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Old 01-22-2012, 04:18 PM   #1
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Alternative TV antenna or bypass

I've spent a decent amount of time trying to troubleshoot why we get garbage for TV reception via the original Skyliner antenna. With the help of a friend in the TV / cable business, we were able to track down that there's some wort of a disconnect between the antenna itself and the connections inside the trailer. If I connect directly tot he antenna outside and then run the cable through the door (for testing purposes only), I get wonderful HD reception. Something like 25 channels including the sub-channels. So the idea was suggested by my friend to run new cable (coax) through the entire trailer. OK, but I wanted it clean which meant taking down some interior panels, most importantly the "multi-dome". I've now concluded that this is a monumental task and not something I'm willing to do since I'm not in need of a complete interior-gutting remodeling.

So, has anyone else been unable to use their from-the-factory TV connection in the trailer and done something to get around that without gutting the trailer? Of course I could run the coax inside the trailer, but that would look tacky. I think we'll go without before that happens. Any suggestions?
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Old 01-22-2012, 04:23 PM   #2
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I really can't help you on this one. We have a wineguard antenna we set up on its own stand. I paid 30 bucks for it. We use it because when I bought my airstream the antenna was gone. I get about 8 channels which is fine for us. We usually just watch the news and weather and that is it.

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Old 01-22-2012, 04:29 PM   #3
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I don't know what your set-up is like, but do you think it might be possible to connect new cable to the inside end and pull it into the shell by pulling the old cable out from the outside ... bringing the new cable behind it? Or vice versa? Don't know if this is plausible, will work or even can work ... might depend on how far it has to go and what it has to go through. I agree that dismantling the whole thing is not worth it.
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Old 01-22-2012, 04:56 PM   #4
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You could try crimping on new connectors everywhere. Also try connecting your TV to the cable going into the booster switch if you have one.
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Old 01-22-2012, 05:01 PM   #5
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Do you have coax from the antenna in to the back of the wedge shaped connector that also has the 12v outlet? I have attached a photo with the wedge shaped thing unscrewed from the wall so the wiring showing. You can see the coax lead coming down from the top of the opening and connecting to a splitter hanging down at the bottom of the photo.

From the splitter, it goes into the mess of stuff that converts it to the FM antenna and the funny two prong connector. (I added the coax connector from the splitter next to the 12v outlet to eliminate the two prong connection and provide all coax connections, so yours will not have that.)

If you have coax from the antenna to this opening, can you connect to the coax and skip all the other strange connections (see all the yellow wire-nuts)? If you get a good signal there, it would indicate that the problem is in the other stuff.

If not, it would be a good place to hook on with a coax union and try to pull from the outside.

Good luck and let us know what you find out.

On another note, what is a "multi-dome"?
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Old 01-22-2012, 05:11 PM   #6
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On my trailer, the television roof mounted antenna cable looked fine, was attached at the OEM location, and when I pulled on it, it was solid. I removed the antenna, and when I removed the Vulkem that sealed the wire at the skin entry location, the wire was completely broken just below the skin. There was no extra wire to be pulled up for a splice. I tried. It was short and tight. Future splicing will require removal of the interior panel(s).

I kept the antenna for the next owner, but I won't reinstall it. I may install a modern fixed antenna and run the wire into the refrigerator vent. My plan is to take a portable Direct-TV dish for manual positioning. I'll install a new wall through at a handy location.
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Old 01-22-2012, 05:12 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lothlorian View Post
I really can't help you on this one. We have a wineguard antenna we set up on its own stand. I paid 30 bucks for it. We use it because when I bought my airstream the antenna was gone. I get about 8 channels which is fine for us. We usually just watch the news and weather and that is it.

Brian
I'm glad you decided to reply even though you thought you couldn't help me because your reply made something click and I realized my solution. Some time ago, I had run a standard coax line from the rear trunk (you know this well since you have a 73 Overlander and mine is a 74), behind the toilet / "hamper", over the water heater area, into the closet (double bed floor plan), and up into the head locker, and then a wall plate facing downward above the dresser. So the installation is clean and unnoticed unless you really snoop in the closet and the head locker. Our TV is mounted on an arm there...makes it so that it can be watched in the bedroom or swung around and watched from the front. Why does this matter? Well, it was installed so that the once a year or so that we stay at a campground with cable, we can hook up. But, your idea sparked something. I can do exactly what you're doing (antenna on a stand) and just connect it to the cable in the trunk. And, I can cut that nasty antenna off the trailer finally. And for the record, my wife wants the TV connection for the same reason as you...so she can watch the news in the morning.

Thanks for the inspiration, Brian!
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Old 01-22-2012, 05:36 PM   #8
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Wow! I am truly overwhelmed by the response. Either this is a hot topic or everyone is surfing Airforums this Sunday night. I guess the playoff game is over and there's no new shows on for a couple weeks...

