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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

It Works!!!!!

I mentioned a few posts back that I was going to replace my manual satellite dish with an automatic HD one.  The old manual one would not hold its position in the wind and developed a leak to boot.  I bought a kit from Winegard that was supposed to fix the problem, but it only marginally improved it.

So I was in the market for a new automatic dish that includes HD capability.  The difference between Standard Definition (SD) and High Definition (HD) is only a few hundred dollars, so we decided to bite that bullet.

I did some research.  Winegard also makes automatic dishes.  However if anything breaks on it, they do not sell individual parts.  You have to replace the entire mount for about $900.  That really soured me on them.

Other companies make domes, but the plastic dome suffers signal quality in the rain and none of those are HD capable for Direct TV.  So that was out.

In talking with a dealer, he mentioned a company called RF Mogul.  I looked them up on the net and saw that they are in Salt Lake City and that their president is Jim Pendleton.  Back in 2001, I knew a Jim Pendleton in SLC that worked for Motosat, a company that makes RV internet satellite systems.  So I fired off a message to this Jim to see if he was the same one.  He is and he even remembered me!

We exchanged emails.  His company makes both satellite TV automatic HD dishes and Satellite Internet Automatic dishes.  He put me in contact with his guy who does the TV side (Royal Lamb) and I asked Royal about his product.

Well, the cost uninstalled was $1,999 and if you add $350-$500 for installation, it was a bit too pricey.  Some dealers will discount that a bit.  I asked Royal if he needed any beta testers hoping to get a good deal.  Turns out he did. 

RF Mogul designed their system for simplicity and he was hoping to eventually market it directly to RV owners to install themselves.  He asked if I would be interested in doing that for a steeply discounted price.  He’d be available at any time to answer questions.  But he wanted to see if a reasonably intelligent person with a medium knowledge of tools and RV systems could do it.

So I took the project on.  First I went through his manuals and had several questions, some of which caused the manual to be changed.  After seeing what was involved, I went ahead and ordered a unit.  It arrived a week ago Friday.

I enlisted two friends to help me.  One to help me get it on the roof an positioned and the other to take video of the installation.  The unit only weighs 36 pounds but as you can imagine, it is bulky.

Last Monday we installed it.  Everything went fairly smoothly.  We pulled out the old manual unit, plugged the large hole it for it, and installed the new unit.  All together it took about 4.5 hours of actual installation time. 

At the same time, I upgraded one of my DVRs in the RV to an HD unit. 

The RF Mogul dish works really well so far.  It is very stable and even in rain storms, appears to get a strong signal.  The old manual dish suffered from “rain fade” where the rain drops attenuate the signal and block portions of it.  The RF Mogul dish is larger and more precisely aimed, so it does not suffer as much from the rain.

Self-Install 1

Here is just some of the parts involved in the system.

Self Install 2

Here is the completed system installed on our RV

We are going out on the road in a few days and will get a great chance to check it all out.  Hopefully we will have some wind and rain and get a chance to see it in adverse conditions.

I am now editing a video on the experience so that others can follow on the trail we blazed.  Let me know if you are interested in more details!


Sue and Doug said...

good job on the installation!!..just think of the money you saved!!!

Donna K said...

You're a handy guy to have around. Gotta take issue with you on your wish for rain and wind though...just sayin' (LOL)...