Mod #80: Satellite Dish Mount

Mod #80: Satellite Dish Mount

Submitted on: 04/28/09

     Category: entertainment
Mod Rating: 12345

(32 ratings)

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Mod Description:

This mod comes to us courtesy of RV.net senior member professor95, otherwise known as Randy Agee, and is copyright with all rights reserved.

So maybe having satellite TV reception wherever you happen to be isn’t high on the list of most campers. But for some it’s a great convenience, perhaps offering entertainment for a group camp party for example. Or maybe just some casual movie entertainment while turning in for bed. Whatever your justification for bringing a satellite feed along while camping, here is a mod that will make your digital camping adventures that much easier.

Mod Difficulty:

The next time you are out camping, look around at the number of satellite dishes that are set out to pick up the signal from a distant satellite over the southwestern horizon.

I am not referring to the $1,000 plus domes mounted on the rooftop of fancy motor homes. I mean the conventional dishes used for both Direct TV and Dish Network. Direct TV will give you a free dish and tripod for your RV with a new subscription. Dish Network doesn’t offer a free dish, but if you look around it is easy to find a used dish for little or nothing.

My daughter, who lives in an apartment complex, has given me several that she found in the trash. When a tenant who has a dish moves they apparently just throw them away!

I have also found used dishes in thrift stores like Goodwill and Salvation Army. There are literally hundreds for sale on e-Bay, but the shipping on a dish can be pretty high even if the purchase cost is low.

Of course, you also need a receiver for your RV. Most folks just unplug one in their home and put it in the RV when they go out camping. Others pay the extra $5 a month for an additional leased receiver and keep it in the RV. In any event, if you have a satellite subscription at your home it is either free or inexpensive to add one to your RV.

The biggest problem with a dish and a RV is not so much how to mount it, but more of a “where to store it” space issue. A conventional steel tripod, pole and assembled dish can take up a considerable amount of valuable storage space.

The photos show some of the innovative ways that a dish can be mounted or modified to reduce storage space. The one I really like the best is the “upside down” dish mount that disassembles and sets up on the ground or picnic table. With an inverted dish the compass direction and skew do not change. The elevation is set by subtracting the conventional angle from 90 degrees. For example, with a conventional elevation of 32 degrees, the upside down elevation will be 90 – 32 = 58 degrees.

I made my original upside down mount from PVC pipe. It proved to be too light and flimsy. My second upside down mount (shown) is made of galvanized pipe. It breaks down easily for storage and is heavy enough to hold the dish firmly in place. Note the welds at the base of the LNB arm have been drilled out and replaced with 1/4” bolts and wing nuts for disassembly. A hole has been drilled in the arm to bring the coaxial cable out so it does not interfere with the bolts used for attachment.

The mount on the ladder rack also works well and requires zero storage space as it is lowered for transit and just stays on the ladder. This is accomplished with 1-1/4 OD tubing from the chain link fencing section at Home Depot placed inside a 1-1/4 ID piece of conduit from the electrical section. You will need to weld on a lock nut so you can secure the inner tubing to any elevation or rotation.

If your RV has a smooth fiberglass side, you may want to consider a home brewed suction mount. Harbor Freight Tools sells the suction mount. You just need to attach the dish mount arm. This mount will stay on the side of my RV for weeks without coming loose.

An old camera tripod can make a good mount. You will need to take a piece of 1-1/2” EMT and weld a 5/16″ fender washer over one end. A 5/16″ fender washer will have an outside diameter large enough to cover the end of the mast pipe. With the washer welded to the tubing you can drop a bolt through the hole and attach the mast to the tripod. The camera tripod is a real space saver compared to a conventional tripod.

If you pull a 5th wheel the dish mount and mast can be attached to the pin box. You can pull with the dish in place if desired. Of course, if the satellite position is behind your RV, the front mount won’t work to capture a signal. In that situation, drop in a flagpole and fly your colors!

