DIY Friday: Satellite Site Survey

Us rocket scientists and satnuts know that to get a signal from an orbiting spacecraft, the satellite antenna must be pointed directly at the satellite, without obstructions between the two. This means no trees and no buildings. Generally, you ought to take into consideration future tree growth, house remodeling or additions and new construction.The satellite signal will not pass through leaves or branches — or houses and buildings.

DirecTV’s self-installation guide (PDF) starts with these pointers:

The satellite is always located south of Texas. That means if you live in Miami, you must have a clear line of sight to the southwest; if you live in San Francisco, you must have a clear line to the southeast. How High Up in the Sky is the Satellite? Depending on where you live, the satellite will be at an elevationangle between 30 and 60 degrees. Southern states point more toward 60 degrees; northern states point more toward 30 degrees.

Elsewhere, the guide suggests you use a map. In Europe, ASTRA’s installation assistant does a decent job of taking you through the process. For most, taking the free installation (see DISH Network) is a good idea.

Before you go out and buy a $500 BirDOG gadget, better make sure you can see the satellites. The Flash animation on ASTRA’s site can help you when you’re in the field, unless you calculate your look angle ahead of time.

On-site and need help with your site survey? There’s an App for that (both for iPhone and Android).


I’ve got one location where the trees grew since installation, so this has ongoing practical use. DigitalTrends selected it as one of the best augmented reality apps.

If guys in Afghanistan can use it, so can you.