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Now you are saying to yourself, hey I'm camping, why would I want to take my dish along? If I were tent camping, sleeping under the stars, bringing a dish along would probably not be very practical, but when you are pulling a camper and spending a lot of time in it, then a satellite system isn’t out of the question. There aren’t many locations, especially in the United States where you can not pick up either a Dish Network or Direct TV satellite signal. Now there are many different ways to set up a satellite system in your camper. Some are inexpensive but others can get very expensive. It’s all up to you on what you choose. I’m on the cheap side, so I’ll discuss the inexpensive first and discuss the more expensive later. Please add comments if you agree disagree or have information that I haven’t covered, including experiences with your satellite systems or equipment.

Step 1: Decide what system to use. My decision is based on what I use at home. When we first started camping, we used Direct TV, so that is what I set up in the camper. Since then we have changed to Dish Network, so I currently have Dish Network set up in our camper. I do believe Direct TV was easier to set up, as you didn’t have to worry about splitting 2 satellite signals, as you do with Dish Network When I ordered my home Dish Network receivers, I purchased an extra receiver that I leave in the camper. The price adds $6 to your monthly bill, which isn’t bad.
Most campers that have been built in the last several years have an outside satellite hookup. If you are using one of these connections, ensure that the cable connection you are using does not have an amp booster on it, as it may damage your satellite receiver. If your camper doesn’t have an outside connection and you don’t want to re-wire your camper, then you may just use the good old, open window method and route the satellite dish coax directly to your dish receiver.
Ok, so now we have a dish, receiver, coax (and hopefully a TV). Don’t forget to bring the satellite receiver remote, as you will need this. Without it, you may have a hard time finding your settings that will be discussed later in this article.
You will also need a spare dish. If you don’t have a spare, you can purchase them from EBay, Camping World or even flea markets. I was lucky enough to get one from my sister, as they went from Dish Network to Cable and didn’t have a need in their old dish. I have mine mounted on a Portable tripod. These can also be purchased from EBay, Camper sales, etc. It just makes it easy to set up and they are portable, folding up for easy storage. Note: before you purchase a dish, make sure that it supports the type satellite system you are going to use. There are generic dish systems that will work with both Dish Network and Direct TV, so you will need to research before you buy.

Step 2: This is where the some expense may come in. There are several ways to attack this step. The cheapest way is to input your campground zip code into the menu setup on you satellite receiver. Once you input the zip code, the receiver will give you 2 setting, Azimuth and Elevation. Azimuth is the angle relating to the horizontal positioning of the dish. The angle is expressed in terms of degrees, with North = 0 degrees, South = 180 degrees. Elevation is the angle above the horizon and is also expressed in terms of degrees. This is the angle by which the dish must be “tilted Up or Down” in relation to the theoretical horizon, in order to position it precisely for the desired satellite. Once you have this information, then go to your dish and position it using a good compass and the elevation settings on the actual dish. It takes some practice, but once you do it a couple times, you will get the hang of it. It’s best to take a look at the “lay of the land” before you begin, as you don’t want the less amount of obstructions possible. With either Dish Network or Direct TV, the dish will be pointed towards the Southern skies.

For most, this is a good setup, but does require practice and patience. You can also purchase a Sat Finder. You can find them anywhere that sells satellite systems. Camping World also stocks them. They sell for about $20-$50. They eliminate the need in getting the Azimuth and Elevation. They work like an SWR meter that is used to tune a CB radio. The stronger the signal, the closer to the satellite. Again takes some practice, but isn’t hard to figure out once you do it a few times.

Camping World also stocks an item called, Align-A-Site Satellite Finder. This lets you see what you dish sees to avoid obstacles before you set up. I have had a couple fellow campers swear by this item, but I have not ever used one. They also cost about $170.00, so not expensive, it does add some cost to you setup.

Now if you want ease, then you may go with the more expensive dishes. They mount on your camper/unit and find the satellites for you automatically. There are basically 2 type units. One unit only works in a stationary position; the other is constantly correcting and keeps the satellites locked in. These systems begin around $600.00 up to around $2000.00, with the later being fully automatic.

So as you can see, Satellite viewing is possible and the sky is the limit when choosing a set up.

