Scratchbuilt Wooden Satellite Dish

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Greenish Apple

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Active SatelliteGuys Member
Dec 18, 2011
15
21
Southeastern Ontario, Canada
Here is the wooden satellite dish I built in 2013.
Ugly and inefficient but it gets the channels we want; the Puerto Rico Mux on 99W.

It is a 48x52in offset dish made of 3/8in plywood, 2x4s and aluminum flashing. 0.35 focal length, based on 108in prime focus dish.
I got the idea from the Vetrun website where they talk about making prime focus dishes. I decided I wanted to make an offset dish to avoid the shadow from the LNB because I knew it would not have the same power as a manufactured dish. Re-adjusting takes a while. I'm thinking of bolting the LNB support arms so they don't slide so I only need to change the elevation and azimuth. I'm currently using a Titanium PLL C-band LNB to get as much signal as I can.
99Fin_IMG_6822wp.jpg

Here are various in-progress shots.
1. View from the other side (I've painted the aluminum tan because it melted the cover for the first C-Band LNB).
2. View of the ribs in the base.
3. Most of the panels and the LNB support added. The sides are nested V bars held with a dowel and hose clamp. The bottom is a square tube nested in a C shelf support, same clamping mechanism as the sides.
4. View of the ribs from the back. 2x4s supporting the back of the 2x4ft rib support. Hinged at the bottom.
5. Elevation support detail. I used 3/8in turnbuckles and 3/8in threaded rod (replaces the bottom eyebolt) for fine adjustments.
6. Close up of the panels going on.
7. Base for the satellite, 48x48in with a bolt in the center for azimuth control.
8. Close up detail of the LNB support sliding control.

99Fin_IMG_1668w.jpg20RIB_IMG_1578w.jpg 68Flash_IMG_1659w.jpg35RIB_IMG_1651w.jpg50Elev_IMG_1647w.jpg68Flash_IMG_1655w.jpg15Base_IMG_1517w.jpg40LNB_IMG_1379w.jpg
 

USDownlink

SatelliteGuys Pro
Mar 19, 2008
352
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Oregon
Dude. You built your own dish. That is so cool. Not just any random person has the patience and skill to tackle such a project.

Okay, enough praise. Now motorize it. :biggrin2

Just kidding. (Sort of.)

No, wait, I'm not done with the jokes yet.

You know, in about fifteen years, someone is going to find this dish, drag it home, and post a message here asking 'what brand is it?' and 'are parts still available?'.

Okay, that's all. For now.

More seriously, have you given any thought as to what you would have done different to make it more efficient and true? I have to admit, I've never even looked at what it might take to craft a dish by hand, so apologies if that question seems a bit pedestrian.
 

danristheman

SatelliteGuys Pro
Jan 25, 2011
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Look at getting deck sealer to protect from the weather I wonder about warping in certain weather? You did a great job on that dish especially a minibud welcome to the club. What is your signal strength hopefully you PEG the meter he he ha ha?
 

bpalone

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Apr 1, 2014
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44N 105W
I see you had a Ku Band LNB on it at one point. How did it do on Ku?

Good to see someone, proving you can do it on your own.
 

. Raine

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Aug 6, 2013
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I like the way the ribbing for the support and the mount was done. Right now, I have two organ donor cars for cars that I'm working on that will be soon going to the scrap yard once they are stripped out, a 61 Lincoln and a 06 PT Cruiser. One of them I'd planned to cut it's roof off for a satellite project, was leaning toward the Cruiser, it's cleaner. :D

I was planning on making a conventional type of mount and welding a ring around the back edge of the reflector- bunch of other welding, or brazing, too, all around, and I think I'll still do this with one - But after looking at greenish Apple's post, I think both cars will lose their roofs and one of them I'll do similar to his dish, really like the way he has that setup there.
 
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Greenish Apple

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Active SatelliteGuys Member
Dec 18, 2011
15
21
Southeastern Ontario, Canada
FTA4PA & Raine:
You're welcome. I had planned to set up a page on Instructibles.com but either I couldn't find the time or they didn't have a contest that I could enter it in when I checked. Unfortunately the vetrun site I mentioned doesn't exist anymore, the domain name expired on 07/18/2013.

USDownlink:
I'd love to motorize it but I have two bags of gravel holding it down.
15 years? If they could narrow down a brand it would be Home Depot, Lowes and ReStore.
Making it more efficient and true: More ribs, the spread near the edges is too flat. Maybe hammer down the middle of each to make it more like a bowl. I've read a couple postings where they made the parabolic shape on a board, flipped it upside down and used it as a form to create an upside down bowl with cement. Then they used either fiberglass or metal (for the 13ft one) to make the dish.
Over at LegalFreeToAir there is a guy who goes by the handle 'bjpython' who has made several prime focus dishes.

danristheman:
I've thought of painting it with exterior paint but for now it is mostly protected by the porch roof. It might be affected by certain weather but the only times I notice that is when it is raining closer to the satellite the signal degrades.
Right now the Signal is 90% and the Quality is 48-56%, strong enough to watch NBC and FOX.

bpalone:
I have a couple Ku Band LNBs but they didn't work on the side, though I'm working on trying again to get 97W. After the first dual output C-band LNG died I replaced it with a Godspell C-band/Ku-band LNB and I was getting NHK with 60% quality. I was watching it a lot until then moved it away from 99W.

Raine:
It would be interesting to see your new set up.
 

Greenish Apple

Thread Starter
Active SatelliteGuys Member
Dec 18, 2011
15
21
Southeastern Ontario, Canada
Here are my pre-production pictures (images 2-5 were made in Inkscape, a freeware version of Illustrator).
Correction to my first post: The size is 48 x 54in, not 52.

1. Settings in Parabola Calculator 2.0
2. Curve 'plotted', the gray one is the original curve, the red is 3cm deeper
3. Set up of dish, ribs and support
4. Where the offset dish sits on an 9ft prime focus dish.
5. Sideview of dish
00-01plan_parabola calc window.jpg 00-02plan_curve.jpg 00-03plan_rib view.jpg 00-04-section of parabola.jpg 00-05plan_sideview.jpg
 
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Corrado

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Apr 2, 2007
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Hudson Valley Region, NY
Excellent work Greenish Apple. I love it.

This goes back to how the original satellite hobbyists started building their own equipment. Maybe will help inspire those that cannot have a dish at their residence build some yard art that just so happens to have a LNBF in front of it.
 
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danristheman

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Jan 25, 2011
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Mr Green Apple the signal for pr vi mux used to be a lot higher but a new transponder fired up over at 101w and cut down the power. I used to get it at 70q + now only getting 50q. Look at my dish for ideas for a multi lnb setup.
 

KE4EST

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Better not, unless you get express written permission from the original owner. ;)
 
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