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Broadcast/Cable TV

Last Changed 5/8/2011
Some RV parks offer cable TV for a fee or as a benefit.

RV park cable TV is not always what you receive in a city.  Sometimes RV park cable TV is more like a community antenna system, giving you the broadcast channels in the area.

Digital TV signals

To simplify wiring, the typical installation for an RV has a traditional batwing antenna that is amplified.
Broadcast TV
This is the most common antenna, the Winegard Sensor, more commonly called the "batwing" antenna.  It does a decent job when we are near a major city.

As the Digital Television change has happened, there was a question of whether the "batwing" antenna is okay for Digital TV (DS).  The answer is yes, it is okay.

However, most of the DS channels are now in the UHF band compared to the old Analog TV channels that were mostly in the VHF band.  By nature, the VHF band has more range than UHF. 

The reason for moving the DS channels out of the VHF band was to free the spectrum space for First Responder (Police, Fire, FBI, Homeland Security, etc.) communications.  While many were not really excited about losing some range in television, we think that a step back will show that the First Responder need does trump television.

Winegard Wingman

Broadcast TV Winegard, the maker of the most prevalent "batwing" antenna has released a signal amplifier to boost the UHF performance of their Sensor antenna called the Wingman.  It is easy to install on the Sensor antenna and it does work.   We didn't buy one but we had a chance to check one out from a Winegard Rep.

We did install a Wingman even though we usually use satellite TV..

Winegard Antenna Power Plate

Broadcast TV The front of the antenna plate has a coax jack that attaches the antenna coax from the TV.  There is a power plug jack (cigarette lighter like) that can be used to power a DC TV.

There is also a power button to turn the antenna amplifier on and off.  There is a LED lamp to indicate that the power is on.

The power button also switches the coax outputs of the power plate from the antenna input and the Cable TV input.
Broadcast TV The amplifier is built into the roof antenna head and the power supply for it is mounted on the back of the antenna power plate.

There are three coax connections on the back of the antenna power plate.  One is from the batwing antenna.  The second is from the cable TV input plate (see below).  The third coax connection goes to the TV distribution network (all the other TV jacks).

Park Cable TV

You should carry a 25' piece of coax cable for RV park cable.  That is usually enough.  We also carry a 50' piece just in case the cable outlet is farther away.  Usually the park cable jack is mounted on the electrical power post.

Broadcast TV Usually there is a single or double plate similar to this on the outside of the RV.  It could be located inside a utility compartment.

One coax connection is for park cable TV connection.  This is for RV parks that offer cable TV.

That input is cabled to the cable TV input on the antenna plate.

If the power is on for the antenna plate, then the antenna amplifier is energized and the antenna signal is put out on the front coax plug and to the TV distribution network,  If the power is off, the signal from the cable jack it put out on the front coax plus and the distribution network.

Digital TVs

If you rely on the bat-wing antenna, you should consider getting a digital TV (DT) if you still have an analog TV..  Note - digital TV does not mean HDTV (High Definition TV).  HDTV uses DT for reception but has a higher resolution display.  DT means the method that the signal is received.  The reason for a DT now is less snow.  There is no snowy middle ground with DT.  With DT, if you either get an extremely clear picture, or no picture at all.

When the analog cut-off came in July 2009, you need a digital converter box (ala the UHF boxes of the '50s) to receive TV with an antenna with an older TV.  Cable and satellite TV connected TVs should be okay until those providers find it is cheaper to deliver the signals in digital format from their boxes to the TV.

When the Analog to Digital changeover occurred, the Federal Government offered a subsidy for the purchase of a converter box.  That is no longer available.  Before spending the money on a converter box, it is a far better investment to invest in a replacement TV which will come with a Digital tuner.

Because of the digital encoding, DT can receive usable signals father than the old analog method.  Many TV stations have already converted to DT transmission in preparation for the February 2009 end of analog transmission.

When we bought a TV for Tige, we wanted to stay in the 27" size TV because we did not want to change the TV cabinetry.  We bought a Samsung tube HDTV.  At the time, we did not think about the digital tuner function because we were going to use satellite TV.  But we had the occasion where we could not get satellite reception and had to crank up the bat-wing antenna.  We ran the cable scan and were surprised when we  found more channels than we expected.  For example, we found a snowy channel 6( old analog), a clear channel 6-DT, and a weather channel on channel 6-DT1.

We were in Fort Wilderness at Disney World which has a lot of trees.  We were able to find a hole for the Internet satellite dish but no luck with the TV dish.  Fort Wilderness has cable TV to about half the site but ours was not one of them.  We cranked up the bat-wing and the Samsung was receiving clear channels.  The bedroom TV is a smaller older unit and not digital.  All the channels it found on the channel scan were snowy.  We have since replaced the bedroom TV.

Disclaimer: The information in this site is a collection of data we derived from the vendors and from our personal experiences.  This information is meant as a learning guide for you to  make your own decisions  Best practices and code should always be followed.  The recommendations we make are from our personal experiences and we do not receive any compensation for those recommendations.
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