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Pole Mount Question

Discussion in 'DIRECTV Installation/MDU Discussion' started by benzbum, Jan 2, 2009.

  1. Jan 2, 2009 #1 of 20
    benzbum

    benzbum Mentor

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    Nov 10, 2008
    I had an upgrade DTV HD installation in early November. My previous DTV dish was one of the old 18" round dishes. I installed it myself @14 years ago. The previous owners had a Primestar dish mounted on a very high quality pole mount installation (2-3/8" outside diameter, heavy iron pole set very solidly in concrete, all cable run inside the pole through PVC conduit underground into the basement through the foundation). I had used a set of stand-off brackets to attach my previous 18" dish to this pole and was able to use all of the existing wiring. I never had a problem with this dish in the 14 years it was in use.

    The installer who did my upgrade in November would not use this pole. Instead, he took a piece of 2" galvanized pipe and flattened one end. He them used a pole driver to drive it into the ground about a foot from the previous pole. No hole, no concrete. He installed the dish on this and then used the existing wire from the original pole. I had great signal strength (nothing lower than 90 on any tuner, any transponder on 101, 99, 103) until a couple of days ago. We had a fierce wind storm (winds clocked at a steady 50 MPH with some gusts close to 70 MPH for about 14-16 hours) and I came home to find no signal and my pole listing at about a 20-30 degree angle. I have since brought it upright and am holding it with a couple of sacks of sand. I don't have the strongest signals (highest readings are in the 80s with some as low as the 30s) but I am able to get reception on most channels we watch.

    I am going to call D* to fix but am wondering if there is any way to use the existing 2-3/8" old Primestar pole. Is there a commercially available "step-down" that will attach to the top of this existing 2-3/8" pole to bring it down to 2"? If so, where can I get one? I have seen adapters that will "step-up" a 1.67" pole to the 2" diameter but I haven't seen anything that will do what I want. Any suggestions?
     
  2. Jan 2, 2009 #2 of 20
    69hokie

    69hokie Icon

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    Sep 23, 2006
    I used the attached adaptor from solid signal on my exising 4" pipe by slipping the slot over the wall of the 4" pipe and tightening the bolts down. I experienced the same winds you did and my dish never moved. I don't know if your existing pipe ID will accept the adaptor slot and allow tightening or not. Looks like it would be a tight fit and would not fit into your existing pipe. You could probably get a local welder to attach a 2" OD pipe to your existing pipe and end up with a pretty neat installation if he knows what he is doing.

    http://www.solidsignal.com/prod_display.asp?prod=SKY1101
     
  3. Jan 2, 2009 #3 of 20
    eakes

    eakes Godfather

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    Sep 21, 2007
    It is deplorable that a professional would pound a pipe into the earth, with no other support, and call that a proper mount for an antenna.

    Given the existing pole is quite substantial, I would fashion clamps to attach the 2 inch pole to the existing. Clamping at two spots with the top of the 2 inch pole extending about a foot above the existing pole should provide an extremely sturdy mount.

    The clamps could be made several ways, one would be to get two strips of metal one inch wide by 1/4 inch thick about a foot long. Position these, one on each side of the poles with a bolt in each end and one between the two poles. Do this at two spots and tighten the bolts. To keep the poles from twisting, drill and thread holes in the straps where they are in contact with the poles. Once the clamp bolts are tight, thread a screw into the tapped holes and tighten against the poles.
     
  4. Jan 2, 2009 #4 of 20
    BattleZone

    BattleZone Hall Of Fame

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    I totally agree. Likewise, it is deplorable that DirecTV forces installers in many areas to do pole mounts for free, which is an extra hour's work or more on top of the installation/upgrade, not counting the cost of the supplies. Customers don't want to pay, and DirecTV wants the jobs to go in, but won't pay installers reasonably, so this is the inevitable result.
     
