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How to Improve Mode S reception?

Finally (only took me 6 months!) got my Mode S rx working today:

32 dbi horiz polarized MMDS BBQ screen dish with (I assume a dipole
feed) and 1' RG213 "tail"
Modified Drake (144 MHz output) converter  
Really short feedline for now (about 2-3ft)
Kenwood TR751 2M multimode for RX

FWIW, no signal noise level is S2; I was getting about 1 S-unit of signal
(e.g. S-3) on the main beacon before Rudak started (~ 15 deg off-point, 
51,000 km range).  I could just barely make out a few ssb qsos and heard
what I assume was the LEILA warning.

Improving reception is likely my next step before trying transmit.

People seem to be using a preamp ahead of the MMDS converters to improve
reception and S/N.  What's recommended - DEM, SSB, ?

Is it worth screening the dish (aluminum mesh, probably) and changing to a
different feed?  (If so which?)

Thanks in advance
Steve KA1LM

Stephan A. Greene                            sgreene@patriot.net
HAM: KA1LM@amsat.org  QRP-L #232 Grid FM18hx 38 59'83.33"N 77 23'6.15"W

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