droid The DishPointer Augmented Reality app for Android phones has been released. It works like on the iPhone. Just point it at the sky and see on the live camera screen all the satellite positions and the alignment details. You can easily determine any line of sight (LoS) issues and find the best spot for your dish.

You can get it either by searching for “DishPointer” on the Android market on your phone or by downloading it below and purchasing a license. Note that the app requires Android OS 1.5 and later, a camera, accelerometers (motion sensors) and a digital hardware compass.

How to buy it from this website:

DishPointer Pro QR Code

1. Download the app to your sd card and install it using an app installer (preferably, download the app directly from your phone using a barcode scanner)

Download link: DPARPRO.apk (v.2.2.1) (Requires Android 2.0 and higher)

2. Buy the license code using Paypal

Price: $19.99 USD

The username and license code will be displayed at the end of the purchasing process and also emailed to you.

3. Under settings, enter the username and serial number.

Notes: The app will not work until it is activated. You need internet access from your phone during activation. When you upgrade your phone or do a factory reset, please deinstall the license first from the settings. This way you can activate the app again on the new phone.

Version history: v2.2.1
- NEW: Auto-Calibration
- Enhancements: User-Instructions
- Enhancements: Location updates
- Enhancements: User experience
- FIX: Several minor bug fixes

Version history: v2.0.1
- Bugfix: On some devices the app would force close on start up.

Version history: v2.0
- NEW: Screen capture. Hold the phone steady, hit the capture button and wait till it takes the picture and displays it back to you. The app will automatically save the picture to the sd card and will give you the option to email it to the back office or someone else. You also have the option to set a shutter delay, in case you need to hold the phone overhead.
- Improved location fix.

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UPDATE: Also available for the ANDROID

Very surreal, this is the next generation satellite finder: Point your iPhone anywhere towards the sky and see all the satellites lined up, on the live video screen! At a glance, you’ll see where the satellite is and whether any trees or buildings are blocking the line of sight. Think of multi-lnb dishes and now you know where to place your dish best. Doing a site survey and setting up a dish is going to be a piece of cake with this app. This is a truly useful augmented reality app for the professional and diy enthusiast alike.

The app uses the gps, accelerometer, and the compass of the new iPhone 3GS. Just move the phone up and down and left and right and the satellite arc will follow the live video on the display. The compass has a bit of a lag though, so when doing quick sideways movements the satellite arc is trying to catch up but then settles to the correct position.

Expect this app to be released with the iPhone OS 3.1 update. In the meantime check out the other DishPointer apps.

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Finally, the DishPointer Maps app has been released for the iPhone/iPod Touch. This dedicated app is a lot more convenient than opening dishpointer.com in the iPhone browser and a real time saver. Available immediately from the App Store.

DishPointer Maps iPhone App Screenshot

DishPointer Maps iphone app screenshot

The features include:

  • Automatic location update: The app uses your location information (e.g. GPS) and opens the map right at that point. You can toggle this automatic location update by pressing the locator button at the bottom left.
  • Location search: You can manually search for any location by clicking the address button at the bottom and then either entering an address, zip code, post code, latitude and longitude in the address box. The map automatically zooms to that location and draws the lines.
  • Works with any satellite: Just enter the satellite position, select whether it’s east or west (e.g. 110 West) and press the Done button at the top right. The new alignment line is drawn automatically.
  • Map types: You can switch between different map types (standard, satellite, hybrid) by pressing the info button at the bottom right.
  • Alignment info: By tapping the marker, you’ll get alignment information such as true azimuth, magnetic azimuth (when using a compass) elevation, and skew angle of either the LNB or the dish. The skew angle gives BY how much you have to wheel it and is positive clockwise when standing behind the dish.
  • Gestures enabled: You can tap and drag the marker to any location on the map. For zooming you can use pinch gestures, double tap, or the zoom controls.

This makes it really easy for aligning any satellite dish. If you use dishpointer.com a lot, then get this app now by clicking here.

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UPDATE: This app has been superseded by the DishPointer AR apps – they are much better and easier to use. You can directly see where the satellites are.

Check out any line of sight issues with this iPhone App. Just point your iPhone at the sky, tilt it until you get the right angle and then switch on the the camera preview. If there is a clear sky right at the center of the screen, you’re good to go. Simple but very effective.

DishPointer Line of Sight Screenshot

DishPointer Line of Sight Screenshot

This is how to use it:

  • Once you know if in which direction to point the dish (see the DishPointer Maps or DishPointer Compass iPhone apps), hold your iphone up with the camera facing the sky. The angle at which you’re holding it is displayed on the screen. In addition, the two satellite positions which have this elevation at your location is given.
  • After you’ve found the right angle, hold the iPhone still and tap the camera button and focus at the center of the screen. In the camera preview, if there are no obstacles at the center of the screen, there are no line of sight issues. If there is a tree or a building, you will need to find another location for your dish.
  • If you wish, you can then take a picture and a target cross is overlayed at the center to verify clear line of sight to the satellite.

