Satellite-TV Portability

King’s Quest antenna and rooftop mounting kit improve the odds of capturi ng elusive signals while solving storage dilemmas

A television in an RV is about as common as a kitchen sink these days, and many new models are equipped with multiple LED screens right from the factory. Receiving programming for these TVs is kind of a mixed bag for those who travel. Some campgrounds have cable hookups, but the variety of programming is often limited. Over-the-air broadcast channels are dependent on locations being closer to bigger population centers, so those who look forward to favorite programs might have to make compromises. A good choice for RVers is receiving programming via satellite, and King offers a portable antenna, the Quest, that adds great versatility to capturing the necessary signals.

Streaming from online providers is also gaining traction among television watchers, but until Wi-Fi capabilities and data service become more robust, connecting TV receivers to a satellite antenna is still more practical. Over the years we have used roof-mounted satellite antennas for convenience, but unless you can park in areas sans trees and other obstructions, reception can be interrupted or even nonexistent.

1) The dome was mounted close to the air conditioner, which was contrary to the installation instructions. At this point, the roofline is not level, exceeding the limit suggested in the instructions. However, the antenna performed better than expected in this location. 2) After discovering a kink and slice in the factory coax that prevented the Quest from operating, the cable was cut to make way for better-quality RG-6 coax. 3) To repair the factory coax, the wire was stripped using a tool acquired at a home-improvement store.
The dome was mounted close to the air conditioner (left), which was contrary to the installation instructions. At this point, the roofline is not level, exceeding the limit suggested in the instructions. However, the antenna performed better than expected in this location. After discovering a kink and slice in the factory coax that prevented the Quest from operating, the cable was cut (top, right) to make way for better-quality RG-6 coax. To repair the factory coax, the wire was stripped using a tool acquired at a home-improvement store.

Using a portable antenna is a good solution since it can be positioned remotely to gain a clear view of the southern sky, but in many cases, storing it can be problematic. So when King introduced its Quick Release Roof Mount Kit, that proverbial light bulb illuminated. Why not store the antenna on the roof, freeing up valuable storage space, and take it down when necessary? That’s exactly what we did, and the results were interesting…in
a good way.

King’s automatic, portable antennas have been around for a long time, and its latest iteration, the Quest, is sleek looking and requires no external power to operate. There are various models available, and the VQ4100 we selected is designed to receive standard definition (SD) programming from DirecTV, which is our provider. Unfortunately, high-definition (HD) programming is not available from DirecTV when using anything but a specialized rooftop system or a bulky home-style dish mounted on a stand, but similar King portable models, with the same footprint as the Quest, are capable of receiving Dish HD programming.

Wrestling with the decision of whether to install a rooftop antenna, we reminded ourselves that we’ve been unable to receive a signal about 30 percent of the time (due to trees in RV parks), so we elected portability to improve the odds.

4) We purchased high-quality RG-6 coax and connectors online. 5) The connectors were crimped on the cables using the proper tool. 6) A coax butt connector was used to mate the cables.
We purchased high-quality RG-6 coax and connectors online (left). The connectors were crimped on the cables using the proper tool (middle). A coax butt connector was used to mate the cables (right).

The King Quest is designed for out-of-the-box operation with only a few simple hookup procedures, requiring no special tools. It uses a Power Injector that’s placed close to the receiver, a few hookup coax cables and a 120-volt AC power supply. Once the antenna is placed in a spot where it has a clear view to the southern sky and the cables are connected, it’s ready to go. The “dome” can be placed on the ground, and the housing is weather resistant.

We initially did just that and found a caveat in the setup that was no fault of King’s. The antenna requires a strong signal through the coax to operate the positioning motor and electronics to locate the signal. The use of inexpensive low-grade coax routed throughout many RVs (rather than the satellite-industry standard RG-6 cabling), along with multiple splitters, can create enough resistance to prevent the antenna from working when the receiver and TV are turned on. That’s what happened when we hooked up the Quest to a test fifth-wheel. Further inspection revealed a kink and partial cut in the coax routed through the slideout to the entertainment center.

The solution was to cut the existing cable under the slideout, install professional-grade connectors and route new RG-6 cable through a central manifold that was mounted under the trailer. After the rewiring was accomplished, the system worked perfectly.

7) Heat-shrink tubing was applied to seal the connection from moisture and road debris. 8) The King MB700 Quick Release Roof Mount Kit makes it possible to install the Quest dome on the roof. The kit is cleverly designed and easy to use. Mounting the dome on the roof solves the storage problem and provides versatility of operating on the roof or ground. 9) Assembling the roof-mount brackets is simple.
Heat-shrink tubing was applied to seal the connection (top-left) from moisture and road debris. The King MB700 Quick Release Roof Mount Kit (lower-left) makes it possible to install the Quest dome on the roof. The kit is cleverly designed and easy to use. Mounting the dome on the roof solves the storage problem and provides versatility of operating on the roof or ground. Assembling the roof-mount brackets is simple (right).

