The Lug_Nut View

dome_r5slIn-motion satellite antennas have become very popular on all RV’s. It is an option that most people order when purchasing a new rig.  But, will this change in the future?   It would appear it may.  The latest satellite technology being used operates within the Ka (Kurtz-above band) frequency band.  This differs from the Ku (Kurtz-under band) frequencies currently used in the RV roof type dome units.  Generally the Ku band used for satellite TV service is between 12.2 to 12.7 GHz and has a band width of 27 MHz.  In contrast the new Ka band uses 18.3 to 20.2 GHz and has nearly double the band width at 50 MHz.

This need for a wider band width was, in part, brought on by the demand for HD (High Definition) TV.  Additionally, satellite service providers are going to multi-satellite configurations to be able to offer both HD and more channels.  Currently, DirectTV uses five satellites in their full service package while Dish Network employs three.  Dome type antennas are not capable of monitoring the full satellite sets.  Adding to that, the Ka frequency band transmission requires more precise dish aiming and possibly, increased dish size.

Does this mean the dome antennas, both stationary and in-motion are not going to work anymore? No, they will still work, but you will only get limited programming, and in most cases, no HD.  Have you noticed the prices tumbling on these dishes?  That should give you some clue.

hd_233wSo, what are the alternatives? How can you get all the programming and HD available?  Well, there are several manufacturers that offer multi LNB (low noise block) dish configurations like Winegard’s HD Slimline (DirectTV 5 LNB) or MotoSat’s HD.  These units are for stationary use only and are non-enclosed and fully automatic locating.  They cover and receive all the satellites at once, be it three or five  They fold down for travel at the touch of a button.

directtvWill they make in-motion RV antennas that will track the multi configuration satellites and handle the Ka frequencies?  Maybe one day.  But, for now, you are going to need a power-up dish if you want to capture all the programming and HD that the networks are offering.

I have a KVH R-6 in-motion dish on my coach and have had a MotoSat HD multi-LNB installed towards the rear.  This gives me a choice of limited channels including music while driving using the KVH, or full HD viewing with all channels when parked.  If I were buying a new rig, I would only order the stationary multi-satellite setup.  The additional dollars for an in-motion unit would not be justified given the limited application.

So, if you are ordering a new rig or upgrading to a new satellite antenna, do your homework. There are many great choices out there.  Find the one that specifically fits your needs today and one that can serve your wants tomorrow.  If in doubt, go for the one that offers the most.  The cost differences are negligible and, if you are purchasing a power-up stationary like the Winegard, it’s far less expensive than almost any in-motion dish.

Dishing Out My Thoughts     –     Lug_Nut    –    Peter Mercer

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  1. Lug_Nut

    frank allen, That would certainly be a good option. Many have gone to the multi LNB dishes that are for stationary use only. Thanks for taking the time to share that with us.

  2. frank allen

    Has nay one pruchased one of the new roof jack that replaces the old tall one?King Controls manufacture this sleek samll antenna that is stationary on the roof in place of the relic.Supposeldy this antenna brings in digital signals that are crystal clear. They cost aprx. $145.

  3. Lug_Nut

    Mike, There are conversion kits available to upgrade them to “In Motion” however I do not know if your model is one that can. A marine application differs somewhat and generally costs quite a bit more. If yours was converted it would probably work reasonably well for the short term. Over time it is possible it may fail prematurely due to the constant skewing of both the horizonal and the verticle tracking mechanizum. Thanks for your input.

  4. MIKE

    I currently have a travler hd automatic antenna dish I have dish network, I have it mounted on my boat, Is there any way to convert it to in motion, when the boat moves around a lot ,at ancor I loose the signal.

  5. Lug_Nut

    Craig, I’m quite aware of the dome’s ability when using DishNet. Sat at 129 will deliver all HD channels, it’s just it is not capable of offering all three, 110, 119 and 129. If operating on one sat and you select a program on another sat. the unit locks up. You have limited select service. For this reason my choice going forward would probably be a MotoSat stationary 3 or 5 LNB for full seamless viewing. Thank you for your great input.

  6. Craig

    The following quote from the original post is incorrect: “Does this mean the dome antennas, both stationary and in-motion are not going to work anymore? No, they will still work, but you will only get limited programming, and in most cases, no HD.”

    While there are no dome type systems available today that will work with DirecTV’s Ka band signals, nearly all current systems will receive all available Dish Network HDTV programming.

