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Old 11-15-2009, 05:44 PM   #1
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Older RV Antenna With New HDTV?

We've got a new (to us) '93 Dutchmen Class C motor home with the original crank-up TV antenna in good working order.

Yesterday I hooked up a new HDTV to this antenna. It seems to be working okay, but not a heckuva lot better than the "rabbit ears" that came with the TV.

Questions:

1. Is there any material difference between the currently installed analog TV antenna and a new "digital" TV antenna?

2. If so, is this something that can be retrofitted to the old antenna, or do I need a new antenna?

3. If not, is there anything I can do to enhance HD digital reception using my current antenna?

Thanks!
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Old 11-15-2009, 05:56 PM   #2
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Upgrade your Sensar Antenna with Wingman for Optimum DTV Performance - Winegard
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Old 11-15-2009, 06:05 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by JJHoneck View Post
We've got a new (to us) '93 Dutchmen Class C motor home with the original crank-up TV antenna in good working order.

Yesterday I hooked up a new HDTV to this antenna. It seems to be working okay, but not a heckuva lot better than the "rabbit ears" that came with the TV.

Questions:

1. Is there any material difference between the currently installed analog TV antenna and a new "digital" TV antenna?

2. If so, is this something that can be retrofitted to the old antenna, or do I need a new antenna?

3. If not, is there anything I can do to enhance HD digital reception using my current antenna?

Thanks!
There isn't any difference in analog and digital antennas. The Sensar is available in an amplified and non amplified version. If yours is a non amplified antenna you would only be gaining the directional characteristics of the antenna. If it is amplified it would probably be the optimum antenna for the motorhome. You may not see a difference because of what is available for in range stations, about 50 miles or less. Also you have to search for channels by direction. If you know where the signal is coming from, point the antenna in that direction, then use the signal strength feature to tune to the best signal. You might have to do a North, South, East, West search and them optimize and rembember antenna position for each channel.
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Old 11-15-2009, 06:19 PM   #4
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Thanks for that. It looks like a real deal, too, at just $30.

Is there any chance that I *don't* have a "Sensar Antenna", or is that the brand that was put on all Dutchmen Class C motor homes "back in the day"?

Is there a way to tell the brand by looking at anything inside the coach (like, for example, the crank handle?), or do I have to climb up on the roof and have a look?
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Old 11-15-2009, 06:35 PM   #5
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Jay... You need to look and see if you have an amplified antena... Look for a switch plate that has a small switch and a red LED.. If you do and you turn it on.. it will help tremendously. THEN do a rescan for stations.
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Old 11-15-2009, 07:03 PM   #6
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Antennas are designed for FREQUENCY efficiency - not MODE efficiency for a given frequency, you want the best gain, with transmission line that has the lowest loss of signal - the antenna could care less if the actual signal is AM, FM, Analog TV, or Digital TV.

Typical RV antennas are usually compromised as to efficiency because there's less space for them to be used, and limited practical options to raise/lower and rotate a larger home type antenna that has greater signal gain. The necessarily smaller size of the RV antenna, limits it's efficiency.

For that reason, use of in-line signal boosters are common to raise the lower signal of the compromised antenna to levels more usable for the set it's connected to - and in many cases, due to TV usage in more remote areas, the added amplification is needed due to the common remoteness of many RV/CG sites.

