A Story on Replacing my RV TV ANTENNA, Self-control Never Hurt Anyone.
A Bad TV Antenna on my RV
As an RV owner, and as one that travels in my RV for most of the year, I often need to repair or replace some part or equipment on my RV.
And, even though I have a lot of experience with RV equipment, when I go to a service center or shop, I must rely on their own experience and knowledge that I will get the appropriate support for the task at hand.
And, as a paying customer, I expect, as we all do, a certain level of civility and respect from the company that is charging me for their service.
Along with the civility, I expect the people providing the service to me to be knowledgeable and honest.
My recent encounter at a local RV service center drove me to write this Hub, partly for your enjoyment, and partly to provide warning to you, my fellow RVers, to take what you are told with a grain of salt.
And always strive be as knowledgeable as you can about your problem before you seek a strangers help.
OK, Here's the situation.
We had been running in our RV for about 7 months, and along the way, among other things, I had done some damage to my TV antenna on the roof of my Rig.
Before we pulled out last year, I had my older TV antenna replaced with a new one. The New one had the additional attachment on the front for improving your Digital Channel signal reception.
And, the antenna really helped my reception, my wife got to watch her favorite network shows and all was good with the Universe.
Then one day, on our trip west, being tired, we stopped at a recommended campground in LaGrange Alabama.
Being a ZZTOP fan, I kind of thought it was a hoot to be staying in a town called LaGrange, not in Texas, but in Alabama.
I was playing my "air guitar" in my mind as we called the CG and were told to pull in and leave our money at the gate in an envelope. An Honor system, it seems.
Well, we pulled in and the CG was certainly unique.
For one thing, out of over 50 campsites, there were only 5 campers in the whole CG.
This kind of worried me, but then the next thing we noticed were dozens of very large banners, stretched all over the CG, even across the streets, and the entrance itself.
Reading the banners, it was obvious that we were in a theme-oriented Campground. The largest banner of all was across the Entrance and had a welcoming slogan on one side and "Thanks for Staying with Us" on the other.
This was no problems for us, it seemed to be a nice and clean cmpground, so we pulled in, hooked up and settled in for the night.
As we usually do, when on the road, we went up and showered before bed in the bath-house, then we had a nice dinner and watched a little Satellite TV.
All was well and we hit the bed and slept the sleep of the tired traveler.
The next morning, we got up about 30-minutes before daybreak, as we usually did, had a light breakfast, and by the time we had buttoned up the Rig for the road, the Sun was on the horizon.
We slowly pulled out, and then as we were exiting the gate, I heard a weird sound on the roof.
I got out, and checked and my new TV antenna, although properly cranked down, had been hooked by the now sagging banner at the entrance, and one side had been bent over to the other side.
And, there was even a tear in the bottom of the banner.
Thinking back, I realized that when we had pulled in the evening before, there was a nice wind blowing which had held the banners up and taut like a sail on a ship.
But, now, in the early morning there was no wind, and the banner had sagged down to where it had dragged across my RV roof and caught on my nice new antenna.
Having to get on the road, I left a short note, with my number, for the CG owner, and we hit the road on our continuing trip.
At our next camping stop, I cranked the now damaged antenna up, and luckily for us, it still worked.
The Digital bolt-on section, being smaller, was undamaged, and the large section that was bent was actually for the old VHF Analog channels anyway, so we continued our travels over the next months, continuing to use the oddly shaped antenna, without having to repair anything.
Again, all went well, until a few weeks ago.
We were in Orlando, and we had a really big storm hit us.
It was one of those "Spring in Florida" storms. There were blowing winds, heavy rains and thunder all accompanied by copious bolts of lightning.
We were about 15-minutes into this storm, when, yep, you guessed it, we lost TV reception of the local network channels. ALL of them.
And, of course, with such thick clouds, we lost our satellite signal as well.
Satellite came back after another 20-minutes, and but the TV network channels were gone, and did not come back on.
The next day, I went outside and I couldn't find anything wrong other than the bent section of the antenna was in even worse condition, and one of the tines on the bolt-on digital section was now totally missing.
My TV, well it worked on Cable, it worked on satellite, and I could only pick up a couple of the higher TV channels, with my now dead TV antenna.
So, I crawled into the electronics cabinet where everything is cabled for my TVs and hooked my antenna directly to my TV,
No Switch Selector box, No splitters, just straight wired to the TV.
I performed a channel scan, and ...... Nothing.
So, my assumption was that even though there might be something else wrong, in addition to my antenna, I could safely assume that my Antenna had given up the ghost.
Anyway, it was bent up pretty bad, and I had to replace it at some time anyway, so it now moved up to the top of my "Honey-Do" list.
A couple of days later, I was in Virginia, visiting family, so I went over to one of the local Mom/Pop RV Sales, Service, and Parts stores.
A Digital TV Antenna
When I accidentally tore my antenna off of my old Winnebago, I replaced it with this newer design. It was an easy replacement process, and it worked great.
