2009. The Year Of The Revival Of The RV "Bat Wing"

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March 19, 2009

Welcome to the year of the bat wing.  The “Bat Wing”, the “T” shaped crank up off-air television antenna found on pretty well every RV.  Have you noticed how many you see now in the up position in every campground?  Even large highline rigs are displaying their bat wing antennas.  So, why has this changed from last year, or previous years?

The government has legislated that television broadcasters switch from analogue to digital.  This was done to make better use of the frequency spectrum and allow more services to have the ability to better share these frequency bandwidths.  This changed has brought a whole new view on off air reception.  Top quality high definition programming is now on many local channels in the U.S.A.  This will boost the number of viewers of off air substantially.  This is a definite bonus to those of us that have an RV.  Many homes get their local news through cable and probably don’t even have an off air antenna.  Many RV’s have satellite dishes, but on occasion wish to view the local news via their off air bat wing.  Whether you have a newer TV that is already digital ready, or add an analogue/digital converter, you will love the picture quality.

With this increase in use of the “Bat Wing” antennas on RV’s, will come more accidental damage caused by forgetting to retract it prior to departing camp.  While some rigs have warning buzzers and lights, many do not.  Additionally, with this increased popularity and demand for this new off-air digital broadcast, companies like Winegard hopefully will prosper.  New and advanced designs to these antennas will probably emerge. 

Features like auto-retract, non-directional and auto rotation may be offered in the near future.  Auto-retraction would ensure the antenna is stored if the engine is started or the parking brake is released.  This would protect the unit from being damaged or destroyed by contacting an overhead obstacle like a tree branch.  A non-directional antenna may offer increased channel quantities by capturing a higher gain in all directions.  An auto rotation or an analogue tuner would allow a directional antenna to be tuned for top gain on individual signals.  This can not be accomplished with the standard rotating unit.  This is due to the digital signal requiring a certain threshold to operate.  A slight delay in downloading the needed information prior to displaying a picture makes it impractical to do.  The need to monitor manually, or automatically, a separate analogue signal is required. 

This free off-air digital broadcast, that includes a number of HD (High Definition) channels, may very well put the pressure on both cable and satellite program suppliers.  To date, each have been seeking additional fees from subscribers that wish the higher resolution.  They now have competition, albeit with a limited number of channels in comparison.

Check it out!  When you see the picture quality, all at zero charge, you might well burn your satellite or cable box.    

So, have you tried your area’s new off-air TV signals?

With A Clearer Picture     –     Lug_Nut     –     Peter Mercer

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  5. Leo, Glad to hear you got it going again. Thank you for the positive feed back and your input.

  6. Leo

    Lug_Nut, thanks for the tip. It was not a loose connection, but one that was not sealed and had rusted. Good over the air picture now. Also, I know some say the Wingman was junk, but it boosted my reception from 30% to 80%. To me it was money well spent. Thanks again

  7. Leo Grant, More than likely, it is a simple solution like a loose connection or something. The fact that it operated well for a short period is an indication. Check the amplifier for power to it, and if it is functioning properly. Thank you for your input.

  8. Leo Grant

    Right after the conversion I bought the Wingman and attached it to the batwing and immediately got 80% and had a great picture. Now I cannot get anything. I reprogramed the dig tv and still nothing. While using the signal meter I slowly turned the antenna with no results.
    Got any ideas?

  9. phill, Great, glad to hear that the converter you installed worked so well. Good idea on the Wingman. Let us know how it works. Thanks for the positive input.

  10. phill

    Installed a converter box this past weekend on our RV and picked up 9 channels crystal clear. We were only able to get 1 station in the same location last fall before the converter box. The closest television station is approx 30 miles away, so we are definitely impressed with the improvement. We have an older LCD tv that came without a digital tuner. Our next purchase will be the wingman add on for the Winegard batwing antennae. Since you can buy then on line for less than $25.00 I won’t feel we’ve lost much if we can’t pull in more channels than we’re presently getting.

  11. JLF, Are you following the instructions for programming the digital channels in your area? That is the first step. These will show up as typically 12.04, 24.02, etc. Also make sure your RF amplifier is “On”. It should work fine, providing there is service in your area. Thanks for the input on this topic.

  12. JLF

    i don’t get it… i got the wingman…don’t see a bit of difference…its going backkkkkkkkk to campingworld!! as far as this dig thing… can anyone tell me…. I purchased a new dig tv so i don’t have to use the “converter” box…. i have a batwing on top of my trailer, i get less channels now than i did before!! help!!! i thought i still should get what is in analog if they have not switched to dig totally yet??? but heck i am lucky if i get 1 channel?? and thats in my own back yard!! UGH…

  13. Pam Rank, Thanks for sharing your experience with the Winegard Wingman. The price is certainly well worth the results. Thanks for your input.

  14. Pam Rank

    Hi all. We were getting poor reception and a lot of static breakup (constanting have to turn the antenna) until we bought the Winegard Wingman sensar for DTV. We do have a digital TV.

    Because we are in a state park with poor reception, we didn’t pick up additional channels, but the difference in reception for the ones we do have (CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox, PBS, coming out of Tallahassee) is like night and day. No more lost signals or pixeling. Haven’t had to rotate the antenna since we installed the Wingman. I did go to each of the channels and made sure we were getting the strongest signal (based on the position of the antenna) and then reran the channel search, just to be sure (actually we did pick up one more analog station).

