The late comedian Rodney Dangerfield is best remembered for his famous line "I don't get no respect!" If your satellite dish could talk, it might say the same thing. Today we will discuss the proper care and storage of your satellite dish.
When the satellite engineers designed the dishes we use to receive the satellite signals, I believed they envisioned mounting them on a home, well out of the reach of most potential damage. I don't think they expected the dishes to be traveling in the back of a pickup truck, bouncing down the highways for thousands of miles. Yet, that is often just what we RVers do with our dishes.
For the most part, the satellite dish is a sturdy piece of equipment. It is made almost entirely of sheet metal that has been stamped, bent, welded and formed into various shapes that, when assembled, perform a very unique task.
The curved face of the dish collects the very weak signals from space, transmitted from 1 to 5 different satellites orbiting the earth. The dish then focuses these signals on the Low Noise Band Filter (LNBF) which is sticking out in front of the dish, at the end of the LNB arm. It is the job of the LNBF to filter out any static that the signals may have picked up on their way to Earth, amplify the signal strength, and send it to the receiver.
The engineers designed the LNBF to sustain extreme weather conditions - from baking in the hot Summer sun of Phoenix, AZ to freezing in the frigid Winters of St. Paul, MN. They did not design it to withstand blunt force trauma however, so we will discuss some measures you can take to protect this valuable piece of equipment. I say valuable because, if you need to replace an LNBF, it can run between $35 and $85.
I use a Dish 500 when we travel in our RV. I have equipped my dish with the Universal Folding LNB Arm Kit so the dish may be stored in a compact area. To prevent the LNBF head from contacting the face of the dish during transport, I place a piece of 1%uFFFD" foam rubber between the LNBF head and the face of the dish. I then secure the folded arm in place using a bungee cord. Dish Network was nice enough to provide two %uFFFD" holes in the rim of the dish, as shown in the bottom photo, to allow me to easily attach the bungee cord. If your dish doesn't have these holes, there is no reason you can't drill them for this purpose.
In addition to protecting the LNBF head it is also important to protect the LNB arm. The alignment of this arm, in relationship to the face of the dish, is critical to insure all the signals collected by the dish are aimed at the LNBF head. If the arm gets bent or damaged your dish might not work properly, especially when using a multiple satellite LNBF.
To prevent damage to your LNB arm always store the dish in a manner that insures that nothing will sit or press on the arm during transit. Equally important - always anchor your tripod properly to insure it isn't blown over by wind gusts.