Satellite TV in your RV

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This page discusses using satellite TV from DISH TV in your RV. Although you can use the receiver from home in your RV, it works in a different way with a portable antenna, and that causes a lot of frustration when you do not know the ins, outs, and differences of it.

INTRODUCTION

The way most people are receiving a TV signal is OTA  (over the air) with an antenna on your roof or mounted inside or using a satellite antenna.  OTA is suitable to receive local broadcast stations and that does not cost you anything. Satellite TV is a paid subscription where you can choose the package with stations you like to receive. Another way to receive TV broadcasts is by using the internet.

DISH satellite TV

This article will discuss our setup using DISH TV, a Wally receiver with DVR, and a Winegard Pathway X2 antenna. We use this equipment in our 2005 Winnebago Vectra since 2016 and learned some things while doing so. Even if you are using  DirecTV it might be interesting to read and maybe you want to switch to DISH?

We cut the Comcast TV cable in 2015 and signed up for Dish at home, bought the RV in 2016, and added the portable antenna for DISH. The RV was equipped with a Kingdome satellite antenna but that could not be upgraded to use DISH. While on the road we bring our Wally receiver with DVR with us to watch TV.  Let’s dive into satellite TV now, sharing all I know about it;

KNOWING HOW IT WORKS HELPS YOU TROUBLESHOOT

Satellite TV
 Satellites stationed in space are broadcasting roughly 300 TV channels at the same time and can be received by the satellite receiver. The signal is encoded en can only be decoded using the equipment from the provider. (DISH signals cannot be decoded by DirecTV receivers and vice-versa)
Satellite position

DISH is using satellites that are stationary in the southern sky in a western arc and an eastern arc.


Each satellite has different stations. A modern antenna will switch automatically between the satellites when you switch channels but only when the station is not on the satellite channel you were on. The western arc and eastern arc satellites have the same channels. (NOTE 118.7 is not used by DISH)
To have two different groups of satellites is a good thing to have. When you want to point your antenna to the western arc and there are trees or other obstacles in the way you can switch to the eastern arc. But this only works if your antenna is able to receive it on either arc.  (The Winegard Pathway X2 is able to point to and receive via Western or Eastern arc) You choose your arc in the setup of the receiver. Run the setup after you connected the antenna and coax cable to the receiver.

Pointing your antenna

To find the satellite location I use an app on my Android phone called Satellite Dish Pointer   I will look for 119 (western arc) or 72.7  (eastern arc) to find where I need to point the antenna to. I know during the setup that the antenna will find the satellites just fine as I checked the clear view on the satellite with my application.

Knowing there are no trees or buildings between the antenna and the satellites makes things quicker and easier while switching between western and eastern arc might solve any obstruction problem.

You use this app by choosing the satellite (for example 119) and pointing your phone camera into the southern sky it will then track the satellite and show you exactly where it is.

In general, you put the backside of the antenna, where the coax is connected, to the North so it can turn to search the satellites in the south.

The Winegard Pathway X2 antenna

FEATURES

  • Simple Setup and Operation – 100% automatic and self-installs quickly. The X2 is powered through the DISH receiver and runs through the DISH menu using the new DISH mobile protocol. Just set your state and the X2 will do the rest!
  • Total Coverage – The Pathway X2 accesses all DISH satellites, everywhere in the United States. It uses both the Western Arc (110°, 119°, and 129°) orbitals and the Eastern Arc (61.5°, 72.7°, and 77°) orbitals.
  • Multi-TV Viewing – You can hook up a second receiver for two times the programming! (Needs extra coax cable)
  • Power Over Coax – Pathway antennas is powered through the coax cable from the satellite receiver, making it so no power cable is needed.

To keep the antenna from the ground and for added stability, there is a tripod with adjustable legs available here on Amazon

Be aware that this is a big antenna compared to the “Tailgater” it cannot be mounted on your RV!

