Watch Europe Africa Middle East and Far East with a Motorised Dish

motordish horizon

A motorised dish of 80cm, can bring in hundreds of free channels from all of these countries. For enthusiasts a 90cm or 1m dish will bring in even more Nordic and Arabic channels with weaker signals. By adding suitable decoders, and cards you can also view encrypted channels too.

Check the Signal Strength

dish size

Using you can select the footprint of your chosen satellites and see the relative signal strength in any particular region. 

Here Astra 3 will be easy to receive in Norfolk, but a much bigger dish may be needed in Liverpool

1.1m Dish on New Motor
Newer Motor rotor at bottom
Older Type motor with rotor at top

Below is a rough guide to dish size for many of the popular services in Europe, North Africa, Middle and Far East.

How Does a Motorised Dish Work?

Q how does a motorised dish work?

A . The satellites are all positioned around the earths equator in synchronous orbit about 38km up. So from the ground they appear to be in an ARC across the sky, the dish mount that the dish pivots on, allows the dish to follow the arc and pick up signals from each one as the motor moves it East or West to a new satellite position.

Modern electronics have managed to manufacture a system with a single cable carrying the positioning command, the power for the motor, and the signal back to the receiver.  The positioning protocol is known as Diseqc 1.2.  The difficulty with 1.2 is that each satellite position has to be programmed by  hand, into the motor. This protocol however also works with USALs, which uses a position table within the diseqc motor, to eliminate these manual settings.

Each Satellite is identified by its angle, starting at Greenwich which marks 0 degrees, Hotbird for example is in orbit at 13 degrees to the East ( of Greenwich ) the strength of the signals from each satellite are different. They are meant to be received in the country of origin, so towards the edge of the ‘footprint of the signal’, there is a need to increase the size of the dish to compensate.

Here the quality of the LNB and the sensitivity of the receiver can make a big difference. The Technomate series of receivers are very well proven in low signal conditions, so I recommend them.

For the weaker satellites such as the Eutelsat 16, Eutelsat 7w etc. I can offer a larger size of dish on a motor .

UK Favourite Satellites on a Motor

DegreeSatelliteMain Languages/ packagesMin Dish SizeLinks to Channels
Westnorth/south Uk
30HispasatPortuguese (NOS , MEO) TDT Spain80cm - 1m TDTSpain Portugal
22NSS 7Algeria80cmAlgeria
18Intelsat 901Macedonia Albania90cmAlbania Macedonia
15TelstarIran + mix80cmIran
12Eutelsat12west/Atlantic Bird 1Serbia + mix90cmSerbia
8Eutelsat8west/Atlantic Bird 2Arab90cmArab
7Nilesat ( Middle east beamArab150/200cmArab
7Eutelsat 7.3( MENA beam)Arab110/120cmArab/English
5Eutelsat 5west/Atlantic Bird 3French64cm (south) 1m (north )France
1ThorCzech Hungary Romania Slovak(UPC)(Digi)80cmCzech Hungary Romania
5Astra 4 ( Europe beam)Russian Ukraine Lithuania Romania(Akta)90cmRussia Ukraine Lithuania Romania
5Astra4 ( Nordic beam)LatviaWales180cm, East Uk 110-120, West&south coast Uk 120-150Viasat *
7Eutelsat W3aTurkey(Digiturk)90cmTurkey
9Eutelsat9A/Eurobird 9Televisa - Mexico, Hungary - free80cmRussia Hungary
13HotbirdItalian Polish Spanish Greek64cmItaly Greece Spain
16Eutelsat 16Romania Bulgaria Albania Armenia Croatia Kosovo Serbia100cmRomania Balkans
19Astra 1German French Spanish64cmGermany Spain France
21Eutelsat W6Arab100cmArab - Iraq
23Astra 3Czech SkyLink65cmCzech
23Astra 3Dutch80cmDutch
26BADR 6Arab2 - 3 metre
26BADR 4/ Arabsat4Arab110/120cmArab
28Astra 2Uk ( FreeSat) (Sky)46cmUk
39Hellas2Greek , Bulgarian80cmGreece
46AzerSpaceGeorgian/ Russian80cmGeorgia

Satellite Feeds

Ever looked at the transponder details in Lyngsat or KingOfSat websites and wondered what “feeds” meant?

These are temporary ground stations, for instance in a war zone or  from a Horse race set up to relay news or racing pictures to the studio

In some cases, the event is tracked by enthusiasts who will list the coming events and the satellite +  transponder frequency information on specialist websites.  There are small numbers of people with the dishes and receivers to do this all over the country, either for personal entertainment – matches that may not otherwise be available or betting enthusiasts using in-running betting.

Fascinating insights into the broadcasting of News and current affairs can be seen. For example well know correspondents chatting to troops in a battle zone as the camera set up ready to roll.

