How to Receive Direct TV on a Boat
By Will Charpentier
Satellite TV was available at sea in the mid-1990s. Since then, technological improvements have made it possible to carry satellite-based DirecTV service with you when you cruise. You can receive satellite services aboard your boat through a satellite antenna with an electronic mounting that's controlled by a gyroscope. This gyroscopically stabilized antenna will track the satellite from which you receive your service, working well on cruises without frequent course changes and--of course--while you're docked in marinas along the way.
Mount the gyroscopically stabilized antenna on the roof of the boat's cabin or the equipment platform of the mast by drilling four holes in the cabin roof or platform, then insert the mounting bolts that are provided with the antenna and tighten them with an adjustable wrench. This antenna, once correctly aimed at the broadcast satellite, will maintain that orientation.
Connect the coaxial cable to the antenna by pushing the wire of the antenna connector (called an "F connector") into the antenna's "Output" port, then turning the screw connector clockwise to secure the connector to the antenna.
Connect the antenna power cord and ground to the boat's electrical system according to the antenna manufacturer's instructions. Connect the control cord to the antenna's control port, then caulk any holes or bolts involved to preserve the watertight integrity of the cabin. Take the antenna output coaxial cable and the antenna control unit into the cabin. Place the control unit next to the DirecTV receiver.
Connect the antenna output coaxial cable to the DirecTV receiver by inserting the wire of the F connector into the antenna input connection on the rear of the receiver, then tightening the screw connector by turning it clockwise.
Connect the DirecTV receiver to the television set with the coaxial cable provided.
Adjust the antenna's aim, using a hand-held compass to make general adjustments. Turn the television set on and, if necessary, make additional adjustments to the antenna using the antenna control unit.
- This is a project for a calm, nearly windless day in a sheltered port. Experience shows that the antenna will accurately track the satellite as long as the boat is rolling less than 7 degrees to either side or pitching less than 20 degrees fore-and-aft.
- This project requires the use of tools and, because you'll be caulking, chemicals. It also involves working aloft if you mount the antenna to the mast's equipment platform (the "crow's nest"); the use of a safety harness is encouraged.
Will Charpentier is a writer who specializes in boating and maritime subjects. A retired ship captain, Charpentier holds a doctorate in applied ocean science and engineering. He is also a certified marine technician and the author of a popular text on writing local history.