  5. Jan 3, 2009 #5 of 20
    benzbum

    benzbum Mentor

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    Nov 10, 2008
    No one forced the installer to do a pole mount. I would have accepted an eave mount or wall mount. However, I think the pole mount was probably the most logical as I live on the side of a mountain with trees surrounding the house on three sides. That and the house is a solid brick ranch that is about 60 feet long. The existing coax is buried in gray PVC electric conduit right to the old substantial Primestar 2-3/8" pole securely buried in concrete at about the mid-point of the house with a clear line of sight to the proper location in the sky. Any other mount, eave or side of house, would have required him to mount on the far end of the house and run a heck of a lot of coax. He would either have had to re-trench and bury the cable to the original ground block and service entry point on the opposite side of the house, run the coax down the side of the house and all the way through the crawl space the entire length of the house to the service entry point, or he would have to have run the coax in the attic and fished the walls. No way would I have let him drill the ceiling and run the cable externally on the wall even if he had suggested it (the walls are all papered with very finely detailed millwork and mouldings throughout the house). If it would have taken him an extra hour to do the pole install the right way (whatever the right way is), it would still probably have been more efficient than having to run all of the additional coax he would have to have run to mount it anywhere else. In any event, the pole mount was his idea and was not forced on him by anyone.

    Now I am sure this guy didn't work for free. Someone is paying him. D* might not charge me for the install but I am sure the installer gets paid on some scale. If he doesn't want the job, why doesn't he refuse it? He wouldn't have been the first contractor I've run across that just didn't want to work. However, I can't understand someone who just doesn't have the pride in their craft to do the job right. If it was beyond his skill level or capabilities, he should have admitted as much and called a supervisor to do it the right way. This will be the fifth trip (counting the original install) that someone from D* has had to make out here to get this right (multiple trips for what turned out to be an improperly wired splitter that I ended up discovering). Prior to this upgrade, I had never seen a D* technician in the 14+ years I have had service as I did the original install and one move myself. As I am not being charged this is costing someone. Seems it would have been far more cost effective to take the extra hour (or even 3 or 4 extra hours) to do the job right the first time.

    Speaking of doing the job right, I now have a technician scheduled to come out a week from today to reset the pole. I told the CSR how the installer set the pole (pounding it into the ground without the use of concrete) and she said she made a note of that on the work order. I didn't think to ask and she didn't volunteer as to what the acceptable procedure is for setting a pole mount. Can someone clue me in as to what I should expect or what the correct/acceptable method is for a proper pole mount in accordance with D* specifications? Is there anywhere I can find that in writing from D* so I can hold the installer to it when he shows up (if he attempts anything odd)? Thanks.
     
  6. Jan 3, 2009 #6 of 20
    BattleZone

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    So, you just went to great lengths to say how difficult any other mount would have been, and how picky you'd have been, but say the pole mount wasn't "forced" on him? Whatever.

    Yes. If he's a contractor, he gets paid $35-40 for that HD upgrade, and out of that pay, he must pay ALL costs other than the dish, receiver, and multiswitch. If he's an in-house tech, he doesn't pay for supplies or gas, but only makes 60% of that pay.

    And if he refuses to do the work very often, he'll either have his route cut down or won't be routed at all.

    He isn't paid any extra for that pole mount. Not for the supplies or the labor. He isn't provided any pole adapters either; he'd have to buy those, and they may not be approved for use in your area.

    Most contractors have the ability to BID on a job, and can decide what price their pride and experience is worth. DirecTV contractors are told what the pay is (take it or leave it), and are usually lied to about what the jobs are like until they are already committed (big investment in tools, meters, etc.) and in debt. Then they are forced to do a bunch of work for free, under the threat of losing their job. When you're already behind, it's hard to quit. Lots of techs work just long enough to get caught up financially, and then start looking for other work.

    Don't think I'm putting any of this on you, but make sure you understand that this problem was created by DirecTV at the executive level, not by the individual tech. The tech is doing what it takes for him to survive in the environment DirecTV has created.

    And, in the end, all this is driven by the customers' desire for a FREE install. Private contractors would charge at least $200 for an HD upgrade, and YOUR HD upgrade would likely run more like $400-500. For that money, it would have been done right the first time by someone who took pride in his job. When you're getting paid 1/10th of what you're worth, and being held responsible, including financially responsible, for both customer problems/demand and DirecTV's screw-ups and demands, there isn't much room for pride and workmanship.

    The next response is always "well, then he should quit." And, rest assured, he will. And DirecTV will hire the next bunch of clueless, inexperienced people who will be promised $1500 a week, who will end up making $600 a week working 12-16 hour days 6 days a week before chargebacks. The 3 month turn-over rate for installers will continue to top 50%, and the cycle will continue.
     
  7. Jan 3, 2009 #7 of 20
    Mertzen

    Mertzen Hall Of Fame

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    When in doubt use self tapping screws.
     