Use of terms like "HDTV antenna" is mainly advertising hype, hoping to attract customers who think the Digital signal will be somehow compromised, ignored, or unrecognized by the Analog antenna they have been using so successfully up until now...
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Old 11-15-2009, 08:02 PM   #7
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Jay... You need to look and see if you have an amplified antena... Look for a switch plate that has a small switch and a red LED.. If you do and you turn it on.. it will help tremendously. THEN do a rescan for stations.
Unfortunately, that's not enough. The Winegard antenna has a power supply (the booster is in the antenna) and the Braun has a booster in board. I suspect other antennas have some kind of a power light but none indicate that you have a Winegard antenna.
You are going to have to go up on the roof (or use some binoculars) and see what the antenna has stamped on it. It if says Winegard or Sensar, then you have the best. If you are not happy with your reception and you think you are close enough to a signal that you should be getting more channels you might want to go up on the roof, disconnect the coax coming into it and ensure that you have 12+V (DC) being supplied. If not, you will not get much of a signal from any of the Winegard antennas.
If all is well, and you do have a Winegard, then you are going to want to add the Wingman add-on for the best digital (UHF channel) reception.
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Old 11-15-2009, 11:08 PM   #8
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Jay... You need to look and see if you have an amplified antena... Look for a switch plate that has a small switch and a red LED.. If you do and you turn it on.. it will help tremendously. THEN do a rescan for stations.
Where might this switch plate be located? Somewhere near the antenna crank? I've not noticed anything like this, but we've only had the rig out overnight twice.
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Old 11-16-2009, 08:15 AM   #9
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Where might this switch plate be located? Somewhere near the antenna crank? I've not noticed anything like this, but we've only had the rig out overnight twice.
Usually you will find the power supply inside a front cabinet. It just looks like an electrical cover plate and it usually has a coax connection (which is likely unused) coming out of the top and a very small push-button or slide switch. There should be an LED light that will light red or green when the power to the antenna is on. If you have a Winegard Video Control Center where you can switch between various outputs to the TV's, it is usually in that cabinet. If by chance the previous owner updated to the newer style VCC there is an on/off button on the front of this controller.
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Old 11-16-2009, 09:35 AM   #10
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I don't believe the so called digital antennas are anything but a ripoff. Any increase in signal strength is minimal AFAICT. I can sit in my RV here in Mesa and with the roof top that came with the rig, I get 10-15 local channels and an additional 5-6 from Tucson.

Now couple that to the fact that over-the-air stations are mostly Network and the NBC station in Tucson is showing the same thing as the NBC station in Phoenix what have I gained? Precious little, if you ask me.

But that is just me. My tastes are AM radio music sounds just fine and 1930's Republic Oaters are great TV.

YMMV
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Old 11-16-2009, 11:09 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by JJHoneck View Post

Questions:

1. Is there any material difference between the currently installed analog TV antenna and a new "digital" TV antenna?
Though there is an exception which I will note in notes at the end of this post..NO. there is not

Quote:

2. If so, is this something that can be retrofitted to the old antenna, or do I need a new antenna?
Adding the WINGMAN to a Winegard Sensar will improve it's UHF performance. MOST digital TV is in the UHF TV band

Quote:
3. If not, is there anything I can do to enhance HD digital reception using my current antenna?

Thanks!
Only if you have a very old antenna.. In this case replacement may improve performance see notes:


NOTES:

Winegard's ORIGNAL sensar was a VHF only antenna.. I don't know how many years ago they stopped making 'em but it was a long time ago.. I seriously doubt you have one, I understand the "Wings" on that antenna were painted, the neer models (VHF/UHF it's brushed aluminum wings If you have this older antenna.. (Call inegard with it's serial number if you THINK you may have one) then replacement is indicated. Otherwise the standard Winegard Sensar (Bating) is about as good as you can get.

NOTE: 3: Height is might.. If you want to put up a portable park-on-base tower and mount a UHF antenna from Radio Shack or the like atop it... This will give you improved performance in most locations.. But I don't recommend it.


Finally.. Make sure your antenna is working properly.. Check the coax fittings and make sure that the pre-amp (Which is in the antenna) has is working (Turn the switch inside on and off...that is not the pre-amp. it's the power supply for the pre-amp)

Beyond that there is not much I can advise.

But I do knwo height is might.. I have, in fact, proven it.
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Old 11-16-2009, 06:24 PM   #12
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Finally.. Make sure your antenna is working properly.. Check the coax fittings and make sure that the pre-amp (Which is in the antenna) has is working (Turn the switch inside on and off...that is not the pre-amp. it's the power supply for the pre-amp)
Thanks for all the advice. Where is the inside switch usually located, and what does it look like? I see no "on/off" switch near the antenna crank...
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Old 11-16-2009, 06:37 PM   #13
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Old 11-16-2009, 06:59 PM   #14
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Here ya go.
Thanks, Dirk -- but I can't quite make that out. Is it a switch? It almost looks like a keyhole... Is the face-plate a standard household switch-plate size?

Also, is that an indicator light?

Thanks!
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