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An Android-based satellite dish resource

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Introduction | Getting SatFinderAndroid | Background | Pay it Forward | Privacy Policy | Copyright, Source, Version History | User Feedback and Inquiries

Figure 1: SatFinderAndroid in operation (click image for fullsize)

Get SatFinderAndroid at the Google Play store

"Find that Satellite!"

SatFinderAndroid download QR code

Direct download link

Getting SatFinderAndroid

As a programmer and as someone who aligns satellite dishes regularly, I find that SatFinderAndroid greatly simplifies a number of formerly inconvenient tasks. Traditionally, one consulted a table of satellite positions, got hold of a hand compass for azimuth and an inclinometer for elevation of a receiving dish, and finally went out to install or align a dish. But because the Android platform can find its own position as well as sense magnetic bearings and elevations, SatFinderAndroid does all these things in a single application. I think this is a perfect example where mobile computing makes a formerly complex technical task easy.

I have some experience writing satellite locator programs. SatFinderAndroid is just the latest (and by far the easest to use) in a series of programs I've written to manage satellite dish installation and alignment. The first was Satellite Finder, a Java desktop application which required the user to specify his geographic location using a ZIP code database, or by specifying a U.S. city and state, or by direct entry of geographic position. Not much fun. The next was an online version of Satellite Finder that worked in much the same way, but didn't require users to download anything.

All the prior versions had the drawback that they required users to either have a U.S. ZIP code, or select a U.S. city and state, or manually type in their location's latitude and longitude, assuming they knew it. Those location preliminaries constituted the majority of the code — actually computing satellite positions was comparatively easy. These requirements also prevented non-U.S. users from having an easy way to use the program, all of whom had to manually type in a geographical position.

For some use instructions, here is a link to the help page that comes istalled with SatFinderAndroid.

Pay it Forward

SatFinderAndroid is free, it doesn't show ads, it's not crippleware or shareware, and I don't want your money. I just thought I would make that clear up front.

Years ago, in connection with my software development activities, I came up with an idea I called CareWare. But as the years went by I became somewhat disenchanted with the original idea and I now find it somewhat overheated (even though it's my idea).

So lately, moved as I am by conflicting forces — on one hand wanting to change the world, but on the other not wanting to even appear disrespectful of other people's choices — I've decided to just say pay it forward if you want. But there's no obligation to do that.

Privacy Policy

The privacy policy for this and all arachnoid.com Android applications is provided here.

Copyright, Source, Version History
User Feedback and Inquiries

How do I find the satellites?

How do I find the satellites?
I followed the instructions in "help". My camera sees the sky but no satelites are superimposed on the screen. I have a motor home and would like to be able to know where there is a clear view of Dish TV satellites. The Help tab explains it pretty well. Do it this way:

1. First, remove your Android device from any enclosure it might be in that has built-in magnets, like those nice tablet enclosures that automatically turn off the display when you close it up. These enclosures do this trick by having magnets in them. This program uses the compass for its real, original purpose, so it can't have any magnets near it.

2. Select the TARGET tab and choose a target. If you have DishNetwork, choose a DishNetwork target, based on which receiving dish you have and how many satellites it picks up. Same for DirecTV — there are lists for each provider in the "U.S." satellite listing.

3. Once you know which target satellite or satellites you want to receive, press your choice, which will turn red. If you can't make your choice accurately, do a two-fingered zoom first (two fingers moving apart in the TARGET display will zoom the text).

4. Now select the SKYVIEW tab. If you hold your Android device in front of you in landscape mode, you should see a blue horizon line and some compass coordinates.

5. Now turn toward the south and sweep across the sky with your Android device, just as though it was a pair of binoculars. Raise your device above the horizon, where the satellites are located, and sweep east and west. You should see satellites superimposed on the camera view, more or less like this.

6. One more thing. If the indicated compass bearings don't match up with reality, and if the satellites aren't located in the sky display where they should be, you need to calibrate your Android device's compass (the is particularly true if the device has been in a protective enclosure with magnets). You do this by turning your device around in three orthogonal axes — meaning turn the display fully around slowly and repeatedly while looking at it, then flip it over top to bottom, then flip it over left to right, all slowly and repeatedly. I hope that was a clear enough explanation, but this page might help.

The basic idea of SatFinderAndroid is that it superimposes images of satellites against the real sky, which should give you a chance to position your satellite dish in a way that prevents a tree or building from obstructing the dish's view, before you actually install the dish and find out the hard way.

I hope this helps.

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