Lastly, the problem of aiming the dish so that it picks up the signal is often a major frustration. The Dish Network “point dish” software built into the receiver is too slow. Direct TV has better software for aiming a dish. The aftermarket analog Satellite Signal Finders are, in my opinion, almost useless.

My solution is to use a good (note the word good) digital signal level meter. Mine is a Signal Logic and is a tremendous help. Since it has its own power supply, I do not need the receiver attached and can move the dish and meter around freely while watching or listening to the signal level on the meter. I can normally set my dish up in locations where others cannot get a signal for trees or buildings.

Professor Randy T. Agee, E.Ed.
Copyright April 26, 2009
All rights reserved

ModMyRV recommends these parts for this mod:
Grizzly H5848 4 Head Suction Cup
RCA DirecTV DKIT96 Digital Satellite System Dish Mounting & Wiring Installation Kit
Camco 42031 RV Satellite Dish Anchor
Antennas Direct 75 Cm J-mount/mast

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24 Comments For This Mod

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  1. babblescriber

    Randy, I have been looking for a way to temporarily mount my satellite dish without drilling in to the siding of my TT. Those suction cups in the picture above are a great idea! Do you have another source besides Harbor Freight where I can buy some? I couldn’t find them on their site. Thanks!

  2. ModMyRV

    Folks, it appears as though the 4-way suction cup mount is no longer being carried by Harbor Freight. We’re looking for another source and will post a source here just as soon as we find one.

    If anyone knows where we can find one of these, please comment here. Thanks!

  3. gnarlykaw

    the two cup handle appears to be working ok. it will hold 125lbs! I built something similar, but used the two cup handle, with screw clamps.

  4. ModMyRV

    Thanks gnarlykaw. You can also use Harbor Freight’s item number 46134-0VGA too, which is a 2-way suction cup mount for $5.99. Based on the specs and photo, two of these items placed in parallel could easily be substituted for the 4-way mount.

    http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/displayitem.taf?Itemnumber=46134

  5. gnarlykaw

    Thats the one i used, but it does not look the same. Yet, the handle is straight, which gives you a stable securing bridge. We just had some strong wind, and a storm just an hour ago, and it’s still holding strong!
    This mount allows you almost the complete trailer for a mounting surface!

  6. pozi

    Amazon sells the 4-cup mount. Look here. I just purchased one: http://www.amazon.com/Grizzly-H5848-Head-Suction-Cup/dp/B0007D2Y7M/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=hi&qid=1243786897&sr=8-1

    If the link doesn’t work try searching for “Grizzly H5848″

  7. ModMyRV

    Awesome pozi! Thanks. I didn’t see a weight rating. Do you know what it can support?

  8. Kstiner

    You also can get them hear for the same price as Amazon.
    http://grizzly.com/products/4-Head-Suction-Cup/H5848

  9. Vince

    Where do you buy the Signal Logic at?

  10. ModMyRV

    The model shown in the picture above apparently has been discontined but you can see the original specifications here:

    http://www.solidsignal.com/prod_display.asp?prod=10-SIGNALOC

    The author “suggests” this replacement:

    http://www.solidsignal.com/prod_display.asp?PROD=SACUTRACPRO&xzoom=Large#MORE

  11. Danny

    I found a Direct dish in the trash. Will I be able to get Dish network using this direct dish?

  12. wmdonna

    I got the suction cups directly at Grizzly.com for just under $20.00. It took one bolt and one “U” clamp to hook it up. Very easy! Bill

  13. David Blomberg

    With sidewall delamination so common, I would think that this type of mount & prying it off would or could contribute to early failure. I personally would not take that chance, & you will probably get some angry response from users. Maybe hasn’t happened yet, but… Just a thought.

  14. steve

    I bought an rv with a roof manual dish will it work with both dish or direct.

  15. Chris Silva

    My Pops had the great idea of taking an old or warped disc brake rotor and attaching the dish to it. Works great and is compact. Cost to him was nothing and my old rotor found a home rather than the trash.

