Saturday, 14 April 2012

Friday 13th April 2012 - Saturday 14th April 2012, Televison

Eventually, common sense prevailed, and Kathleen went to the Doctors. Antibiotics were duly prescribed and now she is slowly feeling better, not well enough to go off in the campervan yet, but on the mend as they say.


We have never bothered with Television on our campervan trips, and other than sometimes feeling a little out of touch, because I have not seen the news for several weeks, I cannot say that I have missed it.

But, this year, we are planning a tour in the UK, in Spring, it can reasonably be assumed, the weather will at some stage (if not the whole time!), be less than satisfactory.

We bought a small LCD TV from ASDA, and an indoor digital aerial, plus I made up a coaxial cable to allow us to plug into TV bollards at those sites which provided them.

First problem, in conversation with my brother (Brian), he told me that many of the TV bollards have "F Connectors" (no I did not know what they are either), rather than "normal" coaxial connectors. Why do they always make things so difficult?

After suitable advice and guidance from Brian, a trip to Maplin's to buy the relevant bits. This turned out to be an expensive trip. I went for some bits costing about £2, but in my conversation with Brian, the subject of Satellite TV was raised, the germ of an idea had been planted. Once in Maplin's, I spied the "Camping Satellite TV Kits", they were on offer. I was hooked. Soon, I was leaving with a Satellite TV Kit, Satellite Finder meter, and an overheated credit card.

I have no idea how to set up a Satellite receiving dish, so Friday evening, I carefully read the instructions, and consulted various websites. I learned about Azimuths, Elevations and LNB skew. I even found a website which showed my house, from the air, gave me Elevation, Azimuth and LNB skew, plus a "line of sight" guide to warn me of any obstructions to the signal. But, none of the Websites or Instructions provided any guide as to how sensitive or otherwise the various settings were, did I have to have it right to a couple of degrees, or to the nearest minute?

Saturday, I set about putting the various bits together and attempting to get a TV picture in the campervan.

I can tell you, this is an exercise in futility.

I had this basic understanding, up in the sky was a satellite, beaming out a TV signal. All I had to do was point the dish at it, and hey presto.

I soon had the satellite finder meter screaming away, to tell me I was "on target", but, which satellite was I locked onto?, it turns out there are dozens of the damned things spinning about up there! One every three degrees around the world, according to one website, according to my O level Geometry, that means 120 satellites to choose from.

After about two hours, I had a TV picture, and several channels to choose from, problem was, they were all in German or French. Clearly, I was "on" the wrong Satellite. Why can't they do something simple, like at least broadcast the Satellite name, can that be so difficult? I mean, they have managed to put them up there, and they are broadcasting hundreds of TV and Radio Channels, would it be too much bother just to broadcast the Satellite name?

I know I need Astra29.5E, but, it would appear I have Astra19.2E.

At this point, I found, tucked away at the back of the instruction book for the Satellite Receiver Box, a really simple guide to aligning the dish.

I will more or less repeat it here, it is short and simple, and it worked in five minutes!

Point the Dish due south.

Forget about the Elevation, for now, just set it vertical.

Forget about the LNB skew, for now, just set it to zero.

Stand behind the dish while doing the adjustments, so you are not blocking the signal with your big fat body.

With securing clamp just loose enough to be able to move the dish, move it to the left (ie East), about 3mm at a time, wait a few seconds between moves, watch the Satellite meter (and/or listen to the high pitched noise) as the signal strength rises.

As soon as the meter and/or noise indicates the signal is begining to weaken, go back slightly to get the peak signal.

Do not move the dish left or right (ie you have the Azimuth).

Now, assuming you are no further north than England, tilt the dish back about 3mm at a time, again waiting between moves and observe the meter and sound, until the maximum signal is obtained. You now have the Elevation.

If you are unfortunate enough to be in Scotland, the elevation may be negative, in which case you need to tilt the dish forward, but otherwise do as above.

Now, if you really must, tweak the LNB Skew (ie twist it clockwise or anticlockwise), again checking the signal strength as you do so. To be honest, for me, it made next to no difference.

After only 5 minutes, I have the signal meter at it's peak, and a nice high pitched squeal being emitted to tell me I am on target.

Into the van, use the remote control to instruct the Satellite box to scan for channels, and bingo, we have English TV!

I know it is not very modest, but I have to say, I am a genius!

Mind you, all in, it did take five hours to get to this stage, so I think perhaps a second career as a Satellite TV installer is not a good idea.

I dismantle it and pack it all away, ready to repeat the exercise at some caravansite. Watch this space, there just may be a Satellite system for sale shortly.

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