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Aligning your satellite dish for Sky Digital

Welcome to this guide on how to align your satellite dish for Sky Digital. The group of satellites that are used by Sky to transmit the signals are known as Astra 2 and have an orbitting position of 28.2 degrees east. This does not mean you can get a compass and simply point the dish at 28.2 degrees east, the 28.2 degrees refers to the position of the satellite over the earth’s equator. You will remember that 0 degrees is the imaginary line that runs from the northpole to the southpole through Greenwich in London (hence GMT=Greenwich Mean Time), thus meaning that if we were to start at the equator on the 0 degree line and move eastwards until we were 28.2 degrees around the world (the earth is made up of 360 degrees) and stopped, looked directly upwards, we would be looking at the satellite! Obviously we wouldn’t see it with the naked eye because it is that far up but in the sky hovering in a geostationary orbit.

So now we know where the satellite is roughly and all that remains is to point the dish at it!

  1. First we find an ideal place to put the dish. The general rule of thumb is to put the dish somewhere where the sun can shine on it between 10 am and 12 noon as the sun, as viewed from the earth, will be roughly in the same position as the satellite between those times. Make sure that there are no trees with or without leaves, washing lines or other obstuctions in the line of sight of the dish.
  2. Connect the lnb (the unit at the end of the arm that protrudes from the dish) via a satellite type coax cable (identifiable as it has a silver or blue foil in addition to the sheath screen) to the digibox. Connect the TV to the digibox by using a Scart cable to ensure best picture quality. You can also connect the digibox to the TV via the RF aerial socket but unless you are using a TV that you bought in the UK, you will get a picture but no sound as the digibox uses the UK PAL1 as opposed to the european PAL B/G.
  3. Now connect the digibox to the mains electricity (in europe 230V is standard) and switch the digibox on. You will most probably get the message “No satellite signal is being received”. This is because the dish isn’t alligned with the correct satellite yet.
  4. Using the Sky Remote Control, Press “Services” and then press number 4 and then number 6. You will now see the Signal Test screen as shown in [Fig 1]. You will see “Signal Strength” (SS) “Signal Quality” (SQ ) “Lock Indicator” (LI) “Network ID” (NI) and “Transport Stream” (TS). The NI and TS are what we will be concentrating on for the time being.
  5. Turn your dish so that the face of the dish is near vertical and is pointing true south (you may need to use a compass for this).
  6. Now whilst watching the TV screen, very s--l--o--w--l--y turn the dish towards the east until you see the NI change from “0000” to “0002” and TS change from “0000” to “07d4”. Be carefull though and make sure you turn the dish smoothly and slowly as it takes a few seconds for the digibox to react to the weak signals from the satellite. Once you have found the correct satellite you may also hear music in the background and the LI will have changed from “Not Locked” to “OK” as in [Fig 2]. If this doesn’t happen repeat No. 6 until you have turned the dish too far east to ‘ESE’ (east-south-east) in which case you will need to alter the verticle angle of the dish slightly upwards turn the dish back to true south and then restart No. 6.
  7. Now we concentrate on the SS and SQ! Adjust the dish up and down very slowly until the SS has peaked. Now turn the dish very slightly eastwards and westwards until the SS has peaked again. The SQ should now also be relatively high but if it’s not quite 100% don’t worry. The skew is all that is left to adjust now and this entails slackening and then rotating the lnb in it’s holder cloickwise and anticlockwise until the highest SQ is attained.
  8. Once you are sure that you have the highest SS and SQ readings tighten all the bolts and secure the lnb cable securely to the dish arm and bracket so that it doesn’t flap about in the wind causing the cable to break.

Now you may have had problems and are still not getting the signal, in which case, make sure you turn the dish very very slowly because turning the dish too quickly will mean you will move it through the beam and out the other side before the digibox can react to the change in signal strength.


signal test not locked


signal test lock ok


The Astra south beam.

The Astra 2 group of satellites transmit a north beam and a south beam. All digiboxes supplied by Astrosat (www.astrosat.info) are set to receive the north beam by default and this setting will work throughout northern Europe and even as far south as northern Spain and northern Italy. For other parts of Italy and the Iberian peninsular however, it may be necessary to change the default transponder setting to that of the south beam as the north beam will be too weak.

  • Using the remote control, press “Services” and then ‘ 4’ ‘0’ ‘1’ and then ‘Select’. This is an undocumented sequence that gives access to the secret Installer setup menu.
  • Press 2 .
default transponder

Fig 3

  • Using the remote control change the Frequency from 11.778 V to 12.219 V [Fig 3] (don’t bother looking for the decimal point as it gets added automatically).
  • press the down arrow key 3 times to highlight “Save New Settings ”  and press “Select”.
  • Press “Backup” 3 times to return to the main  screen.
  • Switch the power off for 30 seconds and then go through the dish alignment process as described above.
  • On the south  beam, the Lock Indicator panel will continue to show “Not Locked” but this is normal and should not worry you.
  • If the digibox retunes itself back to 11.788 it is still receiving enough of the north beam signal and will therefore not allow you to change from the default setting. As an alternative to the 12.219 you can also try 12.051 or 12.207 and 11.817

On the south beam, Channel 4 is not available but the Welsh S4C is, nor are some of Sky's premium channels such as movies and sport.  Nevertheless, there is still plenty of choice. You won't get ITV1 or any of the BBC's TV channels because they are transmitted on Astra 2D which has a footprint targeted directly at the UK, you're unlikely to get them anywhere in Spain, even with a fairly large  dish.

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