Disco Satellite Dish

Cookin' the Solar Toast

About 8 months ago I dropped Dish Network for DirecTV. I won’t bore you with the details, but by the end of it all I thought Dish Network kind of sucked. DirecTV had some special running which gave you a new satellite dish, receivers, installation and everything for a great price. So, I now have DirecTV. The end result of switching dish companies, I ended up with all the old Dish 500 equipment -the dish, receivers, and remotes. I sold off the receivers within a few weeks, but the 20″ x 21″ dish remained, sitting on top a wood pile, collecting dirt. It seemed like too cool an item to dump and it was just screaming to have something done with it. But what?

I posted some threads on a handful of message boards on what people thought I should do with it. The replies were pretty funny. Here’s what people came up with:

  • Use it for a flying saucer hoax which will cause mass panic about oncoming alien invasion.
  • Line it with little mirrors, tinfoil, ect to create either a large spotlight or a solar powered satellite dish cooker.
  • Use it as a giant Guacamole dip dish.
  • Build a parabolic reflector mic.
  • Use it to build a 1920s style “Death Ray”.
  • Enhance the hit-surface of the toilet bowl.
  • Use it as a snow saucer, a protective cup or cover it with glass and turn it into a table.
  • Put some holes around the bottom to use as a colander when making large amounts of spaghetti.
  • Use it to surf on open wireless networks on the other side of town.
  • Make a birdbath out of it (which was my very first thought).
  • I could go as the Gladiator to my next Halloween party or just wear it as a large, silly hat -or a hat for rice patty farming.
  • Build a swimming pool for midgets.
  • Use it as body armour in a gunfight, a la, Senor Eastwood.
  • The base of a fire bowl for summer evenings.
  • Tie myself to a speedboat and use the dish instead of waterskis. -AKA “Waterdish’ing”.
  • Snail racing Indy 500 style, grease ’em up and watch them crash.
  • I could mount a magnetron from an old microwave oven in front of it and cook food on the other side of town (AKA a 2020s-style “Death Ray”).
  • Use it as a giant Wok.
  • Bury it in my yard, convex side up, leaving the topmost portion of the round visible through the dirt. then put some stakes around it and rope it off, and put a sign beside it that says “DANGER! UNEXPLODED LAND MINE. STAY BACK 50 FEET.”
  • Attach it to the top of my car. and get vanity plates that say “MTHRSHP” OR attach it ‘correctly’ to the top of my car and pretend I have satellite TV in my car.
  • Use it for the Oversize Discus competition or as a giant Frisbee.
  • Put a base on it, have a bunch of people over for the superbowl and serve chips and salsa out of it.
  • Enjoy a really big bowl of soup.
  • Make a directive speaker and broadcast audio propaganda towards the house at the end of the street.
  • Put a strap on it to turn it into a shield, arm yourself with a light saber, and head out to the nearest Ren Fair armed with futuristic technology.
  • Build a model of the starship Enterprise, using the dish as the main hull.
  • Sell on Ebay. Somebody will find a use for it.
  • Bolt it to the top of a black van and spray paint “Flower Delivery” on the side and randomly park in front of crackheads houses to make them paranoid and shoot themselves.

Rob, of RadioAid.com fame, even came up with a five step diagram on building a Midget Hot Tub.

Step One
Step Two
Step Three
Step Four
Step Five

I’ll tell you one thing, that Rob has the 1337 p40705h0p 5ki11z.

Anyway, all were great ideas. I liked the makeshift parabolic mirror or microphone ideas the best. Ok, that’s not true. I liked the Magnatron idea the best but that didn’t seem so safe to me -plus I haven’t decided if I want to spawn children in the future. The last thing my testicles need are stray microwaves from an exposed Magnatron.

About 85% covered.

At the end of the day I decided on covering my old satellite dish with mirrors and making a parabolic reflector in the name of fun and science. I figure covering the dish with mirrors it will remain quite reflective, perhaps even more then it was, so I haven’t ruled out the microphone or directive speaker ideas for the future.

