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.
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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.
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.