Equipment advice (RV) requested


Original poster
Sep 7, 2012
My heart is in Dixie

Currently a residential cable TV subscriber, with no plans to switch for a variety of reasons. But, we have a large camper and we will be away from home more and more as time goes on. With that in mind, I understand that Dish is likely the way to go as they offer month-to-month/pay-as-you go service you can turn on and off as needed. I think with the provider and the service understood, the only remaining portion is the equipment/technical aspect.

I don't know anything about the newer DISH receivers, and even less about the antenna required. I don't think I want a traditional Dish, and I know I definitely do not want to mount one to the roof of my RV as even thought it might be convenient, there could easily be some times where we are parked and the view of the sky would be obstructed. So, I think I want either a portable dome unit, or a traditional dish I can set up on a tripod and move around based on the obstructions of any given site.

I want to future-proof as much as possible. I want to be prepared for 4K if at all possible. So, with that in mind, is the Hopper 3 the best bet? Is it a good choice for an RV? I see a lot of the Wally units being offered with a portable dome antenna for RV use. Is there a portable dome antenna that is 4K compatible?

In short, I want to avoid buying equipment frequently, because I think I will basically be paying full retail for the equipment I need due to the fact that I cannot subsidize it over a long-term agreement where I am paying for the service each month. I don't mind making the investment in the receiver and the dish, I just want to cover my needs (4K, DVR, etc.) and be set for a few years.

Thanks, I would really appreciate the insight, especially from someone who is in a similar position and also values the equipment and technical aspects. I am an enthusiast who happens to be a camper, not your average camper who just wants TV and doesn't know the difference between HDMI and "the yellow, red and white" cable.

The Hopper 3 is the idea RV receiver because of its multiple tuners allowing you to record anything when it is available and then you watch when you want to. With that in mind, dome dishes are just not practical. The single LNBF limits the capability of the Hopper 3 to not much more than a Wally.

I am a full-timer (no house) and have a Winegard Trav'ler. On a typical year of 40-50 stops, there are only a few times when I need a tripod to deal with trees. For that reason, I also carry a tripod dish.

Since you don't want to invest in a Trav'ler, the answer is a tripod. For an RVer, the best tripod is the HD Tripod from Unless you are always on large flat level areas, you need a tripod with adjustable length legs to be able to get the mast vertical, a critical requirement.

Because I setup on all kinds of surfaces, I use a pair 5 gallon buckets (Home Depot/Lowes) filled with about gallons of water each, more stable than just one bucket. The buckets stack for travel and are ideal for holding the bungee cords and the other stuff for the dish. No need to carry heavy weights leaving more carrying capacity for shoes. You also do not worry about driving stakes into the ground and hitting a water line.

For aiming the dish, using a smartphone that gives you idea of where the satellites are in relation to the trees and other obstructions. A periscope device like this is a help.

I recommend getting the screw elevation modification kit from that makes changing the Elevation a lot easier.

For coax cable, find solid copper core RJ6 wire. Costs more and harder to find but will deal with being rolled up and unrolled in a manageable way. Depending on where you RV have enough cable, the trees can be far. I carry a 100', 50', and a 25' roll. The Hopper 3 only requires a single coax cable.

Also with the coax cable, invest in a connector crimp tool, coax wire stripper and some crimp connectors. It is good practice to put new ends on the cable every year or so.

For a tuning meter, this is a big cost for a Hopper 3. The Allied Instruments Super Buddy 29 and later meters are only ones qualified for use with the Hybrid LNBF used by the Hopper 3. Around $300 used on eBay and may need a battery. An alternative is to use DPP (standard) LNBF heads and a DPH-42 Switch which makes the DPP LNBF act like a DPH LNBF. Then a more normal meter like a First Strike FS-1 or equivalent meter could be used. I recommend a smart meter that identifies the satellite ID when locking on. Dumb meters can have you lock only the wrong satellite and you only find out when running the Switch Check.

A webpage explaining my tools and setup.
I agree with Brussam's recommendations for the most part. Where we differ is on the "crimp" advice. I highly recommend investing in a compression fitting tool and fittings instead of a crimper and fittings. The costs are about the same, but the end result is far better. Compression fittings are what the professional installers use. I haven't crimped an 'F' connector in years...
We probably should add for comparison, that you could also go a lot cheaper with a Winegard Pathway X2 automatic portable dome antenna and a Dish Wally receiver. No 4K that way, but a considerable savings...
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Yep. The X2 won’t work with an H3 so no self aiming for you!