You can get this and other DishPointer iPhone apps from the App Store.

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UPDATE: This app has been superseded by the DishPointer AR apps – they are much better and easier to use. You can directly see where the satellites are.

We have released our first iPhone app: DishPointer Compass. Imagine you have a device in your hand which you can point in any direction and it tells you which satellite you would receive from that direction. This is exactly what DishPointer Compass does in connection with the new iPhone 3GS. Simple and very effective. Available on the App Store.

DishPointer Compass iPhone App Screenshot

DishPointer Compass iPhone app screenshot

This is how it works: The new iPhone 3GS has an inbuilt magnetometer, i.e. a compass. The app uses the compass bearings together with your location information (remember, satellite pointing angles are different for different locations on the planet) obtained through GPS/WiFi/Cell network and computes the satellite position at which the iPhone points.

The app has been developed for maximum ease of use and speed, no nonsense features and gimmicks. Just switch it on, wait till it locks to your current location and then spin it around. All satellite positions with positive elevation angles will be displayed on the screen, one by one, e.g. 110W for 110 West DirecTV, 13E for Hotbird, 19.2E for Astra, 42E for Turksat etc.. you get the point. If there is no satellite in that direction, it will tell you so.

Some additional info: The inbuilt magnetometer is very sensitive to electro-magnetic interferences. So make sure you keep the iPhone away from any other electrical devices, metals and magnets. Your current location (latitude and longitude) is displayed at the bottom left of the screen, and the current true compass bearing is displayed at the bottom right. This is for you so that you can double check the output if you wish to do so.

You can get the DishPointer Compass iPhone app by clicking here.

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Opera Mobile 9.5 and DishPointer

Opera Mobile 9.5 Beta is out and you should put it on your PocketPC PDA/Handheld running Windows Mobile 5 or 6 now.

Why? It’s the only browser for mobile handhelds which fully supports Javascript and Ajax – and that’s required to show Google Maps applications such as DishPointer. The only other alternative for using DishPointer on the go would be Apple’s iPhone or iTouch.

The Opera Mobile 9.5 browser is still beta, so install it onto the device memory rather than on a storage card. But the good thing is, because it’s beta – it’s free! So download now while you can. The older version 8.65 comes only as a 30 day trial and costs $24.

Only Pocket PC’s running WM 5 or WM6 are supported. The new Opera will not work on Pocket PC 2003, Symbian, S60 and Smartphones

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Apple IPhone 3G

I had my hands on Apple’s new 3G iPhone today and did some dish pointing tests with it. I must say it works brilliantly. First, DishPointer loads up pretty fast on the 3G iPhone – providing you have the right (and unlimited) data tariff with your provider. Then all the DishPointer functions work as they should be, e.g. the map loads up, you can enter your address, the line is drawn, you can zoom in and out, etc. Just dragging the marker doesn’t work as the Iphone starts moving the whole page around. But I’ll see if there is a workaround for this.

Anyone who counts himself lucky to own this great iPhone 3G can use it now as a mobile satellite finder. I can see this being very usefull in particular for satellite installers and mobile uplink operators.

The disadvantage is that the IPhone is a bit pricey. And currently there are not many alternatives to run DishPointer on a handheld/PDA as most of the mobile browsers don’t support all the Javascript and Ajax functions to make the map work. But that’s maybe about to change as the new Opera Mobile 9.5 browser promises many new features – we will see when it comes out this month.

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There is a short news article about DishPointer in this months What Satellite and Digital TV print magazine (United Kingdom).

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The german Infosat magazine has a two-page article about DishPointer in their current issue, July 2008, No. 244.

In the article titled “DishPointer – Clevere Ausrichtung per Internet” the author Herbert Bisges describes in simple terms how to use DishPointer in order to align a satellite dish and gives a thumbs up to DishPointer – thanks Herbert!

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There is an independent review of the MaxPeak digital satellite meters on Dr. Dish TV (DrDish Magazine – 07/2008). The review starts about a third into the programme, just after a short talk with Polytron, the distributor of the MaxPeak meters in Germany. The meter gets full marks and the “Tested and Recommended Award” from Dr.Dish.
MaxPeak Digital Satellite Meter 2

I’ve been using the MaxPeak Satellite Meter (SAM) for over a week now and have done two satellite installations with it. With both installations, finding the satellite and fine-tuning the alignment took about 2-3 minutes:

After looking up the location on DishPointer and noting down the elevation, skew and a visual clue on the alignment line, all I had to do is to set the elevation and the skew of the dish, and then point the dish straight at the landmark. The meter immediately locked on to the satellite (the speed at which the MaxPeak meter locks on to the satellite is amazing) and gave me the signal strength, signal quality and signal error (pre BER and post BER) readings – see image below.
MaxPeak Digital Satellite Meter 2

By moving the dish very slightly left/right and up/down I could maximize the signal quality bar and minimize the error reading. And that was it actually, I’ve never done an installation faster and more accurate than this.

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