    Dish Network offers advantages not available with DirecTV such as an off-air input for their HD receivers which provides a seemless channel guide that includes both satellite and local off-air broadcast channels. Their new receivers also have a USB port which allows an external hard drive to be connected to add DVR (recording) capabilities. This requires a one time payment to Dish of about $40 to activate the recording feature, but that’s better than a $10 monthly fee which DirecTV charges. With the recording feature activated, you can also record the local off-air programs in digital HDTV the same way you would record a satellite program. I believe Dish now offers more HD programs as well.

  7. Darthvagrant

    Prepare yourself for running HDMI cable(s). A standard (co-ax) cable will not pass HDTV from one source to another, as I understand it anyway. Nor will the old-style RCA patch cords. Fortunately, HDMI cables are now available at reasonable prices. A long time ago when I bought a “upgrading” DVD player Circuit City actually wanted more $$$ for an HDMI cable than the DVD player cost. Silly! There is a limit to the length of an HDMI cable run, however. ….Plus the longer the more expensive, but not too bad now.
    Virtually ALL of the new flat screen TVs have a couple or three HDMI inputs…or at the very least one. In addition, most still have RCA type audio-video outputs also. These could be used in place of the missing “cable out”.

  8. Steve

    This is all VERY good information. One little thing reared it’s head recently. The “new” “improved” directv hd capable receivers do not have any coax output. I had to go to radio shack to get a converter which of course requires 110 power. As you know in power outlets are a premium especially in my class C. How are newer rigs going to distribute tv without coax out? (I don’t want a receiver for both tvs and all the extra cabling required.) Anyone solve this with a different receiver that has coax outputs or? Thanks in advance.

  9. Dennis K

    The current version of the Winegard 12″ RoadTrip SD and SDi automatic dome satellite TV antennas feature DISH Network triple toggle feature. This will allow all regular and HD programming. I have this unit and it locks on to all three satellites. I do not have a HD receiver so I can not confirm that the HD works as advertised. Even though the dome has two outputs it’s obvious that you can’t look at more than one satellite at a time when using two TV’s.

  10. pistachio nutt

    Please help, Have been trying to have Direct TV installed in our coach. Have a Winegard TRAV’LER SK 3005 ANTENNA. I have spoken to a Direct TV rep. & was told that if I had a dome, they could supply me with the receiver to receive a signal, but because I have this antenna ,which is fully automatic , I have to go to Camping World to buy a receiver. Can this be true?? CW is not close to our location. Also,we were told, all the promo’s that I have seen do not include RVers . Anyone have any ideas or suggestions?

  11. Henry Sherwood

    Dome are fair weather devices only, Wiengard had to replace mine with a Slimline which works just fine

  12. Darthvagrant

    “I prefer to spend time camping and enjoying eachother rather than watching tv.” Me too, Drew. However, I have a 4X4 toad behind and an off road dirt bike carried on the rear of my motorhome. I spend much of many days beating the hell out of my 73 year old body on the aforementioned, as well as hiking. At the end of the day, it’s certainly relaxing to kick back and watch TV and / or play cards.
    If it were my sole desire to watch TV, I obviously wouldn’t leave home. To each his own. “Camping” to me includes MANY activities, some quite strenuous with watching TV merely a welcome end-of-day “wind-down” diversion. OK, maybe when it’s storming too.
    My ‘crank-up’ terrestrial antenna hasn’t been up for years. Over-the-air television isn’t available in the wilds where I’ll usually be found. Just as a side note, I NEVER watch television in real time anyway. My time’s too valuable to spend 20 to 25% of my leisure time watching commercials. A person may watch three hours of programming in about two hours by means of time-shift recording. As I say-we all have our preferences and interpretations of “camping”.

  13. Drew

    I find it easiest to just hook up the cable or crank the antenna. I prefer to spend time camping and enjoying eachother rather than watching tv. I’m sorry that I don’t see the point in all this.

    Happy rv’ing!