Selecting your dish and motor

Careful consideration is needed here:

  • Motor – Diseqc  Rotor or 36 volt ram
  • Receiver – does it have a motor driver?
  • Will you need a 36 volt power unit
  • Wind conditions in the dish location
  • Dish size – what is the weakest signal you intend to receive

Never try to install a big dish, high above the gutter, where it is subject to high wind, it seems obvious?  Well, I’ve done quite a few insurance reports over the years for customers where the installer didn’t take due care, assessing the wind.

Actuator motors are much more stable than diseqc motors in the wind, but your dish needs a suitable bracket to attach it to.  The stability is much enhanced by having a triangle of 3 points where the motor actuator motor joins the dish and the fixed position metalwork attached to the pole.

Generally, they work with 36volt motors, so if you have a modern receiver with only a diseqc controller, you will also need a 36volt control and power supply box such as the Vbox or Motek unit shown below. This converts the diseqc command – a digital control code, into movement of the arm.

Technomate Diseqc Motor
Vbox or Motek 36volt control box
Ram or Actuator Motor

Ground Mounted Dish


If you have a large garden, with a view to the south, clear of trees and buildings, a ground mounted dish is the best option, easy to adjust, least vulnerable to wind damage.

Using Motors with Canal+, Sky and other boxes without Motor Control

In the past, many Football packages were available through services like Viasat, Sky and Canal+. If you wanted a motorised dish, to get all the other satellites you had a problem – the receiver/decoders supplied with Sky …etc had no motor control facilities.

In this case you can use a second satellite receiver to turn the dish. 

Wire them either with separate cables to a twin LNB, or if that is not an option, connect the Sky /Canal+ box via the “satellite out” terminal. This is designed so the dish can be positioned by the Technomate box, then by selecting “standby”  it routes the dish to the second box – Sky etc.

Join the “Loop Out” on the Technomate ( or your motor control receiver )  to the Canal+  box “Sat Entree” socket. 

When the Technomate is ON, the dish can be turned  to your selected satellite 

When the Technomate is in standby, the Canal+ box can be activated ( once pointing at Astra 1 of course ! ) 

Bear in mind that you must turn the Sky / Canal+ ….etc box to Standby whenever  the dish is on any other satellite, otherwise it will automatically start retuning !

Motor Dish Installation Basics

With the advent of ‘intelligent ‘ motors and automatic positioning systems, putting up a motorised dish need not be a mind bending exercise of complex calculations. Follow these few steps and the alignment is really not too difficult.

—- + —-

To find the coordinates of the location

Go to google maps, select the FULL version ( lightning symbol )

Enter the post code or address and you should see your street. Zoom in to make the process easy and accurate. Position the cursor above the roof of your house and right-click:

Assemble the motor unit, in this case Technomates 2300 model.

On this side is the Latitude scale

On the far side is the elevation scale

Set the Latitude on the scale to  match the latitude in the coordinates 53.139° as near as you can eg. 53°  Use a magnifying glass if necessary. Once set this can be locked up – 13mm spanner.

latitude scale
Full angle of swing

Using a compass or a phone app compass, check if the dish can  move through the total angle shown 30°west to 42° east ( Hispasat to Turksat ) which are the usual limits in the UK

pole fitting and brackets

Assemble the pole and brackets so that it is perfectly vertical side to side and front to back. Even a slight error here can be significant 38km away up in space! So take your time.


A level that can be clamped to the pole is useful and not necessarily expensive, just make sure to check it for accuracy ! This one has two levels, mounted at 90° and can be used to set up both adjustments.

Use T & K type brackets. These can be adjusted for a vertical pole. Don’t try to use a fixed position elbow wall bracket its just never going to be accurate enough and fitting with spacers makes it vulnerable to wind pulling it out of the wall.

If you use washers, you may want to fit ones that stop movement as you tighten up. Always re-check alignment after fully tightening.

The Receiver Set-up

1)Before installation, connect the receiver direct to the motor with a short cable.

On a linux enigma box, you’ll find the dish set up in the menu/setup/tuners & Scanning. 

On a Technomate, its under menu/installation

You have motor OFF/diseqc 1.2/USALS

Choose USALS and find where you put in the lat/long coordinates, enter them in our example 53.13° North and 4.26° west

2)Now go to the Satellites

On Linux enigma2 boxes you can set up a list of satellites to be controlled under USALS, choose the advanced setup to start doing this.

On a technomate, USALS is either on or off , you then select satellites ( or add and select ) and SAVE . 

3) Set the satellite to Thor 0.8° west and click “GO TO SATELLITE” 

4)Now you can disconnect the motor, install it on the pole and attach the dish.

There is a moulding line down the centre of the rotor arm, this is to assist you to position the dish exactly square and clamp up.  If using a Triax dish you can fit the clamp first, looking at the mould line through a purpose made hole in the back of the clamp. Then carefully fit the dish and tighten up fully.

4) set the dish elevation as near as possible. Tighten the motor/pole clamps just enough to be able to turn the dish and motor together.

5) With the meter attached, and set up to measure a Thor transponder, turn the motor and dish on the pole until you see the signal. Adjust the elevation ( clamp adjustment ) and double-check it while tightening up.