  8. Jan 3, 2009 #8 of 20
    2dogz

    2dogz Godfather

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    Jun 14, 2008
    IIP:

    Maybe not the installers, but someone up the food chain is making a few bucks, else the food chain would cease to function. D* must be paying substantially more that the installer gets for the job.
     
  9. Jan 3, 2009 #9 of 20
    satjoe

    satjoe AllStar

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    Oct 28, 2008
    Direct TV has an approved rail mount wich will work great. It will cost you 30 bucks and you may need to reschedual since the tech may not have on truck.
     
  10. benzbum

    benzbum Mentor

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    Nov 10, 2008
    The pole mount he elected to do was probably logical because it is the only place on that side of the house with a clear line of sight to the southern sky. It sits about 20 feet from the ground block and utility service entrance on the corner of the house next to the driveway, right between two large old oak trees and a large old maple tree. It is adjacent to the pole mount for the satellite Internet service. The rest of this side of the house and the other two sides are heavily wooded. The only other location on the house that unquestionably has a clear, unobstructed view of the southern sky is on the opposite side of the house, at least 60 feet from the corner where the other services, including the existing coax, enter the house.

    He never suggested and I would not have objected to an eave mount, wall mount chimney mount or even a roof mount elsewhere on the house, although he would have been drilling brick for a wall mount as that is all there is and both chimneys are triple chimneys and I don't know if many installers would come equipped for something like that. I think he probably surmised he was better off using the existing location and cabling (he did not run an inch of cabling that wasn't already there). I was in the house with his partner when he placed the dish. He had simply asked me where the old dish was and disappeared. The next thing I knew, he was hammering away at a piece of galvanized pipe next to my old pole. When I asked, he just said he couldn't use the old pole. I let it go at that and let him at it. I assumed he was a professional and knew what he was doing.

    Perhaps you misunderstood. The only thing I said I would have been picky about was if he had elected to do an eave, wall or roof mount and had run new coax in the attic rather than the crawl space or basement. My only objection would have been if he tried to drill through my ceilings, millwork or custom mouldings to run cabling on the exterior of my papered walls. If he had tied any new cabling into the existing cabling or run it into the crawl space or basement, I would not have objected. Had he elected to run the cabling in the attic, I would have either insisted he fish the cabling through the walls or I would have done it myself. It really isn't that hard as there is existing coax to all existing locations from the exterior OTA antenna.
     
  11. RobertE

    RobertE New Member

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    Jun 9, 2006
    Candidate for understatement of the year. :D
     
  12. benzbum

    benzbum Mentor

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    Nov 10, 2008
    Thanks. Will this rail mount attach the 2" D* pole to the existing 2-3/8" pole I already have? Where can I get this rail mount? If someone like Solid Signal has it, I'll order it and it should be here before the tech visit next Saturday.

    I had sand bags holding the pole up until this afternoon. The sand bags weren't very effective at keeping the pole steady and I had been going out a couple of times a day to adjust and relign the pole. I finally decided to try something innovative. I disconnected the dish and pulled the pole out of the ground. I found it was only hammered into the ground about 15" (it was a 66" pole). I took a hack saw and cut off the bottom 7" of the pole where the installer had hammered it flat to drive it into the ground. I then inserted the 2" pole inside of the 2-3/8" existing pole that was used for the previous installation, using the old pole as a "sleeve" for the new pole. The old pole is set solidly in concrete and the cabling runs up the exterior in PVC conduit. The new pole fits pretty snuggly inside the old pole. I bottomed the new pole into the inside of the old pole and drove it about 6" - 7" into the earth on the inside of the pole. I then drilled four holes at right angles at even intervals the length of the combined pipes and bolted four 5/16" X 3" bolts through the holes I drilled to keep the pole from spinning. I checked the plumb and the pole was perfectly level. I reattached the dish and restarted my receivers one at a time. While my signal strengths are not as good as they were before the wind storm, they are better than they were with the sand bag set-up and the pole is now rock solid. I have strong 90s on most of the 101 transponders (lowest is a 75). I've got upper 70s on the 99c transponders (lowest is a 76). The 103c is the worse. I've got some readings in the low 60s and others in the mid 70s, most in the 68-71 range. This will probably hold me until the tech gets here in a week to straighten things out.
     