  16. ON-A-ROAD

    I did this mod with the 2-cup suction mount from harbor freight.($5.99). I drilled through the handle and use stainless steel bolts.

    (note) I did put some twine through one of the holes in the satellite dish and fastened it to my ladder. In case the suction cups failed my dish wouldn’t hit the ground).

  17. ON-A-ROAD

    The suction cups failed on me two times last week end. I had a string tired to the dish so it didn’t hit the ground. What I ended up doing was getting a moving pad at Harbor freight and bolting it to my dish. Then I used two C clamps and clamped it to my slide out. (picture here)

    http://i212.photobucket.com/albums/cc101/onawave2/SatelliteD1.jpg

    http://i212.photobucket.com/albums/cc101/onawave2/SatelliteD3.jpg

    It works 100% and no chance of it failing.

  18. ModMyRV

    @ON-A-ROAD: What suction cup did you use? 2-way? 4-way? The recommended suction cup is the 4-way to ensure enough support not only under normal weight but also if the wind picks up.

  19. ON-A-ROAD

    I used the two way, but it was the temperature changed that caused the suction cups to fail. It went from 40 degrees at night, to 70 in the day. When I got home I did some experimenting in my shop and those suction cups, can’t do temp changes over + or - 10 degrees. (well, mine wont anyway). It did work the first week end I used it, but there was little temp change from day to night. The rubber on the suction cups, expand and contract at a faster rate then fiberglass siding. That’s what caused them to fail.

    What I did was buy a package of furniture movers (grey plastic with rubber backing) and bolted them to my dish mount. I’m using regular C clamps right now, but I’m looking for 100% nylon ones. (so they wont rust).

  20. kodiakco

    I did the ladder mount mod. Used a length of unistrut, pipe and hose clamps. Worked great! I also welded a nut about 8″ from the top so in case the pipe hold down were to come loose the inside pipe would not slide down so far as to hit the ground when the dish is not mounted.

    http://i199.photobucket.com/albums/aa53/Kodiakco/RV/IMG_0024.jpg
    http://i199.photobucket.com/albums/aa53/Kodiakco/RV/IMG_0023.jpg
    http://i199.photobucket.com/albums/aa53/Kodiakco/RV/IMG_0022.jpg
    http://i199.photobucket.com/albums/aa53/Kodiakco/RV/IMG_0021.jpg

  21. Outland

    Northern Tool has the 4 way.
    http://www.northerntool.com/shop/tools/product_42404_42404?cm_ven=Aggregates&cm_cat=Google&cm_pla=Auto%20Repair%3EAuto%20Body%20Repair&cm_ite=160876?ci_src=14110944&ci_sku=160876

  22. GrandFunkRR

    Hello all! Whatever happend to the Sat Dish Ground mount made out of PVC that was listed here last summer? I would like to try that mount rather than the lead pipe design. Anyone have that mod?

  23. pigpen1003@msn.com

    Does anyone know where i can read or download the instructions on attaching the dish mount to the grizzley 4 suction cup . I recieved the 4 suction cup from grizzley now i need to know how to attacth it to the dish mount.

  24. ModMyRV

    There is a picture above that shows the dish mounted to the suction cup. Drill 4 holes, one in each suction cup arm, and use 1/4″ bolts to attach the dish mount flange to the suction cup.

1 Trackbacks For This Post

  1. 10 Low Cost Mods You Can Make to Your RV

    [...] 10. Satellite Dish Mount - There are many solutions to this mod but a very inexpensive way to mount your satellite dish temporarily to the side of your RV is by way of a 4-way suction cup mount. The dish mounting frame flange is attached to the suction cup mount using a u-bolts. The 4-way suction cup is available from Harbor Freight for about $12 and u-bolts should go for no more that a few bucks. Here is an example of satellite mounting options: http://www.modmyrv.com/2009/04/28/rv-satellite-dish-mount [...]

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