“News”

I’ve just added an image to the main page showing a diagram of the elevation, azimuth and LNB skew. The illustration was done courtesy of Juan who is a webdesigner and who has an excellent illustrated guide on how to setup satellite dishes on his own website. Hope this helps a bit to understand the technical terms and thanks again to Juan for the great work.

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The following is a list of international media and blog websites where dishpointer.com (or uksatellitehelp.co.uk) has been mentioned.

Article in October 2007 issue of “What Satellite and Digital TV”: What Satellite and Digital TV Article
Satleo (Greece) Chip (Germany) Voice Of America (USA) La Tele en Clair (France) Tech.Blorge.com (USA) Googlemaps Mania (Canada) Wotsat (UK) Mapperz (UK) Lifehacker (USA) Satellite Magazine (Netherlands) Hackszine (USA) Greg Hughes (USA) jkOnTheRun (USA) Korben (France) Googlexxl (France) Discourse (USA) Googlekarten (Germany) Paperblog (France) … plus many more in forums in Brazil, Middle East, Vietnam and Australia.

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Some users pointed out quite rightly that there is a bit of an information overflow with the huge list of satellites. To ease the selection, I have just added a list of popular satellites which wholly depends on the address you put in. Quite interesting to see which satellites are being watched in which country (just type in a few country names – the list is updated dynamically, thanks to Ajax) and see for yourself. Just a note, there might be a one or two false ones in the lists as I have not verified everything yet. But overall it should be right.

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Looking at visitor stats I see that you guys are actually coming from every country on this planet. Owing to this fact, the default location of Broadway New York is probably for many of you a bit useless. That’s why last week I added a free IP and location recognition tool to the system. The effect is that when the page has finished loading, the map will zoom straight away to your location. Well, most of the time at least. Because the ISP has a bit freedom in allocating the IP to different servers scattered around the country, it can happen that your location is thought to be a few thousands miles away from you – but still in the same country though. The accuracy of the free version is also not that brilliant but given it’s free still amazing. The pro version is a lot better in terms of accuracy but it costs a whopping $350/year which I can’t afford. But luckily, I had (and still have) a donations button on my UKSatelliteHelp Blog (on the front page bottom right – in case you’re going to be looking for it). And indeed, thanks to a few very generous donations I was able to obtain a pro license yesterday. This means, from today on, all IP and location recognitions are based on this tool.

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From various feedbacks I gathered that DishPointer.com is not only used to find the alignment of a satellite dish but also to check the line of sight, i.e. if there are any obstacles in the way between the dish and the satellite. As you may all know, with satellite reception there must be clear line of sight. Obstacles such as trees or nearby buildings can severly reduce or even block the signal. The maximum height an obstacle can have depends on the the distance from the dish to the obstacle and the dish elevation at your specific location (the further away the satellite is from you the shallower the dish elevation becomes). So, in order to know how high an obstacle can be, I added a few days ago another little marker to the map. The green marker is supposed to resemble a tree. If you move that one the distance between the dish and the obstacle is given together with the maximum height the obstacle can have. This height is measured from the lowest point of the dish. For example, if your dish is attached to your roof at about 4.00m, you’ll need to add this to the given obtacle height to get the total height from the ground. I think it’s pretty clear. Hopefully, this way you can judge whether the tree opposite will really affect the reception and you’ll get some clues where to best place the dish.

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DishPointer.com goes live! Well, actually it should read “went live” because the launch happened over two weeks ago but just now I implemented this blog into the site to write these few lines. It all started with my UKSatelliteHelp blog where I’m writing about satellite tv in the UK, how to install a dish, setup the receiver etc. mainly to obtain Sky UK. There was always a satellite alignment calculator which would produce convert a given UK postcode to latitude and longitude, and then display the azimuth, elevation and LNB skew for the satellite from which Sky UK is broadcast. But with all these data, the user still had to use a compass to find the right direction and that’s after correcting the azimuth for magnetic variations (because of the geomagnetic fields – which vary with time and location – on the earth surface, a compass usually doesn’t point to true north). So that’s where I thought wouldn’t it be actually cool to see on a map where to point the dish? Bingo, there was Google Maps. Not only that it has maps for almost every corner on this planet but also close-up satellite images with incredible details (at least for the major cities). So, I went ahead and converted my normal alignment calculator into a Google Mashup and tested the accuracy of the tool on my own dish – and that was amazing. I could position the dish marker on the map and it would tell me to point at the chimney on the house opposite and it was right! That’s where my dish is actually pointing at. After putting the tool on my blog, the feedback I’ve received was amazing. People from not only the UK but all around the world started using the tool and that’s where I decided to put the tool on a separate domain – that’s how dishpointer.com was born. This way, I think I can work better on the tool and it shows more the global character of the site. I already have new features in the pipe-line and also plans to convert the site into many languages. The only thing missing is … time! But I shall manage, hopefully.

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