Once the operation of the antenna was verified, the MB700 Quick Release Roof Mount Kit (MSRP: $109) was installed. The kit consists of cleverly designed brackets that mount to the roof and lock in the antenna in seconds, with no tools. To install, the stringers are snapped together and attached to the latching mechanism and rear bracket. A few tools are needed, like a drill motor, bits, an open-end wrench or coax connector tool, and the appropriate sealant for the roof type.

It takes about 30 minutes to assemble the pieces and attach to the roof once the proper location is established. That’s where we broke the rules to accommodate our desired use of the antenna. The handle on the antenna must be pointed to the rear of the trailer, and it’s best to run the shortest length of coax cabling possible. There must be no line-of-sight obstructions, like the air conditioner or other accessories on the roof, and the antenna must be within 2 degrees of level.

10) Assemblying the bracket kit takes only a few minutes with common hand tools. 11) The quick-release mechanism is built into the rear-bracket section. Once assembled, the bracket is screwed into the roof. 12) An orange bar locks the lip of the Quest base to the bracket and snaps in place using the spring clip. A safety pin is then inserted to prevent accidental opening.
Assemblying the bracket kit (left) takes only a few minutes with common hand tools. The quick-release mechanism (center) is built into the rear-bracket section. Once assembled, the bracket is screwed into the roof. An orange bar locks the lip of the Quest base to the bracket (right) and snaps in place using the spring clip. A safety pin is then inserted to prevent accidental opening.

We wanted access to the antenna from the rear ladder without climbing on the roof, so we elected not to follow conventional wisdom or route the cables through the roof. Instead, the bracket was mounted adjacent to the rear ladder, leaving enough clearance for access to the roof when the Quest was in position. Doing so put the antenna precariously close to the air conditioner, and since the roofline was raked down at the back, the Quest was tilted more than the specification called for by the company. Cabling to the antenna was routed down the ladder externally to the aforementioned central manifold.

What we gained by installing the antenna in this manner was the ability to remove it by climbing partially up the ladder and reaching over to unlatch the bracket and unscrew the cables. The procedure can be somewhat awkward, so care must be taken when negotiating the ladder and using your hands to mount or remove the antenna.

13) The King TR1000 Tripod Mount is a high-quality apparatus that secures the Quest for remote positioning off the ground. 14) The base of the Quest fits nicely in the specially designed arms that fold out from the center pole.
The King TR1000 Tripod Mount (left) is a high-quality apparatus that secures the Quest for remote positioning off the ground. The base of the Quest fits nicely in the specially designed arms that fold out (right) from the center pole.

This configuration gave us the flexibility to remove the antenna from the roof for use on the ground when necessary and leave it on the roof while on the road, freeing up storage space. Although we routed the coax cabling to the unit, we had no premonition that the antenna would work well on the roof; there were just too many complicating factors specific to our installation.

Surprisingly, after using the antenna on the roof during an eight-week journey, we were able to receive a signal during most of the trip. Sometimes the signal was on the weak side, making it difficult to receive all the subscribed channels, but it was convenient to leave it mounted on the roof, especially when we were only spending the night. Heavy trees and big storm clouds prevented a clear pathway to the satellite, but using Las Vegas gambling terminology, “we were still ahead.”

On those days, the antenna was removed from the roof and placed on the King TR1000 Tripod Mount (MSRP: $99.99), positioned for a clear signal and attached to two separate cables that connected at the manifold. When set up on the ground in clear view of the southern sky, the Quest performed flawlessly.

15) A quick-release lever allows smooth movement of the tripod legs, which changes the elevation of the pole. 16) The folded tripod stores neatly in the provided carry bag.
A quick-release lever (left) allows smooth movement of the tripod legs, which changes the elevation of the pole. The folded tripod stores neatly in the provided carry bag (right).

The tripod has legs that are spread out to provide stability on the ground, and folding brackets that conform to the Quest base are attached to the center pole. Anchors are included to stabilize the antenna in the wind, and the tripod can be conveniently packed in the provided carry bag.

The lightweight Quest is easy to handle and quick to set up. It takes only a few minutes to find the signal, and the antenna can accommodate two receivers — which was necessary to watch two TVs independently. Retail price for the Quest is $549, which is a good value for the convenience afforded by the portability and creative mounting systems.

King | 952-922-6889 | www.kingconnect.com


 

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