Satellite Setup or Digital Aerial

Saturday, 26 July 2014  |  Admin

Like it or loathe it, going on a camping holiday now includes packing some of the home from home comfort we used to happily leave behind. Television, iPad's, mobiles and hair dryers are now common place on our 'outdoor' adventures. Camping has certainly changed since I was a lad. Having a radio was a luxury and even then the batteries would run out after a few days.

Customers often ask us here at "Should I use a satellite dish or digital aerial with my 12v television?" The answer will always depend on what type of camping set up you have and where you'll be going camping. Naturally there are areas around the UK where a 'normal' terrestrial digital television signal is either too week or perhaps non existent. This makes the answer simple - you'll need a satellite dish to watch any channels. But if your likely to be camping or even touring in good reception areas, the simplicity of a digital tv aerial is the obvious way forward. Digital UK provide some outstanding tools on their website which will give you an excellent idea of what reception you'll likely receive around the UK. Check out the interactive map on the Digital UK website for more information.

So there are pro's and con's to both systems for UK travellers. However if you're planning a European touring or camping holiday there is only one solution and that has to be a mobile satellite system. There are numerous systems available but for this article we'll be concentrating on the entry level or simplest solutions. Basic satellite television systems include a simple dish, satellite receiver and cables and require a little knowledge in how to set them up. This is where it becomes a little more complicated than the trusted aerial we all know. A standard digital television aerial needs only to be pointed in the general direction of the digital transmitter, and often with the aid of a signal booster, a good signal is received. Of course there are good aerials and brilliant aerials but generally speaking they capture the signals from the transmitter in a fairly wide area. Satellite's can be a little harder to find. Firstly they are flying 36,000km over our heads much further away than the average digital transmitter, but (and here's the bonus), they are in a geostationary orbit. What! Sorry they might be high above your head but they stay more or less in the same position - and they're clustered together, about three satellites to a cluster. These clusters make it easier to target the signal with your satellite dish.

Believe it or not the sky above our heads is crammed full of satellites beaming hundreds of television and radio signals back to earth in many different languages and genres. Finding the best option for your needs will very much depend on what you want to watch. Generally speaking the Astra satellite's provides a huge range of English speaking content with many of the channels you will be familiar with like BBC and ITV.

Setting up your basic satellite dish shouldn't be that complicated as long as you follow a few simple guidlines. Firstly, make sure your dish is set in a stable a secure position like the top of your motorhome or caravan or on a tripod. Once the dish is secure connect the output coaxial cable to you receiver unit. The trick now is to point the dish at the correct angle towards the satellite I use a great website which guides you to the correct angle and compass point:

Now you've found your satellite you can power up the receiver and fine tune the position of the disk simply by make tiny adjustments to the dish position. Now let the tuner find all those exciting channels and you're off. Not that frightening is it?

If all else fails there is a wealth of information available on the internet and tones of apps for smartphones which makes the whole process even quicker and easier. From spirit levels to find the dish angle to augmented reality applications which can 'show' you where the satellite is via your phone or tablet - much clever than me.

However you set up your camping television, never forget to spend some time in the great outdoors - after all, that's why we camp right?

Happy camping.


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