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Friday, July 2, 2010

Camo Satellite Dish

Last Saturday, DISH Network upgraded my satellite system to ensure I'd continue to receive the latest HD programming.  My previous setup involved two separate dishes on my roof.  (For those who want the technical jargon: I had a hybrid system with one dish pointing at satellites 110°, 119° and a second wing dish pointing at 61.5°.  DISH Network is dividing up their channels and satellites such that a customer must either have a "Western Arc" configuration consisting of 110°, 119°, and 129° or "Eastern Arc" consisting of 61.5°, 72.7°, and 77°.  Each of these "arcs" would use a single unified dish.  In my case, due to line of site issues, I needed to have the Eastern Arc with the DISH Network 1000.4 dish.) The canopy of trees around my house made putting the upgraded dish on my roof an impossibility.  Therefore a pole mount was done about 130 feet behind my house in the only part of my property that actually has a semi-clear view of the eastern sky.  I had to cut down a couple trees to accomplish this, but the absence of those trees did not effect the overall appearance of the landscape.

When the installer arrived, he helped me determine which trees were impeding the line-of-site to the satellites.  Even though I live way out in the woods, he said it is illegal for him to dig the hole for the pole mount until the authorities inspect it and give him the go-ahead to proceed.  This would mean he would have to initially install a temporary tripod install and then return at a later date to dig the hole for the permanent install once the "dig test" people approved the site.  He told me the way to expedite the install would be for me to dig the 3 1/2 ' hole myself.  He left me with two bags of quick set concrete and a pole while he temporarily left to take care of another customer.  Three hours later, he returned, aimed the dish, ran the cable on top of the ground for me to bury later, and quickly connected the cables to my receivers.  He confirmed I was getting all the correct channels and left.  I started to feel as if I'd done all the work, but he did do a very professional job.

So, I had a long holiday weekend starting today.  I decided this would be a good time to bury the cable. The coaxial cable used for the install is bright orange.  While I was going to bury the cable, the part that trails up the pole and loops underneath the dish itself virtually glowed and stuck out like a sore thumb.  I decided it'd be amusing to obscure the cable with camouflage duct tape.  After consulting with some of my online buddies who are experts on such things, it was decided that I could use the tape to obscure the exposed bright orange cable with no ill effects.

While summertime in East Texas is never a good time to take on such a project, today was particularly uncomfortable as the humidity was so high, and the remnants of now tropical depression Alex are bringing scattered showers while I'm doing it.  The rain just turned to steam as it hit the already saturated ground.

Ultimately, the cable burial was not too hard.  The beauty of having wood ferns as a natural ground cover is that they provide a virtual carpet of fine roots on top of the soil.  I literally just scored the "carpet" with a flat transfer shovel and pealed it back just enough to slide the cable underneath it.  The grade of cable was "direct bury" so there was no need to use conduit.

Then came the duct tape trick. I made a cleaner loop of cable and re-affixed zip ties to make the cable lie completely flat against the pole. I decided to completely wrap the pole all the way up to the dish itself as well as wrap the loop such that none of the orange cable was visible. The cool thing is that the style of camo used on the duct tape is "digital camo".  Apropos for a digital satellite system.

It's not easy making a satellite dish blend into the woods, but I think I pulled it off pretty well.

Here are some before pictures (click on the thumbnails for larger versions).

too many loops 3 1/2' hole with 2 sacks of quick-set concrete orange coax sticking out like a sore thumb too many loopsfront


camo'd loops  camo'd loopscamo camo wide camo back camo close view from back of the house facing east

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