Satellite Antenna Installation
Geometry Inc. provided Satellite Antenna Installation and to the midwest and beyond. We performed start-to-finish installations; from concrete to peaking the antenna. We were engaged in many activities in support of the 5G rollout.
Clearing Part of the C-band Spectrum for 5G
The FCC has an ongoing plan to clear 280 MHz of C-band spectrum for 5G mobile services in the contiguous United States as early as December 2023, with a portion of that spectrum becoming available as early as December 2021.
While we no longer install satellite antennas, the page content here still serves as a useful guide to those who are involved with an installation.
About Geometry Satellite Services
We no longer install Satellite Antennas, but have keep this page up as it provides useful how-to information.
How to Install Satellite Antennas
A Step by Step Guide; From the Concrete Foundation to Peaking the Dish
We entered this space when a new client approached us to see if we wanted to install the 12 foot pipes that serve as the masts that support the Antennas. Soon after, the conversation developed into us hoisting the dishes, assembling the dishes and finally, peaking the dishes too. Now we perform all the steps from start to finish.
A Quality Signal depends upon a Quality Foundation
Our ability to perform all aspects of antenna installation translates into savings by the way of efficiency. And the end-to-end knowledge we’ve acquired, enables us to deliver a better product. We have an intimate understanding of how the mechanical “dirty work” of setting the pipes in concrete, trenching and assembling the dishes affects the quality of the final product. The goal is to achieve the best carrier over noise and signal levels possible.
On the right, you can see 2 dishes in their face-down assembly position. These antennas got pointed to Intelsat Galaxy 18 (123° W) and Galaxy 23 (121° W).
Satellite Antenna Installation
Beginning with the site survey, we determine the best location for the dish. The location requires that the antenna has an unobstructed line-of-sight, does not interfere with other antenna’s signals, and has, hopefully, a relatively simple trenching route. Even better is if the site happens to use aerial cable.
Locating Public and Private Utilities
Prior to our arrival, it is vital that the customer has underground public utilities located by calling 811 or equivalent website. In addition, the customer must also locate all of their private cabling for other dishes, private electrical, private propane lines etc. When this is not ready for us, we risk having nothing to do, because we cannot legally dig without the official locating of public utilities being completed. With respect to private utilities, the customer must be confident that they have located all their lines, wires and pipes so that we may trench efficiently and avoid hand trenching as much as possible.
Every Site is Unique
At times, a site is so cramped that an existing out-of-commission dish has to be dropped and foundation removed. At other times, there exists a suitable existing mast that we can reuse. For instance, while our new standard is to use the thicker, Schedule 80 Pipe, we have repurposed existing Schedule 40 by filling it with reinforced concrete. For a good signal, a dish CANNOT wiggle, and it is surprising how much they can wiggle in heavy winds.
24-inch Auger on Bobcat
The foundation for the General Dynamics 3.7M Antenna is typically 24″ Dia and 6′ deep. We add a 2′ extension on the auger bit to get that deep.
Trencher on Bobcat
The trench is usually 12″ deep but may vary depending on what’s going on underground. Typically, we hand dig the end at the point of entry (POE) into the building or vault. We also take care in hand digging over located utilities, both public and private.
Sometimes there is preexisting conduit that we may use for the entire run or just part of the run. This may reduce or altogether throw out the need for trenching.
350 lb Satellite Mast Pipe
Here, the 12′ SCH80 Galvanized Pipe is in a 6′ deep footing. The stabilizer bars are to reduce the torsional or rotational vibration that otherwise might occur after years of wind beating on the antenna.
See our page on 6″ Schedule 80 Pipe to learn more.
Did you know pipe is measured on the inner diameter (ID)? Because you are concerned with capacity, not the outer dimension. Read More about Pipe Schedules vs Tube Gauges.
Here, we will embed the PVC in the footing. This isn’t critical and sometimes the order of operations makes this impossible to do within the time frame. The wood keeps the pipe steady and plumb while we pour concrete. We duct tape the PVC stub out so it is parallel with the mast pipe.
Concrete can be hard to come by on weekends, and impossible to come by on the winter weekends. When we travel an installation loop for 10 or 12 days, it is important to time things such that we stay busy on the weekends, without the ability to get a concrete truck.
PVC Conduit Installation
We take pride in keeping everything level and plumb. The nice appearance of the finished product is a sign that all things have received equivalent care.