ACTUALLY, if you usually have a decent Internet connection where you camp, I recommend the cost efficient approach of buying a stand alone Sling Box and connecting it to your cable.

Or, put up Dish at home and use Dish Anywhere.

If you can’t depend upon usually having a good Internet connection, pay me no mind.

Sent from my iPhone using the SatelliteGuys app!
Yep. The X2 won’t work with an H3 so no self aiming for you!

ACTUALLY, if you usually have a decent Internet connection where you camp, I recommend the cost efficient approach of buying a stand alone Sling Box and connecting it to your cable.

I'm guessing you're not familiar with the nearly universally poor WiFi offered at most RV parks... ;)

Many RV'ers use cell based data services, but the higher speed data needed for reliable streaming is both limited and expensive on most plans.

There are a couple of roof mounted auto-aiming dishes that are compatible with the Hopper series receivers. Both are equivalent to the 1K2 dish, and both are western arc limited. The Winegard version (the Trav'ler) can be manually aimed at one of the eastern arc sats though.
So Dish is good enough for your Rv, but not your house?

Before you ignore that option, lots of customers get Dish or Directv for their house and add a few extra receivers to the account at $7 each for the camper or Rv.

It makes more sense to pay 1 satellite bill then a separate bill for cable and for satellite.
I don't want a satellite service at home for two main reasons:

1. I have a sophisticated, home network based DVR that runs on my NAS (Plex) and after it records a scheduled show, it removes the commercials from the recording (no skipping needed) and puts it in my Plex library so I can watch from anywhere. The tuner uses cable cards so I don't have to deal with a messy video capture. I have yet to see a satellite-based DVR that can even come close to this. If there is one, please point me to it because I would be very interested in it.

2. My elderly mother-in-law lives with us, and change for her means pain for me. As hard as it is for some of us to relate to, she has her favorite channel numbers memorized, and I don't want the hassle of rocking her world like that.
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Thanks to all for this very helpful feedback, and especially to Brussam for the link to his site where he details his setup. Very informative, so kudos to you kind Sir!

Unless I don't understand something, I think the Hopper 3 is probably my best bet for a receiver purchase. Does anyone have any thoughts on the best approach to acquire one? I see a listing for a brand new unit on eBay right now for under $300, so that seems very reasonable to me. While our RV has two TVs, I can't ever see us needing to watch both on separate channels at the same time. But, if I did, what box would I want for the bedroom as a "slave" that has access to the Hopper 3 recordings, etc? Any idea what DISH would charge me if I bought one from them? (Remember, I won't be a continuous customer of theirs right now) so is there any disadvantage to buying the receiver from anyone from them? Are they going to give me a hard time activating it? Do they still use access cards or is everything sealed inside the unit?

While internet-based streaming services are appealing, NYDutch is absolutely correct. Cellular or WiFi are generally not friends to RV enthusiasts. If you can even get a signal from either, you then face throttling from either the carrier or the park owner. A smart RV owner views wireless as a bonus and a convenience, at best.

As far as the antenna portion, this is where I am more confused. I think I understand that for best performance, I want a dish with a tripod and the gear to aim it. It looks like this will be required when 4K really spools up anyway. As it pertains to the dish & tripod, if I don't source it directly from Dish, what part (numbers) do I want to buy? I want to make sure I get the latest and greatest LNB, switch, etc. I am also not opposed to buying one of the portable units, as some of our trips will be quick weekend getaways where I may not want to hassle with setting up the tripod. When I go that route, which portable is the most capable and is also compatible with the Hopper 3? I know a little about eastern vs. western arc, and we live in the midwest, but I can see us going all over the country and up into the NE eventually, so I want something that will work in all of the lower 48. Does that make the Wineguard Trav'ler my best bet? When using a portable "dome" with the Hopper 3, what will then be my limitations? Can I only watch one channel at a time and not record other channels in the background?

Thanks for the tips on the coax cables as well, I have been using compression fittings for years. It truly is the only way to go. The prices on the sat meters are actually not that bad, all things considered. If I am going to do this, I am going to do it right, so I will probably invest in the XR-3 when I buy the tripod dish setup.

Again, thank you to all for taking the time to share your experiences and insights with me. Helpful indeed!

The best slave would be a Joey 3.... But keep in mind that it will cost you an extra $7 a month to activate it.
Lastly, I saw this comment on Amazon:

We purchased this for our 5th wheel RV. In spite of what DISH will tell you, Hopper 3 will most definitely work with the Winegard SK-1000. All you have to do is purchase the Dish 1000.2 Dishpro Hybrid (DPH) Triple LNBF to install on the Dish to make Hopper 2 or 3 work with it. We were told by rep. after rep. that they will not work together. So we found a company that works with Dish as an independent contractor, and they installed them together. Absolutely no problems. We love this dish. It's compact, the reception is excellent, and just being able to push a button to lower and raise it, as well as automatically finding the coordinates is so convenient and fast. This is the best option for traveling RVers. You will have cable TV everytime to stop, no matter where it is."

