Align A Satellite Dish Without A Meter

You can align your satellite dish without the aid of a meter.

In order for a satellite dish to pick up a signal, it must have the correct alignment with the satellite. It is vital to have the dish correctly installed and positioned accurately, as well. The difference in only a few degrees one way or the other will directly affect the results. If you have a satellite meter, you can quickly locate the satellite(s) needed. You can also find them without the use of a meter (satellite finder). You will need to have a compass and either be able to see a connected TV, be within earshot of a TV or have someone to assist you.


1. Check the location of your satellite dish. In order for a DirecTV or Dish Network dish (antenna) to receive signal from the required satellites, there must be a clear vision of the southern sky. Make certain the dish is pointed in the precise direction needed. Use your compass to locate the southern sky. If your satellite dish is not located in an area that will work, move it to one that will.

2. Verify the satellite dish setup. If the antenna is for DirecTV, it must be set at 51 degrees elevation. Look on the back of the dish and locate this setting. Check that it is correct, or use your wrench to loosen and adjust it to the precise degree needed. A Dish Network one should be set at 220 to 230 degrees. The skew must also be set to 133 on the Dish Network dish. Tighten all of the bolts and screws on the dish, but you may need to loosen the ones holding it to the “mast” (pole) to align it as directed in Step 5.

3. Clear the area of any obstacles. Objects must not interrupt the signal from the satellites to the dish. Remove any branches, bushes or other obstructions blocking the satellite dish, or move it to another place. The signal comes down at a 50-degree angle from the sky, so be certain to inspect the area within this space.

4. Ready the equipment. Turn the receiver and television on. Open the menu to dish “Setup” or “Installation” and select “Satellite” and then “Signal Strength,” or it may be called “Signal Meters.” If you have someone to help you, have him stay in front of the television to talk to you. They can inform you what the signal strength is by yelling to you, using a phone or walkie-talkie. If you do not have an assistant, you can either watch the signal (if you can see it from the dish), or you can go by the sound given off by the receiver. You will see the signal meter go up or hear the tone change as you zone in on a satellite.

5. Align the satellite dish. Once the satellite dish is correctly set up (through following Steps 1 through 4), the alignment of it should be fairly easy. All you should have to do is face it to the southern sky and begin moving it very slowly in either direction (left or right). Once it picks up the satellite’s signal, you will see (or hear) it. Check the amount of the satellite signal. A DirecTV dish can go as high as 100, but a Dish Network dish goes as high as 125. The higher the signal, the better chances you have of not losing it during bad weather. Try moving the dish slightly to improve the signal, if you are below 70 to 80. Once you have a high enough number, tighten all of the bolts and screws on the satellite dish.