A bit of a departure for me this week- the many, many changes coming down the pike on how you watch television in your RV.

New technologies are changing the way you watch, whether you get your signal from an OTA (Over The Air) antenna or a Satellite dish, and whether you want to watch High Definition (HD) or Standard Definition (SD) (trust me though- if, like me, you enjoy watching TV, once you see a “High Def” model you will be spoiled)

We’ll start with the transition to OTA Digital TV- Mark Polk gave a
great primer in his post Analog vs Digital TV – I’ll just add a few points….DTV.gov website

Winegard SensarFirst- I’ll give instructions for converting your standard TV antenna to a “Digital, High Definition” antenna. The tools you will need are a Permanent marker and a ladder.

Take the marker, get on the roof, and write “HD” in big letters on the antenna.

That’s it (You really don’t need to do this- it’s a joke!) The digital signal is broadcast on the same frequencies as the old analog signal, so no new antenna is needed, but…. with the digital signal it’s pretty much “all or nothing”, so if your existing antenna system was marginal, you will need to repair or replace it. The “standard” Winegard Sensar (what I call the “Batwing”) is an outstanding antenna- until the Smart Antenna is perfected, it’s really about as good as you can get.

Converter boxes- there is a good comparison of “coupon eligible” converter boxes at this site – giving a good list of features in one place. A couple of things to look for- external power supply (which usually means it could be possible to run the box directly from 12 volt power, though I really prefer to do a “double conversion”, and run them from a small inverter), and analog pass through.

It’s also good to keep in mind that Digital TV and High Definition TV are 2 different issues- the cheaper converter boxes are “standard” or “Enhanced” definition, not high definition, as illustrated by the 2 Wingard converter boxes, the standard definition RC-DT09 , and the high definition RC-1010 .

Now, on to changes in Satellite TV. With the huge increase in HD programming, satellite broadcasters are running out of channels on the standard “Ku” band (Ku refers to the frequency of the signal). The fix for this is to put up more satellites, and use the “Ka” band, which is a higher frequency, and the signals are lower powered than the Ku signals.

What this means for us here on earth is that the Ka band signals take a larger dish and a different “LNB”. As of right now, to receive all of the HD DirecTV channels available, you need a large dish with 5 lnb’s, and odds are because of competition, Dish Network will likely go the same route (my opinion- no inside information).

MotoSat HD Universal DishWinegard Slimline

Unfortunately, with today’s technology, there is no way an RV rooftop domed dish will work with Ka band signals- the “reflector” (the “dish” part of the antenna” simply isn’t large enough). As of today, there are 2 manufacturers building automatic rooftop satellite dishes which will work with all HD satellites- the MotoSat Universal HD , which has a replaceable reflector and LNB mount, and the Winegard Trav’ler . A tip- the Winegard “Slimline” model with the 30″ reflector has the largest motor/gear assembly in the Winegard line… if I were buying one of these, I would go with this model, as I look for Winegard to release replacement reflector/lnb kits later this year to let them work with any satellite provider (right now you have to choose the provider before you buy the dish).

Well… this is a huge topic, and I have just scratched the surface of it this week.

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  2. Monique

    Hi everyone… Just wanted to let you know about the antenna i bought from dtv greendish.. Where ever you go you are going to get your local which means alot to me and I am sure most of you other rv enthusiasts.. you have nothing to lose it is guaranteed.. I had mine installed on the antenna mast (is that correct terminology?) anyways you know what I mean that thing that has an antenna on it when you buy an r.v. Well, I had it retro -fitted (attached to that apparatus and I got 50 plus channels in N, Florida and in miami dade county 79 … You will never be the same once you get the dtv greendish,, They have a web site and if you call them@ 305-964-0984 or 305- 232-3229 they will take your address and give you an idea on how many stations you get at that address , even if it is a campground just let them know where it is and they will let you know what is available in that particular area. Also, they stay on the phone and give you excellent tech support.. I don’t know how they do it.. I guess it:s just good ole’fashioned made in America customer service. I hope you benefit from my advice. I predict you will. Sincerely, Monique

  3. James Hyde

    I have a Winegard powered antenna and I’m installing a new flatsceen digital TV.
    I have been told that I don’t need to power the antenna, as my TV already has a built in digital tuner. I’m also considering putting in the new booster unit that fits on the antenna. So tell me, what do I need to do to get this to work?
    Thanks, James

  4. lynn petermen

    I am unable to find any info on how to install a converter box in a undercounter swivel tv? Where is the antann cable at in the tv.? ant suggestions. thank you

  5. Dick Hinrichs

    What causes sattelite signal to quit when the air conditioner comes on in my Dinali.Turn off the air,the signal comes back.

  6. Tommy

    Nothing on where and how to install a TV converter box in the RV. I know, I already sound like I don’t know what I’m talking about, forgive me.

    The front TV is located overhead at the center of the coach with another one in the bedroom.

    How and where should the box for each be installed? Camping World wants $70.00 to install.

    I would appreciate any ideas. Thanks

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