How do we set up our satellite dish when camping?

Barb May 29, 2010

How do we set up our satellite dish while camping anywhere in the USA?

We have a 5th wheel and sometimes dry camp for a few days. So, we are not hooked up to any electric, but rely on our generator. I have looked for equipment to attach to the top of the 5th wheel, but it is expensive.

Can you help me? Thank you very much!

  1. Wes
    March 15, 2012 at 6:21 pm

    A little preparation in advance will go a long way to making a portable satellite installation easy.  The biggest differences for a portable satellite dish installation is the mount and the coordinates for which you will need to have to peak the dish.  Find a portable satellite tripod kit from somewhere like:

    Once you have that, research online the required coordinates for your install location.  If you purchase one of the kits from above, they include a portable satellite signal locator which will help you peak the signal for optimum reception.  You should then be good to go.  Good luck!

  2. Jan
    June 14, 2010 at 7:39 pm

    You could also try this one, witch include google maps, helping to find the right direction.

  3. John
    June 5, 2010 at 2:54 pm

    If you are taking a satellite dish, you are not camping.

    • Mike
      June 6, 2010 at 12:59 pm

      Seriously. Not what I would call "roughing it".

  4. Dave
    June 5, 2010 at 2:07 am

    Barb, It's actually very easy. Most likely you are using direct tv or dish...? You need to bring your receiver and satellite antenna along with you and the cables you are using to connect receiver to TV. You'll also need coaxial that'll reach the receiver from where ever you place the dish. Get a tripod for your dish antenna (very easy to find on the internet) Find a location to put the dish facing the unobstructed southern sky. Run the Coaxial from the dish to your receiver. Connect your TV to the receiver and plug your receiver into an outlet being powered by the generator. It may take a few minutes for the TV to acquire a signal but after that you should be in business.

    Satellite Tripod Link so you know what I'm talking about:

    Just google the phrase "Satellite Tripod" which will give you many options. If you don't have an extra dish antenna, call your provider who will be more than happy to sell you one. You can also get them on ebay etc.. but make sure they're compatible with your receiver.

    Good luck and happy camping!


  5. Anonymous
    May 30, 2010 at 5:30 pm

    Hi Barb,

    How big is your dish? I believe you can find some welder in your neighborhood who can help you in making brackets for the dish. Design it so that you could easily attach the dish using nuts and bolts to the roof of your 5th wheel and take it down whenever you are on the move.

    Or you could also create a foldable tripod for the dish and fasten the feet to the ground using metal pegs. Like the one you use for camping tents.

    Making your own brackets/tripod should save you some bucks.

    • Barb
      May 30, 2010 at 11:32 pm

      Thank You Thurana, I appreciate your help , we are getting so many great ideas. I love this site .. we will give this a try with building our own. Shouldn't be very hard to do.

  6. Steve Campbell
    May 30, 2010 at 2:50 am


    I believe satellites only work if you know exactly which direction to point them in. If this is true, I'm not sure it's going to be very easy for you to access your satellite while you're camping.

    • Barb
      May 30, 2010 at 4:40 pm

      Steve, thank you for your interest in helping us set up our satelite. If you find any sites that will give instructions please let me know.
      Thank You, Barb

  7. Merryann Palmer
    May 30, 2010 at 1:34 am

    I am going to assume that you have internet access at some point, and that you know where you will be staying. We usually get the coordinates for our next stop before we leave our current campsite.

    1. If you have web access on your cell phone, or have an air card for your laptop, you have a couple of ways to get your coordinates.
    - Your satellite provider's website. We have DirectTV, and their Dish Pointer page is: where you can find the elevation and azimuth (compass point) for the zip code you are setting up in. I presume that Dish has the same information.
    - An independent website with the pointing information is: This site requires that you know which satellite you are looking for. That information should be available from your provider.

    2. Choosing where to put the dish: Get a general idea of where the dish will be pointing. Be sure there is a clear line of site for the signal to get through. Trees are NOT your friends for this!

    3. Anchor the dish. There are several ways to anchor your dish. To decide just how you do it, be aware of the weather in the area you are camping. Some areas have very high winds and require more secure anchoring than others.
    Tripods are always good options. However, you must secure it from tipping over. Gallon plastic jugs filled with water and suspended from the center of the tripod are good for normal use. I've also seen dumbells, weights, sandbags, and cement blocks hanging from them.
    Some people put the dish on a low platform & sit it on the ground with some weight on it to secure it. This can be tipped over rather easily. I don't recommend it.
    The best method we've found is the Bullseye mount. Unfortunately, I don't know if they are actually shipping them at this time. The information can be found at:

    4. Set the elevation and direction (azimuth) of the dish. Spend the money & get a GOOD compass. It makes life so much easier!. Your receiver should have a signal testing screen that lets you know how strong your signal is. With one person monitoring the signal strength, and the other one adjusting the dish, it normally doesn't take too long to get set up.

    REMEMBER: carry plenty of cable. If you have a DVR, you will need 2 cables in order to be able to record one program while you watch another. Also, your local channels are only good for the broadcast area of the individual channels. Once you get further away from home, you will not be able to get them.

    • Barb
      May 30, 2010 at 4:31 pm

      Merryann, we want to thank you so very much for the helpful information. We do have internet access. I clicked on the sites you provided and what an eye opener. We do have the dish, and receiver to take along. First our trip will take us to Angle Fire New Mexico to honor our troops there. My husband was in Viet Nam 'Big Red One' I am so proud of him. Then off to Colorado.. close to Estes Park. Again, how thoughtful of you to take the time and give us directions,,
      Thank You Barb

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