  • Stowed Height: 15″
  • Fully Deployed Height: 20.75″
  • Diameter: 21″
  • Reflector Size: 18″
  • Weight: 16 lb
Wally Receiver

  • Small footprint  (1.6″H x 10.41″W x 8.11″D)
  • Easy-to-use interface similar to the DISH Hopper
  • RF Remote works through walls and obstructions with a 200 ft. range
  • An entire suite of  accessories available (wireless network, TV mounting bracket, OTA functionality, Bluetooth adapter)
  • Easy integration with all types of RVs with a simple coax RF modulator
  • Uses an HDMI cable to connect to a TV
  • Add a hard disk for DVR functionality ($40 DVR Activation Fee May Apply.)
DVR for the Wally

To add a DVR (Digital Video Recorder) you need to buy an external hard disk (USB) and activate it on your DISK account. In case you have more than one receiver, the activation is valid for all receivers.

1TB Records up to 100 hours of HD programming you can use a Hardisk up to 4TB (The external hard drive must not use flash memory and should only be a single-hard disk drive.)

The Wally receiver has two receivers and can record two channels at a time but they have to be on the same satellite.
(When at home with an antenna on your roof the restriction of the same satellite does not apply)

Do not swap the hard disk between receivers as you might encounter data loss.

When you delete a recording they are moved into a “trashcan” space is only freed up when you also empty the trashcan!

Local channels
“Local channels” are the channels for the area where you are in, not the channels that are local to where you live! That is why you have to change your services address to be able to receive them. Be aware that if you change the service address the receiver that might stay at home will also change the local channels but probably will not be able to receive them.

The mechanics of it is called “spot beam”, look for an explanation of it here:

You can’t get local channels from 500 miles away, even if you subscribe to satellite TV. Most local channels on satellite systems are broadcast on “spot beams,” meaning that they’re only available to a small part of the country. National satellite broadcasts cover the entire country but the local channels that serve cities and towns all across the country are only available where they’re needed.

Do NOT use splitters or boosters

It is very important to not use anything between your receiver and antenna. This is why;

The antenna needs 12 volts to operate its motor. Without the signals from the Wally, it will not be able to locate a satellite or receive a signal and change to a different satellite. When you use a splitter it will drop the voltage down to an unusable level due to the resistance.

You are able to use a splitter in a home configuration. The home dish does not have an electrical motor as it does not have to turn to a different satellite, it has an LNB for each satellite. The portable dish can only receive from one satellite at a time.

Coax cable

You need a good quality coax cable that can be laid outside and has a watertight connection on the antenna. There should be no splitters, boosters, or other devices between the cable and the receiver. You need at least two 30 feet cables to be flexible of where you put the antenna.

This is a good cable (Amazon $8 ):
30ft Indoor Outdoor RG-6 Coaxial Cable TRI SHIELD WEATHER SEAL

Buy two of those cables and 2 couplers (Amazon $6.99): Coax Coupler 2-Pack

TROUBLESHOOTING HARDWARE

To check if everything works on the hardware side, you can take these steps using a volt-meter;

Set the meter on resistance (OHM) and check the inner cable and outer shield, there should be very little resistance measured between the inner cores, then measure the outer shell and that should also have a little resistance. Next measure between the inner core and the outer shell, the meter should not show anything or you have a short in the cable.

Next, put the meter on voltage and measure the Wally receiver antenna connection between the inside and outside of the plug, this should show approximately 12 volts. Now attach the antenna cable and measure the same way at the end of the cable, this should also have about the same voltage.

 

TROUBLESHOOTING SOFTWARE/CONNECTIONS

 

This is the DISH support page to troubleshoot software and connection lost.

I will update this when the steps I have taken are not found on the support page.

 

Security

I bought a  (1/2 inch) Heavy-Duty Security Cable 15 feet, Vinyl Coated Braided Steel with Sealed Looped Ends and a padlock to secure the antenna and tripod.

Making sure the antenna will not relocate on purpose. 😉

 

Using Netflix via your receiver

You can use the Wally in combination with a USB Dish WiFi adapter and logon to an existing WiFi network that provides Internet, You need to buy the DISH adapter, any other WiFi adapter will not work. Cost is about $33 (2020) 

The Wally has two USB ports we use one for the WiFi adapter and one for the hard disk (DVR)

 

 

 

 

 

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