Could you have one dish that got all US satellite transmissions?

Imagine it. Imagine the ultimate satellite dish. It could bring in DIRECTV signals. It could bring in DISH signals. It could bring in signals from SiriusXM and even old C-Band signals. It would truly be “one dish to rule them all.” That may not be the kind of thing most consumers would care about, that’s true. For you, the Solid Signal faithful, I bet you’d have the same response I’d have: “fricken awesome!”

What would it take to have a dish like that?

The biggest issue with having this awesome uberdish would be the size of the LNB assembly. Unless the satellites you’re tracking are very close together, you’ll need a separate receiving antenna for every satellite.

This is the front of a DIRECTV Legacy Reverse Band 5 dish. Believe it or not it’s actually pretty compact. The two feed horns on the left are for the 119 and 110 locations. They each receive data from one satellite. The feed horn on the right is actually pretty amazing. It not only receives signals from the 99, 101, and 103 locations (with three different antennas) but also through several different frequencies. A lot of this has to do with the fact that those three locations are very close in the sky and the curvature of the reflector aims signals from three locations onto almost the same point.

But, that’s about the full extent of the magic you can do.

From there, you’d need a separate feed horn for every location you want to track. If you wanted to add DISH compatibility, you’d need 5 more feed horns. If you wanted to add DIRECTV’s (soon-to-be-retired) international locations, you’d need two more. Add legacy “C-Band” support and that’s another one. Add SiriusXM and that’s another one. So that’s 11 feed horns on one dish.

That’s just the beginning of your problem.

In order to aim at satellites spread out between the Caribbean and San Diego, you’d need a bigger reflector. It would certainly have to be bigger than the 39″ limitation imposed by the OTARD rule. If you don’t want to read the whole article, that’s the rule that says that your HOA can’t complain if your antenna or dish is 39″ or smaller.

You’d end up with this massive frankendish that was probably 7 feet across with this massive LNB assembly.Even if some manufacturer made it, they’d never sell any of them. Maybe 5 people would really be interested in having something like this on the roof. Even businesses and apartment complexes wouldn’t want this gigantic eyesore.

In a worst case scenario it would look like the “torus” dish used by DIRECTV in its broadcast center. Here are some of the photos I took when I toured that facility in 2012:

The odds that you would want something like either of these bad boys on your roof is, let’s just say, pretty slim.

Really? So it just can’t be done?

Short of some new technology that could make satellite reception easier or make the LNBs more sensitive, it just can’t be done. More importantly it can’t be done at a fair price, in a way that people can buy it. Those last two considerations are probably the most important. They’re the reason that most so-called “great ideas” don’t actually get made.

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.