Poor Man's Satellite Dish Deicer

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We have a 2.8 meter, fixed satellite dish that receives programming from AMC-3. Because our facility is located in Kansas City, it is frequently subject to snow and ice buildup. After years of relying on the "broom method" I decided to check into deicers. Although there are commercial deicers on the market, they cost thousands of dollars and can be difficult to retrofit. My initial solution was to attach a vinyl cover over the front of the dish. Most of the time the cover did the job -- deflecting snow and hail -- but during outright icing conditions it proved to be ineffective.

The dish at KLJC.

The dish at KLJC.

What I did next was place a small "tree" of six 250W heat lamps in the center of the dish between the dish and the vinyl cover. I made the tree by mounting the female end of a heavy duty extension cord into a collar and placing the collar into center of the dish. Then I used some adapters to make the tree and plug in the lights. I put a dead bulb on top of the tree to keep the vinyl cover a safe distance from the heat lamps.

The power cord inserted through the back of the dish through a collar.

The power cord inserted through the back of the dish through a collar.

The tree has no measurable effect on signal strength since it is largely in the shadow of the feed horn assembly. The station remote control activates the heat lamps throughout the winter anytime the deicers are on at the transmitter site. With this setup we have been snow and ice-free for four seasons and the eerie red glow is pretty cool.

The light tree keeping things warm.

The light tree keeping things warm.

Williams is the chief engineer of KLJC-FM, Kansas City.

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