Track-It TV
Formerly "Follow Me TV"

Installation of a “Follow-Me” Satellite TV, by Bob Ackley

I installed a Follow Me TV on Sunshine Lady to meet the desires of the Admiral.  I jokingly refer to this as the “Watch Oprah Winfrey” mandate and the ability for me to watch sports events and other TV shows was of obviously minor importance.

Alternatives:

The standard over-the-air capability included a Glomex amplifier and a saucer antenna located in the brow of the fly bridge.  This was totally unsatisfactory.  I did not feel that installing any comparable other antenna or relocating an antenna to the radar mast would result in a significant improvement.

Dome systems, mast mounted.  

I looked at a mast mounted dome as an alternative.  This included the KVH M3 (the M2 came out later) and the Raymarine offering.  But, from the KVH literature:

KVH recommends that you do not mount
the antenna on the same level as the radar,
because the radar's energy might overload
the antenna.

I have a Raymarine 4 kw radome on my mast.  The KVH warning meant that I would have to mount the KVH above the radome and this would require a custom mount; quoted by my dealer at $1000.  

An additional concern then becomes the weight of the two units.  

From Mainship:

The mast on the 390 was designed to hold a Raytheon or similar Raydome
Radar 24 inch unit, GPS Antenna, running light and deck flood lights,
which all together weigh around 35 to 40 pounds. Where some owners had
trouble is if they or a previous owner installed an open array unit
which by itself weighs in around 80 pounds. The mast itself will
support the weight, but you must add guy wires or other means of
stabilization because of the additional weight mounted that high.

Yours truly,

Jim Krueger

Even though the 390 and 400 have different masts, this made me nervous about having too much weight too high.  My Radome weighs 22# and the KVH weighs 19#.  The custom mount would add to that and the raising of the KVH above the radome further exacerbates the problem.

The complexity of the TV dome installation was now exceeding my limited capabilities.  My dealer's quote was about $7000 total for the M3; installed; with custom ss mount.

Follow-Me TV; now called “Track-it  TV”

Their web site: www.track-it-tv.com

This unit currently lists for $896.   It is designed for owner installation and the documentation and customer support are very good.  It has the same functionality as the KVH M2 that lists for $2995.

The FMTV requires a satellite receiver.  Since I was converting from cable to Direct TV at the same time I was able to get an additional receiver for $5 per month.  I was also able to obtain a 3 LNB dish for nothing from an obliging technician; they can be bought on Ebay for about $50 if needed.

The FMTV installation is ugly when compared to the sleek appearance of a KVH dome.  Granted.  But I like the money I saved.

The white square to the right of the dish is my outboard motor bracket.  It is a square of Starboard bolted to the rail with U-bolts.  Since my outboard only weighs 28 lbs, it is sufficient.

The FMTV device is the white cylinder attached to the rail with ss hose clamps.  The satellite dish slips on the post at the top of that cylinder.  

There are three wires to be run to connect the dish and the FMTV to the receiver.

  •  Coax cable for the signal (I used “quad” cable because it has a double ground shield)
  •  two wire 12 volt supply for the FMTV.
  •  six wire control wire for the FMTV. 

I added the gray conduit box to have a water tight home for the wire connections.  You can see the FMTV wires entering the box from the bottom and exiting from the top.  I used 6 connector CAT 3 network cable instead of the flat telco cable they supplied and used flat telco connectors to make the splices.  I filled the open ends of the conduit box with silicone caulk to make it watertight. The coax cable is shown going around the FMTV; it needs slack to accommodate dish rotation.  

I ran all wires into the rail and fed them forward to the end of the rail and into the space under the seat cushion on the starboard side. From there I was able to feed these aft and down into the space above the microwave.   My first attempt had the wires following the numerous control wires going  down the chase in the forward portion of this under seat space.  That would have had the wires going down by the wastebasket into the bilge and then up into the electrical panel area.  The alternate path is much more direct.

After much agonizing, I decided to mount the receiver on top of the microwave.  I used TV hold down straps to attach them.  The cut for the receiver needs to be oversize to accommodate the TV straps.  The microwave is held in by four screws that go up from the bottom of the shelf.  

While you have the microwave out, fit some insulation (I used Styrofoam sheets) in the top of this space.  I have found that in the summer there is significant infiltration of HOT air from above.  

Connections:

The coax cable from the FMTV goes into the back of the receiver.  A coax goes from the receiver to the Glomex box (the TV amplifier).  

I dropped the AC panel and found that the microwave plugged into one of the two outlets inside the panel space.  I cut a hole in the bulkhead perpendicular to the front of the microwave and used an HD short extension to plug in both the microwave and the receiver.  This allows enough slack to set the micro and receiver on top of the range for final testing and hookup.  I shortened both the receiver and microwave power cords to conserve space.

The two conductor power cable goes to a convenient breaker and ground on the DC panel - I used one of the two accessory breakers.

The six wire cable (either the ribbon cable or cat 3 cable) goes to the furnished control box.  I fed this through the space behind the TV set and would advise leaving enough slack to take the control box outside,

Operational Considerations.

A good hand bearing compass will help you set the azimuth (left to right) setting for the antenna.  The receiver will, during setup, tell you where it should be pointed. Once set, the FMTV will remember where the satellites are and will track automatically.

Elevation needs to be set manually.  It will not automatically adjust but this is not a concern until you travel several days north or south from home or are trying to watch TV while the boat is pitching or wildly rolling.

Performance:

We were able to watch TV on the overnight crossing of the Gulf from Tarpon Springs to Appalachicola.   But we didn't.  

We, like most 400's, swing a lot at anchor. I am told this means that the boat is “crabby”.  I knew that I was, but  . . .    At its worst, we will loose signal for a moment or two (the picture freezes) but not excessively.  Two anchors or a bridle will reduce this tendency.

I am still struggling with remotes.  Now I have three.  I have not been able to program either the Direct TV, Bose, or TV remote to replace one of the others.

I installed my Raymarine radar myself but found that this installation was significantly more complicated.

If you use a 1 lnb dish you will not get the local stations that you get at home.

Direct TV customer service is not at all helpful on boat issues and will not provide a free service call.  FMTV telephone support is great.

Conclusion:

I am very happy with this installation.  It does everything that I want it to do and I do not see that the advantages of the dome approaches are worth the additional cost.

Bob Ackley

Bob can be contacted through the Yahoo Group Mainship List.