Wednesday, January 10, 2007

We Can Dish It Out

Moving from place to place Denny and I have a series of jobs that need to be done to get our fifth wheel all set up and ready to live in for the week. Denny backs into the campsite, with visual or verbal assistance from yours truly, I unhitch the trailer after it's leveled and in the proper position. Denny hooks up the water, the electrical power and the sewer line while I'm opening the slide out rooms inside and repositioning the furniture which was secured for travel. After all that is done, it's time to gird our loins for the battle--putting up the satellite dishes. Note that this is only a problem in the eastern half of the country where there are an abundance of trees. Also note that we have been in the eastern half of the country since April. Aye, there's the rub.

For those of you in stick built homes, you have a nice installer come out and run cable into your home for your TV, phone and Internet service. Perhaps you even have satellite TV or Internet if you live farther out in the boonies. But a service provider handles the set up for you. When we move from place to place, we have to do this ourselves and believe it or not, this is what provides the greatest amount of friction between Denny and me. It is truly the only time we ever yell at each other. It goes like this: I find the coordinates for both the TV satellite dish and the Internet satellite dish. There are three sets of coordinates for each; azimuth (side to side), elevation (up and down) and skew (tilt of dish). We have a special compass we set to line up the dishes to the proper azimuth and special meters that signal when we've found the proper satellites to receive a signal. Two different wrenches for tightening bolts when the dishes are aligned. Two sets of cables to connect the dishes to the fifth wheel. A level to make sure the support tripods are perfectly level which is absolutely mandatory for receiving a signal and proper alignment. It's sounding complicated, isn't it?

Okay, here we go. First you find a spot that has a clear opening to the southwestern sky. If there are no trees, or few trees, Denny will attach the TV dish to the ladder-mounted bracket he created. This takes five minutes and we'll have a signal within another five minutes. If there are trees too near, he'll have to take the dish down and set it up on the tripod. This is when the grumbling and cussing begins, because Denny's idea of where a clear shot of the sky and my idea of a clear shot of the sky differ vastly. Which means that Denny sets up the dish, turns it back and forth attempting to locate the signal, has no luck. After 20 minutes he gives up and I try. When that doesn't work I suggest moving the dish, which brings more grumbling (I'm being kind here) and "you do it". This can happen several times until we find the right spot. In Cochran, GA it took us three hours and even then we lost the signal and I had to try it all over again the following day. Now that the TV dish is up we can start on the Internet dish. Sometimes, the Internet dish will then go up in ten minutes, which eases a lot of the stress, but sometimes, as was the case here in Louisiana, we had to move its dish (which is quite heavy) 50 feet to find the signal. This particular set up was aggravated by the fact that someone *whistling innocently* left the handheld two-way radio on the last time it was used, running the battery down so that I had to walk the length of the fifth wheel to yell out the window to Denny to report the status of the signal. It was not pretty, although I'm sure the neighbors were entertained. Because we would have been in their place. It was definitely a two-drink set up day. With lots of yelling.

While I've made this sound quite complex and aggravating, on a normal day we get both dishes set up in a total of about 20 minutes. We have a routine that we follow and we have an idea of where the dishes should be pointed and find our clear spots before we set them up. We preset the elevation and skew before mounting the dishes to their tripods or brackets so it's a matter of just swinging the dishes side to side to find the initial signal and then fine tuning them by making minute movements up and down. But every once in a while, just to shake things up, we have one of those bad dish days where one or the other will take an hour or two or four and Denny and I get to yell at each other. And drink. Which is when the cat hides. Smart cat.

1 comment:

Coll said...

If it were me, I think I would be putting the Internet dish up first and then maybe even think twice about the TV. Gotta have my internet.. but not so much the TV. :-)

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