<%@LANGUAGE="JAVASCRIPT" CODEPAGE="65001"%> Winegard Tailgater Satellite Dish and 211K Receiver
Little Log

Review of the Dish Network Tailgater Satellite Dish and 211K Receiver

By DocuSign Founder (10/2011

We are newcomers to the RV world, and as we got started with a new rig this year, we started looking into the options available for satellite TV. The first option we saw at the dealership were Winegard units ranging from the ‘self-setup’ units to fully automatic dishes that will work even while you are moving. While it would be ‘cool’ to be able to watch TV while moving, it did not seem practical that we’d do that very often. (And they are REALLY expensive).
In this article, I’ll call out the ‘TIPs' that I wish someone had told me.
We were just about to settle on a Winegard unit that automatically calibrates for about $700 when my brother-in-law mentioned a new unit from Dish Network called the “Tailgater’. In order to use the Tailgater antenna, you also need a specific receiver – the Dish 211K. This added another $100. We’d probably have gotten a receiver for the RV anyway, so that was no big deal. $450 is not bad. All in all, this seemed like a great deal because it effectively did the same thing as the Winegard unit that cost twice as much, so went online and ordered it from Dish Network.
I ordered on the 20th, and paid for ‘express shipping’. The web site indicated it would ship out in 2 days and I’d get an email when it did. The next day, Dish Network charged my card. Three days later, I called them because I did not get my ‘shipping notice’ email. They had no idea that I had ordered the unit. After 4 such calls over a two week period, they never could quite figure out where my order was, so I cancelled it and ordered from Amazon.com. I got the unit in a week, right when I was supposed to for about $70 less including shipping. TIP: Don’t order directly from Dish.
The Tailgater unit is about the same size as a mini Webber barbeque, and it weighs about 10 lbs. There is only one connection on the back for the cable connection, and it powers itself from that connection which keeps things neat.
When I first setup the receiver, it did not behave at all like the manual said, so I called Dish support. The support person told me right away that unless the unit has the most recent firmware it would not work. The way to download the firmware is easy *IF* you have a Dish Network subscription and another satellite. Just connect up the receiver, follow the on screen prompts, and it connects and sets itself up. If you did NOT already have this setup, you’d have to find a dealer, which I would imagine could be quite a hassle if you did not know this going in. TIP: Unless you already have Dish Network and access to connect to your existing satellite, figure out how to get the unit programmed by whoever you buy it from first.
Once I connected the freshly programmed 211-K receiver to the Tailgater, and powered it on, the proper menu popped up, and it was pretty easy to get it working. Just place the Tailgater outside where it has a good view of the southern sky, and let it do its stuff. (In one location we had a very cluttered view of the southern sky, with lots of trees at the Stanford stadium parking area, and it still worked well.) The setup is pretty easy on the onscreen menu. First you tell it what state/region you are in, then it spends about 5 minutes finding the 3 satellites that Dish Network uses. Then it tells you how many it found. It usually finds 3, but even with only 2, it seems to work for the channels I was looking for. THEN it downloads the programming guide, and you are up and running. All of this setup takes about 10-12 minutes, which was much longer than I expected. However, once it is up and running the reception is fantastic, and the HD picture is great. TIP: If you are really good at pointing your satellite, and can do it in less than 10 minutes, this delay might be a bother for you.
The next thing I did not expect was the way the 211K seems to work on an inverter. I used an inexpensive ($60) 400 watt inverter from Peak to power the receiver and the TV. The receiver says it draws 50 watts, and the TV draws 30. I figured that 80 watts on a 400 watt inverter with 800 watt peak load would work fine, but I was wrong. I still have not figured out WHY the 211K caused the inverter to fault, but cold, it does. However, if you run from the generator, get sats locked, and then unplug and plug into the inverter it DOES work. You have to start over again with the setup, but for some reason this process works. (I’d be curious if anyone knows why this is.)
A few tips on this one. TIP: Perhaps you need an 800 or 1000 watt inverter to handle some ‘cold start’ heavy load from the 211k. TIP: The inverter I used was a modified sine wave, not pure sine wave. I had been told that modified sine wave can make satellite receivers and TVs have lots of interference. I saw none, it worked the same way as plugged into my house.
All in all, I’d recommend this unit. It is lower cost than the alternatives and seems to do everything I want. I had heard that it did not get local channels, but it has for me in northern California. It is small, and easily setup. It probably does not work as well as the larger more expensive units in bad weather or with obstructions, but from my testing it works great. I hope this review helps you evaluate this new product.