So, my questions are:

1. Could a person use an automatic, roof-mount antenna on the ground if you were able to craft a "tripod" for it to support it on the ground? I assume the positioning motor in it would need 12v DC?
2. It looks like the hybrid LNB can be retrofitted to it?
The second TV is a target for a Joey. It can be a wireless Joey which uses an AP at the Hopper. If you have a coax cable from the Hopper area to the bedroom then you can cable connect the Joey. Or if you can run an HDMI cable, you could put a splitter and drive the same programming to both TVs. I would prefer a Joey. The Joey adds $7 a month when you are using it. You turn it off and on just like the Hopper. I don't think you get Green Stamps for buying from Dish, so I would use or eBay.

Hoppers and dome dishes do not play well together. During the Switch Check, the Hopper assumes that all three (or two) LNBFs are available and fires commands to all of them at the same time. The dome only has one LNBF and the answer is to swing back and forth handling the seek commands. If you are lucky, the process may not time out but it sure will run a long, long time.

The limitations of a dome is one satellite at a time which just about kills the usefulness of a DVR. Domes need to be set up too. They need to be level. With an Allied Instruments meter, the setup of a tripod is easy. You will spend more time on the ballast than the aiming.

I have used my Trav'ler as far east as Prince Edward Island. But I do use a tripod for many eastern cities because I use PTAT and I need to receive the HD Locals for PTAT to work.

For the record, there are not best Dish items, they are just Dish items. The dish, the SOLO Hub, and the LNBFs are standard items.

You can try to get a new DPP 1000.2 dish from Dish as being a new customer. They may well deliver a dish and a crappy tripod even though you are buying the Hopper. Buy the Joey too. Assuming Dish gives you the dish, then dish will have the Hybrid LNBF for the arc where you are, probably a WA LNBF. Then you call or check eBay for the Hybrid DPH EA LNBF for eastern usage.

If Dish won;'t give you a dish, then solidsignal or eBay to get one. Same sources for a SOHO HUB, but Dish may supply that too.

Then get the HD Tripod and the mods from that I recommended. I would also get a set of thumb nuts from to make it easier to disassemble the arm from the reflector for easier packing for travel.
I Had put a DPH LNBF on a Traveler and it did not seek well. The far better solution is the DPH-42 Switch. Only a few bucks more and the seeming is normal. Winegard is supposedly working on electronics compatible with the DPH
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A Winegard Traveler is about 63 pounds. Not exactly something you want to carry and position. That is why the Traveler can withstand very high winds.
The Hopper 3 is the idea RV receiver because of its multiple tuners allowing you to record anything when it is available and then you watch when you want to. With that in mind, dome dishes are just not practical. The single LNBF limits the capability of the Hopper 3 to not much more than a Wally.

I am a full-timer (no house) and have a Winegard Trav'ler. On a typical year of 40-50 stops, there are only a few times when I need a tripod to deal with trees. For that reason, I also carry a tripod dish.

I am also a full-timer and am very interested in your set up with the exception of using a traveler satellite I would be using a Tripod satellite .... my questions to you, are you using a DISH for RV account or a regular "home based" type account to lease the equipment. When I switched to DISH the rep told me they did not recommend a multi-tuner DVR for use in RV's due to the instability and bouncing around during travel and said I could not get the equipment through using an RV account. Once I get my dish transitioned from a carryout G3 to a multi satellite tracking dish I know my wife would be happier with this type setup rather than my current multiple Wally's with DVR's
I am full time in a 5th wheel and use the Traveler with a DPH42 and Hopper 3/Joey. All works well (except have weak signal on the 129 sat) Also carry a tripod dish setup, but have not had to use it yet. Also have a Tracker Light Sat meter, but wish I had bought a better one (IE Super Buddy 29) as this one is a pain entering the data for it to find the sat.
I have seen a Trav'ler attached to a plywood square that they clamped to the camp site picnic table. It looked pretty awkward to move around while loading it into the back of their truck before they left. I suppose they could have just set it on the ground as well. All in all, between lugging the thing around and securing it, plus running the requisite wiring, it took them longer to set up than it typically takes me to set up and aim our tripod mounted 1000.4.

Which USB port ?

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