Big Dish Satellite T.V. Aiming Guide

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Aligning a satellite dish can be a challenge. The aiming process must be very precise as digital reception is an ON or OFF proposition. Fortunately, there are inexpensive instruments to aid in the aiming process. If you follow the correct steps, exercise patience, and make very small smooth movements with the dish, you will be successful.

To get a signal, the satellite dish must be pointed directly at the satellite, with NO obstructions between the two. This means NO trees and NO buildings. Take into consideration future tree growth, house remodeling or additions and new construction in your area.


1. Use a carpenters level to make sure the dish mast is vertically level

2. Set the Elevation Angle. For this you will need a satellite to choose as a reference.

3. Use your Signal Meter and a good quality magnetic compass to aid in aiming the dish.

4. Fine tune the aiming using your satellite receiver.

If you are using an offset style dish, keep in mind it may appear to be pointing to the ground. Understanding how the signal reflects off the dish will help new offset dish users to realize that it will appear to point down when, in fact, it is pointed correctly. Pay attention to the elevation scale on the mounting bracket, which aids in adjustment of the dish.

The Reference Satellite

People in North America often use Galaxy 25 at 97 degrees west as the reference satellte for aiming their dish. For this example we will consider someone at the following location:

 Midwest United States
 Latitude: 40.654°
 Longitude: -95.859°

We will use Galaxy 25 as our reference satellite

 Name: 97.0W Galaxy 25
 Distance: 37560km

The following data will be used for aiming the dish

 Azimuth (true): 181.7°
 Azimuth (magn.): 178.5° using Compass
 LNB skew: 1.3°
  • Azimuth (Magnetic): is the angle relating to the horizontal positioning of the dish. The angle is expressed in terms of degrees, with North = 0 degrees, South = 180 degrees. Use your compass to aim dish at that angle.
  • Elevation: is the angle above the horizon, and is also expressed in terms of degrees. This is the angle by which the dish must be "tilted Up or Down" in relation to the theoretical horizon, in order to position it precisely for the desired satellite.