Winegard Trav’ler Bell to Dish

A few years back, I posted about some challenges that I had with our Winegard Trav’ler satellite dish. The dish was pointed straight up and it would not stow. It took a lot of time and searching on the web to find a way to resolve that problem.

Since then, I’ve received numerous questions about how to switch the Winegard from Bell to Dish. I did not know how to answer because I had never made the switch. But now I have.

The Winegard Trav’ler supports both service providers and, in true engineering fashion, there is no easy, documented way to make that switch.

Why make the switch? Well, if you are a Canadian snowbird, the Bell service works only in Canada. The satellite coverage doesn’t extend very far, if at all, when travelling in the United States. We needed a U.S. provider, Dish, if we wanted to have satellite programming during our time south.

I took the plunge and made it happen in our coach. Five steps.

  1. Buy a compatible satellite receiver
  2. Configure the Winegard interface box
  3. Activate the satellite service
  4. Test the switch
  5. Program the remote

Step 1: Buy a compatible satellite receiver

The Wally is the perfect solution for us. The Wally is readily available at places like Camping World or online at Amazon. The cost is low, roughly $80 USD, and the unit is compact, runs cool, and it is well designed. Dish offers the Wally as part of their mobile solution, specifically aimed at RVers. No contracts. The service is month-to-month and you can cancel at any time. Most importantly, our satellite antenna will work with Dish. No need to hop on the roof and change the antenna!

This was the easiest part of the process. We went to a nearby Camping World and purchased a Wally receiver.

Step 2: Configure the Winegard interface box

I’m not sure why but Winegard does not provide any online help to switch providers. Perhaps their view is that people in RVs only ever travel in one country.

The annoying part is that if you initiate the power on sequence, the Winegard will go into search mode and it will find the Dish satellites (119, 110, 129) but, if your satellite type has been configured as LG ExpressVu, then all that will happen is a lot of searching before the unit gives up and stows your antenna.

You have to configure the Winegard to select the antenna type and service provider. In my case, that was LG Dish 1000. I’m still not quite sure what the difference is between “LG” and “SM” but I think the “LG” stands for Low Ground and “SM” for Surface Mount. The latter probably referring to the dome style satellites.

The sequence is a bit odd and may require different steps. I had to try it a few times before I got it to work. Make sure that you start with the Winegard antenna powered off.

The Winegard interface box has three buttons on the front panel labelled “POWER”, “SELECT” and “ENTER”.

I started by pressing and holding the “POWER” button for a few seconds, until the interface displayed “POWER ON”. And then I pressed and held “ENTER” for a few seconds.

The interface will display a prompt: “Enter User Menu?” and below that prompt will be two options: “Yes No”. I pressed the “SELECT” button until the asterisk was beside Yes and then I pressed the “ENTER” button.

There will be four choices at this point: Search Mode, Diagnostics, Installation and Exit. We need the Installation option. Press “SELECT” until the asterisk is next to “Installation” and press “ENTER”.

For whatever reason, the Winegard interface will then prompt for a password. The default is 0000. Press “ENTER” four times to accept the default password of 0000.

The “Select Antenna” option should come up. Again, ensure that the asterisk is beside the “Select Antenna” and then press “ENTER”.

I then had an option to choose between LG Mount and SM Mount. For my antenna, I choose LG Mount. Again, press the “SELECT” button until the asterisk is beside the “LG Mount” option and press “ENTER”.

Another password prompt will come up. And it is here that you might get stuck. The user documentation shows “0022” as the password. Does not work on my system. I had found another password somewhere on the web, “2112”, and that one works fine.

Use the “SELECT” button to set the number and, once entered, press “ENTER”.

At that point you should see options for the service type. In my case, I could choose between four options. The one I needed was “LG Dish 1000”. Press “SELECT” until the asterisk is next to “LG Dish 1000” and press “ENTER”. A confirmation might come up next. Press “SELECT” to put the asterisk beside “Yes” and press “ENTER”.

At this point the interface should display “in progress” and “Success”.

What then?

I had no idea. I basically powered the unit off. Turned it back on. It spent about twenty minutes searching the sky for satellites and then it came back with “LG Dish 1000 *110 *119 *129” on the display.

Success.

By far the hardest part of the process as there is nothing in the manual or on the web that I could find to make this change happen. A little bit of trial and error. I was happy to see the satellites locked in and ready to go.

Step 3: Activate the satellite service

Be prepared to spend a bit of time on the phone with Dish TV. They will set up a customer account if you do not have one and you have to provide them with the id numbers for the receiver and the smart card as well as your contact information, credit card and programming choice.

I fired up the Wally before I called them to make sure that I had the receiver sending signal out to the front panels (I feed all of the source video in the front of our coach to two LED panels).

In my case, the audio/video signals were going through just fine.

There is a straightforward initialization process with the Wally. I paired the Wally remote with the receiver and followed the onscreen instructions.

Then it was a matter of activating the receiver. That was when I called Dish

I had no issues. After spending thirty to forty minutes on the phone with Dish TV, the Wally received its activation signal. But I wasn’t finished yet.

Step 4: Test the switch

You will need to test the switch to ensure that the signals from the satellite are getting through the unit successfully. If you miss this step, you might find that you are missing channels or not receiving any channels at all.

