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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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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Aligning your satellite dish at a satellite 22 000 miles away can be a frustrating task. DishPointer with Google MAPS made it a lot easier by providing visual clues.

Now with Google Earth, it’s even a lot of fun. Switch on the Terrain and 3D Buildings layers and see in 3D how the signal comes down all the way from the satellite to your house. Are there any buildings in the way? Where is the best location for the dish for a clear line of sight? Can you receive the satellite at all? You’ll get the answers to all these questions.

Using the 3D DishPointer DishPointer map
Underneath the map, click on the Google Earth Icon once you’ve positioned the marker and selected the right satellite. If you have Google Earth installed on your machine (if not, download it from here), the DishPointer line will open up in Google Earth. Make sure that the Terrain and 3D Buildings layer are switched on.

DishPointer map in GE - blocked view
The red line shows the satellite signal. Your initial location (say, you are a news broadcaster and that’s where you stopped with your satellite uplink truck) is no good, the building is in the way. There is no clear line of sight to the satellite. But you can move to another location with the following steps:

right click
drag line
Right-click on the description “Alignment line to 91W”, select properties and then drag the end node to your new position. Finally, click ok.

Clear alignment line
That’s better. At your new location the line is clear, you’re ready to go.

What else can you do?

DishPointer map in GE - Clarke belt
Load up as many satellites as you like and see how the satellites are nicely aligned on the horizon along the clarke belt.

DishPointer map in GE - Negative Elevation
See which satellites are on the other side of the earth. The signal would have to go through the earth to reach you – which is impossible. That’s why you can’t get these satellites.

Hope you’ll have a bit of fun with this and maybe gain some new insights into satellite reception.

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Just updated the site to a new layout and logo but had to remove the channels and satellites tabs due to a small glitch. I haven’t fixed that yet but will do so shortly. Update: The satellites list is back on.

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So far, the widget would default to the geographic location of the IP address (well, at least kind of – depending on how accurate the mapping was). Due to several requests this has been taken off now and replaced with the default address which is specified during the widget setup. If you’re a webmaster and you didn’t specify a custom address then please do so now on the widget page. Note that this does not effect the DishPointer main page – here the default address is still based on the geographic location of the IP address.

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I’m pleased to announce that DishPointer has won two satellite awards, namely the Tele-Satellite Innovation Award and the DrDish Tested & Recommended Award. Tele-Satellite is the world’s largest satellite magazine, printed in 16 languages and distributed in well over 40 countries. The award was given to DishPointer for “creating a software solution that, with the help of Google Maps and its satellite images as well as SatcoDX and its up-to-date channel data, provides highly accurate satellite reception information”. DrDish Television is a digital TV station providing the latest news and trends of the media world. The founder and chief editor of DrDish Television is Christian Mass, an internationally recognised satcom expert, also known as Doctor Dish, and comments on DishPointer as being something special within the satellite industry and exceptionally useful for the consumer.

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