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Repairing and Upgrading a Winegard Sensar RV Antenna.

 


Winegard Sensar Antenna with UHF Wingman add on.

 


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This is a two part project. I had intended to upgrade the Winegard Sensar antenna with a UHF antenna, but I discovered a wiring problem. So I had to fix the antenna (Part 1) before upgrading it (Part 2). I was having an issue that when I raised the antenna fully, I'd lose signal. But if I lowered the antenna just a bit, the signal returned. There is most likely a coax issue at the antenna.

The actual amplifier in these antennas is in the antenna head itself. The coax does dual duty here; it not only sends the TV signal down the line, but also feeds 12VDC to the antenna from the controller. There is a blocking capacitor in the line at the antenna controller, so 12VDC does not go to the TV.

To test, I disconnected the coax at the antenna jack and hooked a DC voltmeter between the center pin and sheld of the coax. I then turned on the antenna's amplifier controller (Sensar Pro). As I monitored the voltage, I wiggled the coax around, and sure enough, I was getting voltage fluxuations - even to the point of nearly no voltage. This pretty much confirms bad coax.

If you have trouble holding the voltmeter onto the coax, there are a couple of products that would help.

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Simplified Antenna Wiring Diagram.

 

 

 

After pulling off the old lap sealant from the coax at the antenna, I found that not only had there been a splice in the coax, but RG6 and RG59 coax was mixed together. RG6 is a high-performance/low loss coax, while RG59 is the cheap stuff. Sadly, neither the use of a splice or mixed coax types are "best practices". It would be far better to avoid splicing whenever possible, and use the same type of coax for the entire run.

 


Spliced and mis-matched coax.

 

Since we bought the coach used (it is a 2011 model that we bought in 2013), I cannot say for sure if this was a factory job or a dealer fix. My bet though is that the dealer did it as there is no reason for the factory to use multiple coax pieces when they installed the coax. But as shoddy workmanship in the RV industry seems to be the norm, it could have come from either place. I would not be surprised if the factory had two short pieces of coax that they spliced to minimize their costs.

 


Completed Coax Repair.

 

I have to say that I am not all that happy with the coax orientation on the roof. The coax is not supported very well, and it seems like I'll be back up on the roof in a couple of years replacing the coax again. Unfortunately, the coax cannot be located in the intended feed through location on the antenna mount (shown by the yellow circle) as the designers of the coach did not allow for an entry spot at this location from the inside of the coach. I might have to work on this a bit more and see if I can improve things.

 

 

Coax Routing and installation practices

 

This is an area where many RV factory installations earn a failing grade. Most coax manufacturers require at least a modicum amount of care to ensure proper routing of the coax.

One of the most abused practices is excessive bend radius. Generally the coax should be bent with a radius of no less than 5 times the coax diamter. Consider a RG6 coax; with an outside diameter of nearly 3/8", the bend radius should be at least 1.75" (an equivalent diameter of 3.5"). I have seen many coax installations bent sharper than that.

As well, coax shoud not be crushed (as shoved in a crack between panels), deformed (as stapled to the sidewall), or installed in any manner that distorts the round cross section.

Coax cables are transmission lines, and at RF frequencies, any such deformity will degrade the signal passing through it. Just like a water hose, any sharp bends, "kinks", or flat spots in the hose will reduce the flow of the signal.

I can attest to the validity of coax manufacturer's installation recommendations. In my earlier days, I used an expensive Time Domain Reflectometer (Tektronix TDR 1502) to certify high-power RF cabling, and in my experienced view, even the slightest deformity can change the impedance of the cable. I have been there and seen that.

"Are you kidding me"?

I found this coax splice in the Chartplotter of a used boat I once bought. The previous owner thought the device was going bad as it would not pick up weak signals.

Luckily this was the connection for the receive antenna. Had it been the coax for a VHF transmitting antenna, it is likely the transceiver would have been damaged.

Any bets as to whether or not a $130 per Hr service technician did this repair?

 


 

Upgrading the Sensar Antenna with the Wingman UHF Antenna.

 

This is a quick and easy install. There are no wires to connect. You simply have to remove the three rubber feet at the base of the antenna and mount the Wingman to the feet-holes with push-on connectors. It takes all of 30 seconds to install the Wingman.

 


Wingman Add-on.

 


Cool Centerpoint F-Connector Video.

 

 


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Repair/Upgrade Video.

 

 


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Last reviewed and/or updated June 15, 2017