I have a love/hate relationship with our Winegard Carryout GM-1518. When it works it’s great. I put it out, plug the two cables in, and finish setting up the campsite. When I’m finished I go inside, turn on the TV and I’m ready to watch the news. Let me mention that my experience with the Carryout is with Dish Network. It works on DirectTV too. Sometimes, I put it on the roof where it gets a better view of the sky (or if I’m in a place where I think it might be tempted to walk off). Most of the time I put it somewhere around the campsite where it can do it’s thing.
If our move was far enough to get us out of the spotbeam for our current local channels I contact Dish, tell them my new location and in 10 or 15 minutes the new channels appear. At that point, I reboot the receiver and let it update the program guide.
One trick I learned is to schedule programs I want to record on local channels using the “Dish Pass” feature. That way the receiver looks for new episodes of those programs no matter what channel they are on. When my locals are changed, the programs continue to record.
When there’s a problem, though, it can be a real pain. For instance, I’ve had cabling problems with it. Twice it was coax that had an intermittent short. I also fought a long battle with the 12v power connection at the unit which kept losing ground. The biggest problem with problems like this is that there’s no feedback from the unit. All you know is that it isn’t getting a signal to the satellite receiver. Most of the time, of course, no signal is a result of trees, etc. being in the way. So, I put the unit out where I think it should see the southern sky and hear it start searching. After awhile, I see that it isn’t finding the satellite. I move the unit and start it searching again. The thing is, with intermittent connections, sometime just moving the Carryout results in a good connect and it works. Other times, I run in and out of the camper, moving the unit and then returning inside to watch the receiver’s set up screen until I realize that something is wrong. If the Carryout had some kind of pilot light on it that said “I have power – I have a good coax connect” it would help.
As I said, I’ve gone through two coax replacements. I finally cut their oddball 12v connector off and put a two prong “trailer” connect on it. These things have made the unit mostly reliable. Still, once in a while I’ll turn on the TV and get the dreaded “lost signal” screen. At that time I reboot the Carryout and let it search again (all the while listening for sudden starts and stops which are evidence of either the 12v line failing or the 12v signal that the receiver provides the Carryout via coax failing). If that doesn’t work, I reboot the receiver. Then, if no joy still, I unplug the coax and replug it. Finally, I take the lid off of it so I can see the little LED lights on the circuit board and watch it search. In fact, opening it up and watching it work is a good way to start using this unit. By doing that you learn what it sounds like when it’s doing it’s thing. Without any other real feedback it’s the best you are going to get,
Again, I have a love/hate relationship with the Winegard Carryout. Most of the time, now that I’ve fixed the intermittent coax and power problems, I love it. When it doesn’t work, though, it can be a frustrating product to own.
PS: Sept 2014 Update: I used the Carryout with generally positive results. I had to replace the 12V plug on it (the original was of some strange design and broke easily). I also had to send it back for service because of my own blunder. I decided to use the Wineguard as a backup to a a regular dish. Using the regular dish I’m able to record two programs at once, something I’ve missed with the Carryout. So these days I’m using the dish on a tripod. I’m not great at aiming it, but I am getting better.