Quote:
Originally Posted by TBRich View Post
I don't know what your set-up is like, but do you think it might be possible to connect new cable to the inside end and pull it into the shell by pulling the old cable out from the outside ... bringing the new cable behind it? Or vice versa? Don't know if this is plausible, will work or even can work ... might depend on how far it has to go and what it has to go through. I agree that dismantling the whole thing is not worth it.
This was my intended plan. I talked to a guy that I knew had gutted a similar year & layout Airstream and inquired how the TV cable was run. He said there was a wire down the center and then it branched directly down (90 degrees) to the front and bedroom connections. He also said it was run through holes or looms to hold it in place. So, the plan was to remove the multi-dome (ceiling) and do as you said...pull out the old line with new attached to the other end. But, even with a service manual, removal of the multi-dome isn't practical since it nearly requires removing all head lockers and "headers" as Airstream calls them. So I decided today that pulling new cable wasn't an option.

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Originally Posted by r carl View Post
You could try crimping on new connectors everywhere. Also try connecting your TV to the cable going into the booster switch if you have one.
Yeah, that was all part of the testing that we did previously. My amplifier works great! Only problem is that it wasn't getting anything from the antenna to amplify. We had the antenna connected by running a cable direct from the antenna to the inside of the camper and knew the antenna was working. When directly connected to a TV, it would find many HD channels. We tried connecting it to the "IN" side of the amp., but this still didn't produce a signal at the rear (bedroom) TV outlet. This with a bunch of other tests and we concluded that there were multiple issues in the internal TV circuit and new cable was the best solution.

Quote:
Originally Posted by vswingfield View Post
Do you have coax from the antenna in to the back of the wedge shaped connector that also has the 12v outlet? I have attached a photo with the wedge shaped thing unscrewed from the wall so the wiring showing. You can see the coax lead coming down from the top of the opening and connecting to a splitter hanging down at the bottom of the photo.

From the splitter, it goes into the mess of stuff that converts it to the FM antenna and the funny two prong connector. (I added the coax connector from the splitter next to the 12v outlet to eliminate the two prong connection and provide all coax connections, so yours will not have that.)

If you have coax from the antenna to this opening, can you connect to the coax and skip all the other strange connections (see all the yellow wire-nuts)? If you get a good signal there, it would indicate that the problem is in the other stuff.
We were all over inside that area when troubleshooting. We completed your suggest task (I think) as described in my previous quote-reply. I thought that the mess of wire nuts was something that the PO did. I'm not sure if I'm happy or sad to see that that setup must have been from the factory.

Quote:
If not, it would be a good place to hook on with a coax union and try to pull from the outside.
See response above about pulling new wire. The routing doesn't all for it without removing the multi-dome.

Quote:
On another note, what is a "multi-dome"?
This is Airstream's fancy terminology for the central panel of the interior that runs the full length of the trailer. I would call it the ceiling panel. I don't understand it either, but it's the name given in and around page 56 of my service manual.

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Originally Posted by Splitrock View Post
. My plan is to take a portable Direct-TV dish for manual positioning. I'll install a new wall through at a handy location.
We thought of this too as we are DirecTV subscribers. But, that would mean another receiver, another dish, and another probably $10/mo to DirecTV. If it weren't for my wife, I wouldn't even be looking for TV. The kids watch DVDs. I prefer sitting by the fire with a lot of drinks nearby, or at least one really strong drink.

------------------

Again, thanks to all for the suggestions. My solution is going to be as in my reply to Brian. I am going to take the set of rabbit ears that I bought at Wal-Mart for $12 that has a coax connector on it out-of-the-box and connect it to the "cable" circuit that I added to the trailer some time ago.
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Old 01-22-2012, 05:37 PM   #9
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For the 70's, the easy way to get a coax lead into the inside is route it across the roof and then come down through the vent for the refrigerator. You only need to drill one hole to get it into your cabinet next to the fridge and go from there.
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Old 01-26-2012, 10:35 AM   #10
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I did just as dwightdi did and all has been fine for years.

The only other things I might add is that my stereo is connected to the TV antenna, so where the new coax came into my credenza, I mounted a 2-way splitter on the wall. Also had to solder a new connector on the stereo antenna wire since it was connected to twin lead.

Before you do anything you might do a quick test to verify that your antenna is good. Simply connect some new coax to the antenna, and run it down over the side and in through the open door to your TV. If reception is crystal clear, start your installation.

Christopher
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Old 04-02-2012, 06:48 AM   #11
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I bought an RCA omnidirectional amplified antenna. I found the best place to hang it is on the arm of the awning over the rear window. I connect it via the "cable" coax in the trunk. We tried it inside the airstream and got 6 channels. We put it out there and got 16. Works nice.
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