Parts of a Satellite Dish

By Joe Fletcher

Satellite dishes come in many different sizes, but you may have noticed that most TV satellites that are used in homes look quite similar. They also contain the same basic parts that allow them to receive and process radio waves beamed from satellites, passing them inside to your TV.


In satellite TV reception, the dish sits on or outside your home or business. Essentially, the dish is the middleman in satellite television, receiving the broadcast signal from the orbiting satellite and passing it along to your receiver where it can then be converted into the television programming you watch.


The largest part of the satellite is the round, bowl-shaped dish. The parabolic shape of the dish is designed to capture radio waves sent from a satellite and reflect them out onto a single point. The single point is the device that juts out in the center of the dish and is known as a feedhorn. A support arm holds the feedhorn the appropriate distance in front of the dish to properly receive the waves.


Once the feedhorn has received the signal, it sends it to the Low Noise Block Converter (LNB), which amplifies the signal and converts it to a lower frequency, sending it via cable to the satellite receiver inside. In more modern satellite dishes, the Low Noise Block Converter and feedhorn are a single unit referred to as an LNBF. The satellite receiver, in turn, decodes the signal, splits it into individual channels and passes the video information to your television.


In addition to the parts that function in its operation, the satellite dish includes mounting hardware, allowing it to be mounted on a roof, wall or in the ground.


In order for the satellite's parts to function as designed, it must be located in clear view of the sky. The high frequency radio waves involved in satellite broadcasts will be blocked by obstructions like buildings and mountains. It is important to find an appropriate place to mount the dish so that it can receive the radio waves from orbiting satellites.