Materials Needed – Explanation
Satellite dish: Kind of a no brainer but this is essential. You should buy an extra dish and not use the one from your house. Extra Satellite dishes can be had on eBay for about $20 plus shipping. You may also be able to get one from the cable company as they tend to remove dishes from houses where they install their service. Just remember to call and ask first. Getting a tailgating only dish is especially crucial if you are TiVo-ing the game at home while you are in attendance. If you do take your dish from home you will be very disappointed with the 3 & ½ hours of blue screen that will be waiting for you when you get back.
Power Inverter: This turns the batteries DC power into AC power that your TV and Sat. Receiver can use. A 700 watt inverter should be sufficient to run a receiver and a decent size TV (27″ or so). These can be had at various places online but if you get yours at Wal-Mart expect to pay about $50 to $60.
Deep Cycle Battery: This is one of the most important components of your Satellite setup. The battery can make or break your tailgate. Make sure to get the biggest that you can afford so that you can get the most time out of your TV. A few years ago these big Deep Cycle batteries could be had at Wal-Mart for around $50. They have increased in price due to the cost of their raw materials. You should expect to pay somewhere between $70 and $95.
Receiver: Most people take an extra receiver from somewhere like a bedroom. However, if you only have one receiver, be sure that you will not need it at home to record the game.
Television: If using the recommended Battery and Inverter mentioned above, you should be able to run your receiver and a 19″ Tube TV for 4 – 6 hours (maybe longer but I have never had to go past that amount of time before). A flat screen of comparable size would most likely last about the same amount of time as the tube TV. Just a point of reference : a 19″ tube TV will pull around 100 Watts. If using a flat panel television check its rated wattage. This should be the amount used when the back light is set to maximum. You can decrease the load by reducing the television’s back light to the lowest acceptable level.
Tripod/Stand: There are various ways of setting up the actual dish. I have a 3 pronged flat stand that my Sat. bolts to but most people use some sort of tripod like the one shown below. Tripods like this can be purchased at stores like Radio Shack or you can make your own.
Small Level/Really good Eye: The pole on the tripod that your Satellite dish is attached to should be perpendicular to level (the tripod should be level left to right and front to back and the mounting pole should be straight up from that) before trying to point it. Otherwise you may end up spending an hour trying to find a signal only to find out later that the dish was angled an inch too high or low.
Compass: Your receiver should tell you which direction to point your satellite in the setup screen assuming that you have input the correct ZIP code for the area you are in (Based on DirecTV but assume this is the same w/Dish Network). After leveling your dish use the compass to get a general direction to point the dish. Slowly move it left to right until your TV tells you (usually with an audible rapid beeping) that you have a good signal.
Wires/Cables/Remote: Basically anything you will need to actually hook up and operate your TV and Receiver.
Test Run: You should always do a test run to get the kinks out, especially if this is your first time setting up a satellite at your tailgate. Even if you have done it before, you want to make sure that all of your equipment still works.