Rayzar Sharp

Photographer: Bob Livingston
The dome is 15½ inches in diameter and weighs only 4½ pounds. Made of UV-protected plastic, the dome is designed to withstand years of outdoor exposure.

 

Winegard’s new automatic amplified broadcast dome looks like a mini satellite dish but brings in crystal-clear local HDTV signals

 

“Free TV” has a nice ring to it. The idea of receiving local programming via over-the-air broadcasting is appealing to those who prefer not to incur a monthly service charge for watching TV. Many RV parks offer cable TV hookups, but the signal could be coming from a far-off location and be void of local programming, which is useful when in unfamiliar places. Once the feds mandated that all TV broadcasters convert to a digital signal in 2009, the paradigm changed for the better — a lot better.

High-definition programming is now the norm, and most owners rely on batwing antennas to pull in the signals. While that works OK, and a few other suppliers offer more sophisticated antennas, Winegard has taken this segment to the next level with its new Rayzar Automatic Amplified Broadcast HDTV Antenna.

The Rayzar Automatic looks like a mini satellite dish, and works using similar principles. It employs state-of-the-art electronics to bring in the most channels. For example, it’s easy to find a signal or two using just about any antenna, but the Rayzar computes the best antenna position to bring in highest number of signals, automatically. And it’s designed to bring in signals that are more distant. It has an ultra-low noise amplifier to boost signal strength resulting in minimal picture pixelation.

Winegard's Rayzar broadcast antenna sits smartly on the roof of any motorhome. Its low profile helps blend in to the exterior lines, and the dome can be ordered in black or white.
Winegard’s Rayzar broadcast antenna sits smartly on the roof of any motorhome. Its low profile helps blend in to the exterior lines, and the dome can be ordered in black or white.

When a search is initiated, the antenna rotates automatically in a direction that allows for the most channel availability. It typically takes around two to three minutes to go through the search process, and when the optimum number of TV frequencies is found, a figure will show up on the display screen. From here, a scan is initiated in the TV, which will determine how many stations can actually be viewed. The sub channels affect this process and the frequency figure on the display screen will likely be different from channels that are watchable.

During our test, we positioned the RV in a location where we knew it was difficult to receive broadcast signals. The readout showed 20 frequencies, but only six channels were watchable. Those channels were crystal clear and the picture was HD-quality. One of the channels was pixelating a little, so the manual control was used to move the antenna slightly and fine-tune the signal. Pushing the Search button again returns the antenna to the Automatic Search Mode.

Once we relocated to a more populated area, the frequencies were vast, with dozens of channels to watch.

The control panel, which replaces an existing batwing antenna counterpart, is loaded with features to keep the user informed of available frequencies and antenna positioning. Red and green LEDs indicate antenna position and will blink when the antenna is rotating. The on/off button has the same function found on batwing antenna controls, activating the amplifier, which will lock out the cable signal when on.

Winegard specifically designed the aftermarket kit to retrofit existing batwing antennas. Included in the box is all the necessary hardware to plug any holes left by the batwing antenna; there’s even a ceiling plate to cover the hole vacated by the old antenna crank-up mechanism. The intention of the installation design is to remove the existing antenna and place the new dome in the same location. A roof plate handles the modifications up top. But that may not be possible, as we found out. There are very specific instructions for locating the dome and it must not be farther than 30 feet from the control panel (a 20-foot coaxial cable is included and recommended for optimum performance) and have the necessary clearance from the front and side of the motorhome roof. In our case, we needed to move the dome away from the original location to meet these requirements, which was easily accomplished, but left the roof plate exposed — not a big deal.

In the end, the dome sits nicely on the roof and has a low enough profile so it looks integrated into the design of the RV. Performance and ease of use are exceptional, and there’s no risk of leaving a batwing antenna up when on the road. The Rayzar is available at Camping World for $399 and comes in black or white.

Here’s how the installation went:

 

Source


Winegard | 800-288-8094 | www.winegard.com

 


 

2 COMMENTS

    • Hello, Bill…

      I just saw this now (February 01, 2017), so I don’t know if this will be helpful to you anymore, but let’s give it a try:

      The tuner you’re referring to is a “DISH” Saltellite unit – HERE, we’re talking about a standard, VHF/UHF OVER THE AIR BROADCAST ANTENNA UNIT. So, no, the two ARE NOT compatible.

      If you have a modern, digital TV, all you need to do is bypass the Satellite tuner and run the “Rayzar’s” coax straight to your coax hookup port on the back of your TV. If you have an older, ANALOG set, you run the coax from the Rayzar to the digital converter box, then [once again] output from that to your TV coax input.

      Don’t feel too bad: A LOT of people make the mistake of confusing the two TV “formats”… Oh, and don’t forget – IF you already have a standard RV broadcast antenna with 75 OHM coax hookups, you will use all of your original cables and the 12 Volt power supply/wall box location [IF they’re in good shape; otherwise this “kit” comes with new hookup cable and all electronics/hardware] currently installed and the new Winegard Rayzar/Control Module will replace your old RV VHF/UHF antenna/ON-OFF control panel; if not, you will need a FRESH INSTALL, separate from [and “working around”/bypassing] any other satellite system you may have in your unit.

      I’m going to be using THIS UNIT, myself, as a replacement for the traditional Winegard broadcast “Sensar” series of RV antennas, typically found on vehicles of BOTH earlier “vintages”, and all the way up to current models.

      Hopefully, this will still be of some help by addressing the issue for you!

      “EXCELSIOR!!”

      W.F.B.,

      CINEVISTA-BILL BLAKE PRODUCTIONS AND SPFX/DIGITAL,
      Phelan, California

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