How to Aim a Bell ExpressVu Dish
By Joshua Smyth
Bell Canada's ExpressVu service (now called Bell TV) uses the small, gray digital satellite dishes that are now a familiar sight around North America and Europe. These dishes receive signals beamed down directly from a group of satellites in orbit around the Earth; ExpressVu dishes use a satellite in geosynchronous orbit around the equator, which means that all dishes in Canada point roughly south. To receive signals, the dish must be pointed at exactly the right spot in the sky. The orientation of the dish will depend on where it is being set up.
Choosing the Dish Location
Consult the direction chart in the ExpressVU Installation guide. This provides direction and elevation numbers listed by location. Find your location on the chart and write down the numbers.
Choose a site for the antenna with an unobstructed view of the southern sky. Check for trees that might grow into the view or any other obstacles that might block the line of sight.
Stand outside, away from metal objects, with a compass. Keeping the dark part of the compass arrow pointed at "N," turn to face the number printed on the perimeter of the compass that matches the "Direction" number for your location as written in the installation guide.
Check the angle by building a basic sextant. Cut out a triangle with one angle matching the elevation angle given by the installation guide. Set that triangle atop a bubble level. Stand at the spot where you found the direction to the satellite and look down the triangle to find the approximate point in the sky where the satellite is. Note any obstructions that might block the view of that point, and relocate your dish site if necessary.
Ensure that you have a margin for adjustment, since you have not exactly located the satellite yet. If necessary, move to a different spot and repeat the process. Once you have chosen a site with a good view of the satellite, follow the instructions in the manual to install the dish. The remainder of the aiming process comes after installation.
Fine-Tuning Your Aim After Installation
Connect the installed dish to the ExpressVu satellite receiver using coaxial cable, then connect the receiver to a television using composite audio and video cables.
Turn on the receiver and television. Switch between inputs on your television until you see a menu titled "Point Dish and Signal Strength."
Get a friend to stay in the room with the television while you climb to the dish to adjust its positioning.
Move the dish back and forth very slowly; you can do this by pushing it after loosening the mast clamp bolts with a wrench. When you find the signal, the signal bar on the TV screen will turn green. Ask your partner to shout up to you when this happens. If you can't find the signal, first check if your body is in the way. If it isn't, use a wrench to loosen the elevation bolts and raise the dish's elevation by 2 degrees. Tighten down the bolts and repeat your back-and-forth search. If no signal shows, continue to raise or lower the elevation and shift the dish left and right until the signal shows green on the screen.
Fine-tune the dish's direction by moving it back and forth very slightly. Have your partner shout to you to indicate the point at which the signal showed strongest on the screen, then tighten the mast clamp bolts to prevent the dish from turning further.
Adjust the elevation by loosening the elevation bolts and moving the dish up and down very slightly until the signal strength is maximized. When this is done, tighten all the bolts down and climb down from the dish.
Press "Cancel" on the receiver remote. This will exit the aiming screen and bring you to a screen asking whether installation is complete. Highlight "Yes" using the arrow buttons on the remote, then press "Select." The receiver will then download the most recent software update. You must then call 888 SKY DISH (888-759-3474) to activate your service.
Joshua Smyth started writing in 2003 and is based in St. John's, Newfoundland. He has written for the award-winning "Cord Weekly" and for "Blueprint Magazine" in Waterloo, Ontario, where he spent a year as editor-in-chief. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science and economics from Wilfrid Laurier University.