Enjoy……
 
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Surfing the internet from Europe I found this forum, it is very like a 'camperforum' we have here in Holland.
I am interested in the satellite issue. We are planning to ship our RV to the United States and travel around for a year. Here in Europe we are watching satellite TV in our camper, but I am not sure if my dish, my receiver, and my screen will do in the USA. I intend to drive to a 'camperworld' store as soon as we arrive, and have them modify / install what we need. Would that be a good idea in your opinion? Of course I understand that we also need a provider like DirecTV, I suppose I could also buy a subscription at Camperworld.
I am looking forward to our trip to the USA this summer and watching the Olympic Games and the presidential elections on our TV!
Walter
Eindhoven, The Netherlands
 

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We've debated for a few years about whether we should get the satellite on the trailer. Every spring our carrier sends a letter reminding us about temporary summer time service since we have a satellite dish at home. But I have been reluctant to get it because I am worried that my husband and grandchildren will just sit all day watching TV.

I want the kids to enjoy the outdoors and do what I feel are productive things. But I must admit when it is raining and we are all indoors, sometimes it might be nice to pass the time.

And of course, my husband keeps reminding me that if we got one I could watch my one and only soap opera. I think he just says that because he really wants the dish.
 

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Welcome Walter, all the way from the Netherlands.

You will have a couple of choices of satellite service here in the US, Directv and Dish Network. As mentioned you will need a dish, receiver and the subscription to one of them. Camping world will have what you need for the hardware, and I assume they can provide you the service subscription as well, but not sure on that part. I do think you will have to subscribe for 12 months of service though, thats what it usually is. How long are you planning to be here in the US?

Surfing the internet from Europe I found this forum, it is very like a 'camperforum' we have here in Holland.
I am interested in the satellite issue. We are planning to ship our RV to the United States and travel around for a year. Here in Europe we are watching satellite TV in our camper, but I am not sure if my dish, my receiver, and my screen will do in the USA. I intend to drive to a 'camperworld' store as soon as we arrive, and have them modify / install what we need. Would that be a good idea in your opinion? Of course I understand that we also need a provider like DirecTV, I suppose I could also buy a subscription at Camperworld.
I am looking forward to our trip to the USA this summer and watching the Olympic Games and the presidential elections on our TV!
Walter
Eindhoven, The Netherlands
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Walter2, I agree with Todd. Camping World would be the place to go. The price may be a little high, but for what you mentioned, well worth it. Some fellow campers may think that having a satellite set up in a camper may be a bit over the top, but for the very reason you described, making your camper, mobile home or RV as comfortable as possible is a big PLUS, especially if you are going to being spending as much time in it as you mentioned. :thumbup2:
 

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Thanks

Thank you for your reactions.
I really like this forum, you are very nice people. If we indeed decide to visit your country with our RV this year you will find more messages from me.
Greetings,
Walter Gerritsen
Eindhoven, Netherlands
 

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Walter, we would love to see you around the forum here, especially if your going to be doing all that traveling. You have to tell us about it and keep us posted, I have never know anyone to travel from the Netherlands to the US to go camping. That is great!
 

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I have been unable to obtain DirectTv over the last 3 years when we winter in Arizona as we are Canadian and do not have a US social security number. Direct Tv will not allow the card to work if you are not a US citizen as they are concerned about pirate issues once we return to Canada I've been told (many times). We have resorted to hauling our Canadian "Starchoice" hardware with us, as well as using Campground/resort cable facilities which unfortunatly carry no Canadian news or sports content.
 

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Yeah, I can see there point wasy, there is a lot of that going on it seems (pirating). You are definitely at a slight disadvantage when camping in another country, if you watching their local cable. Do you use the tripod mount? We have used that, it works good, just get to the site and dial it in, if you have a clear view.
 

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I carry a solid, well built camera tripod instead of a "dish" tripod. It is more compact, easier to set up/down, smaller and lighter.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I recently seen a smaller tripod that was really compact and looked almost impossible to turn over. I found out the hard way on making sure that you secure the tripod, especially with a lot of wind, or pets running around the campground. I broke an LNB on one dish when it was blown over in a storm. I always use tent stakes now, but the tripod that I mentioned earlier wouldn't have the problem. I'll do some more research and see if I can get more details on this.
 

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We rarely used a TV when we boon-dock camped. Had one of those TV/VCR cubes that we could throw a movie in if nasty weather blew in or needed to entertain the kids when on the road.:thumbup1:

When we converted to fulltime: called Directv and they moved our 'home' box to the RV (which already had a basic receiver dish attached). Was wild to watch Los Angeles news coverage/southern california fires last fall...while we were in the mid-west.
:icon_smile_bbq: The best: watching the Giants win the Superbowl...while sitting at Anza Borrego Desert State park.
 

