Things Made From Satellite Dishes

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(Image: satellite dish image by stoffies from Fotolia.com)

The curved bowl of an old satellite dish may look like an inconvenient and awkwardly-shaped piece of trash, but it is actually a rather versatile and useful piece of craft equipment. If you are a science geek, a weekend secret agent or an outdoor builder, don't get rid of that satellite dish without investigating the fascinating projects you can build with it.

Shotgun microphone

A satellite dish is designed to focus incoming satellite signals on the horn, however it can work just as well on sound waves. A satellite dish shotgun mic can easily pick up the song of a bird in a tree or the conversation of the neighbors across the street. Mount a standard microphone on the horn so that the diaphragm is right in front of the center of the dish. Connect the microphone to an amplifier and headphones or a sound recorder. To use the mic, just point it at whatever you want to hear.

Parabolic mirror

Satellite dishes are already shaped like parabolas, so they can easily be turned into a parabolic mirrors. First, sand your satellite dish lightly to help your material stick to it (satellite dishes are nearly impervious to glue without a little roughing up.) Then, glue strips of aluminum foil or aluminum flashing to the inside. You now have a parabolic mirror. Remove the horn and use it to study optics and focal length. Alternately, mount a cooking vessel at the horn and focus the sun with your mirror to create a solar oven.

Satellite Dish Gazebo

Many areas are still dotted with giant, useless 1980s-style satellite dishes. If you happen to have one of these relics, why not turn it into a useful architectural feature. One of the simplest structures you can build is a satellite dish gazebo. Mount the dish on several sturdy, wooden or metal uprights. Paint it an attractive color and add cloth or a vinyl or wood lattice around it, and you have a functional outdoor gazebo.

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