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Vol.2 - No.

Mother Nature vs Satellite TV


Most of us are only too happy to have the month of January behind us.  Arctic blasts caused frigid temperatures and high winds across much of the U.S. including the southern states.   Here in southern Oregon the local ski resort had to close when winds reached 100 mph on the slopes.  Needless to say, setting up a satellite dish to withstand these conditions can be challenging.

I received a call from a customer in Key West, FL who reported that winds strong enough to rock his RV had blown his tripod to the ground.  Both the tripod and dish were damaged and he was without TV.   I explained that we now carry a full inventory of replacement parts for his Heavy-Duty Tripod and we shipped out his needed parts the same day.  I'm assuming his satellite TV provider was able to replace or repair his damaged dish.

The last thing you need when on the road is a mishap such as his.  Below we have detailed several ways you can beef up you tripod setup to prevent such mishaps.  We are also revising the instructions for the Heavy-Duty Tripod to include these helpful tips.  You can download and printout the revised instructions here.  While the information in tip #2 is directed to our Heavy-Duty Tripod, the information in Tip #1 will apply to both our models.

The setup instructions provided with our tripods are intended for areas where the wind gusts will not exceed 45-50 mph. When setting up your tripod in an area that has wind gusts that will exceed that level, we are providing some setup tips that will aid in further securing your tripod to prevent damage to both the tripod and satellite dish.

1. AN IMPROVED ANCHOR SYSTEM – The ground screw stake and bungee cord supplied with your tripod will provide a secure anchor under normal wind conditions. For high-wind areas we recommend using a ratcheting tie-down strap in place of the bungee cord. Whenever possible, we recommend using the ground screw stake. However, if the ground surface is too hard to install the screw stake, here is an alternate method that will provide a ground penetrating tie-down. Purchase two 12" galvanized nails from your local hardware store.  You can also purchase a 1½" steel ring or just use the one that is on your ground screw stake.

Using a hammer, drive the first nail into the ground at a 45° angle below the center of the tripod leaving approximately 3" exposed above ground.  Install the steel ring over the exposed end of the nail and insert the second nail point into the ring, pointing it in the opposite direction as the first nail. Drive this nail into the ground at a 45° angle leaving approximately 3" exposed above ground. (See Fig. 1)
If setting up the Heavy-Duty Tripod, extend each tripod leg approximately 12-15" and spread the legs to form a 6' circle centered over the nail stakes. Aim the tripod as normal and install the mast and dish.

Fig. 1

Make sure the leg tips are pressed firmly into the ground. (If the ground is too hard to press in the leg tips, use the restraint method detailed in Tip #2.)  Install the ratcheting tie-down to the ring and the tripod's eye-bolt and ratchet down firmly (Fig. 2). This tie-down method will provide a very firm anchor. If setting up on a patio-type surface, replace the ground penetrating stakes with a 5 gallon water pail, adjusting the ratchet tension to the point of almost raising the bucket of water off the ground.


Fig. 2


2. AN ADJUSTABLE LEG RESTRAINT SYSTEM - The standard Leg Restraint Kit for our Heavy-Duty Tripod provides a normal, 37" leg spread. For high-wind areas we recommend extending the legs 12-15" and creating a 6' leg spread. On a smooth surface or a surface too hard for the leg tips to penetrate properly, the legs will slip outward if not restrained. Below we have a simple modification you can make to your tripod that will greatly increase the leg adjustment options. Start by drilling a 3/8" hole in each tripod shoe (see Fig. 3). Drilling where shown will not weaken the casting. At your local hardware store purchase approximately 20' of #14 jack chain. This is often sold by the foot or in boxes of 20' lengths. Also purchase a small "S" hook to put at the end of the chain.

Set up your tripod as usual, pointing it in the proper direction. Extend the legs 12-15" and create a leg spread of approximately 6'.  Thread the jack chain through the first shoe hole, starting with the chain end without the hook. Pull the chain through  the first   hole,  leaving  the hook end about 12" 

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from the hole. Continue threading the chain through the other two holes and connect the hook to the other end of the chain at a point the makes it tight (Fig. 4). Tap each leg outward to create tension on the chain. Mount your mast and dish and install the anchor system.


3. CHAIN STORAGE - Note that when storing the jack chain it can easily become tangled. You can make a simple storage piece as in Figs 5&6.


    Fig. 5                                                                                    Fig. 6


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