Part of my job is answering questions from Solid Signal customers. And it’s that part that leads to some of the best articles on this blog. Because, I love hearing about the way that people want to use their equipment. I think it’s great that there is still a strong community of people who love to customize things. That’s what keeps our site going every day.
Deep, polished mahogany
In this case, I was approached by someone who thought their grey satellite dish just didn’t compliment their cabin. Hey, I get it. You spend a lot of time creating the perfect forest retreat and you don’t want it spoiled by something so obviously artificial.
I was asked, is it possible to make a satellite dish out of mahogany instead of metal. And, when I thought about it, the answer was really… yes. Yes it is. And it wouldn’t be a bad thing, at least not for a while.
How I’d do it
You could duplicate a lot of the parts in a satellite dish pretty easily. The mast is really just a pole. Choosing one of the proper size (2″ outer diameter) is the easiest part of the project. I would keep the back adjustment unit and the mount the same. I wouldn’t try to replicate those. After all they sit on the back of the dish and are fairly small. These parts are designed for proper aiming. I expect a really good woodworker could create something similar but I’m not sure it would be worth the effort. If nothing else I’d coat them in brown paint and call it a day.
The reflector and arm
I could see fashioning a reflector (the “dishy” part) and the front arm out of hardwood. It wouldn’t be that hard. The real challenge would be making sure the reflector was the right angle and that the arm was just the right length. These two parts form a critical system that focuses signal on the LNBs at the front of the dish. If they’re not designed right, the signal doesn’t get where it needs to be.
But, fabricating stuff out of hardwood shouldn’t be that tough if you have the tools. You could build the reflector in two halves to make it easier to get the depth right. Assembling those halves wouldn’t have a real impact on the way the dish worked.
I would definitely make sure that the surfaces were well sanded, and that there was no grain rising up that would affect the way the signal was aimed. I’d protect things with a good stain, but I would stay away from high-gloss polyurethane or varnish like you’d find on a boat. Although this does create a smooth surface, it could potentially cause problems as the light gets concentrated in one spot.
Very handsome, I’d imagine
In the end, I would imagine you’d get a very handsome looking dish for your cabin. I’m still not convinced personally that it would be worth the effort. You could paint a dish flat brown and that would disguise it pretty effectively. It’s always a little crap shoot when you paint a dish, because you don’t know what that will do to the way the dish reflects, but if nothing else it’s a cheap thing to try before you spend a lot of time recreating one in wood.
Oh, and by the way, if you’re looking for the best in satellite accessories including the tools and parts the experts use, check out the great selection at Solid Signal.