NICE AND EASY: The most important thing to remember when you aim a dish

Spring is here and it’s time to start spending more time outside. Maybe after last year’s tailgating season, you were inspired. You went to Solid Signal and you bought an RV Satellite Kit and an AIM meter. That’s quite a solid investment, but it’s hands down the best way to get all the sports programming and great movies and shows you’ll want when you’re traveling.

Now it’s time to talk about the one thing that you’ll need before you can impress your friends with your dish-aiming prowess.

Practice.

Take it from someone who has aimed a dish or two, no one gets it right the first time. Expert technicians can dial in a dish in ten minutes, but I’ve yet to meet anyone who could do it in under two hours the first time they tried, especially on a tripod mount. You don’t want to skip steps, you don’t want to forget to do something, and guaranteed the first time you use the meter it will confuse you.  The AIM meter was designed for experts. Even though it has a guided mode that really explains most of what you’ll need, it’s going to take some time to really understand what it’s capable of.

First thing to do: “try this at home.”

It’s funny, we so often say “don’t try this at home.” With an AIM meter you have a perfect solution for testing and learning about the meter. Disconnect a receiver and hook up the meter. You can run all sorts of tests and learn how the meter works without having to try to learn how to aim a dish.

You might also find that your signal strength isn’t as good as you thought, and you might want to use your new meter to find loose or corroded connections or even touch up the aim on the dish a little bit.

Once you understand the meter, it’s time to learn about aiming. There are a number of great YouTube videos that you can use. Even though most of them are a little dated, they still work great.

Start by setting it up in the driveway first. Try it, bring a TV and a receiver out to the garage. If you have a TV in your RV, you can connect it to that.. Give yourself the time to practice before your friends come over and demand to see the pre-game. I guarantee, you’ll be glad you did. You’ll realize quickly how important it is to make sure the dish is perfectly plumb and level. You’ll also see how being off by even 1/32″ is enough to make you lose signal!

Don’t be discouraged. Keep trying.

When AT&T trains technicians, they give them a day to work with satellite dishes and meters, and these are the professionals. Don’t you owe it to yourself to spend a little time learning? It’s perfectly ok if it takes a few days of trial and error before everything works perfectly. And then, you can impress your friends.You can exercise your dish-aiming prowess over and over again. Every time you settle in for the night or park in the stadium lot, you’ll be a star. There’s a lot to be said for bragging rights, and being a dish-aiming professional will definitely give you those.

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 6,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.