Satellite Dish for the Birds!




Introduction: Satellite Dish for the Birds!

About: Hi I'm kent. I am a maker with a lifetime of experience in electronic systems and automation design. I am also developing skills in 3D printing, carpentry and welding.

Birds don’t like soggy sunflower seeds!

I live on Vancouver Island on the west coast of Canada where the winters are mild but can be quite wet. In the past I have had to dispose of a lot of wet, moldy birdseed and clean out the feeders. In this Instructable I am upcycling an old satellite dish and using it as a rain shelter for my birdfeeder.

The feeder originally hung from a tree on a wire and even though the feeder did have a bit of a roof on it the fill hatch at the top didn’t seal very well. In order to employ the satellite dish effectively I decided to mount both the dish and feeder on a fence post; this involved constructing a bracket to support the feeder from the bottom.

This is a fairly easy project and can be accomplished by anyone with even very basic maker skills. The project can be completed in 1 day although if paint is involved allow 2 days.

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Step 1: Materials:

1 Orphaned satellite dish

1 Bird feeder with 3/4” post mount hole in the bottom

2 step washers (3/4” shoulder with 1/2” step and ¼” through hole)

1 ½” EMT conduit pipe x 1” long

1 2-1/2” x ¼” bolt

1 ¼” nut

3 ¼” flat washers

1 ¼” fender washer

1 ¼” lock washer

1 1” x ¼” x 14 ¼” piece flat iron

1 1” x ¼” x 6 ¾” piece flat iron

1 3/8” x 3 ½” piece of rebar, cut on 45 degree at each end

4 #14 x 2” pan head wood screws

Step 2: Tools

With exception to the welding (optional) most of the project is doable with very common shop tools:

  • Handheld drill and/or drill press
  • 1/8" and 1/4" drill bits
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Hacksaw or grinder with zip disc

Step 3: Modify the Satellite Dish.

Start out by modifying the satellite dish arm to allow it to mount closer to the post. To accomplish this simply cut the curved part of the pipe off (you can use a hacksaw or, as I did, a zip disc on a handheld grinder). Being as the dish will be mounted with the back skyward it is a good idea to drill a small hole in the bottom lip so collected rain water can drain away.

Next cut away the two tails that extend from the back of the dish beyond the lip. Cut them flush with lip on dish. This ensures the dish will fit close to fence post.

Step 4: Build Bracket for Attaching Birdfeeder to Fence Post.

I used 1” x ¼” flat iron to form the bracket but there are plenty of options here including a purchased bracket from the hardware.

Cut two pieces of iron; The horizontal piece 14 ¼” and then drill a ¼” hole at one end (1” from end) for attaching the peg to support the feeder, the vertical piece of iron is cut to 6 ¾” and drill two ¼” holes in one end (one at 1” and the other at 3 ½”). The two pieces were welded together at a 90 degree angle (weld the ends without the holes). I also welded a short piece of 3/8” rebar as a corner brace but wouldn’t have been necessary.

Assemble the peg; insert 1 step washer on the ¼” bolt followed by the 1” piece of ½” EMT, then the other step washer, then the 3 flat washers and finally the fender washer. This assembly is then inserted into the ¼” hole in the horizontal leg of the bracket, pointing upward. Slip the ¼” lock washer over the end of the bolt and attach the assembly with the ¼” nut. Tighten.

This is a good time to spray paint the bracket (I used a grey color somewhat close to the feeder and satellite dish).

Step 5: Installation

While the bracket is drying install the satellite dish. Locate it fairly high on the post, the feeder has to nestle up under it. I used large #14 x 2” screws so predrilled with a 1/8” drill bit. Tilt the front of the dish upward slightly so collected water runs back toward the drain hole drilled earlier. Leave the adjustment screws on the dish bracket snug but not too tight, this allows you to tilt the dish up easily to fill the feeder.

Once the bracket is dry you might need to wrap a couple layers of electrical tape on the peg to provide a snug fit with the hole in the bottom of the birdfeeder. With the feeder sitting on the bracket, hold the bracket up on the fence post below the dish, mark the location of the mounting holes and predrill with 1/8” bit. Next install the bracket with two #14 x 2” screws and set the birdfeeder in place on the peg. To fill the feeder you simply push the dish upward on its bracket, remove the fill cap on the feeder and pour in the seed.

Step 6: Closing

Was this a perfect solution? Not quite, the rain is sometimes accompanied by wind; a little wind is no problem but gusts still tend to blow rain into the feeder although a lot less than before.

I hope you found this Instructable helpful and even if didn’t have a satellite dish to upcycle you at least found inspiration for creating your own birdfeeder shelter solution (perhaps from other upcycled material like hub caps, garbage can lids or cooking wok).

Thanks for taking the time to read my Instructable, it is my first and as such may qualify for a win in the ‘First Time Author’ contest. I look forward to your support, thanks in advance for your vote.

Kent at the FrontierShed

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    2 years ago

    That's a good solution! We had a pretty wet winter here last year as well, this year looks like it will be the same.