Things Kept Improving for Mobile Satellite Internet

I mentioned last time that our first HughesNet system was delivered on a piece of plywood. My husband, Joe, was geology major in college and, as such, he was very familiar with tripods. 

The Tripod

To him, mounting the dish on top of a tripod seemed like a very logical thing to do, for several reasons:

  • It was a lot easier to transport and set up.
  • It gave one the flexibility of setting up on uneven ground.
  • It allowed you to get the dish higher off the ground, while still keeping a wide base.

Unfortunately, using a tripod “as is” created a very unstable structure, because the weight of the feed arm on the dish wanted to pull the entire thing over frontwards.

Nonetheless, when we returned to the RV park where we had first tested the tripod idea several months later, we saw at least 3 other mobile satellite setups, all using the same design as our first tripod setup, as shown above. 

This told us two things:

  1. The basic idea of the tripod was a good one.
  2. There was starting to be competition in the mobile satellite Internet market.

Competition in the Mobile Satellite Internet Market

A couple (Glenn and Margo) began selling mobile satellite Internet under the name Maxwell Satellite. A very market-savy dealer (Scott) ran a company called Dustyfoot, and used a custom tripod that didn’t have the problem of wanting to fall forward. 

Here is a photo of that tripod:

Dustyfoot tripod by Truepoint

There were other dealers as well, but these two stood out from the crowd.

The Offset Adapter

Our now good friend Terry came up with the idea of offsetting the weight of the dish/feed arm assembly, such that the whole things was nicely balanced over the center of the tripod. 

Here is a photo of an offset adapter, which became a standard part of most tripod setups:

Some Custom Mounting Solutions

There were some “custom” solutions during this time, as well:

 

The Stanley Keeper & Hardware Set

Another item added to the standard setup was the Stanley Keeper, first thought of by Stanley, of course. Once the tripod and offset adapter became common, the two would be held together by various hardware, which tended to slide around, rather than Keeping everything nicely centered … hence the Stanley Keeper! 

Here is a photo of a typical hardware set, which includes, from top to bottom, a big knob (for easy adjustment of the azimuth), a mylar disc (so, the dish/offset adapter assembly would move smoothly through the azimuth), a Stanley Keeper and a big eyebolt (to hang a ballast strap and ballast):

Changes in the Satellite Equipment, too!

While all these improvements were happening in the mobile satellite Internet world, the satellite providers, StarBand and HughesNet, were making their own improvements. They both went from the older modems that required communications software on your PC, to a “self-hosted” modem that could connect directly to a wireless router and share the connection on the LAN. And, there was no software to install on your PC!

StarBand went from the StarBand 360 to the StarBand 481/486 and then to the StarBand Nova SkyEdge modem. HughesNet went from the DW4000 to the DW6000, then the DW7000, and finally to the HNS7000S modem. 

That’s all for this week. Next week, I’ll show you some photos of the Ku-band satellite equipment that StarBand and HughesNet have offered through the years.

As always, comments and suggestions for future blogs are always welcome! 🙂

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