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TV4RV OCTOBER NEWSLETTER
Vol. 7 - No.10

HOW TO USE A SATELLITE FINDER

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A satellite finder is a very handy tool that can help you locate the satellite and see the signal strength to tune it in.  Satellite Finders range in price from $10 for the simple models up to several hundred dollars and higher for the top end models.  This article will detail the basic model (picture above), which is the most widely used.

It is not surprising how many users purchase a finder and then have trouble using it.  While they are fairly basic in use they are primarily manufactured in China.  For the engineers who write the instructions for the finders, English is not their first language, so the instructions often are confusing and many times incomplete.  We will attempt to clarify that here.

Before using a satellite finder properly, it helps to understand what it does and how it interfaces with the dish.  Lets start with the dish.

At the end of the arm sticking out in front of the dish is a part know as an LNBF (or LNB)  LNBF stands for Low Noise Band Filter.  The curved dish reflector collects "noise" or signals from space from the direction in which you point the dish.  There is a surprisingly large amount of noise that comes from space, from various sources.  The job of the LNBF is to collect the noise, filter out most of which is not needed for satellite reception (specific frequency ranges) and pass the remaining signal back over the RG-6 cable(s) to the receiver. 

Each LNBF model is a little different in its decibel output from other models due to the number of "eyes" or sensors.  Some models only have one "eye" to see a single satellite while other may have five sensors to see five satellites.  Some have even more for special programming requirements.  So, it is important to calibrate your finder's decibel range (dB) to match your LNBF's resistance range each time you use it.   Here is how to do that.

Your satellite finder requires 13 - 18 volts DC power to operate.  That power comes from the satellite receiver, through the RG-6 cable to the LNBF, so when you connect the finder into this circuit it is being powered by the satellite receiver.  This does not apply to the DirecTV SWM system.  We will explain that further on in this article.

You will need to connect the cable from the receiver to the "REC" input of the finder.  This is usually the connection on the right as you look at the face of the meter.  It should be indicated somewhere on the finder, near that connection.

You will then need to connect a cable from the LNBF head to the other connection of the finder, labeled "LNBF".

If you are using our eZee-Aimę system when setting up your tripod, there is a very good chance you are pointed at the satellite(s) or very close to them.  It is important that you are not receiving a signal from the LNBF when calibrating the dB gain.  The easy way to prevent receiving a signal is to cover the LNBF head with aluminum foil or some other covering to prevent it from receiving a signal.

Once the LNBF is covered you can adjust the dB gain knob of the meter until the needle is mid-scale, around 5 on the dial.  Your meter is now calibrated to the LNBF.

Remove the covering from the LNBF and observe the needle on the meter.  If it doesn't move higher it indicates you are not on a satellite and you will need to move your dish left, right, up, or down as necessary to get a signal.

If the needle pegs to the right when you remove the covering from the LNBF it indicates you ARE on a satellite, but it will not tell you which one.  Again, if you are using our eZee-Aimę system in most cases, you will be on the correct satellite.  At this point, check the display on your TV set using the satellite setup portion of the receiver.   Once you confirm you are on the correct satellite(s) and if the signal strength needs to be increased, return to the dish.

If the signal strength needs to be adjusted higher, lower the dB gain knob slightly to put the needle back in the middle.  Make small adjustments to the dish, as necessary, to increase the signal level.  Note: If the dish was already receiving the maximum signal before you lowered the dB gain knob, you will be unable to raise the needle any higher as you are at maximum signal already. 

DIRECTV SWM USERS:  If you are using a meter such as this one with a DirecTV SWM system you cannot simply run the cable from the Power Inserter (PI21) through the meter as shown above.  You must use a SWM splitter to bypass the 21 volts to the LNBF and power the meter with its own 13-18 volt power supply.  See diagram below.  We sell both of these items on our website here.

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