Frequently Asked Questions

What Is Signal Polarity? Do I Need To Orientate My Antenna To Match The Transmitter?

The polarity of the signal refers to the design of the transmitter. Each transmitter mounted on a hill or a building has as one of its design features a method of transmitting signal. The planners decide what the polarity will be. Vertical (antenna mounted on its side) or Horizontal (antenna mounted on the mast in the same plane as the ground.

To experience best caravan antenna you must mount it to match the signal pattern being sent by the transmitter. Failure to do this will result in a major loss of signal.

So If I Have An Antenna Mounted On My Van Which Cannot Change Polarity, What Can I Do?

Not a lot! You could stick to major centres where the signal being sent from the transmitter is powerful. So powerful it will often overcome the problem that your antenna is not mounted for good reliable results. The other thing you can do is carry a second antenna which mounts on the side of the caravan or draw bar. When these locations become a problem get your explorer caravan antenna out. The vertically transmitted signals are often associated with low output transmitters where it is imperative that the antenna is matched for the best results.

How often do I need to change my cables?

Old cables can be very deceptive as they may appear to be fine and yet drop the signal strength level very significantly – even up to half your signal is some circumstances. . If you have any doubt as to the condition of your cables then we highly recommend changing them. They are not expensive and can save lots of time and upset..

Can I Drive With The Explorer Antenna Mounted?

Our answer to this one is generally a big ‘NO’. The antenna was not designed to be subjected to wind speeds of up to a 100 kilometres per hour for extended periods of time. The C3 , C4/C4A antenna in particular with its telescopic VHF elements would not be suitable for these wind speeds. All antennas are designed for wind gust loads, of course, but that is different from a prolonged exposure that driving at high speed would cause.

The only exception to this is when the antenna can be lowered into the lee of the caravan bulk itself to be protected from the airflow. This has been done successfully. Such a case is when the mount is on the back of the motor home or van and the antenna is lowered down behind the caravan to be protected by the caravan itself.

Also when the antenna is lowered between the rear of the car and the front of the van and turned sideways so that the airflow hits the ends of the telescopic elements the unit can be protected from the airflow. In short while we cannot recommend this as standard practice it has been done successfully with common sense precautions and an installation that allows the antenna to be lowered into an area of protection.

While driving there can also be other obstructions for the antenna besides wind currents. There are also things like low overhanging tree branches, low bridges, low power cables etc. which could potentially damage the antenna. So it is a good idea to always store the antenna away while driving or when not in use. The few minutes it takes to store it away could save you many hours of grief and expensive repair costs.

How Should I Care For And Store My Antenna System When I Am Not Travelling?

Firstly the VHF telescopic elements can and should be regularly cleaned and protected with a light spray of WD40.

You do this by:

  1. Extending the arms.
  2. Using methylated spirits and a worn Scotch Brite from the kitchen to clean the elements from the root out to the Tip. This usually removes all salt deposits rapidly and effectively. Allow to dry.
  3. Spray the elements with WD40 or spray a rag or paper towel and wipe the elements from the root out to the tip.

Fold in the telescopic elements.

Simply store the antenna away making sure of the following:

  1. That the antenna and antenna components are dry.
  2. That the cables are not wound too tight or kinked.
  3. That the weather stopper is fitted to the outside of the connection kit – this must be done every time you disconnect the antenna to insure continued high performance. If you allow moisture into the outside of the connection kit and any corrosion forms then high frequency performance will be highly compromised. For this reason the weather stopper is provided and must be fitted.

On the older explorer antennas such as the C3 compact antenna or C2 Delux, spray the V-Block and wing nuts of the vertical mount if needed with WD40 and pack in the box.

Store closed box in the van or in some dry protected area.

If you have a mast and mounting then it is advised to also corrosion protect the threaded bolts and nuts used in these with a spray of WD40. If excessive corrosion is noted due to long exposure to salt water or salt air then you can order replacement parts from us. This way you will be ready for your next trip without any hassles.

If your antenna is getting a bit too old then the performance may start to deteriorate and the unit will need repair/service. You can send your antenna system to ‘explorer RV reception systems’ to have this done to return your unit to its original working condition.

Are The Explorer C2 And C3 Caravan Antennas Digital Ready?

The short answer is ‘YES’.

The above antennas were designed to be able to receive all television frequencies from the outset. The use of a phased array for the UHF part of the antenna ensures good performance across the whole of the UHF range. The digital transmission still uses the same frequencies for television except for the lower bands – basically the 45 thru to 138 MHz range for those technically inclined.
The one problem that has arose is the Telstra 4g network which is causing the amplifier in the older explorer products to pixelate or be overwhelmed and register “no signal”.  Call us if you are experiencing this problem.

Will VHF (Very High Frequency) Elements Still Be Needed In The Future?

Yes they will still be needed.    The VHF elements on the ‘explorer C3’ are the telescopic elements. On the ‘explorer C2’ the VHF is the rear antenna that consists of 4 elements.

In the past there were a lot more VHF signals than are present currently. Over the years as new transmitters were installed the percentage of transmitters being UHF have greatly exceeded than that of the VHF.

Currently around 90% of the transmitters around Australia are UHF (Ultra high Frequency) the remaining are VHF. The older areas such as the capital cities will remain VHF . A decision by the government was made, I guess, to not force every one to change their existing antennas and so they squeezed the digital signals in between the old analogue signals thus maintaining the VHF range for television. Therefore the answer to the above question is ‘Yes’. At this stage VHF will still be required for some areas and therefore as the caravanners are always on the move they should have an antenna that functions in both areas of the spectrum.

If I Have An Explorer Antenna And Want To Get A New Van What Do I Need To Do?

This is a situation which arises quite frequently. Many times the person changes his van and then wanting of course to keep his ‘explorer’ antenna, finds that he needs to purchase a new active Thru- the-wall Connection Kit (part no. C6A) as he has left the original unit in the original van for the new owner. Understandably he does not want to leave the old van with a hole in the wall.

The Explorer works only as a complete system and all the parts are required for it to work. A new C6A will cost him around $65  plus freight and of course he is very welcome to purchase a new one from us or a dealer.

An alternative would be to replace the active kit in the wall of the old van with a Passive unit (which has no electronics) and which will only set him back around $30 ( part no. PC6A). This way he can get the old active connection unit installed into the new van when he picks it up and save himself some money. Don’t forget to make sure that you also take with you to the new van the power supply, the vertical mount, the fly lead, the instruction manual.

How Far Can A Transmitted Signal Go?

ERP (Effective Radiated Power), it indicates how far you can be and still receive the signals.    This varies enormously due to the terrain the signal has to cross to get to you !   However you can say small communities have small transmitters and the actual receiving distance for these tiny transmitters is under 20 kilometres and in some cases even less.

Transmitters in regional centres like Bendigo (Victoria) or Broome (WA) have a much larger range.  Anywhere up to 60 to 80  kilometres away.  Again this is influenced by the terrain and the height of the transmitter.

There is no exact formula.   Think of them as Daddy Bear  big transmitters like capital cities that can be picked up over 100 kilometres away.  Mummy Bears which are the regional areas safely 50 to 60 kilometres and Baby Bear where you have to be close by.   Also note a horizontal transmission will be more reliable than a vertical one.