Can you use 18" actuator on a 10ft dish if you only need to access 0°W - 100°W?

caramel

Member
Original poster
May 22, 2024
14
14
USA
I'm in search of an actuator for my 10 ft dish. Would an 18-inch actuator be sufficient to access satellites between 0°W and 100°W? If not, are the general-purpose actuators available on Amazon a suitable alternative?
Additionally, can you use a bench power supply to drive the actuator?
 

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I'll pipe in. First. Good photos of your current setup will help a lot.
You should also state the sensor type you might currently use. Reed, hall, optical, potentiometer?
And. Skimping on actuator quality will only exercise the disposable income concept. AKA: buy once, cry once.
Not saying that the most expensive one out there is what everyone should buy. The typical chinesium knockoffs will only wear out in a short time. And if you're not crafty enough to tear one down for periodic maintenance to keep them living. Well.....ca-ching!

As far as the length of extension. It depends on your dish geometry and how an actuator can be mounted on it.
18" is very short. Perhaps for a small dish that weighs not much with a pivot mount that is close to the rotating axis.
24" seems to be the minimum norm. from what I see.
You could put your dish manually (with help or ratchet straps, etc.) and then run it through your intended arc and measure the extension needed.
One that is too short ($$$) will leave you wanting. One just right or too long will still let you swing the arc.
Slap up some photos. And be realistic. Can you really afford a cheap actuator? And are you subjected to nasty winters?
 
I would avoid the cheapo actuators on Amazon. They quote an IP rating but do they provide proof of it? I bought one of those several years ago to motorize the lift on my tractor's snow blower. It lasted maybe three snows before water intrusion killed it. Lesson learned! ;)

As far as running the actuator, if you really need to do it on the cheap you can control it with just a car/tractor battery and a heavy duty DPDT center off switch. Obviously no memorized positiions with that method but it will work but make sure you put a fuse in line in case of an oops! :)


Motor Switch.jpg
 
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I would wonder what choices are even on the market anymore for big-dish arms. It seems I went through them all when I was a dealer, looking for one that would hold up. That was always a big service call cause- bad actuator.

Anyway, as far as how much stroke, that all depends on your mount geometry- the farther back on the polar plate the body of the arm attaches and the farther out from center of dish the end of the arm attaches, the longer the stroke needed to cover a given arc travel. One could simply drop the dish to its lowest intended use point, measure distance between the mounting points previously described, then raise it up and over center to its farthest intended travel, again measure between the points, and subtract the first measurement from the 2nd to obtain the needed stroke. Also keep in mind that it's best to leave some reserve so as not to have the arm stretching out to its max.

I used 18" on almost everything as a dealer. Maybe in some situations where it would have better been a 24. Then there are the ones that need a 72" actuator....
 
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Venture, Saginaw/Thomson, Von Weise.
Venture looks like they have them ready to go.
Saginaw has a configurator.
Von Weise moved from TX to Mexico. Spoke to the owner a few years ago. They build actuators for solar/satellite on demand. We spoke about a group buy of 5-10. Nice guy.

Long life? Depends. Anything out in the weather that moves needs common sense maintenance.
Accordion boots have worked very well for me with a slather of grease on the extension shaft.
And then there's my rant on drilling for a zerk fitting to give an occasional shot of fresh grease.
Tearing the motor/gearcase down and cleaning them and greasing the gears. New motor brushes.
Or just slap one on and run 'er till she pukes.
 
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I'll pipe in. First. Good photos of your current setup will help a lot.
You should also state the sensor type you might currently use. Reed, hall, optical, potentiometer?
And. Skimping on actuator quality will only exercise the disposable income concept. AKA: buy once, cry once.
Not saying that the most expensive one out there is what everyone should buy. The typical chinesium knockoffs will only wear out in a short time. And if you're not crafty enough to tear one down for periodic maintenance to keep them living. Well.....ca-ching!

As far as the length of extension. It depends on your dish geometry and how an actuator can be mounted on it.
18" is very short. Perhaps for a small dish that weighs not much with a pivot mount that is close to the rotating axis.
24" seems to be the minimum norm. from what I see.
You could put your dish manually (with help or ratchet straps, etc.) and then run it through your intended arc and measure the extension needed.
One that is too short ($$$) will leave you wanting. One just right or too long will still let you swing the arc.
Slap up some photos. And be realistic. Can you really afford a cheap actuator? And are you subjected to nasty winters?
Thanks for replying. Here are some photos of my dish. I will probably go with manual actuators since the 24” electric ones are too expensive.
 

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Thanks for replying. Here are some photos of my dish. I will probably go with manual actuators since the 24” electric ones are too expensive.
Well with a 24" you can do this with that dish,that's west-south-east,basically horizon to horizon .
 

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Well with a 24" you can do this with that dish,that's west-south-east,basically horizon to horizon .
I have a 24 inch Von Weise actuator on the identical dish, which is confirmed as a Winegard Pinnacle Perf.
In Wisconsin, my true south point is at 90 West longitude. No problem going from 55.5 to 135 West. Could go as far as 139 West, but unless you are a bit west of the Mississippi River, signals are too weak without going to an even larger antenna. If you want to go with a true manual actuator, trailer jacks of all types can be had at big box stores such as Home Depot, Menards and others. Maybe even more choice at TSC (Tractor Supply) or Farm and Fleet stores, which are popular in the Midwest. Budget 30 to 50 bucks for a well made trailer jack.
 
Wondering. Can you pull the motor from the tube and turn the driven shaft with a pair of vice grips?
Is it that you don't have a positioner controller?
 
From the pictures it looks like you use about 3/5 of the 24 inch, as total stroke length? Is that about right?

(Calculated as mentioned by telstar_1 , above.)

Greetz,
A33
Actually no idea,never measured it,and at the moment dish isn't moving ( reed switch or broken wire) but haven't had time or inclination to check it out.
Also even tho I can do H-H it doesn't do me any good,the east is completely blocked by trees and buildings and south to west is increasingly being blocked by trees.
 
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Thank you guys for the advices! I’ve put up with a 28” RV stabilizer secured by steel wires and it works great. Costs only ~$60.
 

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