Television reception - Fiberglass RV


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Old 07-31-2013, 08:59 PM   #1
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Television reception

Searched threads relating to television reception while camping. Not getting a clear picture (pun not intended) of the value of most posts. None reveal a key piece of info: terrain, or distance to nearest city, the likely old-timey over-the-air signal source.

Looking for a clear consensus on what equipment will provide the best possible reception, based upon the following criteria:
  • No cable hookups, no wiki, no Ethernet.
  • No factory installed antenna.
  • Employing a flat screen 19 inch TV or any late model laptop.
  • Expecting no better than a few decent local major network signals. Anything more would be gravy.
Understand we donít care that much about watching television, except for keeping tabs on the weather, the latest earthquakes, Longmire, Mad Men, and the like.

Obviously, keys here are antenna size, antenna orientation, and distance to the nearest strong VHF-UHF in-the-air signal. Packaging promises the world wrapped in a PT Barnum veil, from $29 to $89 bucks and rising. Is there anything out there that survives a reality test taller than the rest?

The Happaugue WIN TV HVR 950Q is a TV tuner with a dink telescoping wand antenna via USB into my HP 15Ē laptop. $90 bucks, Best Buy. But does it trump a $49 Winegrad plugged by a cable through the window to my Haier 19Ē LED? All things being equal, of course. I mean letís say both are 35 miles from the transmitter and not so deep in death valley and surrounded by the American Alps. Must have a level playing field.

I need to make a judgment before Sept when we depart for Chilliwack to pick up our 19 and 2-3 weeks of whoopeee.
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Old 07-31-2013, 09:12 PM   #2
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I don't know if it helps your quest, but my research has led me to Wineguard Rayzar and Flatwave. The reviews on CampingWorld all seemed very positive.

Jason
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Old 07-31-2013, 09:52 PM   #3
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We have a Winegard Rayzar which is a square flat thing that supposedly will attach to a window with suction cups. Also have another Winegard antenna that extends out of a tube and folds out, you can mount it to the side of a trailer but ours is on a pole bolted to the bumper. The Rayzar was an impulse buy at Camping World one day. It is not the one with the booster. Anyway I did a comparison test one time, the Rayzar picked up 2 extra channels over the fold out antenna, but they were not watchable. This seems to be a common problem depending on location, some channels come in good, some are on the outer fringe and come & go. I wasn't impressed with the suction cup mounting on the Rayzar, but it worked good even when they came unstuck and it laid on the ground. For a small, easy to store antenna that works fairly well it is a good buy. You can probably get directions on how to make an antenna out of barbed wire and tin cans if you don't want to spend any money. I recall seeing some ranches and lots of fence when I was in New Mexico.
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Old 07-31-2013, 10:11 PM   #4
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For signal strength go to tvfool.com and put in your location and it will list all the local over the air stations, direction and distance. They also factor in geography in figuring signal strength. You can print out charts to figure which way to point your antenna at home or at your camp sites.
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Old 07-31-2013, 10:13 PM   #5
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I agree with Mary and Bob. I have the square antenna thing from Camping World and to me it is worth the money. I have used it several times. Sometimes I can get quite a few channels. Other times just a few. In very remote locations...none...I was in the Florida Keys earlier this year and had no reception at all.

I don't see any difference from putting it in the window as to just having it in the trailer. In fact sometimes you get better reception by putting it closer to the TV.
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Old 08-01-2013, 12:47 AM   #6
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I picked up last month The Leaf by Mohu and I am pretty happy with it. It is of course like all antennas & only works if you are fairly close to an urban area - has a 35 mile range. Its also very thin about a foot square and fits away in the over head bin when not in use. Even bends to the curved walls of Scamps overhead bins. For $40 I am not complaining & it comes with 10' of cable. For $80 you can get one with an amplifier which will increase its range to 50 miles.
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Old 08-01-2013, 07:47 AM   #7
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I can't decide if I should take this post seriously or not really?

First you observe the lack of consensus or answers on this issue but then you ask for one?

You are correct,there is merely anecdotal evidence based on peoples individual unscientific experimenting about what best works for this in our rigs.

First I hope you realize that every show you mention wanting to watch by name is only available to a Cable TV connection and will not be found on Broadcast TV so.....

Second,if your Scamp has the Reflectix insulation then you can give up the notion that any inside antenna will work for you at all. The Foil shields the interior fairly effectively from any RF reception through it.

So you will need to use an exterior antenna of some kind.
There is no magic here at all.
The bigger the metal antenna the higher you can get it in the air,the better and longer range your reception will be.
This can obviously be pretty inconvenient to carry and deploy a large metal antenna requires a real commitment to getting reception and short of this all options will be a compromise somewhere.

You can also buy a shrunken antenna that has the metal elements inside a plastic package and usually promising much more than they can deliver and this is what most of us end up using and what is installed from the trailer factories.
I believe we either get lucky or we don't every time we setup and yet we also get excited and exaggerate our joy at receiving channels no matter how many we may get?

