Roadtrek

Roadtrek

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Living in the Roadtrek - Watching TV

At home you turn on your TV and sit down and watch. You can do this in your Roadtrek also, BUT there are a few things that you have to do first - in each new location you travel to.

Roadtreks have always included televisions. In some models the TV has been an option, while in many the TV is standard equipment. Without getting into details of the entire entertainment system (I will get into that in another article), you now get a digital HD television, a rooftop television antenna, and an antenna booster. Your television can be connected to the antenna on the roof or a cable connection to the campground. The cable connection is outside just to the side of your city water connection in a little box with a flip up lid. Open the lid and you will find a standard cable screw on coax connector - exactly like the cable connector you have on the back of your TV or cable box at home.

You must be connected to 110 volt power either by electric line, generator, or inverter to have power to the TV system in the Roadtrek.

The antenna set up can be confusing, because, frankly, the new digital transmissions are confusing to those of us - most of us - who are just used to connecting an antenna wire and turning on the TV. I will talk about the antenna first - step by step. (I am talking here about the system that is in my 2011 190 Popular which will be similar to most of the newer Roadtreks.)

1 - In the front of your Roadtrek on the ceiling there is a crank. Around the crank is a disk with a triangle on one end. That triangle lines up with a mark on just in front of it. When the antenna is raised, this disk rotates and turns the antenna. That triangle must always be pointed to the mark on the front when you raise or lower the antenna.Unfold the crank and start turning. When it stops your antenna on the roof has fully raised straight up and the large wing that is attached to the top of the antenna unfolds. You have just raised your antenna. But this is JUST the first step.

2 - You can now turn the triangle around with the disk. The direction it points is the direction that the antenna will point. Digital signals are directional and if you want to receive them you need to be pointed in the direction of the signal tower. Just reach up and turn the disk.

3 - What direction you will need to turn the antenna changes with your current location. There are websites that will tell you what direction the channel signals are. There are also apps that do this. Without anything else, figure out what direction the nearest large city is in and most likely you will connect with channels.

4 - Go into the cabinet above your TV. There will be an A/B switch inside. A or B is determined by which side the installer connected the wires from the antenna and the cable system. My cables were marked by Roadtrek. Push the button for the antenna wire.

5 - Look above on the ceiling of that cabinet and you will see a wall plate with a little green led button in the middle. This is your antenna booster switch. It should be lit green which means it is on. I just leave mine on all of the time.

6- Turn on the TV. Go to the settings menu. Choose Signal Source and pick Antenna.

7 - Turn your antenna to the direction you need. I have a compass so that I know which direction I am turning the antenna. Get it to approximately where you think it should be.

8 - Go back to your TV settings menu and find "SCAN CHANNELS". Click that and this will take several minutes to scan and lock in digital channels. If you have only a few channels lock in after this finishes, it means one of two things. Your antenna is pointed in the wrong direction OR there are only those few digital signals in this area. I have been to areas with more than 40 channels and other areas with four or five. If you get no signals, your antenna is pointed in the wrong direction or you failed to do one of the steps above. This is often an trail and error - and timely process. Don't blame the equipment or Roadtrek - blame Congress for deciding that television had to be all digital. This is the nature of digital antenna television - even at home.

9 - If you have a lot of channels you are done setting the antenna. And you only have to do this again if you travel to a new location. As long as you stay where you are the channels will remain locked in.

Turn off the settings menu on your TV. You will now see a picture on your TV. If there is no channel on a number you should get a blue screen. If the signal is weak you will get a picture broken up into small boxes.

Now, you may not have any sound. Roadtrek has wired the TV sound into your Home Entertainment Center unit. Turn that on - there are TWO switches to turn it on - POWER and STANDBY. Set the mode to AUX (this may vary depending on how the connections were made - the home entertainment unit display screen is hard to see anyway so just push the mode button until the TV sound comes through) and you should get TV sound coming out of most of the speakers in your Roadtrek - but not all the speakers. I will get into this in another article as this is a bit complex. The two or three speakers that have sound now are more than adequate. Also be aware that in that same cabinet where the antenna booster and the A/B switch is, there is a turn knob with three positions on the ceiling of the cabinet. One position is to put the sound from the dash radio into the RT speakers. The opposite position is to connect the home entertainment unit to the speakers. I have no idea what the middle position does. Make sure this is switched to the home entertainment position.

I decided that I did not want to use the Home Entertainment unit for the TV sound. Why have to turn this on when the TV has perfectly good and likely surround sound speakers built in? All I had to do was go to the side of the TV and find the headphone jack. In that jack was a plug that came from the wires coming to the TV from above. I just pulled the plug and let it hang down and - PRESTO - sound from the TV speakers. No need to turn on the home entertainment unit. If I want to have sound from the Roadtrek speakers all I have to do is plug it back in. Simple. Easy.

Next - cable TV.

1 - Buy a standard cable TV coax cable long enough to reach from your Roadtrek to the campground cable connection. Go outside and connect your Roadtrek cable connection to the campground connection which is on the pedestal near the electric box. Just screw an end of the connector on to each connection. Twenty five feet should be a long enough cable. (A tip- you can get a cable with or buy adapters to add on - to make the screw on connections to push on connections and these are much easier to deal with.)

