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Winegard SK Motor Stalled

I’ve had issues with the Winegard Trav’ler SK-1000 satellite antenna before. You can read all about my EL Motor Home Failure issue here.

Yesterday, we had to change sites before we leave for California on Tuesday. The sites at Myakka River Motorcoach Resort are usually booked on a monthly basis and, as we needed to extend our stay until February 5th, we moved away from our riverfront site to one at the very back of the park.

I went through my checklist. One of the first items is to stow the satellite antenna. Simple enough task. Press power off on the Winegard interface box and it initiates the stowing process.

Like many things in our motorcoach, I am pleasantly surprised when things work as they should. I expect things not to work which seems to be the case for many of the systems on our coach.

Like our domestic hot water. It failed last week. I received what is now the third replacement pump from ITR Oasis yesterday and I am going to install that pump later this morning.

The cost? $300 USD plus another $100 USD to expedite the shipment.

Hopefully we will regain our hot water. The pumps do not seem to have much staying power.

Back to the Winegard Trav’ler. It began to stow the antenna and I could hear the motor making some sounds. You know the sounds. The sounds that suggest something is not right in the world. Like the sounds of tires skidding followed by the sounds of a crash.

Yes. The antenna would not stow. It is pointing straight up in the air.

On the Winegard interface box, these words flashed over and over: SK MOTOR STALL.

Helpful as that flashing message was, I could not find any relevant resources on the web to address this problem.

Well, I thought, I’ve always wanted to give Winegard support a call.

An expensive call, really. I have to pay them $350 USD to repair the motor in the turret. It will take them two weeks to turn it around after they have received it and I cannot send it to them before obtaining an RMA.

Oh, and I have to dismantle the antenna. On the roof.

Check it out.

Such fun I will have this morning.

I will climb up to the roof and spend an hour or two dismantling a complex antenna system then I will pack up the turret assembly, spend $100 USD or so to ship it out to Winegard, wait for a few weeks for them to repair it, then reinstall it on the roof.

Fortunately I have a few friends that will be helping me out on this side of the repair.

Thankfully we discovered this little issue before our travels to California. We would have had a very late start to the travel day trying to get the antenna stowed.

Leaving it stuck upright could cause an impact with lower clearance bridges or with trees. And then we would need to spend a few thousand to get a new unit.

Winegard ConnecT 2.0 Fail

If you check the Winegard ConnecT website, you will read the many highlights about this Internet WiFi extender. What you won’t find is that their product is only intended for use in locations where the signal strengths to your location are weak or unstable. For that, you need to raise a ticket.

I came across the issue by accident. We were running into some issues with the Winegard ConnecT and I decided to run a few speed tests.

This was the result when I was connected to the Winegard.

I’m sure that most of us would be more than happy with 23 Mbps at any RV park.

But.

Here is what the same computer, seconds later, reported when I was connected directly to the resort’s WiFi — bypassing the Winegard extender completely.

I switched between the two signal sources multiple times just to make sure it wasn’t some kind of fluke. I ran the tests on my smartphone, tablet and laptop.

All returned roughly the same delta in speed.

I updated the Winegard to the latest firmware just in case. Retested. Same result.

I then contacted Winegard technical support.

When connected to the Winegard, I am getting significantly slower speeds than when I connect directly to the WiFi source. For example, I ran fast.com tests on the same machine this morning. When connected to the Winegard, I was getting 23 Mbps. When bypassing the Winegard and connecting to the same WiFi source, I was getting 260 Mbps. Latency was about the same for both speed tests. Why would the Winegard be so much slower and is there anything I can do about it?

Thank you for your help.
Richard.

This was their reply.

Richard,

Adding our device in line creates an additional jump for the signal which can reduce speeds. If you are able to connect directly to the WiFi source that is always recommended. Our product is only intended for use in locations where the signal strengths to your location are weak or unstable. It will only increase speeds if the speeds are slow due to weak signal.

Thank you,
Winegard Customer Support

If you are considering purchasing this product please note the following:

Our product is only intended for use in locations where the signal strengths to your location are weak or unstable.

Important as you will not find that little data point anywhere in their marketing material or in their manual and that may influence your decision to buy the Winegard ConnecT.

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.

Homeless

Our car is still out of commission and likely won’t be ready until late Wednesday. We remain stranded at our dealer as we await repairs.

The coach had to go into the shop today for a couple of items one of which was totally necessary and yet totally discretionary: a WiFi and 4G LTE Extender.

We had the dealer install the Winegard Connect 2.0 unit which provides an access point for the 20 Internet capable devices that we carry on board the coach. They now connect to the coach’s local network — the access point — and I only have to change one device — the Winegard Connect — to point to either a WiFi source or an LTE source.

20 Internet capable devices?

Yes indeed.

Smart TVs: 3 of them
Apple TVs: 2 of them
iMac: 1 of them
MacBook Pro: 1 of them
iPads: 3 of them
iPhones: 2 of them
Sonos Speakers: 4 of them
Logitech Harmony Remotes: 2 of them
Pioneer AV Receiver: 1 of them
Sony Playstation 4: 1 of them

We were without the coach until about 6pm this evening.

Homeless.

Our golden retriever was in her crate for most of the day in one of the offices at the dealer. Lorraine and I ran a few errands but also spent most of the day in one of the offices at the dealer.

The coach will go back in for a few hours at 8am tomorrow.

We likely won’t see the car until end of day tomorrow.

We should hopefully be back on our way on Thursday with our car in tow.

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.