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Winegard Rayzar Automatic Antenna

TVAntenna

Our coach, the Castaway, is equipped with three television sets.

When I was a kid, we only had one. A black and white TV set. No remote. But we did have a big TV antenna on top of the roof.

You see, back then, this thing called cable TV wasn’t in the market.

We were able to bring in a handful of channels from our big TV antenna, five in all. Two were American stations, two were English language Canadian stations and one was a French language Canadian station.

Yes. Those were the days my friend.

Our coach has a satellite dish with access to hundreds of channels, a digital antenna which finds whatever digital TV channels are in range, along with an extensive array of digital video entertainment from Blu-Ray and various Internet-based video channels.

So why do I even care about a limited set of cable TV channels that may be available when I am at a site?

Well, I wanted to see if I could connect to cable TV as part of the shakedown of the coach.

I went and purchased a 50-foot cable and I tried to hook it up when we were at our site in Petoskey, Michigan.

First problem: where, oh where do I connect the cable? It was obvious where the cable TV connection was at the site as it was at the same post as the electrical hookup.

I could not find a cable TV connection on the service side of the coach. One of our neighbours, also in a Dutch Star, was kind enough to point out where the connection was housed. It was hiding under a covered port in the same part of the basement compartment as the shore power reel.

Sigh.

Well, I went ahead and connected the cable from the coach to the post. So everything should work now, right?

Inside the coach, our TVs allow us to automatically scan and program channels coming from either a cable TV service or an outdoor TV antenna. Under the TV’s system setup, you make a choice on the source, antenna or cable, and then let the TV set do the work.

Only, no cable TV channels.

I tried it several times on all three sets.

No joy.

Bad cable? Perhaps. And, until I picked up another one, I would have to make do with the several hundred other channels of video at my disposal. Which is what we wound up doing.

But it bothered me. Why wasn’t it working?

I was reading through this post on the iRV2.com website and something stood out about cable TV connections.

The Winegard Rayzar Antenna control panel.

You see that little green light in the photo?

Winegard Control Panel

The one over the button that says “ON/OFF”?

Well, it turns out that if you want to pass the Cable TV signal through to the TV sets, that little green light has to be dark otherwise the only signal present in the antenna line is the signal coming from the Winegard antenna. The cable TV signal from the site will be happily ignored.

Lots to learn about all of the various systems in our coach. Wish me luck.

Weird AV Settings

WeirdAVSettings

Weird AV Settings.

That was the title of a post over at the iRV2 Newmar Forum. And it reads, in part:

I finally got to sit down tonight and figure out what in the world was going on with the AV setup in 2015 DSDP. I’m fairly AV savvy and was mostly stymied by not having (a) time, (b) extra cables from my big pile back home, and (c) the ability to take apart that insane amount of velcro holding all the boxes in the cabinet above the driver.

This is a picture of our AV Cabinet in the Castaway:

AVCabinet

Since that picture was taken, I have added two 120mm fans to pull heat out of the cabinet, one Harmony Hub universal remote base station, one IR blaster, and a Bell HD satellite receiver. I also need to add an Apple TV. But right now there is too much clutter and not enough space.

Installed in the coach was a cheap Sony STR-DH550 AV Receiver, a Sony BDP-1500 Blu-Ray player, a Winegard Trav’ler base station, two splitters and lots of cables.

Nothing about this setup makes much sense to me. What was bad? Well, a cheap subwoofer hidden inside the kitchen cabinet. The front grill literally a few millimetres from the cabinet sidewall. Incorrect settings for the surround sound receiver — all speakers were set to large and, with 3-inch drivers, they are certainly not large. No ability to see the receiver settings on the TV panels because of the way in which the cabling was interconnected. Lots of heat and no space for adding or changing components. Way, way too many remotes. The first thing I purchased for the AV cabinet was a Logitech Universal Remote.

I have to literally empty the cabinet and get myself a bit more room in there. The receiver barely fits in the space which will limit my choices in terms of a replacement unit. There is no shelving to create some distance between the components. And the default routing of the HDMI cables limits the functionality of the various components. One example is dropping the Audio Return Channel functionality with HDMI. The living room TV returns audio through a digital cable, not through HDMI. Unnecessary cable run. Another example is not being able to program the receiver using the receiver’s GUI on the TV screen. The only way to program the receiver is by using the receiver’s small LCD panel.

The only physical change that I have made to the setup thus far is to connect an external subwoofer. It is placed behind one of the recliners. I also changed the speaker setting to small and set up the crossover to allow the subwoofer to shoulder most of the work on the lower end of the frequency spectrum. It sounds so much better now.

I have a compact subwoofer on order as the one I am using is really too large for the space. I will be installing a Cambridge Audio Minx X201 powered subwoofer. It is very compact at roughly 8.5 inches wide x 8.5 inches high x 10 inches deep. I will need to make my first hole in my coach to route the subwoofer cable through the back of the kitchen cabinet to the new subwoofer. I suppose a coach really isn’t your own until you make that first opening. This small subwoofer should be fine for the size of the listening area.

Obviously, audio is not a strong suit of the Newmar Dutch Star. The components are functional as entry level components go but I will be replacing all of the audio components: receiver, blu-ray player, speakers. The listening space will sound significantly better with a better set of speakers.

This is a time consuming project though and one that I won’t start for a while. The external subwoofer along with a few setting changes make the system bearable in the short term.

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.