    Bought ours at Camping World for under $30 with tax. Took Fred about 10 minutes or less to install it on the batwing antenna.
    IWell worth the money.

  15. Hi John, I wonder if everyone knows how to program their newer TV’s to switch over to digital. It doesn’t just appear. If you don’t see channels with one decimal point, like 42.3 etc. you are not into the proper program.
    Canada’s switch date is 2011. I’m not sure of the month. Thanks for your alway great input.

  16. John

    Hi Lug_Nut,
    Sounds like some of the readers are not fond of change. The change will defeinitley be in place by June 2009 in the USA. May as well get familiar with digital beacuse that’s all you will have. Haven’t heard if Canada will follow, but if you camp near the border, you can still get analog stations. While in the US last month I heard the reason for the June extension was due to problems people were experiencing with their new converter boxes. Don’t know what the new coach will have installed on it, would like an in motion tracking dish for sure but also an antenna for local. Is the Batwing the best antenna for local digital reception?


  17. Alpenliter, You may be in a very remote area or the antenna or related hardware may not be working or may not be set up correctly. Thank you for your input.

  18. Darrell Reed, Winegard makes great antenna’s from bat wing to satellite. I hope you enjoy yours. Thank you for your input.

  19. John Shelton, I agree that, due to gain threshold, less channels may be attainable when compared to the analog. But, the difference is worth it, in my opinion. Thank you for your valued input.

  20. mayorofwoolerton, Most TV’s since about 2006, have both modes built in, so switching is no issue. Thank you for participating in this topic and for your input.

  21. Bill Harbottle, Great point, the guide feature is an added bonus to this new technology. Thanks for the input.

  22. Bill Harbottle

    What I enjoy about using an old TV with the Digital Box is: Using the digital box Configure feature selecte all the local stations so I only have to deal with stations within viewing range. With the digital box features of SCAN and the feature to view what’s being broadcast – no longer any need to use a local paper to see what’s on TV. Nice features to new technology making RVing more enjoyable.

  23. All you guys, Please try it, you might like it! If not, let me know.

  24. I keep hearing it said that with digital signal it’s all or nothing. Well I get worse than that. I get a crystal clear picture that stalls, breaks up into little digits, then come and goes. Frankly, I preferred the snowy, yet constant picture. If this is progress, count me out.

  25. mayorofwoolerton

    Last year we started to get US digital stations in the club house on a poor indoor antenna and Canadian analog stations in our tent trailer off of a set top antenna ( 5″ b&w am, fm set). This year we hope to have a new lcd tv in our new 5th wheel trailer. We are looking for a lcd set with both tunners in it so we cane get both the US and local stations. I hope that switching between tuners is not a big problem.

  26. John Shelton

    My “digital experience” kinda parallels Tom Blackburn’s. The range of a digital TV broadcast signal is less than the range of an analog TV broadcast signal. A digital signal either exists or does not exist on your TV. This means that in areas that you used to get two or three barely serviceable analog signals (channels), and still will until June, you will get NOTHING digitally! This has been my observation experimenting with a converter box on the road in my travel trailer (with the bat wing antenna and signal amplifier). What good is a fabulous TV signal that you cannot pick up in Countryside, USA????? Personally, I would rather have a slightly snowy analog signal than no digital signal at all; regardless of how wonderful the digital signal – that I cannot receive – is.

  27. Jon Olenick

    paste on adds are covering parts of your articals, this time time warner cable. Jon.

  28. I just purchased a new Winegard Batwing replacement head antenna but I also purchassed the wingman addition which is attached to the batwing buy four pop in gromets,and this is supposed to bring in the higher UHF channels alot better.These channels are above #13. I purchased them from Webster City RV on line for a very reasonable $130.00 total including shipping.I’m just waiting for alittle warmer weather in iowa and a little help LOL to get it attached.

  29. Terry, It depends where you are. First, you can not turn the antenna and tune your signal as with digital, it has a threshold and a download delay, therefore prevents ongoing monitoring. I’ve had as many as 14 digital channels when near larger cities and as little as 4 in less populated areas in Florida.

  30. Terry Duffy

    I have an antenna on my 2009 Four Winds Chateau Sprinter called a Road Star by Winegard. It is a dish type. Don’t have to worry about forgetting it is up. Have not tried it with the new system yet but it worked great with the old TV broadcast. Winegard told me it was not as good of an antenna as the Bat Wing but mine works better than the Batwing I had on my Isata. I have heard from others that the TV reception is not as good with the new system. You have to be closer to the station it seems. Terry

  31. Tom, The converter box must be installed between the TV and the antenna amplifier. The amplifier must be in good working order and be turned on. Not all TV stations have yet converted over to the new digital as the government pushed the original date from February 17th to June 12th, or there abouts. Try your service in other locations. When you see it, you will be impressed.

  32. Tom Blackburn

    What’s all this about better reception with digital tv signals. In Quartzsite AZ the digital tv reception is WORSE or non-exixtent! This is my own experience as well as that of three other rigs (in various locations around quartzsite).Two have new digital tv,’s two have analogue tv’s with converter boxes. What gives?