2 - Inside, go to your A/B box and select CABLE.

3 - Turn on the TV and go to the Source menu. Select "CABLE".

4 - Go to the Channel Scan menu and scan for channels - yes, you must do this also for cable.

5 - The TV will scan for all available cable channels and lock them in. In most campgrounds you are locking in ANALOG channels. We were in only one campground so far where there was a mix of both analog and digital channels coming through the cable.

6 - When finished turn off the menu and you should now be able to see the cable channels provided by the campground.

You do not have to do this again until you connect to cable at another campground. If you also scanned with your antenna and then connected to watch cable - AT THE SAME LOCATION - your antenna channels will still be available if you switch back - so you can switch back and forth as long as you switch the A/B box and the TV source menu.

Campgrounds use various providers for their cable TV. Some use a cable company and some use a satellite provider. So that you don't need a cable receiver box for a specific cable company in your RV, the campground gets the signal where it comes into the campground and converts it electronically to analog which will then play through your TV without a special and specific tuner box from the cable or satellite company. The cable channel selection, of course, varies by the campground and they usually give you a list of the cable channels available and their corresponding numbers on the back of the campground map - or in the literature they give you when you check in.

And you thought it was easy to just sit down and watch TV! After the first night at the campground, it is, but this process needs to be done at each campground or for antenna at each place that you stop for the night.

Some say "campers should not need TV". I like TV and so does Meryl. We look for campgrounds with cable connections.

15 comments:

  1. Bob,
    You write so well that I feel like I've had a mini-vacation! I like your blog so much.
    Laurie

    ReplyDelete
  2. Great articles. Thank you. Just to add, a local RADIO SHACK is now selling smaller flat screen tvs that are both 110/12 volts. Also I read about somebody who has a program or adapter that can convert a computer into a tv.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There are a number of TVs that are both 110 and 12 volts. They are surprisingly expensive, but bring possibilities to the power limitations in an RV. And yes, there are computer adapters that will take a cable signal and convert it to work through your laptop. For desktop PCs there are cards that will do this and these are quite common - they will even record TV to your hard drive.

      Delete
  3. If one puts up the antenna, one must remember to lower it before traveling again.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Very, very true. We have a way to remind ourselves that the antenna is up. We put a sock on the antenna handle when it is down. The elastic keeps it there while we are traveling. When we put the antenna up, the sock is moved to the gearshift handle. There is no way to drive away without seeing that the sock is there - and that the antenna is UP.

      Delete
  4. Great info! I will print and take it along. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  5. DH just reminded me that during the walk-through on our 2010 190P, the service guy told us that since the advent of digital, reception is usually better with the antenna not deployed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Digital television signals are directional and if the antenna is not pointing in the direction of the broadcast transmission you will not pick up the station - unless it is a very close and a very strong signal. We have seen the direction make a great deal of difference. The RT crank up antenna has two components - the actual antenna which can be turned with the ring around the crank and an antenna booster which is located on the ceiling of the cabinet that the a/b switch is in. It looks like an light switch wall plate with a little led button in the middle. Push that button and the booster is on - and it lights green. I just leave mine on all of the time. It does not draw much power from the batteries and when the battery switch is off it goes off anyway. The most important thing to remember about putting the antenna up is to be 100% sure you cranked it down before you drive!

      Delete
  6. Wow, THANK YOU SO MUCH for sending me here to this TV explanation!!! This is SUPER HELP! With your help, I am feeling better about my recent purchase and excited to learn more and more! (BTW, I am SUPER 'SUPER' lucky because my unit is the same or very similar to yours)

    ReplyDelete
  7. I am reading all your articles and have found them to so very informative and you write so simply that its easy to understand and feel like you just are not going to have any issues getting this stuff done I thank you from the bottom of my heart for taking the time to help all of us

    ReplyDelete
  8. winegard antenna now has a upgrade for the existing antenna.....$59...to HD

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Winegard has has the Wingman addition to the Sensar pro for several years now. It increases UHF range and will help pull in some channels. The problem, however, is that it cannot be installed on the Winegard on a Roadtrek 190, 170, and perhaps 210. It is easily installed but only on one side of the antenna. Where it must be installed - to line up with the existing holes on the antenna will put the addition right where the black tank vent is, and there is no room for the Wingman. It is really a shame because it is so inexpensive and so easy to install. The Winegard antenna as it is on the Roadtrek is one of the best antennas even without the Wingman and will pull in a great many channels - if they exist in the location you are in. Roadtrek no longer uses the Winegard crank up and turn directional antenna but uses another brand that is omni-directional - no crank up, no turn.

      Delete
    2. just installed it anyhow.....doesn't block head vent but main vent will only go up a few inches until Wingman is raised a few inches....used new 16 inch boom...63 stations vs 5 before upgrade.

      Delete
    3. What Roadtrek do you have? I could not install it on my 190 due to the location of the black tank vent and also the Fantastic Fan. If it could go on the opposite side of the antenna it would fit but Winegard told me has has to go on the intended side.

      Delete
    4. RT 190 -2007...my black toilet vent is only 1 inch tall on roof...but new TV antenna is'ts close.....now trying to replace that orginal 110v Memmorx 5:1 entertainment system with a 12 volt car stereo with aux in rear for TV sound....let you know how it goes

      Delete