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Satellite TV is something we can't live without. It sounds like you have the perfect arrangement with the RV and satellite. We have Cox here for cable television, so we can watch everything. You mentioned sports so I guess that one of your favorites. We don't have a TV in the van, but some people do. They sit right in the middle front of the van, and the children can see the TV from all around. It keeps them entertained when you're driving, or traveling state to state.
 

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When me and the Mrs. retire and spend more time on the road (maybe even fulltime?) I will outfit for satellite. Right now, we have a little TV, but I've only pulled it out a few times over the past several years - final round of US Open last year, NFL playoffs 2 years ago, and final round of Masters 3 years ago. The kids have learned to play cards, chess, checkers, etc. to stay entertained when we're camping for a week.

Since it's an old tv, it probably can't get over the air signal anymore :thumbdown:
 

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Dish Fun...

"Now you are saying to yourself, hey I'm camping, why would I want to take my dish along? "

Bill, I seem to be chasing you around on this forum. Initially, we thought why would we want to bring *that* much of home with us, and for a time that was OK. That was until we had to clear out of Houston because Hurricane Rita was bearing down on us. I won't go into the gory details but 21 hours later we found ourselves at one of our favorite places, Fort McKavett about an hour away from San Angelo. We were curious what was or was not happening to Houston and low and behold we raised our aerial only to find we had access to one freekin' channel. It wasn't one of the major news stations either.

At that point we decided that since we have 4 Dish receivers at the house, we would start taking one with us. We purchased the antenna and then it became an exercise to get it up and operating. To make a long story short, we had issues with wind which on additional trips, broke our dish, we got it fixed and we had take preventive measures. The enclosed pic says it all (attachment).

I grabbed what would have been a discarded pallet form work. Put the Dish antenna on it, marked where it's "feet" were going to go, drilled holes, and then for space reasons took the circular saw and buzzed the pallet in half. Shown here in the picture, and what is hard to see is that the Dish unit is bolted to the pallet and there are three 1 sq ft cement pavers holding it in place. Right now, this has been working very well us and the pallet and pavers keep this sucker grounded even in pretty modest winds. I have an in-line signal detector and being an amateur astronomer, finding the satellite isn't an issue and having the signal detector helps there as well.

The only thing we have to remember to do is make sure we call Dish and get them to "ping" the receiver about a week before we go. The last time we forgot to do this and went all the way to the campsite and had to call them from there anyway but at least from home they know the receiver is where it is supposed to be.

What was of interest was that when asking Dish about the portability of their receivers, we got two separate answers. The stoic person in customer service on the phone suggested we needed to rent a "5th" receiver dedicated to the trailer. More $$ to them. However, when we spoke to the Dish reps at a local home show, their answer was simple "just grab one of your home receivers and take it with you" -- so that is what we do.

Now mind you... we take it now where ever we go. But since we are CAMPING, it is not our primary means of entertainment.

David
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
The received we carry around in the camper is currently located in my den. Since It's been awhile since the last time I used it, I like to keep it up to date, so that when we get ready to camp, it is ready. Now the main problem you will run into when using the receiver in a camper and you aren't using it at least once a month is it needs to be "kick" started by Dish or Direct before you can use it. I would not order another received for the "camper" as suggested by your dish provider as you would have the same issue either way. If after getting the dish set up at the campsite and it doesn't pick up correctly, I have just called dish/direct and informed them that I have have not used the receiver in awhile and they will send a signal to the received to update it. It only takes a few minutes. Let me know if this helped. Sorry I haven't been around the forum in awhile, but work has kept me pretty busy the past few months. :10220:
 

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Thought I would share a picture I ran across, may help some folks out

I think this was for a wineguard setup, but that really doesnt matter.

Product Font Parallel Rectangle Auto part
 

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I spent 4 years installing satellite systems for dish network, directv and hughesnet. The one thing I recommend when using the existing cable connections that are build into your r.v is to replace the connector itself. It's very easy and can save you headaches later. If you look at the connector on the outside of the r.v. (the one you screw your cable onto) the center is white. That means that it is low frequency and is designed for cable, not satellite, the high-frequency connectors have a blue center and will accomodate either signal. the low frequency will work, but eventually will just stop working because they are not designed to withstand the low voltage that travels between the reciever and the L.N.B via the coax cable, which should be rg6, the older rg59 is also not engineered for voltage transfer and can just quit on you. I hope this info is helpful, and if anyone has any satellite questions, please feel free to ask me.
 
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