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You can save money up front by purchasing the basic Dial Return (one way) system WITHOUT installation hardware. If you pay somebody to put it up for you, get a fixed price right up front and insist they include at least one free call back in the first 30 days following installation. In the long run it's cheaper to buy the system WITH installation hardware, and do it yourself. If you don't have an ISP, you should chose one NOW. Either elect to use DirecPC (easiest installation), or a local ISP (more benefits) that supports IP tunneling. Doing this now avoids complications later in the setup.

The contents of the installation kit are pretty basic. Plan on going to Radio Shack to make up the difference between what you want - and what they provide. A curved mounting pole and bracket should be included; for rooftop or outside wall mounting. I never used mine, favoring instead an section of 2 3/8" (OD) steel pipe. Get a piece long enough to have six feet above ground, and the other end buried a foot below local frost level. Anchor it with at least one bag of Quikrete or Sacrete mix. No water, just pour it straight out of the bag, and top off the hole with dirt. Nothing wrong with mounting it up on your tall house, but remember that - where ever you park it - a couple of times a year you might have to repoint the dish after a big wind. And in many areas, cleaning off snow and ice is a constant concern. Bottom line: plan your mounting location with accessibility in mind. Even if you're not in a windy area, consider guywires. They will definitely make fine tuning the AZ/EL/POL (that comes later) much easier.

A carpenter's level at least 24" long - 48" is better if you do the steel pipe - will help ensure the mount is plumb and level BEFORE you permanently fasten it down. If you start off with a crooked mount, the Azimuth/Elevation/Polarization gradients on the antenna brackets won't do you any good. Directions for selecting the antenna site, and ultimately mounting/pointing the antenna, are included with the installation kit. But there's an inconvenient Catch-22 here - about pointing angles. The installation instructions say to install the antenna, then install the software. Only problem with that is - the antenna pointing angles are provided to you by the software. To get around that, download SatFinder (free) from here. Use the calculated azimuth and elevation numbers as starting points, and use a polarization start point of zero. A lensatic compass is also really handy - to find the starting azimith angle, and a carpenter's rafter square works real good to find the starting elevation angle.

The coaxial cable and connectors provided are cheap interior grade stuff. But having said that, there's nothing wrong with using THAT stuff - inside. Hughes is considerate enough to include a tube of silicone sealant. Use that generously outside, or consider buying exterior data grade. They also provide only about 9' of ground wire. DO NOT be tempted just to put a ground stake out by the antenna. Even if it means buying more ground wire, it's important to bring all grounds back to common HOUSE GROUND - normally right under your electric meter.

Instructions for installing the modem (they call it an IRU, or receive adapter) and the software are pretty good. Something they don't tell you - is how HOT the IRU can get. Set it on its side - skinny side up - in a place where there is GOOD AIRFLOW. Hook everything up EXCEPT the USB cable behind the IRU - then install the software. During the installation there will be a screen prompt, at which time you can then plug the USB cable into the rear of the IRU.

When the installation software gets to WebSetup, you'll see how good your initial antenna pointing job was. This is where the AZ/EL/POL fine tuning starts. At this point it's REALLY handy to have somebody at the computer telling you colors and numbers, as you're out at the antenna moving it around. Remember SLOW IS BEST, no more than one degree at a time. First thing you want is to get a signal "in the green". Don't waste time chasing any red ones or yellow ones - they're probably the wrong satellite. Once you "go green" - and begin fine tuning - BE PATIENT. You're trying to home in on a pencil beam. Move it too fast, and the computer software can't keep up. Fine tune AZ first, and partially tighten it down. Fine tune the EL next, same thing. Fine tune the POL last, WebSetup will tell you to rotate to the positive or negative side of the scale - then LOCK POL down. Go back to AZ and see if you can peak one last time - LOCK AZ down. Go back to EL and see if you can peak one last time - LOCK EL down. There's no one set value of what number to strive for. Just get the best you can to get yourself up and running, then come back here to the forum. Compare note with others that share the transponder with you, and see how good you did. We're all more than willing to share advice on how to make it better.

When the WebSetup, registration, and software installation ends - your Dial up Networking should already be set correctly in your computer. If you already had your local ISP/email account info set up, you should be ready to go. If you elected DirecPC as your ISP - AND filled out the web registration correctly - your TCP/IP settings should already be set in your computer. And your email account at the direcpc.com server should be ready to use. You probably don't have to do anything more complicated than setting up the direcpc account in your email client.

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by grohgreg See Profile edited by PetDude See Profile