  14. Darthvagrant

    Just a side note on an ad by Comcast. They have the audacity to exclaim “Comcast Beats Satellite”. I’m here to tell ‘ya that certainly isn’t so!! The Comcast DVRs have weenie hard drives compared to Dish Network, and more importantly ABSOLUTELY WILL NOT ALLOW ANY ACCESS TO PRE-RECORDED PROGRAMMING ON THE HARD DRIVE WHEN DISCONNECTED FROM THE CABLE ! Not so with Dish network. Forget about taking them with you for access to programming on the hard drive when travelling! It ain’t gunna’ happen, Holmes! Also-The Comcast DVR (at least the ones I was given) MUST be left on all the time or they WON’T RECORD! When I commented on their outdated, crude DVRs, I was told: “Maybe sometime in late 2010 we’ll have some better ones”. It is my considered opinion the DVRs the local Comcast cable provider purchased their DVRs from some other cable company who updated who also purchased them from an earlier company who also updated. They were obsolete boat anchors ! !
    Per my previous post enumerating my requirements, my temporary change to Comcast was an unmitigated disaster! My short stint with Comcast between Direct TV and Dish network was a nightmare. Not to mention, more money for less programming.

  15. Darthvagrant

    I have given up on my ‘portable’ satellite dish. Years ago, it was really simple with Direct TV as only one satellite was used. Now Direct TV needs access to several satellites, and due to neighbor’s (and my) trees, Direct TV can’t even supply service to my home. I swtched to Dish network who was obliged to install two dishes at my home to access all subscribed channels. Trying to set up a Dish Ntwk. dish while ‘boondocking’ with the skew angle and all isn’t worth the trouble.
    The dish Network DVR is just great! I have an external hard drive connected and can accumulate nearly a month’s programming which may be watched while disconnected from the satellite (dish) cable. The price for connecting an external hard drive is a one-time cost of something like $39.99 but can easily be talked down to $20.00. I have never run out of per-recorded **stuff** to watch when out for three weeks or so. Sadly, when my DVR is out with my motorhome it obviously isn’t (pre) recording anything.
    I’m not interested in “in motion” or self aligning roof top receivers, and with the the new technology emerging I’m even less interested. I’m a believer in the old
    KISS cliche. The large (Dish) DVR hard drive coupled with the external hard drive are well within these peremeters.
    I realize my ploy isn’t workable for full timers with no “home base”. For my relatively short trips I’m in good shape.

  16. Julie Rea

    Do any of these satellite services work in Mexico? A few years back if you wanted satellite in Mexico, you had to have it through a Canadian company.

  17. Jim Joling, Yes, the satellite dealer installed an “A/B” switch that handles that frequency. Thanks for bring that up as I’m sure it will help answer other peoples question too. Thank you for your participation on this topic.

  18. Howie Houserman, That is great information. Thank you for posting it and for your valued input.

  19. Jim Joling

    How do you switch from in-motion dish to stationary dish? Have you found an approved A-B switch for these frequencies on Coax?

  20. Howie Houserman

    Here’s the text of what I sent to my RV dealer late last year explaining the need for a change.


    Direct TV is expanding its High Definition (HD) programming. In order to accomplish this, they are now moving HD programming from the current Ku band satellites to two other satellites that use Ka band technology. To receive HD from Direct TV, newer dishes are required. Those dishes that previously were capable of receiving HD programming, will no longer be able to do so.

    Winegard Roadtrip®

    The Winegard Roadtrip models are not capable of receiving these Ka band signals and thus cannot receive HD TV. In addition to not being able receive HDTV, this dish switches between two satellites but can’t receive from both simultaneously. If the receiver in the bedroom and the main living area are tuned to stations that receive signals from different satellites, a conflict occurs. Therefore, viewing independent channels at each location is not always possible.

    This limitation is not acceptable considering how we plan to use this RV. We need to be able to independently tune whatever channel, HD or otherwise, we wish at both locations. In fact, we also need to be able to independently tune the outside location as well.


    This antenna has the capability to simultaneously receive signals from all DIRECTTV Ku and Ka band satellites. It is however limited to stationary applications. We accept this in that no manufacturer currently offers an “In-Motion” dish with this capability.


    The Slimline dish has 4 coaxial cables coming from the LNB’s. These satellite signals can be distributed to multiple receiver locations by using a multi-switch. If the user wants to have DVR capabilities, 2 coaxially cables must be routed to each receiver location.


    Direct TV was able to provide the “Multi-Switch”

  21. Smith, Wery true. Additionally now we may see off-air broadcasting take a run at the prize given the digital transmission and the ability to output up to 10 channels. Thank you for your valued input.

  22. Satellite TV has become one of the greatest technological inventions of today. Only few years back cable tv operators had a monopoly in the pay television industry, and within that time frame there are 30 million satellite TV subscribers.