TV Antenna(s)

When you look around an RV park, it quickly becomes apparent that most RV folks seem to be addicted to television. Some parks have a cable TV hookup at each camp site, but many also charge extra for the service. And more and more RVers seem to enjoy the wider selection and clearer picture of satellite TV reception.

Regular TV Antenna. The standard issue Winegard "Bat Wing" antenna is found on almost all RVs.

Lets assume that this particular RV park does not have a cable connection at your camp site—which is the usual situation at most RV parks. Therefore, you need to put up the regular TV antenna (we're not talking about satellite TV, yet) that folds down on the roof of your RV.

This little task can be done by anyone—simply reach up and start turning the crank handle on the ceiling in a clock-wise direction. When the crank handle won't turn any more, your antenna should be in an upright position.

RV antennas need an amplifier to boost the signal so that it is strong enough for your TV. Somewhere up front by your VCR you will find a switch and light combination that is the face plate for the amplifier. Turn on the switch so that the little red light comes on. Your TV amplifier is now on.

In most motorhomes there is a small group of switches, in the same compartment as the VCR, that controls whether your TV is getting its signal from the roof antenna, from the VCR, from the cable TV connection, or (on newer RVs) the satellite dish on the roof. Be sure to set the switch box so that the roof antenna is providing a signal to the TV—usually you just push in on the proper button.

The next step is to turn on your TV set and see if you can find a TV station (sometimes, in some areas this is not an easy task). If you can find a TV station, even one coming in rather fuzzily, then pull down on the round disk just above the antenna crank handle. By turning this round "knob" you can rotate the antenna on the roof and get it aimed so that you get the best TV pictures (which sometimes is not all that great). The antenna will only swing so far in one direction, and then you will have to turn it back in the other direction, if your first guess at which way to turn it was incorrect. Move the antenna knob back and forth until you get the best possible picture.

Now, for one more step. Find a clothes pin and put it on the antenna crank handle. This is your reminder that your TV antenna is in the "up" position. An RV looks rather silly driving down the freeway with the TV antenna still up.

Satellite Dish Antenna. If you have a motorhome or 5er with a roof-mounted satellite dish antenna, setting it up is really quite easy—unless you are parked under some dense trees that obscure the satellite signal.

Turn on the TV and the satellite receiver and enter the zip code of your current location (or somewhere fairly nearby). The satellite receiver will then show you the proper azimuth (compass direction) and elevation (angle of the antenna above horizontal) to set your dish. Ignore the azimuth reading (and don't even bother with your compass). Look around your campsite and notice any other satellite dish antennas—to give you a general idea of which way to point your dish. (If you are the only rig in the park with a satellite antenna—very unlikely these days—drag out your compass and see, generally, which way is South.)

Most fairly recent RVs include an elevation sensor with roof-mounted satellite dishes. These units are usually mounted in the ceiling next to the manual control for raising/lowering the satellite dish. Turn on the elevation sensor and crank up the satellite antenna until the elevation shown in the little window of the elevation sensor is the same as that shown in your satellite receiver "set up" screen.

It is now quite easy to s-l-o-w-l-y turn the satellite antenna to find the satellite signal. Most set-up screens have a signal strength area that shows you how strong the satellite signal is coming in. THere is also usually an audible sound (that gets higher pitched or faster beeps) as the signal gets stronger.

TIP: graphic of a light bulb If you have DirecTV as your satellite provider, start pointing your dish in the general direction of East, and slowly turn it toward South—until you find the satellite.

If you have Dish Network as your satellite provider, start pointing your dish in the general direction of South, and slowly turn it toward East—until you find the satellite.

With my roof-mounted satellite dish, I don't bother with the compass at all—I just set the proper elevation and then slowly crank the antenna until I find the satellite. (It helps if I first look around the RV park and see where other satellite dishes are pointed.) After awhile, you can easily tell which antennas are pointed at the DirecTV satellite(s) and which antennas are pointed at the Dish Network satellites.

If you are really dependent on getting satellite reception, pay attention to where you park, so that your line-of-sight to the TV satellite is not blocked by trees.

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