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Old 07-26-2009, 08:36 AM   #1
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Digital TV if you can find it

About a year and a half ago our analog TV in the trailer died while on a trip. We bought a flat screen digital 20" LG and have been very happy with the TV itself. Since the federal mandated cutover, I've been less than happy with the level of service we've been finding out there.

First finding digital TV signals is a royal pain unless you are close to a decent sized city with TV stations. We just came back from Door County where we used to pick up Green Bay TV. No more. The only thing available was 3 educational channels.

We overnighted in LaSalle-Peru area off Interstate 80 and I39. I guess about 60 air miles from the Chicago area. The place probably had over 15 channels back in the day of analog TV. No more. I asked at the desk and they said you get great pictures from the educational station and a religious channel. I managed after turning in small increments to find some Chicago channels but was plagued by them popping in and out. And once daylight came, they all pretty much were gone.

What was interesting was the Chicago stations were focused in a very narrow band. Moving the antenna directional knob more than a half inch in either direction lost the signal. Essentially to find these more remote stations you have to go to manual setup of your tv, choose one of 70 digital channels, and slowly rotate the antenna to get a lock on a signal. I don't know about you but this takes much of the fun out of watching TV.

Asking the campground staff, how's TV and they all roll their eyes. For all intents if you are in rural America it now sucks and probably means the folks living out away from the metro areas have a nightmare with needed upgraded antenna systems and a double nightmare, rotors to now point directly at the towers. It looks like the best channels once you are out are religious stations and educational stations. My guess it they are out in the rural areas cause the ground for the TV towers is cheaper than close to the metro areas.

I'm trying to figure if there is any more I can do to improve my reception. I'm using the amplified bat wing antenna that came with the trailer but I'm not sure in the trailer world if there is anything better out there.

So far it seems I'd be better off to figure out if I can start using my home satellite service when I'm on the road. I've got my old dish in the basement that can pick up one satellite. Wouldn't get full service but if I can see the southern sky, it might be better than a black screen or a signal that drops in and out.

Jack
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Old 07-26-2009, 08:50 AM   #2
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Jack;

Living in SW Colorado we have that problem all the time, even when we had analog. We have gone to a sattelite system called VueQube(I believe) They can be located at
Camping World for about $600. We figured if we were going to do some boondocking we should have something that would reach the channels we were used to. You can use it with both Dish and DirectTV. Just take one of your receivers from your home .

The trick to it is to have a southern sky that you can point the dish to.

We went the portable dish rout a few years back with Dish and it worked quite well. We used it when we were in Salem at the International and we could still get our Colorado stations.

Good luck in your venture.

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Old 07-26-2009, 08:56 AM   #3
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Jack:

We have experienced the same thing as we travel. Unless you are near major city there are very slim pickings for channel selection. My guess is that is the reason that Direct TV and Dish network are generating new business from residences and RVs who want better coverage. Even during are last trip to Charleston, SC, a 1/4" turn of our Classic Batwind could wipe reception of some channels. Some campgrounds may decide to add cable just as more of them have added some type of Wi-Fi. In the meantime, if someone has found a solution, I sure would like to hear about it.
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Old 07-26-2009, 08:56 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dogpound View Post
Jack;

Living in SW Colorado we have that problem all the time, even when we had analog. We have gone to a sattelite system called VueQube(I believe) They can be located at
Camping World for about $600. We figured if we were going to do some boondocking we should have something that would reach the channels we were used to. You can use it with both Dish and DirectTV. Just take one of your receivers from your home .

The trick to it is to have a southern sky that you can point the dish to.

We went the portable dish rout a few years back with Dish and it worked quite well. We used it when we were in Salem at the International and we could still get our Colorado stations.

Good luck in your venture.

Bob
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I've seen those units and they are getting cheaper. Looks like it beats setting up a dish...still pricey though. I was hoping that there might be a better antenna system out there that could upgrade the bat wing.

I thought about taking one of my digital converter boxes and try plugging that into the line. Not sure if adding a second amplifier would work or whether I would have to turn off the amp that is currently serving the bat wing. The downside is I'd have to come into the analog side of my new TV which somewhat defeats the HD side of the picture.

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Old 07-26-2009, 09:02 AM   #5
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Go for it. I have carried my satellite system for 5 years. In fact we were wired for analog and digital trailer antenna, satellite, and campground.