A Mom/Pop RV parts store
So, I drove over and walked in to the store and I asked the girl at the counter where their TV antenna "stuff" was, and she pointed me to an aisle.
I went down the aisle and starting reading the labels on the boxes.
Oh, and by the way, my antenna is the popular brand usually referred to as a "batwing" antenna.
It is pretty much the standard for TV over-the-air antennas for RVs, and is a good reliable product.
I continued reading and I noticed that they had the regular antenna, and that they also sold the bolt-on Adapter for improved Digital reception. My problem was that there were two boxes with the antennas in them.
One mentioned being for "HD" while the other didn't, and neither had any fine print that mentioned being a newer version for Digital reception.
So, I dutifully went up to the counter and asked the girl at the counter if these were the older model of antenna that needed the Digital converter, or was the one listed as being for HD TV actually set up for digital TV?
A logical question, I thought.
She said that she didn't know, but that she would go in back and get their "technician" to come out and talk to me.
An EXPERT Technician
This is where everything went to downhill!
At this point, I have to digress and quote a popular old adage. It is one that I have heard my Dad use, as well as from many, many, other people and even read in books, over the years of my life.
The adage is;
IT IS BETTER TO BE QUIET, AND BE THOUGHT A FOOL!
THAN TO OPEN YOUR MOUTH, AND REMOVE ALL DOUBT.
And I was getting ready to have to deal with someone who, had never heard this sage piece of advice, or, if they had heard it, they obviously refused to heed it's message.
Anyway,in walks their expert, so to speak. A middle-aged man with a large frown on his bearded face.
I said hello, and explained my problem; the damaged antenna, the difference in the boxes and their labeling, etc.
Then it happened;
He held up his hand to stop me, and stated;
"They all pick up Digital channels."
I was a little taken aback, but I caught myself, and said;
"Of Course, they all pick up Digital channels as well as the old Analog channels, but you need a higher gain antenna designed for the new Digital channels.
And I don't want to just hook up an old Analog antenna with the Adapter, if there is a newer design available."
His frown deepened, and he said;
"I can put a pair of Rabbit Ears on my Roof and pick up Digital channels. They all pick up Digital Channels!"
I now had a deep suspicion of the type of person I was dealing with, so I calmed myself and replied;
"Of course you can, if you are close enough to the signal, then the mismatch of wavelengths for the new channels doesn't make a difference, and you will still be able to pick up the signal. But, with a properly designed antenna, you can pick up a weaker signal from a longer distance, and still enjoy good reception on your TV"
He raised that big hand of his, in my face, again, and said;
"They all pick up Digital and that one that says it is for HD, is no better than the other one, it just makes your HD picture better."
At this point, I was checking his work shirt for a name, planning to send his name in as a "escapee from the Darwin principle" and I calmly said to him;
"OK let me explain, something to you, I am a retired Electrical Engineer. I worked in antenna design for almost three years of my career,so I know a little bit about antennas, and you don't seem to under stand ..........."
At which point he interrupted me yet again with;
"First, Buddy, I don't need you to explain anything to me."
"Second, I have installed these things in hundreds of RVs and I know what I am talking about."
"Third, if you are so smart, why don't you go home and build your own antenna?"
Stunned, and shaking, I stood there as several of the smaller blood vessels in my brain exploded and I realized that I was beyond the point of; counting to 10, genuflecting, dropping into a Zen state, or any other form of self calming exercize.
But ..... with an extreme level of self-control, I just walked toward the door as I turned my head and told him and the girl at the counter that;
"I'll just drive to Roanoke to the closest RV parts store and get what I need"
My, now certifiable, Mr. Idiot said;
"Well they are going to have the same stuff there as we have, and you will have driven 50 miles for nothing"
I stopped at the door, I slowly turned and said, through clenched teeth;
:"Here's the trick, Mr. Expert.
You don't have a clue what you are telling people and because you don't know, you are selling the wrong things to your customers."
"And, I would rather drive 50-miles to get the right product from knowledgeable and polite people, than spend the money here and help a company that hires such an arrogant and stubborn person, stay in business."
The girl giggled and he was blustering something unintelligible as I walked out the door.
The DARWIN Principle
I know, I lost my temper.
Shouldn't have! But I did!
I am certain that Darwin's theory, of the survival-of-the-fittest, should have guaranteed that this misinformed, opinionated, "Expert" was replaced in his job long ago.
How "Mr.Expert" has survived, in his job, so long, I don't have a clue. But, in my opinion, he, being long overdue for change, should be moving on to something that he is more "qualified" to do somewhere else.
Anyway, I went the extra miles, so to speak, and drove to Roanoke.
There, I had an intelligent conversation with a knowledgeable sales rep, and I now have the proper replacement parts for my RV.
Meanwhile, be aware that there is someone working at an RV parts store out there, who closed his brain to new knowledge long ago, it seems, and is busily misdirecting unknowing customers on a regular basis.
Sigh! ..... Darwin? ..... Where are you?
How to use your RV TV Antenna
How to attach the Winegard Wingman Antenna
© 2011 Don Bobbitt