At the time of this writing I’ve got about 85% of the dish covered with one inch mirrors. I bought 275 one inch mirrors and 50 half inch mirrors (for the edges). It looks like I’ll need about 325 one inch mirrors to cover the main surface area. I guess that means I’ll have to brave the hordes of latte holding soccer moms at the local craft store tomorrow and pick up about 50 more mirrors. So far the cost has been minimal. I bought the mirrors at Michael’s Craft Store -which isn’t a bad store given

I managed to take an arty picture. Art spaz alert! Hmmm? Album art perhaps?

everyone who works at Michael’s hasn’t a clue where anything is or if they even carry the item your looking for and the great hordes of latte holding soccer moms pay no attention where they’re going, what they’re doing, or how to hold their lattes, craft items and cell phone all at the same time. But it’s not a bad place. Ok, I take that back. I can’t fucking stand Michael’s or craft stores in general. All those fruity twits wearing shirts and clothes they’ve covered in beads and glitter, their arms full of boxes made of pressed paper just waiting to have badly painted flowers and birds applied to them.. Opps, sidetracked.

Anyway, Michael’s had packs of mirrors of different sizes for $2.29 for a pack of 25 (Note to self: That dream of making disco balls out of regular objects, like a bowl of plastic fruit, is only moments

The amazing multi-eyed, multi-mouthed, multi-everything Seven!

away). I really was looking for hexagon mirrors because I figured they’d fit the curve of the dish better. But, they were sold out. The one inch square mirrors seem to work well.

Figuring I needed a reason for building this (not really, but reasons, no matter how lame, give me a better excuse for starting work and building such a silly thing) my idea was I could use a tiki torch and create a spotlight to light up the pool in the back yard. It seems this isn’t going to work very well. The light from a flame isn’t quite bright enough or perhaps it isn’t direct enough. Either way, when I was playing around with the dish tonight I couldn’t get a very good beam from a tiki torch. I’m considering using the old dual LMBF (the receiver part of the dish) and replacing them with the lenses out of a couple of flashlights. These should fit in LMBF receiver area. This could create a nice little spotlight using only about 3-9 volts DC.

Tonight, about 7pm, I took the dish outside and pointed it at the sun. I held a piece of paper up at the focal point and it started to smoke within about 2 seconds. Of course, this would be a silly project without attempting something that might get one hurt, so I put my hand in the focal point. I couldn’t hold it there for very long. Youch! That is some pretty good heat coming from the sun right on the horizon. I’m interested to see what I can get out of it at noon.

This is the LMBF with the housing removed. A couple of LED lights and it turns into the head of Hector from Saturn 3 fame.

My plan right now it to attach a piece of metal or wood extending out of the LMBF mount at the bottom of the dish. On this I’ll attach a gooseneck microphone mount with a metal clamp at the top. This should allow me to easily mount various lights for playing with spotlights, microphones for using as a parabolic mic, speakers for broadcasting propaganda at the neighbours house, and food items for solar cooking time. The first food item I think I’ll make is solar toast. Yum.

< Homer >Mmmmm, Solar Toast. Ahhgggrrrggraaa < /Homer >

Once I’m done playing around, I think I’ll plant a pole into the ground at the end of the pool, attach my modified LMBF lights, and have an interesting light / conversation piece.

You know, after I placed those LED’s into the LMBF I may or may not use it on the dish. It might look kind of nice mounted on a gooseneck on top my new rack (see last entry). Then I could mount two more goosenecks on each side (like arms) with lights on the ends to point at the equipment. My rack would totally look like a giant Hector robot.

Ok, that settles it. Next project The Hectorack!!

(As this is a re-post from my other website made May 3, 2004, this is what followed the above post on June 22, 2004)

Well, it is now done. I’ve covered the entire thing with mini-mirrors. Today it was about 91f, sunny, not a cloud in the sky. I thought to myself  “Myself. If there was ever a day to cook up a slice of Solar Toast, today is it.”

So, I made my first piece of Solar Toast. I have to say it was quite tasty.

Cookin' the Solar Toast

Cooking the other side

I’ve decided if one is going to use this method for cooking, arc welding goggles would be a good investment.

1 Comment

  1. OK your disco ball satellite TV dish is the coolest thing I have ever seen in my life! Thanks for going through the steps on how you made this, I am so going to try to make one of these with an old dish I’ve had sitting in my garage forever. This is an eco friendly and really cool way to deal with old electronic waste! thanks!

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