The antenna can either be Omni-Directional receiving all around it about equally or it can be directional receiving in a narrow "Beam" but offering the ability to Aim the antenna to pick up certain stations while rejecting others along with noise.
Often you will find an antenna that can rotate in place allowing for this aiming or "Peaking" function to help zero in on a certain direction or station.

Many antennas are also powered or amplified and this just trys to let the tiny amount of signal the pickup and make it usable anyway,these can help and also require their own power which can complicate using them a little.

Add to all of this that we now have been blessed/cursed with the new Digital TV standards and the job gets even more difficult. Digital signals are not only much weaker than old analog signals but they have to be received at certain minimum levels or you get no usable signal at all. We used to be able to suffer through with a snowy in and out reception if we chose to but with Digital it either comes in or it does not.

Since everyone uses Cable these days and few use Broadcast Tv the manufacturers spend little energy on the new TVs tuners and the new requirements of Digital Broadcast and thus it is a total Crap Shoot whether a TV will be a good Broadcast signal performer or not. I have seen multiple TVs in the same spot each tune dramatically differently and there is no way to tell how your TV will tune and how to find one that tunes well at all aside from buying and trying which few people will do.

Then every time the antenna is moved so you can try to find a little better signal you MUST let the digital TV ReScan for channels to determine if there was any difference or not and this can take some TVs a half hour each ReScan few people have the stomach for what it takes to really optimize a TV signal,we are roughing it after all!

Another problem we have when camping of course is wanting to be away from cities and of course TV stations are in cities so the further away from it all we get the harder it will be to take the TV with us.

I have tried a lot of antennas and schemes for mounting and using them,I mean a lot!!!!
I actually sell and install TV for a living and also I am a Ham Radio Nerd and can be somewhat obsessed with this pursuit so when I tell you any of this it is not without considerable trial and error on my part and that of others.

The one antenna that seems to work universally over all others for us in an RV is the Winegard Sensar in any of its forms.

The Sensar seems to work the best for the most and has certainly done so for me.
I carry mine in the truck bed or under the Casita Bed and I put it up on a Tripod that I carry and on poles in the Tripod to get as high as I need to for my location.
Sounds like a pain? It can be fun for me but I understand if others don't see it this way.

You can mount then to the trailer and even rotate them through the roof with certain options. They also have a tuning adapter for the Sensar that lets you find and peak the direction without ReScanning the TV or even having a TV connected while putting the antenna up.

Getting decent TV signal is tedious and can be pricey and most of us just live with whatever easy options we find and I think for good and obvious reasons. If you want more be prepared to do more to get it.

As for the TV itself they all really do the same thing. Buy one that makes sense to you and know that no computer tuning device will give you a picture nearly as good as even the worst TV will unless it says it will deliver HDTV pictures.
This is not a deal breaker to some of us and a big deal to others. Only you can decide for yourself.

The antenna choices are the same.

Oh and sorry if this is not long winded enough an answer but trust me I could go longer!

Ed
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Old 08-01-2013, 08:42 AM   #8
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Carol, I was looking at the Leaf in WalMart yesterday. Thanks,-- it is on my radar screen.

Ed, I couldn't have said all that any better.
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Old 08-01-2013, 08:46 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Myron Leski View Post
Carol, I was looking at the Leaf in WalMart yesterday. Thanks,-- it is on my radar screen.

Ed, I couldn't have said all that any better.
Thanks?

The Leaf is not for outside use and I have the Ultimate with amplifier built-in and would not buy it again.

Any small passive,non amplified antenna for inside trailer use just will not do the job when out away from civilization from my experience.
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Old 08-01-2013, 08:59 AM   #10
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While I wouldn't want to fold & unfold this every day, and you probably would want to store it in a tow vehicle, if you are in one location long enough to make it worth setting up, the Winegard HD7696P antenna will out perform any standard RV antenna. Add an amp, and get it 10'-15' in the air and you can generally expect good reception as far as 60 miles away.

I have one on a 55' tower at home & regularly receive stations 70 miles away.
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Old 08-01-2013, 09:09 AM   #11
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Yikes, Jon, thanks but that's too serious a Tv commitment for my needs. As stated, just need something good to stick out the window and catch the news with.

Always liked the Winegrad, though back in the day I had a summer job at Pabst in Newark.
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Old 08-01-2013, 09:25 AM   #12
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If all you want is weather, get yourself a weather radio here Amazon.com: weather radio
and watch movies on your laptop. KISS method
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Old 08-01-2013, 09:44 AM   #13
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"Expecting no better than a few decent local major network signals. Anything more would be gravy....... Is there anything out there that survives a reality test taller than the rest?"

Just wondering..... Is there such a thing as a small affordable satelite dish?

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Old 08-01-2013, 09:56 AM   #14
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affordable satellite is like army intelligence, no such thing......
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