After the concrete pad dried (and I recovered), I began the process of assembling what amounts to a giant erector set. Doing this on a sunny, warm Michigan day was actually kind of relaxing, despite the frustrations involved. I will definitely get a taller step ladder before attempting such a feat again. There were times where I was precariously balanced on the top step, reaching over the top edge of the dish with just enough reach to get the job done. I guess if I had fallen that the bog would have actually been good for something since it would have made for a softer landing.
Here is the erector set with one panel in place. Looking back, I'm not sure how I managed to put this thing together alone. The attachment of the panels was especially difficult - especially the last one. Details of my construction and that of another forum member with the same dish can be found in the Sinking Feeling thread at the 4DTV Forum. This was also the thread where ideas were kicked around as to how the pad could be constructed. I worked with my neighbor (a builder) and other member experiences to come up with my pad.
This shot (obviously much later in the day) shows the 12 footer assembled except for the feed. My 9' Radio Shack perf, horizon-to-horizon dish is about 50 feet in the foreground. Its parabolic accuracy can be seen in the smoothness of the lighting on it compared to that of the 12 footer. The dark areas on the 9 footer are from the trees near the horizon. Since it is a perf, it has better response than a mesh. My one gripe about the RS dish is that they used a plastic gear for the H2H mount. I've had to replace this gear twice when I didn't place it in the worm gear "just so". Otherwise, it works very well.
Here's a shot of the mount and framing that gives you some idea as to the complexity that this dish presents to the installer. There has to be at least a gazillion pieces.
Here are a couple of shots of the completed 12 footer with and without the feed mount. The dish electronics assembly proved to be trying as well. It turns out that the commercial dual-C, dual-Ku feed that I purchased wasn't designed for this application so I had to drill new mounting holes for the legs so that I could get the feed opening down to the focal point! Hmmm. Now what is that parabolic function again?
So far this baby has survived two frost cycles and remains perfectly plumb. It appears that I may have conquered the bog (at least the dryer portion of it). That's not to jinx myself, because I know that next winter the frost could be really deep. But it's gonna have to lift somewhere in the neighborhood of 3000 pounds to ruin my day!
I also have yet to install the vertical actuator which was one of the main reasons that I got this beast in the first place. I just haven't had the time and other toys have gathered my interest more lately. I also find that I have so many entertainment options already that I don't feel like I'm missing out on anything. I'm sure that the vertical arm will go on someday. If for no other reason, the technical challenge.
Here are some instructions that I received from Paraclipse as to how the vertical actuator should be attached:
There isn't a special set of instructions for the inclined orbit actuator attachment. If you look at the side of the mount cap you will see a bolt welded to the side of the cap. To this you will attach your actuator saddle clamp assembly. You will then attach the drive end of the actuator to where the elevation bolt assembly attaches to the upper drive assembly ( a longer bolt will be needed, replacement bolts are not included in the mount assembly ). Use a spacer between the drive end of the actuator and the elevation bolt attachment tab ( this will stop binding on the actuator drive assembly ). Do not tighten the main pivot bolt in the mount end cap too tight ( this would put stress on the actuator assembly ). You will have to check this from time to time so that the mount assembly doesn't get too loose at that pivot point.
Here are some notes to go along with the Paraclipse installation instructions (clipped from my comments at the 4DTV Forum):
- 6.5: Do yourself the favor and remove both sides of the weather cover. There's lots of room if both are off. Mine unit came adjust almost perfectly North/South so I didn't need power at this time.
- 7.2: It is not made clear when these bolts should be tightened. I know that I had tightened them by the time I got to page 10.
- 9.1: Dispite the very large warning note, I still managed to attach *all* six ring connectors to the outside before learning that they go on the inside! They look a lot better on the inside (probably work better too).
- 9.3: I did not tighten these until I was completely done. It was difficult at times to get that extra 1/8" needed to get the mesh into place. Tightening (finger or not) would have made this worse. Additionally, it is fairly easy to bend the mesh so be careful as you "zip" it into the grooves and while pushing it down and into place. When moving it down to the hub (after it was in the groove), I used one hand on top at one side with the other hand on the opposite side in an effort to minimize perpendicular pressure on the mesh. Two sets of hands will definitely help here (one at the bottom, one at the top). Of course, as I mentioned in a previous note, this won't help much for the last one.
- 10: You are going to be freakin' amazed when you get to this page. Hurricanes? Oh, ya. We do those.
- 11: This one ain't much better from an assembly point of view. I guess that the flimsy metal they used should be enough to transfer wind load, but not much else. I prefer the tube that was used on my Winegard 10' Quad. With the tube you get no "blowout from behind" protection (which is a marginal risk), but you also do have to attach 50+ hooks, and measure, and use a pair of pliers in a way that could damage the mesh if you make a mistake (look at figure 10). I got through it without any damage, but sure seems dumb to me.
- 12: Though it's tempting, don't open the extra bag of parts yet. They are for page 13 (even though they work here also). NOTE THE ORIENTATION OF THE DISH IN FIGURE 11! I got it right the first time, but would have been pissed on page 13 if I had installed it clockwise one position.
- Page 13 and beyond awaits the arrival of my other things.
- I think that I mentioned this once already, but the nut welded to the side of the mount for the inclination actuator is metric so a new bolt will be required there as well as a longer one than that which is supplied for at the gearbox/motor attachment point.
- I would still recommend pole assembly if possible, but that's your call.
Here's a note that I posted to the 4DTV Forum a short time after having thought that the installation had settled:
Sinking Feeling of the Day: Take note all with this mount. There is an allen screw that attaches the chain spur to the drive shaft. Mine was fine as delivered for about three days with the dish angled toward the West. This morning when I sent it to the Atlantic region, the screw gave in. This does *not* cause the dish to flop. Rather, it has the interesting effect on your receiver that it supplies power - the motor runs; it sees a pulse - it updates the position. Meanwhile, your dish is going nowhere fast (or slow for that matter). It's a 3mm screw inside a nut which is used to lock it in place. Mine must have come loose. Of course, me having a screw loose is not news...