Tales from the Cabin
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Cabinitis: TV in the Wild

When technology calls, my family clamors

By Lars F
Published: October 1, 2005
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Photo by Cabin Life, Cabin Living
Today, it seems that everyone wants television access. And my family is certainly no exception. During our first extended stay shortly after acquiring the cabin, everyone lamented the fact that up there we were out of touch with the rest of the world.
   
The cabin was so remote that no TV reception was possible and radio reception was possible only on extremely good days. In this day and age, that just won’t do, they said.
   
The only real alternative for remote TV was to purchase one of the giant dishes that were available at the time. When I got the installation guy out to take a look at my cabin, he told me that I wouldn’t get any reception unless I cleared some of the trees off the very steep hill behind my cabin. Now, we’re talking about an impenetrable forest! This is a hillside that was absolutely trunk to trunk with trees and almost impossible to walk through.  
   
If I had been truly intelligent, I would have hired some loggers to come in and cut the trees. I did actually try to find someone but to no avail. So, being brave and the owner of two chain saws, I set out to accomplish what I should probably never have attempted. I spent nearly two summers selectively cutting down trees to clear the skyline so the dish could operate on top of this large hill.
   
We ended up with enough firewood for the next seven to eight years! I’m glad my wife and family love our fireplace.
    
Changing technology. Well, in the two years or so it took me to clear the trees, technology in the satellite TV business completely changed. The giant dish I had purchased and installed was now obsolete.
   
What to do? I couldn’t find anybody to install a small dish system at my cabin due to the remoteness of the area. So I did what anyone in the throes of cabinitis would do: I decided to install it myself.
   
Now, I hardly qualify as an electronics engineer. Up to this point, my greatest accomplishment had been to figure out how to stop my VCR from blinking 12:00 all the time. But, showing the same resolute ignorance that had crowned all my efforts so far, I purchased all the components necessary to install a small dish system at my cabin. I didn’t even know which way due south was. So I had a lot to learn.  
   
Once I pinpointed due south, I needed to figure out how to find the correct bearings for mounting the dish where it could receive a signal. This is not as complicated as it sounds because the directions the satellite company supplies are really quite good. The first step was to figure out where to mount the dish itself. As it turned out, that was easy because of all the trees I had removed from the line of sight. It would go on the garage.

Satellite angel. After some false starts, some mistakes, some scraped knuckles and several lengthy telephone conversations with my satellite angel, Darlene, who led me through the drill with superhuman patience and politeness, I managed to get the satellite dish mounted. And – surprise – the reception was quite good.
   
Now, of course, I could call myself a true expert. So I immediately set out to install a system at my house back in the city. Having been through the drill once, this was relatively easy. Then, success having bred even further ambition, I decided to install a system at my hunting lodge in North Dakota.
   
Now I was really in the groove. Then the satellite company offered a deal to provide local TV service at my remote cabin. In other words, I could get my local newscasts by installing a new dish and new receiver (and, of course, paying more). Well, being a self-acknowledged expert, I set out to take care of this opportunity immediately. And – again with Darlene’s help – I did it.   
   
So now my family can’t complain that they are out of touch with world events any longer. And in taking on the challenge of installing the TV dish system, I have been able to quench my cabinitis for a bit.
   
If you have ever been afraid to tackle this type of project yourself, don’t be. The instructions are clear – with a little help from Darlene. 

Lars F. has refused the 12-step plan to control his cabinitis. Only his first name is used to protect his identity.
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