The Setup Page 4

Mast Production Once you've settled on a dish location, you'll need to secure the mast. It's best to bolt the mast's mounting foot to brick, concrete, wood-lap siding (but not vinyl or aluminum siding), or a solid-wood wall stud. (It doesn't matter whether you place the dish high or low, in the front or back of the house, as long as you have a clear line of sight to the satellite.) If you secure the mounting foot to a stud, make sure it's in the middle of the stud, not at the edge. You can put the dish on your roof, but that might not be as stable as a wall mount, and you might damage the roof or even cause leaks when you drill the mounting holes. Be careful not to mount the dish under eaves, an awning, or any other structural feature that could block the signal.

Another option is to mount the dish on a free-standing pole made of galvanized 1 1/4-inch round Schedule 40 steel pipe. Just remember that getting the cable into the house will mean digging a trench if the pole is located any distance away. (If you don't use direct-burial cable, you'll have to lay conduit as well.) Make sure that you drive the pipe in at least 3 feet while keeping it perpendicular to the ground, and then fill the hole in the ground with concrete to keep the pipe in place. (Either cut the bottom of the pipe at a 45° angle or stick a bolt through it to prevent it from turning.) Follow the recommendations in the system installation manual to the letter.

Installation varies based on the type of fasteners used to hold the mast's mounting foot to the surface. For wood, use lag screws and washers. For brick or concrete, use expansion anchors, machine screws, and washers. For cinder block or hollow walls, use hollow-wall toggle bolts, machine screws, and washers. For pole mounting, use nuts and bolts. Be sure that any mounting hardware you use beyond what's included in the instal lation kit is rated to hold the specified weight!

Place the mounting foot, mark where the holes will go, remove the foot, and drill. Then secure the foot with the fasteners. On an irregular surface like siding, use wood or plastic spacers under the foot to keep it plumb. Once you've made sure the foot is precisely level and vertical, tighten the fasteners and then insert the mast.

Get the Connection Next, estimate the amount of cable you'll need to run from the dish to the grounding block and from there to the satellite receiver. Add a few extra feet to allow for the unforeseen. If your run is more than 110 feet, you'll need to add a line amplifier (available at RadioShack) to boost the signal at the receiver end. Use type RG-6 coaxial cable or the more expensive RG-11 cable. Do not use other cable types, such as RG-59U. They cannot adequately pass along the high frequencies output by the LNB.

You will have either a single- or dual-LNB system. A single-LNB system can feed one receiver, allowing you to watch a single channel, while a dual-LNB system can feed two receivers so your family can watch different channels independently in separate rooms. (You'll need twice as much cable for a dual-LNB system.) Consider running an extra length of cable when installing a single-LNB dish so you'll be ready if you decide later to upgrade to a dual-LNB system or add another dish, perhaps for a satellite Internet connection.