are ideal for when you are away from home either in the caravan or driving a truck. for more information about freesat or to discuss one of our kit options that is right for you please email or call us on the number at the top of the page!
FreeSat from BBC/ITV – http://www.freesat.co.uk/
FreeSat from Sky – http://www.sky.com/shop/freesat/home