Once you get enough gadgets you can do just about anything. For example, on Saturday I got a new smart card for my satellite receiver to replace my old one which was probably too easy to hack into. When I replaced the card about a quarter of my stations disappeared. I ran some diagnostics and figured out that half of the stations from one satellite (the “odd” transponders, the “even” ones came in fine) were not coming in at enough strength (the dish receives signals from satellites at two different locations in the sky about 9 degrees apart which I think is amazing). Technical support said I needed to fine tune the aim of the dish, which made no sense to me since the only thing that had changed was I put a new card into the receiver. And since I was getting the even transponders it didn’t make much sense that I couldn’t get the odd ones. But it’s hard to argue with people who know what they are talking about.
There is a diagnostic screen that tells you the strength of the incoming satellite signal. It has a bar meter and also has a sound that is low for a low strength signal and gets higher pitched as the signal strength increases. It’s very helpful except of course that you have to be on the roof to move the dish and you can’t see or hear the TV from the roof. The repair guys have a handheld meter that they can pinpoint the best settings with, but I don’t have such a gadget.
On the old dishes there were two settings: one for horizontal and one for vertical (azimuth and elevation) that were held in place with bolts that you loosen, move a tad, and tighten down. With the new dishes that point at two satellites you can also rotate the dish itself (pitch).
Anyway, the support guy said I probably needed to move the dish about an eighth of an inch (no telling which way). But I needed a way to see or at least hear the signal from the TV. I could get someone to watch the TV and call my cordless phone on their cell phone to give me the readings, I guess. In the past I had called Susan on a phone that I put in front of the TV and then I listened in on a cordless phone on the roof while Susan complained about the high pitched noise.
But now that I have a FM transmitter that I got for the iPod, I figured I could use the Y connector that hooks the iPod to the stereo, but in reverse, connecting the RCA jacks to the audio out of the satellite receiver and then plug the headphone jack into the FM transmitter’s input. Then all I had to do was dig out my old Sony Walkman and tune to the FM station where the signal was being broadcast. I was barely in range, but it worked out fine and I was able to lock in a satellite signal at a better strength than I had ever had before (without messing up the reception from the other satellite). Better living through gadgetry.