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Review of the Jack OA-8000 Replacement/Retrofit Antenna.

 

The Jack RV Antenna, made by King Controls, is available in two versions. The OA-8200 version is for new installations (OA-8201 is the black version), while the OA-8000 is a retrofit kit to replace Winegard Sensar antennas. It's nice that a manufacturer supports the recreational vehicle industry by providing an alternative source without having to tear apart your coach.

Since we have been having trouble with our Sensar antenna, I decided to give the retrofit kit a try. It cost no more than a replacement Winegard Sensar antenna element, so I figured it might not only replace the old antenna, but perhaps upgrade it as well.

Essentially, the OA-8000 includes the antenna itself, but also an adapter plate so that you can install it on your existing Sensar's mast system... this means you do not have to remove anything from the RV itself nor do you have to drill any new holes into the roof. Basically, you remove the Sensar antenna from the mast and install the Jack OA-8000 in it's place.

 

 

Installation on the RV was easy, and only took about 5 minutes. And the OA-8000 is compatible with both the Sensar standard power supply as well as the Sensar Pro (which I have in my coach). Essentially you simply remove the coax connection (after turning off the DC power to the antenna), then remove the two hitch pins (making sure you do not lose the e-clips), and remove the old Winegard Sensar antenna. Installing the Jack antenna is as simple as reversing this procedure. Luckily there are two spare e-clips included in the retrofit kit should you lose one. If you don't need them, keep them in your RV's spare parts box.

 


Bracket for attaching the antenna to the Winegard mast.

Hitch pins and e-clips to attach the antenna to the mast.

 

The Jack OA-8000 is significantly smaller than the Winegard Sensar antenna. But don't let that fool you. As most digital signals are in the UHF band, and since the wavelength becomes shorter as you increase in frequency, it is natural that an antenna that excels in bringing those signals in would be smaller. I suppose the Sensar might perform better for low frequency analog signals (channel 2-6 perhaps), but I am not sure how much those channels are used anymore. So rather than judging the performance of the antenna by it's size, judge it by the end result.

 


Winegard Sensar (with Wingman attachment) shown next to the Jack OA-8000

 

Really, the only difficulty when installing this antenna as a retrofit is determining if you need the power supply (which is included in the retrofit kit). The installation instructions show many different variations, so study them if needed.

Most, but not all RV installations of the Sensar antenna do include a power supply. If the antenna has a built-in amplifier in the "head", it needs a power supply to provide 12VDC to the antenna to power the amplifier. This is typically accomplished by the use of a special "splitter" at the distant end (nearest the TV) that powers the amplifier in the antenna by sending 12VDC up the coax cable to the antenna. The same coax cable also sends the RF TV signal down the antenna. This approach then uses the coax for both the DC power and RF signal.

 

 

If this is the setup you have in your RV (again, probably most are this way), then you really don't need to do anything with the DC power supply, so leave it out. In fact, if you use it, you could damage the antenna.

If your existing installation has a DC power supply, it might be either attached to the coax, fed by a video switch such as the Quest QD53, or from a Sensar Pro signal strength meter.

If your existing installation does NOT have a DC power supply, then you will have to use the one provided in the Jack retrofit kit.

The one and only oddity with the installation is the location of the coax connector on the antenna. It results in the coax hanging down below the mast, so that when stowed, the coax, rather than the mast, makes contact with the RV's roof. This was easily solved by use of a right-angle connector which allowed repositioning of the coax.

I simply used a right-angle adapter (although you can also buy a right-angle connector) along with some Silicone waterproofing tape to keep water out of the connector. However, a bit of silicone grease is also supplied in the retrofit kit for this purpose.

 


Antenna upgrade video.

 

Results. By using my Sensar Pro signal strength meter (which still works and powers the Jack OA-8000), I see about a 10% improvement in the signal strength. Not a stellar improvement - but an improvement all the same. And (so far) I have not seen the intermittant issues I had with the old antenna (which is why I am replacing it).

Remember, OA-8000 for retrofitting a Sensar antenna, or OA-8200/8201 for new installations.

References:

King Controls Inc The maker of Jack Antennas.