Uses for Old DirecTV Dishes

By Irving Oala

Before you toss your DirecTV satellite dish into the garbage, consider reusing it for other purposes. Since there are electrical components already built into the device, try harnessing these for different technological projects. The basic disc-like shape of the satellite dish can also be used for a number of different crafts and fun science projects.

Build a Wi-Fi Biquad Dish

In 2005, Engadget.com published a report entitled "How-To: Build a Wi-Fi Biquad Dish Antenna," which explained how an old DirecTV satellite dish could be rewired to create a wireless signal between different dishes and standard personal computers with working wireless cards. Build this biquad dish antenna by using a heavy-gauge of conductor wiring. Run the wire between the computer and the satellite dish, then connect the wiring to the feed horn (or small metal part poking out in front of the dish) by soldering them on to an N-connector. A one-foot piece of heavy gauge uncovered copper wiring should then be bent into the shapes of two diamonds with pliers and installed on the face of the feed horn. The middle, between these two copper diamonds, should then be soldered onto the N-connector as well, so that all the signals coming in to the feed horn can now be transmitted to the computer. Run power to the rewired satellite dish and a wireless signal should be available on a computer with wireless capabilities.

Create a Light Sharpener

A light sharpener uses the principal of taking as much of the sun's light and energy as it can, concentrating it all into one place and then using this energy to burn or melt things. Remove the feed horn inside the satellite dish. Glue small mirrors to the inside of the dish until the whole bowl is filled with a reflective surface. Then place this in a sunny area. When sunlight hits it, the heat and rays will reflect intensely onto whatever is held directly over it. If the sun is intense enough, this heat can roast marshmallows, melt crayons and even start fires. Be sure to wear sunglasses and use caution once this device has been constructed. Larger satellites make much more powerful light sharpeners, as the older models were 10 to 12 feet in diameter, creating more surface area for more mirrors to be placed and more heat and energy from the sun to be used.

A Place to Put Things

When a satellite dish no longer works with satellites, it is just a dish. Remove the feed horn and plug all the other holes in the dish with putty or tape. Then use the empty orb of the dish wherever it is convenient. Pile change in it beside the front door to your house or have everyone leave their keys in it, so that no one loses them. Put old screws, nuts and bolts in it in your garage shop or fill it with corks or potpourri to sit in the middle of a coffee table.