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First Strike FS1 Digital Satellite Meter

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Apr 23rd, 2011 at 6:11pm  
Hello.  I work in varying remote locations around Alaska, mainly around the Kenai Peninsula. We use iDirect for a remote Internet connection.

Currently we rely on dispatching a technician from Anchorage to point our dish at each new location.  This gets costly and we often times have to wait several days before we can get someone on location.

I am considering purchasing a First Strike FS1 Digital Satellite Meter to point the dish myself, but I am a bit of a novice when it comes to satellites.  Can anyone confirm that the FS1 meter will work for my purposes or provide any other recommendations/advice?

Thanks for any comments!
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Eric Johnston
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Reply #1 - Apr 23rd, 2011 at 7:45pm  
I suggest you set up a dish wherever you are now and get some practice finding the satellite and peaking up.  Note the pre-calculated elevation and polarisation and note down how these appear on the scales. Note the differences between the actual and calculated values. Maybe take photos so you can see how the scales were set. Note the approx azimuth direction relative to the pole star and the sun versus time of day.

Now when you go to some remote site take that same working terminal with you (antenna, radio modules, cables and modem). Calculate the new elevation and polarisation and apply those numbers with the differences added or subtracted.

Swing the dish boldly sideways to find the satellite, then peak up using your modem plus PC screen or a meter.  

Azimuth direction is a problem at that latitude.  Calculate the azimuth at several places in Alaska so you have a general idea.  The blue line here http://www.satsig.net/maps/satellite-tv-dish-pointing-canada.htm will help if you can see some nearby structure or landmark in the satellite image. The true azimuth direction may be found using hand held GPS and walking in a straight line for 50 yards or so. If you have a clear day and can see the sun or at night can see the pole star you should be able to get the approximate direction.  With the elevation set accurately and the pole upright you can swing the dish boldly sideways over a wide angle to find the satellite.

A satellite meter, with a short cable,  is handy as it is easy to hold near the dish, compared with operating the modem plus PC at the dish, particularly in bad weather.  But you will need to go through the learning curve to operate the meter and set it recognise some suitable TV carrier on the wanted satellte.  Spend plenty of time practicing at your base with the meter before attempting on site work.  Make sure the kit all works properly at the base site. Then ask the iDirect NOC for permission to move it to the new lat/long position. Once there, they will check your polarisation etc and bring you back into the network.

Best regards, Eric.
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« Last Edit: Apr 23rd, 2011 at 10:11pm by Admin1 »  
 
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Reply #2 - Apr 24th, 2011 at 12:29am  
Thanks for the reply E J. 

Just to be clear, I'm not pointing the dish for Satellite TV.  We use it for Data/Internet. 

As I said, I'm a novice, so forgive me if I sound stupid, but is there any difference in pointing the dish for TV use as opposed to Internet use?

I'm trying to get confirmation from iDirect and haven't yet, but I'm pretty sure we use the Galaxy 18 satellite at 123 deg W. I don't see this listed in the drop-down selections at the http://www.satsig.net/maps/satellite-tv-dish-pointing-canada.htm link.  I'm wondering if this might be because that site is for Satellite TV??

I'm guessing the First Strike FS1 meter will work with any satellite whether you are using it for TV or Data/Internet, but again I just don't know.

Anyone that can enlighten my ignorance would be appreciated!!
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Reply #3 - Apr 24th, 2011 at 12:45am  
I guess I did find the Galaxy 18 Sat...but I had to switch to "Instructions for dish pointing in the US", instead of for "Canada".

Still would like some feedback on whether or not anyone out there thinks the First Strike FS1 meter will work for my needs.  It isn't THAT expensive (which is partly why I'm considering it), but it's enough that I don't want to buy it and find out it doesn't work for what I wanted it for.

Thanks!
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Eric Johnston
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Reply #4 - Apr 24th, 2011 at 12:25pm  
All types of satellite meter, including the c******t, have the ability to measure noise power and thus detect satellites and allow peaking up, but they do not tell you which satellite is which..

Simple noise power satmeters only cost about $20 Try eBay or Sadoun.

More complex (and expensive) identifing meters contain a simplified satellite TV receiver which may be pretuned to a large Satellite TV DVB-S type carrier that you think is being operated on the wanted satellite, on the wanted polarisation and in the part of the frequncy band matching your LNB. Don't choose a carrier that appears at the same frequency and symbol rate on a nearby satellites.  See http://www.lyngsat.com/galaxy18.html for some information (possibly inaccurate) about carriers on Galaxy 18.  If you use an identifing meter in this fashion you must practice first with a complete set of kit exactly the same as you will use on site. There is a significant learning curve to operate the meter and plenty of scope for misunderstandings and wrong information. Note that satellite TV carrier parameters may change with time.

The most complex spectrum meters display the satellite spectrum.  This enables you to identify a satellite but only if you have a printed record of the spectrum plot of the satellite.  It is therefore helpful to make paper plots of the spectrums (both polarisations perhaps ?) of nearby satellites and take them with you. When you find a satellite match up the pictures and determine which one it is and then move along the orbit to the wanted satellite. Keep a record of the exact spectrum set up parameters (centre freq, span, etc) along with the plot printout, so you can look for a matching spectrum display.

The spectrum method will work if there are no suitable large TV carriers to receive. Note that identifing meters may not recognise DVB-S2 carriers or small carriers of any kind.

Read about the FS1 satmeter here: http://www.firststrikemeters.com/docs/fs1-dunnett.pdf   Remember that users of such meters are normally satellite TV installers installing the same kind of systems on a daily basis. They are familiar with the satellite TV carriers on their wanted satellite.

When using the http://www.satsig.net/maps/satellite-tv-dish-pointing-usa.htm you can drag the map across to Alaska.  Just select the satellite orbit longitude if the satellite name is not shown. I have added a new page for you, and anyone else, in Alaska, See: http://www.satsig.net/maps/satellite-dish-pointing-alaska.htm

I would recommend a meter as it may be difficult to put the iDirect modem and a laptop at the antenna in bad weather. If that is possible then the iDirect screen will show signal level well and also provides a clear ident of the satellite.  You obviously need to pre-program the iDirect with your carrier frequency etc via the options file.
wxw
Please would someone provide advice regarding use of First Strike FS1 meter to detect and recognise Galaxy 18 Ku band.
Best regards, Eric
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« Last Edit: Apr 25th, 2011 at 8:16am by Admin1 »  
 
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Reply #5 - Apr 25th, 2011 at 3:57am  
Thank you Eric for the very helpful and detailed explanations and links!  You've been a big help!
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