All you need is your extra antenna, a stand of the antenna, a compass, and a satellite box. I wired my campground and satellite connection in directly under the table in the living room.

Directv and Dish will sell you Network Channels for an extra monthly charge.
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Old 07-26-2009, 09:39 AM   #6
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yeah, from what I've seen, signal strength is very much downgraded w/ the digital changeover.
I believe its because they're using much lower power to transmit...which the tv stations love, because it costs them less $$ for the lesser amount of electricity required.

anyway, I've seen that camping world is hawking an attachment to the batwing that allegedly improves uhf reception (which is where most of the tv signals are transmitting, now). Of course, this device promises absolute perfection, as with any other product. I'm waiting to see actual reviews here.
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Old 07-26-2009, 10:04 AM   #7
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Essentially all the 'channels' are now in the UHF spectrum, and are 'line of sight' type signals.

The old VHF analog channels could 'bounce' around obstacles to some degree, and you would still get a 'signal' to watch - not so with Digital, narrow band signals...

I don't think it's the 'power' of the existing digital signals in the new system, but it depends more on your clear view of the transmitter's antenna....

In our area, many stations use the same antenna structure, so aiming isn't such a big problem. This antenna structure is being added too in altitude so the signals will reach more distant areas that can't now receive the new digital channels...

While it's true, you have to better 'aim' your antenna, you'll find that the quality of the signal (once you get it) is much better than the old system - no 'snow', etc...you either get a good signal, or none at all - there's no 'in between', gray areas...

I think as time goes by, you'll see signal improvement due to increased antenna heights, or signal 'repeaters' in some areas that are now 'dark'...

Give it some time to sort out all the 'bugs'...

We use Dish Net, with a Winegard Traveler, auto seeking antenna - we also added the 'All America' channels, so we can get New York City and Los Angeles big four Networks, no matter where were parked - if the trees aren't in the way, that is...then it's off to hook up the Vuqube!
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Old 07-26-2009, 10:14 AM   #8
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VHF is "line of site", too. but the bandwidth (in the true meaning of the word) is wider, and your antenna is more likely to "see" it. uhf band is narrower, and harder for your antenna to pick up. In many cases, the cure for not being able to pick up a station isn't how you "rotate" the antenna, but if you could actually raise it up or lower it down a couple of feet. and that isn't easy to do.
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Old 07-26-2009, 10:20 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chuck View Post
the cure for not being able to pick up a station isn't how you "rotate" the antenna, but if you could actually raise it up or lower it down a couple of feet. and that isn't easy to do.
I wonder how many concrete blocks it would take to raise the trailer a couple of feet, and where I would carry the ladder to get in and out the main door...
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Old 07-26-2009, 10:29 AM   #10
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I just found this link.
Upgrade your Sensar Antenna with Wingman for Optimum DTV Performance - Winegard

Watch the video.

More info. http://www.campingworld.com/shopping...-wingman/44021

Jack
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Old 07-26-2009, 10:32 AM   #11
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yeah, thats what I was talking about. go buy one, and let me know if it works.
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Old 07-26-2009, 10:34 AM   #12
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I see a business opportunity here...a new type of RV, digital TV telescoping antenna that you can 'levitate' 20 to 30 feet above your roof!...alas, what to do when the wind picks up!

I wouldn't be surprised to see Digital TV signals to be incorporated onto many cell phone towers in the near future - for increased coverage - using a simple antenna, the kids will be able to watch live TV in the back seats as you travel down the Interstate! Simple is the keyword here, no expensive, tracking Sat dome required in populated areas, that is!

Lasers may well come into play for transmission of TV signals of this sort...the times they are a'changing...
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Old 07-26-2009, 10:47 AM   #13
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Looks like we have another thread on the wingman. Here is a link.

Looks like it's fairly painless to install. I'll take a look at the clearance. Some folks have reported problems on some RV's since it might interfere with other items in close proximity of your antenna. I just might buy one. I wish we had gotten that Camping World in STL that was canceled a couple of years back. $11 shipping.

Jack
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Old 07-26-2009, 10:47 AM   #14
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My experience

I bought one of these things several months ago. My experiences are related here - http://www.airforums.com/forums/f450...man-48742.html . I still haven't seen much improvement, but maybe I was expecting too much. Now that many of the stations have been adjusting their output power along with turning off the analog transmitters, it isn't really possible compare it to what we "used" to have. As noted above, these signals are in the UHF band for the most part and they simply don't go as far or bounce around as much as the old VHF signals did. I keep playing with the adjustments, aiming, etc.. but for the most part, I am watching less TV.

