Internet, Satellite dishes, and Trees

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August 14, 2008

I have a love/hate relationship with trees. I love the beauty, the shade, and the ambiance they provide. I hate that they block our satellite dish from connecting us to Internet. It took me a while before I had the nerve to ask a park for a site without trees. That was sacrilege! But, I got over it. We have plenty of opportunity to enjoy trees on walks and driving around. When I’m ‘home’ I want my Internet! I’ve learned to simply ask if there are any ‘satellite friendly’ sites. Even though relatively few people have the Internet satellite that we do, the TV satellites have the same issue with trees, and park personnel are accustomed to dealing with the issue.

The following pictures are from Oregon and California. Our dish did get connected here, even with all the trees. It doesn’t need a wide open area, just a hole thru the branches (in the exact right spot) will do.

Satellite dish connected thru an Oregon forest Satellite connected thru the trees in California

In the 5 years that we’ve been traveling and using our Datastorm Internet Satellite dish, trees have not bothered us. We were always able to find a hole thru the trees big enough for our dish to find its satellite and connect.

Until now.

We are in New England and I’ve never seen so many trees! As I mentioned in last week’s article, we had no connection (Satellite, Wi-Fi, or Cellular) in Acadia National park. The picture below is from a commercial park in central Maine. We didn’t even try to raise the dish here. Luckily, this park had good free Wi-Fi, so we got online all we wanted.

No satellite connection here!

This next photo is from Burlingame State Park in Rhode Island. No satellite connection available here! And no Wi-Fi. Luckily the Verizon signal was good enough to use the Broadband Connect feature of our phone.

Burlingame State Park in Rhode Island, no sattellite, no Wi-Fi.  We used Verizon Broadband Connect.

The angle of your dish makes a difference
Another thing that makes it more difficult to connect here in New England is that we are so far north and east. The satellite is in geosynchronous orbit over the equator somewhere in the Pacific. That means that it appears to stay in the exact same place … it is orbiting at the same rate the earth is spinning. For more info see this NASA site.

Think about it, if we were parked near the equator, our satellite dish would be pointing straight up. If the photo above was taken in Southern California, we may have been able to connect because the dish would be aimed higher and may be shooting over the trees. Here in New England, the dish is pointing much closer to the horizon, and even short trees get in the way.

Just another example that, if you need the Internet as you travel, you need to use all three methods to connect.

Chris Guld

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  4. Forget the cot and the heater. Get one of those Colemna twin size air mesarstes and something to pump it up. Then, bring along a 1-2 thick foam pad and a good sleeping bag, or two mediocre ones. If you pump an air matress up nice and firm and then put a 2 foam pad on it, it can be more comfortable than your mattress at home. But it is equally important to keep warm when you sleep, not just have a nice pad. So, make sure that you have a sleeping bag that is rated for 20 degrees lower than the coldest temperature it will be at night or your going to freeze your bum off. So, if you aren’t sure about how good your sleeping bag is, bring a 2nd sleeping bag or a few extra comforters to go over and under your regular bag.DO NOT sleep on an air matress or cot without having something on it to insulate you from the air, or you WILL get all the heat sucked right out of you. A 2 thick foam pad is an excellent insulator, but an extra sleeping bag under you would work OK too.

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  6. Cheryl

    I need help. I have a King Dome in-motion satellite on my RV.
    I currently have Dish network and get TV fine.
    I want to find a service that I can use to get Internet and TV for home and use the same service via my King Dome.
    I am willing to change TV services, but I don’t want to put a lot of money into changing equipment right now. Any suggestions?



  7. Speaking for myself, obviously, the idea of camping is to be out-of-touch with civilization-as-they-say-it-is. It’s a form of meditation and prayer for me to be out in the woods or in the desert. For whatever personal reasons, I can’t keep grounded—or “centered” or whatever term—with jive coming in from the tv, the web, the newspapers, radio. I guess it’s like the question “Am I a physical person who has spiritual experiences or am I a spiritual person who has physical experiences?”

    I like to talk to the trees and creeks and rocks and birds and then listen to what they have to say to me.

  8. Carol Colbert

    I use the Sprint data card. Having my own Internet business I only go where there is good coverage. If the area doesn’t have good coverage then I will have to come back and visit after I retire.

  9. Um…I see your desire to be online while camping, but I find that it defeats the purpose of the outdoors. I actually blogged about it yesterday . Check it out if you have a minute.

  10. Bob,

    I share your attitude for one, or possibly two nights. And, that’s exactly why I have a LOVE/hate relationship – the forest is beautiful (see my blog post at It’s just that, being a fulltimer with a web-based business, I really can’t afford to be offline more than a day or two.

  11. bob

    I just have a mind set that if TV/internet doesnt come in then I just enjoy the trees and if I need a TV show I plug in a good movie for the night and call it a night. Camping is my main goal in my travels. The great outdoors.

  12. Patsy and Woody,
    Yes, trees are definitely an argument in favor of the tripod type of satellite dish. I’m glad you found what works for you!

  13. We are currently in Fairbanks, Alaska and have good internet reception with our Datastorm. In fact, there have only been a few places up here that have been troublesome; we moved toSat 127 when we came here. WiFi has generally been satisfactory although we generally didn’t need it.

  14. Woodstick, (Patsy and Woody)

    Yep trees can be a bummer, that is why we opted for a portable dish, have always been able to find a hole, we have mega length of cable, right now we have the cable hung out many feet from our fifth, we keep moving it around until we find a good spot. A bit more time consuming to set up but with some experiece no problem at all. Love our Hughes portable dish.

  15. Something about not seeing the forest for the trees….