  13. BattleZone

    BattleZone Hall Of Fame

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    Yes; the HSP is making a ton of money. They have continued to lower installer pay over the last 6 years, both in-house and contractor, to the point where the only people who can survive are those who learn to cut corners and get a lot of jobs in per day. And all the HSP *really* cares about is getting the jobs in. Sure, when DirecTV calls them, they jump, and talk big about quality, but they certainly won't PAY for it, and scheduling a tech with 6 jobs in a day (3 installs, 2 HD upgrades, and a service call) speaks volumes about how much they care about quality. Besides, if a customer complains, they just charge the tech back.

    So, the tech either has to do the job right, and be lucky to earn $60-80 for a 14 hour day, after supplies and gas but not counting maintenance or insurance, or he does a bunch of jobs badly, eats a few chargebacks, and makes enough to live.

    Meanwhile, the HSP is pocketing triple or more what the installer makes. But DirecTV has given the HSP the monopoly over the installs in an entire region, so if a tech wants to work for DirecTV, he has no choice but to deal with the HSP. So, yeah, the HSPs are abusing the installers in a big way, but don't think DirecTV isn't well aware of the issues. And keep in mind that DirecTV has bought out 4 HSPs in the last year, but hasn't fixed any of these issues for the techs who now work directly for DirecTV.

    I'm a big fan of DirecTV as a product, but the installation part of the business is screwed up about as bad as can be and still function to any degree.
     
  14. kevinm34232

    kevinm34232 Legend

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    Apr 29, 2008
    It's all true sad to say... No one cares about anyone they just pass the buck down the line until it ends up at the tech who will get a chargeback.
     
  15. pressureman0

    pressureman0 AllStar

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    Jan 3, 2009
    this is true as life
    the only time directv pay up is to break a union
     
  16. RobertE

    RobertE New Member

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    Jun 9, 2006
    Here's a fun data point.

    This was my route recently. According to DirecTvs "duration matrix" I was scheduled for 705 minutes worth of work, not including any drive time. Somewhere in there I'm supposed to be able to take a luch. Thats 11.75 raw hours. To make things even more fun, 435 minutes or 7.25 hours worth was supposed to be in the 8-12 time frame. 7.25 hours don't fit into 4 very well. :rolleyes:

    Until somone in that chain is fired or gets a frakking clue, the techs and ultimately the customer will get screwed. Techs will continue to take shortcuts (grounding, phone lines, customer education, etc) just so they have a chance of getting home in time to put the kids to bed.

    The maddness needs to stop. :mad:
     
  17. Beefcake

    Beefcake Mentor

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    Sep 26, 2008
    Just joining the discussion and haven't read all of the replies but, I have found that if you take the 2" pipe and cut about a 12" to 16" piece; then you will be able to set the 2" pipe inside of the old Primestar pole. With four self tapping screws to secure the homemade adapter, your slimline odu will fit perfectly on the old pole. I have done this many times. It is an easy fix for your situation and is as inexpensive as it gets!
     
  18. benzbum

    benzbum Mentor

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    Nov 10, 2008
    Thanks. That is roughly what I ended up doing this afternoon. I took the entire 66" 2" pipe and cut off the bottom @7" where it was distorted from the installer flattening it. I then fed the entire remaining length of pipe (about 59") and set it inside of the old Primestar pole and drove it into the ground on the inside about 7"-8", effectively using the old Primestar pole as a sleeve. I then drilled four holes at 90 degree angles through both poles at about 8" to 10" intervals and bolted four 3" X 5/16" through these holes to keep the pipe from spinning. It is rock solid, now. I really only need the tech out to re-align the dish as my sat signals are somewhat passable on most of the SD channels but a little spotty on a few of the HD channels. I am a little surprised the tech didn't do the same thing in the first place. It really only took about 15 to 20 minutes, mostly for the cutting and drilling. The assembly was less than five minutes once everything was in place.
     
  19. rucknrun

    rucknrun AllStar

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    Jul 16, 2007
    This happened to me. They moved my pole 3 times, nobody used concrete. I still have a pole mounted dish without concrete. I think the last guy drove the pole in the ground farther and things have been fine.

    On top of all the problems I had the installer charged me $200 for my FREE installation. I complained the guy got fired and I got my money back. On top of this the next 2 times people came out it was a new company handling the calls and they were great.

    I think it all depends on the contracting company, although I think DTV should do some better QC on them.
     
  20. satjoe

    satjoe AllStar

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    Oct 28, 2008
    It comes with a 4 foot 2" pole with a bracket kit to clamp it to other poles or other types of supports. Vertical, horizontal or diagonal.
    Good luck
     

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