That's probably a good thing though

Wayne
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Old 07-26-2009, 10:49 AM   #15
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I recently purchased the Weingard attachment for my antenna. It was simple to install and improved the reception. It was $28.00 well spent. I haven't tried it in some of the areas that Jack talked about, but 50 miles from the Quad Cities it worked fine; but this is flatland. illinois /iowa.
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Old 07-26-2009, 10:54 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wayner61 View Post
I bought one of these things several months ago. My experiences are related here - http://www.airforums.com/forums/f450...man-48742.html . I still haven't seen much improvement, but maybe I was expecting too much. Now that many of the stations have been adjusting their output power along with turning off the analog transmitters, it isn't really possible compare it to what we "used" to have. As noted above, these signals are in the UHF band for the most part and they simply don't go as far or bounce around as much as the old VHF signals did. I keep playing with the adjustments, aiming, etc.. but for the most part, I am watching less TV.

That's probably a good thing though

Wayne
I know one of our local metro stations did note that they wouldn't be at full power right away. I'm sure there will be some adjustments going on as the service matures. I know in some cases antennas must be relocated on the towers which means lowering of the power or interruption of service late at night. Too much radiation up there for the workers to be up on those towers will the stations running at full power.

Jack
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Old 07-26-2009, 10:55 AM   #17
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Quote:
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I recently purchased the Weingard attachment for my antenna. It was simple to install and improved the reception. It was $28.00 well spent. I haven't tried it in some of the areas that Jack talked about, but 50 miles from the Quad Cities it worked fine; but this is flatland. illinois /iowa.
I assume that the antenna lowers down ok without any interference issues?

Jack
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Old 07-26-2009, 10:56 AM   #18
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Glad to hear I'm not alone. After buying my AS in Feb only to find a leaky Skyliner antenna, I posted here as to the value of keeping it or ripping it off. I was encouraged that it would be great to have when DTV came around, so I sealed it up and it's still there. I'm now regretting that. It worked reasonably well w/ analog but now that DTV is here...I don't get channels better with it up, down, rotated, amplified, etc. The auto-search on the DTV box finds the *chuckle* religious and the shopping network. I guess we know who's got the money to push the high-strength signals. Anyway, I thought my Skyliner might be trashed, so I inspected some things and replaced some connections, etc. No better. So, I bought a $7 set of rabbit ears at Target last weekend. They work decent. BUT, I MUST put the antenna outside and it has to be held at not only an rotation angle but at a tilt angle. It also helps if I keep my hand on the antenna, too. Either way, I considered this venture a mild success because I can get a decent number of UHF channels and one of the major networks from my driveway and I live in the middle of nowhere where we need satellite in order to get anything with decent reception.

In the end, my suggestion for DTV reception is to go get a $7 set of rabbit ears for ultimate versatility in positioning. If anyone here buys the "optimized" DTV Winegard or buys the wings to optimize their existing Winegard, please post your satisfaction / success. I would drop the $60 on one of those to replace the Skyliner if someone can vouch that it's an improvement. In the meantime, cable TV access at the campsite is now on my "would like to have" list.
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Old 07-26-2009, 11:04 AM   #19
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Jack, I found out about those issues last year when we bought our first RV tvs with digital tuners. They got great reception in Cedar Rapids, and practially nothing here, forty miles out. It will be interesting to see if the "signal enhancers" work any better than those little grid things they used to claim were "amazing" for cell phone reception.

When I was a kid living in Sioux City, IA we got two channels... then UHF opened up and we got three. And there was seldom anything on worth watching. Now, I have satellite at home and get over 250 channels, and there's seldom anything on worth watching. I haven't even bought a TV for the B-Van, and probably won't. I have a portable DVD player and take movies along. I listen to local radio for news, and get wifi where I can.

I just haven't found lack digital reception to be much of a loss. About the only time I watch the locals is for supplemental severe weather coverage, but we typically lose the satellite signal during bad storms anyway... so it's not such a big deal anyway.

Roger
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Old 07-26-2009, 11:06 AM   #20
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Jack, I haven't had a chance to read your entire thread, but you might some stuff here that's useful.

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f450...uff-48707.html

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