This part of the process is unique to the receiver. Dish has a page here that you can use but I found that the Wally’s interface differed. Not hard to find on the Wally, but if you do not set up the receiver properly, be prepared to call tech support at Dish.

Step 5: Program the remote

In our installation I use the Logitech Harmony Elite to control all of the sources in my AV cabinet. You can see the Harmony Hub on the upper left shelf. I have the Harmony Remote Control programmed for Apple TV, Over-The-Air Digital TV, Dish TV, Blu-Ray, and Sonos for when I stream music throughout the coach.

Programming the Harmony Remote was easy. I used the Harmony App on my iPhone to set up the new configuration. It resolved the codes for the Wally remote and synchronized the changes from my iPhone out to my Harmony Hub which then automatically updated the Harmony Remote.

So cool.

And, at that point, I could turn things on and watch satellite programming.

Good thing I’m retired. It took most of the afternoon to make this happen.

Essex On Fire

The Essex is a beautiful coach built by Newmar. You can find out more about the Essex on Newmar’s website here.

For Canadians, the Essex comes in at around $900,000, basically a million-dollar coach.

Which makes the following video somewhat hard to watch. If you have any issues viewing the video from this post, you can find it on Facebook here.

Their Essex and their toad were basically brand new. The toad caught fire first. They were able to bring their rig to a stop safely but they were unable to unhitch their toad and the fire spread to the back of their coach.

The owners were able to exit safely. Heartbreaking though. It would be so hard to watch your coach go up in flames.

What might have caused their toad to catch fire? I don’t know the reason for this incident. It could be due to an electrical fault. It could be due to friction if the toad was in gear or if the toad’s braking system was left engaged.

From what I have read, there are anywhere between 4,000 to 6,000 RV fires a year or about 15 RVs catching fire every day. Half of the fires are stationary.  I could not find any data on the number of RV fires caused by a towed vehicle.

When an RV is moving, the main culprits are engine fire or fire due to friction from the wheels and axles — tires and brakes account for roughly 20 percent of RV fires.

Using checklists might seem like overkill given the convenience and reliability of automobiles but there is good reason to be thorough when getting ready to head out on the road with a diesel pusher.

Diesel pusher engines are prone to engine fires and that reinforces the need to do frequent and thorough checks of the engine compartment for any signs of leaking.

Our toad, a Lincoln MKX, has a specific protocol to enter neutral towing mode. We make sure to check the free motion of the vehicle before we head out on the road and that the tow bar is properly engaged.

Checklists force a discipline to ensure that both our vehicles are safe and ready to operate.

Blue Ox Tow Bar Over Or Under?

In a post earlier today I had shared a video of the Blue Ox Tow Bar installation. The technician walked me through the process of connecting the tow bar. In that video, he had all of the cables under the tow bar.

I had already done some research beforehand and there are different views on whether all of the cables should be over or under the tow bar. Generally, the prevailing view is to place the lighting and breakaway cables above the tow bar and the safety lines below. The rationale is that the lighting and breakaway cables will be better protected from potential road debris.

The Gadget Guru had a Blue Ox representative run through the process and you can see in Andy’s video that the Blue Ox representative does place the lighting and breakaway cables over the tow bar.

I decided to contact Blue Ox directly and I asked them for their specific recommendation.

Here was their response:

Richard,

We only recommend that the breakaway cable be above the tow bar. The safety cables and electrical cables should be under the tow bar that way they avoid the latch handles on the tow bar. The chance that either the safety cables or electrical cable would cause the latch handles to push down and unlock the leg while towing is very small but there is a chance. The breakaway cable is small enough where it doesn’t have enough weight to affect the latch handle. Let me know if you have any other questions. Thank you and have a great day!

Blue Ox Tow Bar

A little over a month ago we went to the dealer to have our new tow bar system installed on our coach.

We expected to be at the dealer for only two days and we wound up being stranded there for a few weeks due to a series of accidents. A punctured oil pan followed by a damaged awning. We are still waiting on the parts for the awning and we hope to be on our way as scheduled for November 1st although we did leave the dealer last week to spend a few weeks shivering in the cold at Sherkston Shores.

Winter is coming in early this year.

I put a video together on our tow bar system. It shows how to connect the tow bar, the car guard and the supplementary braking system.

I have put a few hours against the tow bar system since it was installed and all works well. The Lincoln tracks perfectly behind the coach and I am pleased with the Blue Ox product so far. It seems very well engineered and it is very straightforward to use.

Double, Double, Toil And Trouble

Not having much luck with either the coach or the toad.

During her travels, Lorraine had the dreaded engine warning light. I received multiple alerts about the engine malfunction indicator lamp right up until 11ish last night.

Lorraine was in Toronto when it first happened. We called a local Lincoln dealer and they said the car was fine to drive and that we should get it looked at when Lorraine returned back to the coach.

We booked an appointment with the dealer for today.

Some kind of sensor issue with the exhaust system.

They need to order a part.

The part is only available in the U.S.

Won’t arrive to the dealer until next Tuesday or Wednesday.

We have another Lincoln on loan until our car gets fixed.

A bit frustrating to have both vehicles down for the count waiting on parts.

I hope the parts for the Lincoln arrive before we need to return to Barrie whenever the parts for the coach arrive.

This is starting to get a wee bit complicated.