So I posted before about Satellite Broadband for an Italian Villa.  The main criteria were to support streaming TV and teleconferencing via Skype.  After looking at various options I went for Tooway broadband with Europasat.  The top package offers 40GB data allowance at 22Mb down and 6Mb up.  I was initially concerned as I’d read reports about issues with streaming TV.  I spoke to Europasat who were adamant that it would be fine, and since anything would be better than the existing WiFi package, we went for it.

It was obvious early on that the 80cm dish wouldn’t look great attached to the side of the house.  Because a lot of ground works were being done anyway, we had a concrete platform built about 20m away from the house, with a nice rendered wall  so that it didn’t become an eyesore for guests. Usually the dish is installed on an exterior wall, and the coaxial signal cables are run back from the dish into the property and connected to the satellite modem at that point – just like a satellite TV system.  20m, plus all the extra lengths to go up and down from the ground, is far to far to run an RF signal cable, and because the dish is a transceiver rather than just a receiver, signal boosters aren’t an option either.

To get around this, we ran Ethernet cables out to the platform, and I designed an exterior box to house the satellite modem and any future equipment that might be needed.  As we want the system to work all year round, I had to also install a heater and air cooling system to keep the modem at a reasonable temperature.

The dish comes as big boys’ Meccano and needs the wall mount and elevation/azimuth adjustment fitted to the back and the poles for mounting the transceiver on the front.  Despite looking complex, it was actually quite easy to fit together.  Of course, dishes in the northern hemisphere have to point south to see a geostationary satellite, but the exact azimuth (horizontal angle) and elevation still need to be correct.  I thought this would be difficult, but using a simple compass and referencing a point on the horizon enabled us to point it to within a few degrees.  The transceiver block itself has a buzzer built in, which beeps slowly when it received a signal, and increases in frequency until a continuous tone indicates it’s bang on target.  This works for both elevation and azimuth and is surprisingly easy to do, although we were glad not to be doing it up a ladder.

In the photos below you can see the various parts of the dish and how it goes together.  My exterior box is shown in the last picture, the tubular heater is visible with the ventilation fan in the door.  These are controlled by conventional domestic thermostats to save energy and make them last longer rather than running all the time.