Can you use three TVs with a Playmaker Dual?

Here’s one that came from one of our support techs. A customer wants to use a PlayMaker Dual, and I don’t blame them. It’s a pretty cool little piece of equipment. It allows for two receivers to be connected to a single, self-aiming dish. The Playmaker couldn’t be easier to use. You put it on a level surface and connect it to a receiver. Really, that’s it. It aims itself and checks itself and before you know it you’re watching TV.

But while the Playmaker Dual works really well with two receivers, can you use it with three? Typically if you want to use three TVs, you’ll want to use three receivers. Here’s the answer you really don’t want to hear.

Two receivers yes, three receivers no.

Although you could rig up splitters and potentially get the three receivers to work for the short term, it wouldn’t work very long. Probably, if I had to guess, it would work for a matter of minutes, that’s it. Blame the way the system is designed if you will, but don’t blame too hard. DISH systems check themselves constantly to make sure they’re working the way they should. It’s actually one of the better things about them. But, if you’re using the system in a way you shouldn’t, the system itself will figure that out.

So what’s the workaround?

The workaround is to use two receivers, not three. This means that two of the TVs will always be on the same channel, of course. But there are plenty of people who are ok with that. They just want to have one TV inside the RV and one outside, for example.

Here’s how you would do it. You have two choices:

One TV in standard definition

The Wally receiver has two outputs. One is a high-definition HDMI port, and the other is an old-school, standard-definition set of RCA connectors. This is the same connection method used back in the 1980s for VCRs. Really, the exact same.

If your TV still has this kind of connection, you can run a set of RCA cables to it. You’ll get video. It will be in standard definition, but you’ll get it. If you’re running to a small TV inside the RV you probably won’t even notice.

HDMI splitter

Solid Signal sells this HDMI splitter which will help you turn one port into two. It’s low-priced and simple to use. It’s a great solution in a case like this, but there is something you need to know.

Most DISH signals have some sort of content protection applied. This means that the receiver gets a signal from one TV or the other and it doesn’t provide any picture or sound unless it gets that signal. For that reason, when you use a splitter like this, it’s a good idea to make sure that both TVs are on when one is on. That’s usually not a problem.

If you want to only have one TV on, you could bypass the splitter, or just try it to see if it will work. Sometimes it will, sometimes it won’t. But if you have both TVs on at the same time, your receiver will get the signal it needs and it won’t cut you off at the critical moment.

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About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 6,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.