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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.

Winegard Trav’ler SK-1000

WineGard Dish

If you look carefully at the roofline of our coach, you will see a satellite dish antenna, roughly midway, peering out at the southern sky.

This is our Winegard Trav’ler SK-1000 automatic multi-satellite TV antenna.

This unit caused me a lot of grief. It works fine now but I will share my story in the hopes that if you have a similar problem, you can find an easier way to get it solved.

The problem was an EL Motor Home Failure. Let’s see how I got to that problem.

One of many tasks for the new motorhome was to connect the Bell Expressvu receiver to the audio visual system. That part was relatively straightforward. Connect the RG-6 coaxial cable to the rear of the receiver, connect the HDMI cable to the output of the receiver and the input of the coach’s system splitter — in my bay everything was clearly marked — and plug the unit into an available electrical outlet.

Great. Now for some satellite TV.

First, power up the Winegard unit. The power up sequence worked fine. I can hear the unit moving and automatically positioning itself to find the Bell satellites. From what I know about satellites, which is very little actually, Bell leases two of them: Nimiq 3 and Nimiq 6. Nimiq 3 is at 82 degrees west and carries the standard definition channels. Nimiq 6 is at 91.1 degrees west and carries the high definition channels.

The Winegard dish found both satellites and showed that it was locked on *82 and *91.

Success.

Or so I thought.

I turned everything on and the satellite received showed an Error 15 on the TV screen. Basically, the receiver was not seeing the satellite.

How can this be?

So I consulted the Winegard manual. With hindsight, this turned out to be a huge mistake. The manual had a significant omission, namely the type of antenna. More on that one in a moment.

Here is the page on how to configure the dish for Bell Expressvu:

WineGard Operations

Notice step 6: Press the Select button until the asterisk is next to “SM Mount,” and then press “ENTER.”

And notice step 8: Press “SELECT” until the asterisk is next to “SM ExpressVu.” Press the Enter button.

When I looked at my Winegard unit, it said “LG ExpressVu” and not “SM ExpressVu.”

Obviously the unit had not been configured for Bell TV. Or so I thought.

I followed all of the instructions and then I got to step 15: The TRAV’LER antenna will enter the search routine as part of its normal operation.

Only there was no normal operation. Instead I received a flashing EL MOTOR HOME FAILURE on my Winegard unit.

That cannot be good.

I went outside and I could see that the satellite dish was pointed straight up to the sky.

My first reaction? I must have broken the antenna. My second reaction? How do I get it stowed? After all, I cannot drive the coach with the antenna sticking straight up into the air.

Back into the coach I go. But nothing I do stows the antenna. All I get is a flashing EL MOTOR HOME FAILURE.

There is a troubleshooting section in the manual but it does not show an EL MOTOR HOME FAILURE error. It does show something close, an EL HOME FAILURE. Here is what you should do when you see that error:

Something is preventing the mount from raising as it attempted to find the HOME position. Look for obstructions if the unit has recently been manually raised or if the electronics have been replaced. The calibration may need to be reset. Contact Winegard Technical Support.

I sent them a note and a robot told me that support was closed until Monday. This was Saturday evening.

I am not a patient man. Time for more DIY damage.

I found out how to reset the antenna on the Internet. Follow these steps:

1. Press [POWER] and hold for 2 seconds to turn “ON” the TRAV’LER Interface Box. Wait until the Interface Box finishes “connecting to antenna”. The TRAV’LER may enter the “Search Routine” after 10 seconds this is normal (See NOTE Below).

2. Press [ENTER] and hold for 2 seconds or until the unit displays “Enter User Menu”. Press [SELECT] to move the asterisk to “Yes”. Press [ENTER].

3. Press [SELECT] to move the asterisk to INSTALLATION.

4. Press [ENTER]. You will be asked to provide a code to enter the Installation Menu.

5. Press [ENTER] 4 times to enter code 0000.

6. Press [SELECT] to move “ * ” to “Calibrate EL”.

7. Press [ENTER].

8. Press [SELECT] to move “ * ” to YES.

9. Press [ENTER] to start the elevation calibration procedure. The LCD should now display “Calibrate EL In Progress …”.

10. After a few moments the IDU LCD will display “On EL Hard Stop?-Yes*No”. Visually examine the antenna to verify that the antenna is against the Hard Stop. The antenna will be pointing as far up as it can go, this is the Hard Stop.

11. Press [SELECT] once to move asterisk to “Yes” if antenna is on the Hard Stop.

12. Press [ENTER] and the LCD will display “Calibrate EL Success”.

13. You may now stow the antenna.

Only these steps did not work for me. Why?

It goes back to LG ExpressVu and SM ExpressVu. It turns out that they are two different antennas. One is “Low Ground” and the other is “Surface Mount” or something like that. Through some additional research on the web, I found a dealer installation pdf and it talked about the two differences. My antenna was, in fact, an LG ExpressVu. Because I had reconfigured it to be an SM Mount, exactly as the manual directed, it was unable to stow. It remained stuck in the fully upright position, pointing straight up into the sky.

I had to go back into the installation menu to change the antenna type back to LG ExpressVu. I followed all of the steps and at step 6 I selected “LG Mount”. And to do that operation required a passcode. I used the one in the manual: “0022”.

Invalid passcode.

What?

More searching on the Internet. I finally found the passcode to change the antenna type buried deep in the web somewhere: 2112.

Passcode accepted.

Once I changed the antenna type I followed the rest of the protocol making sure I used LG ExpressVu. I was able to successfully calibrate the system and get the antenna safely stowed.

I powered it up, connected to the antenna, and the Winegard unit could see *81 and *92 again.

The Bell receiver? No joy. Why was I not getting any satellite signal to the receiver?

And then it hit me. The switch.

I had taken one of our Bell ExpressVu receivers from the house. I have an SW44 switch in the house. I remembered reading somewhere that the receivers are sensitive to the type of switch.

I went into System Setup and then the diagnostic section of the receiver’s menu system and selected “Test Switch”. After about ten minutes or so it automatically found the new switch from the Winegard unit and voila, satellite TV.

Technology really should not be this hard.

Update:

I’ve received numerous emails from people trying to switch their Winegard Trav’ler from Bell ExpressVu. I was able to make that happen and you can read my post about how I was able to switch my service from Bell to Dish by clicking here: Winegard Trav’ler Bell to Dish.