No longer is satellite television reserved for yachts. Thanks to compact, rugged and sophisticated marine satellite TV antennas from companies such as Intellian (intelliantech.com) and KVH/TracVision (kvh.com), boats as small as 20 feet in length can access HDTV channels from the likes of DirecTV and Dish Network while under way or at rest, provided they have 110-volt AC power.
For this project aboard a Monterey 320SY cruiser, we chose the Intellian i3 satellite TV system ($2,799.99). The dome measures 167/8 inches wide by 75/16 inches high and weighs about 20 pounds. For smaller boats, consider the Intellian i2 ($2,199.99) or TracVision M1 ($2,289.99) — both are lighter and more compact than the i3. However, satellite TV signals are aimed at land, so the smaller the antenna, the less likely it will pick up a signal when venturing offshore. Bigger is better for blue-water boaters.
1. Antenna Mounting
Choose an elevated and level location clear of obstructions. Mount the dome above any radar antennas. This may require a special riser from a company such as Seaview (seaviewglobal.com). Otherwise, use the template to drill the mounting holes and cut the central hole in the proper places. Bolt the antenna in position, sealing the holes to prevent water intrusion.
2. Antenna Cable
Securely connect the supplied 49-foot-long RF (coax) cable to the RF-1 port on the bottom of the antenna and run it down into the cabin where you plan to position the antenna control unit (ACU). A second RF cable is needed if you want multiple onboard sat TV receivers. In anticipation of adding a receiver later, it’s a good idea to run both cables now in order to make just one pull.
3. Antenna Control Unit
Intellian includes a bracket to secure the ACU. Once mounted, plug in the supplied power cord to the back of the ACU and connect the other end to a 12- to 24-volt DC source. Then connect the RF cable to the ANT RF-1 port on the back of the ACU. Plug a another RF cable into the receiver port, and run it back to the HDTV receiver. With some service providers, a second RF cable is needed for HDTV.