Careful Dish Assembly is Crucial
It is important to assemble the dish on a flat surface to ensure there is no racking. If racking occurs, then the “reflector” will not focus the signal onto the feedhorn correctly, and therefor the signal will be weakened.
LNBs and 5G Filters
It is also crucial to take care in assembling the 5G Filters to the feedhorn, and the LNBs to the Filters. The correct gaskets must be chosen to retard moisture. Also, the bolts should be tightened incrementally and sequentially such that each interface is square and tight.
Custom Welded Boom
We hoist the dishes with a boom we custom designed and welded.
After hoisting the dish, we attach the feedhorn onto the spars which we attach the dish. We also install the snow cover if applicable.
Peaking the Antenna
We use a handful of tricks to get the dish close to peaked without electronics; This means to get it as close as possible to the target elevation and azimuth.
Using Landmarks to Aim Saddle for Azimuth
Dishpointer.com is an invaluable resource for peaking dishes. First, stand where the dish is going and get your lat and lon from Google Maps. Copy that and paste it at Dishpointer.com and select the satellite. It will give you this map that is extremely helpful, especially if there are landmarks. If you are in a field and there are no landmarks, you can try using the angle of the azimuth line and how it relates to the head end building or a fence or road.
Since the dish itself obstructs the view, we aim the saddle before hoisting the dish. We make a mark on the saddle and pipe where we think the saddle should point, so that we can then rotate the saddle to the easiest angle to hoist the dish. After hoisting, we rotate the dish back to line up the marks again.
Using a magnetic inclinometer, we place that on the main hub of the antenna dish. Then we elevate the dish to the angle given.
With Any Luck…
Quite often, we’ll hook up the XR3 Satellite Meter and BAM!, we are on the correct satellite. But other times not. If not, we adjust the azimuth and elevation til we find something. If we can identify it, then we will know what to adjust to get to our satellite by comparing offsets.
Signal Strength and Carrier over Noise Ratio
It is vital to get a C/N (Carrier over noise) ratio of 14.0 or better. We maximize this number while verifying the Signal Level is acceptable.
Galaxy 18 Spectrum
Here is the spectrum for the Galaxy 18 at 123° W provided by the Applied Instruments XR3 Satellite Meter. We use this signature to verify that we have locked onto the correct satellite.
Adjusting LNB Polarization
The Horizontal (H) and Vertical (V) LNBs have to be at the same angle as the H and V transponders on the Satellite. We start with a skew angle for your location which can be found at dishpointer.com. Then, by looking at the signal level on the meter which is hooked up to either the H or V, you maximize or minimize the signal level. Then verify by connecting the meter up to the other polarity. All of this is acheived by rotating the LNBs back and forth and watching levels.
Adjusting Focal Length to Maximize Signal and C/N
It maybe cannot be overstated how important focal length is to signal strength and clarity. To maximize, we adjust spar bolts and basically move the feedhorn in and out by small turns of the nuts on the bolts. This can be tricky if there is a snow cover already installed.
Cabling and Grounding
The image above shows the connections at the ground block. In this pic, we are still working so we have not finished zip tying the service loops of the cable runs yet.
Geometry Satellite Antenna Installation and 5G Services
Below are links to useful websites, equipment suppliers, materials suppliers and services that we use often.
Have a Project in the Midwest?
As you can see, we traveled all over the Midwest.
⇒ Here’s a running list of the towns we’ve worked in followed by the number of antennas installed:
- Holcombe, WI (5)
- Erskine, MN (2)
- Wishek, ND (2)
- Birchwood, WI (1)
- Barrett, MN (1)
- Breda, IA (1)
- Schaller, IA (1)
- Diller, NE (1)
- Aurora, NE (1)
- Burwell, NE (1)
- Onoway, MI (1)
- Le Roy, MI (1)
- White Cloud, MI (2)
- Lake Lillian, MN (2)
- Raymond, MN (1)
- Lucan, MN (1)
- Harmony, MN (1)
- Lexington, MO (1)
- Jefferson City, MO (2)
- Wheatland, MO (1)
- Rich Hill, MO (2)
- Schell City, MO (2)
- Maitland, MO (1)
- Dickinson, ND (1)
- Glendive, MT (1)
- Jamestown, ND (2)
- Midland, MI (2)
- Hope, MI (2)
Total: 42 Antennas Installed
Lucille at Sunrise. This F550 Flatbed was named after my Grandma, Dolores Lucille Behrendt (Erickson)