A solid, stable dish mast is the first step in having a properly working satellite system. A satellite dish can excerpt significant force on a mast, even with a gentle breeze. The traditional J-pipe mast that comes with every satellite dish provides a stable mount when secured properly to a structure. In cases were a suitable wall or roof mount is not possible, a common option is to install a ground post. A ground post is almost never as stable as a wall or roof mount, however by selecting the proper mast material and installing in concrete, a ground mast can provide a suitable mount for a satellite dish.
A common choice is to install a wood 4x4 in the ground, often without concrete, and attaching a J-mast to the wood post. Aside from looking ugly, a wood post can twist as the wood seasons over time. Wood may warp season to season as the climate changes. Mounting a dish to a wood post in the ground may require an adjustment of the dish to compensate for the movement of the wood.
Conduit / Tubing
The most common material used for ground mast installations is 16 Gauge (approx 1/16" wall thickness) fence post tubing. Fence Post material is suitable for short mast not exceeding 4 feet above grade. It is NOT suitable for the DIRECTV KaKu dish, Wildblue, or HughesNet.
The DIRECTV KaKu Slimline dish and Wildblue require a mast with a 2" O.D. Generally you cannot find any conduit, or fence post/rail material that has a 2" OD. Every so often we hear a story of someone who found a 2" O.D. thin wall conduit at a hardware store, but it seems that 2" O.D. is not a common size. There is some fence post sold as 2", but it is actually 1-7/8" O.D. I cannot say you will never find 2" O.D. conduit, or tubing, but you should not expect to find that material.
If a fence post tube is used for Wildblue or Hughesnet it will fail those companies quality control inspections. Tubing does not provide the stability required for Satellite Internet systems.
For Wildblue and DIRECTV's Slimline dish , a 2" OD - 9 gauge tubing material sold under the name GATOR POLE is available from satellite installers. GATOR poles provide maximum stability in a 2" tubing material.
Some installers use 2" muffler pipe steel. This material is not intended for direct contact with the ground and will rust. It is also made from a softer metal and is not suitable for a satellite dish installation.
Steel pipe used for satellite mast is typically has a schedule 40 wall thickness. Schedule 40 pipe can be threaded. Tubing or Fence post material cannot be threaded. That is perhaps the best way to tell the two materials apart.
The most common steel pipes used for satellite mast are 1-1/4" and 2" water pipe, or rigid electrical conduit. .The OD of 1-1/4" steel water pipe is 1.660", which is slightly larger than the 1.625" (1-5/8') of a standard J-mast, but is still well suited for satellite dishes.
2" steel pipe has an OD of 2-3/8" and is a perfect material for HughesNet satellite internet systems.
You do not need to use a pipe that is threaded, but some technicians believe that mounting a Hughesnet dish on the threaded end reduces the chance that the dish mount will spin under stress. When secured, the pipe threads dig into the dish mount.
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