Use your smartphone to check for line of sight issues

If you plan to install your own dish, you need to know that you’ll have a clear line of sight before you start. Luckily you have a tool that will help you, and it’s already in your pocket.

You see, iPhones have a compass app on them, and there are free apps for Android as well. If your phone has GPS, it has the ability to use a compass app. Combine that with a site like and you have the ability to check for line-of-sight issues.

Start by going to Enter in your address and and get aiming information for the following satellites:


  • 99W
  • 101W
  • 103W
  • 119W

DISH (most of US):

  • 110W
  • 119W
  • 129W

DISH (Eastern Arc only):

  • 61.5W
  • 72
  • 77
  • 119W

You want to make note of the Azimuth (magn.) numbers. You’ll end up with a range of compass headings, and you’ll need to make sure you have clear line of sight for all of them.

Launch the compass app and stand with the phone in front of you, with the top of the phone (where you put your ear) furthest away and the home button closest to you, with the screen of the phone facing up.

Turn your whole body until the number on the compass reads the lowest number in your list of compass headings, and look slightly up, as if you were addressing someone about six inches taller Then rotate your whole body until the number on the compass reads the highest number in your list of compass headings.

If you can see uninterrupted blue sky the entire time, then you have good line of sight. If the sky is blocked by buildings, trees or hills, you do not. It’s that easy!

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.