Entertainment Center – Living Room

The Living Room Entertainment Center in this RV is a mess. Right up front, there’s far too many cables going every which way. And there’s not enough cabinet depth for a standard VCR/DVD player. I am loath to just toss mine because it was the last VCR & DVD recorder before the anti-consumer law was passed about it. Congress caved to Sony which owns most of the music and movie copyrights in this country and they didn’t like people recording their own copies of entertainment. Anyway, my VCR/DVD recorder is fairly deep physically, and doesn’t really fit in the space without the front jiggling into the closed door, scratching the wood. I’ve removed it for now so it’s not in any of these pictures. It would go on that shelf right above the B.O.M.B. (Box Of Many Buttons) the antenna interface, and the Dimensions Unlimited (Magnum branded now it seems) inverter. More on those devices later.

You can see the ceiling slope inside that cabinet can interfere with the rear of deep devices and the cables plugged into them. In the case of my VCR/DVD player, the AC cord plugged into the back panel, though it’s small, does interfere. So I can never really push it back deep enough. I’m thinking of dumping it and trying to find a stand alone DVD player/recorder. But I haven’t watched a DVD for so long, I’m not sure I’ll ever need it. I can watch or record DVDs on my computer too, along with passing a movie onto the TV.

The devices on the lower shelf, like the B.O.M.B. and antenna interface don’t go back far, but they have many, many cables going to and coming from them and it’s a rat’s nest behind that panel. The inverter box on the lower right in the cabinet however, does go back quite a way and the output 120 Vac cables plugged into the back of it do bump into the wall. Holding it out a bit too far, distorting the panel.

The inverter deserves special mention. I believe that it was originally optional equipment and it’s set up to supply power to the TV in the event of a power outage. That’s all well and good, but though the TV might remain on, the satellite dish, the DirecTv receiver, and auxillary powered devices all lose power.

Some satellite equipment may have been optional and chosen by the PO, I have no idea, but now there are what look like factory installed connectors on the back wall of the left side overhead cabinet that has a ‘Dish’ label. I don’t use those. Apparently, that original Dish satellite dish, if it existed, was replaced with a Trav’ler automatic satellite seeking and peaking system using DirecTv satellites (they also have a Dish satellite dish available). It was professionally installed and the installer did an excellent job. I’m happy to have that automatic dish setup since I’m a newbie to satellite and don’t have years of expirience with a manual satellite setup in a RV. All I do is push an On button and I’m done.

Something that happened here at this RV park in Mexico, and that was that I had many power drops by my Progressive Ind. Surge Protector when the parks power (shore power) would creep up to 133 Vac. Although the surge protector was protecting my equipment…those multiple shut down events seemed to damage my SWiM box that’s plugged directly into AC power, because it eventually failed. I have a spare so after figuring out what was wrong, I replaced it. There’s the SWiM, the Trav’ler Control by Winegard, and the DirecTv receiver all connected to AC power in there and although nothing other than the SWiM failed, I felt I should protect all those devices.

 

And what I came up with was to run an extension cord from the inverter in the right overhead cabinet, over to the equipment in the left overhead cabinet, shown below. There are two outlets on the inverter, the TV plugged into one, and now a DIY extension cord in the other. You can see the DIY cord with the yellow AC receptacle there on the right. The inverter is rated at 300 watts and 5 amp peak, and I feel that with the low power of the devices plugged into it, it’ll give me protection until I can shut off that equipment myself in a more dignified way than just having the power die. Because of all the attached items though, I won’t want to actually watch TV via satellite using the inverter. It would probably overheat and shut down.  

It’s a mess in there and the ‘special’ satellite cables are all stiff and difficult to route. Then I know myself and if I tried to find a cubby for those spare satellite, cable TV, TV accessories and cables in the plastic bags, it wouldn’t take long for them to be lost forever, even in this small RV.

Here’s what it looks like in the living room, next picture. I leave the left side overhead cabinet door open when I’m parked to help exhaust some heat from those devices in there and to allow the DTV remote to work.

I am not too happy with the appearance inside those two cabinets, but it’s going to be a major remodel to get it exactly like I want it. One thing I’m going to do is mount the TV on a plywood backing with gas struts that allows the TV to be lifted up towards the ceiling…giving access to that large unused space behind it. That was originally space where an old tube type TV resided and the flat LCD TV I have now makes it potentially a great place to store books and equipment…if I could access it. Future DIY project.

Then the two cables dropping down are a HDMI cable that goes to my computer, and the sound output from the headphone jack of the TV that I plug into the dash radio so I can use the RV’s surround sound. I’d like to reroute both of those soon. 

So as of Feb. 2017, that’s where the entertainment center in the LR is in the ongoing saga of adaption and upgrade. I am very happy with the Trav’ler dish because it makes setting up the satellite so easy. Push the power button when I arrive, it deploys and finds the 3 satellites and I have a picture. Well, as long as I pay DTV that is.


Update: Aug. ’17 Satellite issues

I contacted Winegard about my non-functional Trav’ler satellite system soon after I’d arrived at the Crater Lake RV Resort. Just a few days before in Merrill, Oregon the satellite seemed to be behaving badly. It kept giving me an onscreen 775 error (loss of satellite signal) when I tuned to a station that I’d had just minutes before. This was a comes and goes thing. Eventually it was happening quite often. After I’d arrived at this park and deployed the satellite, it gave me a ‘No LNB voltage’ error. Called Winegard to help me analyse the issue after DirecTv decided it was beyond them and the Winegard tech thought that replacing the cable from the satellite horns electronics to the feed connection going downstairs would help. So I dug out a 6′ piece of coax cable (type of coax was unmarked) to replace the original cable. It was supposed to be a RG-6 but there were no markings on the cable I put up there. And that didn’t fix it. So I just used the RV parks cable system for TV. A few days later, I passed a Thrift store alongside the road and stopped in. And there was a nice commercially made, 6′, RG-6 cable in perfect condition. Never been used from appearances. For $2. Grabbed it.

Later that day I was in Vale, Oregon setting up camp at a RV park with rather mature trees, tall and bushy with leaves. Off in the direction that I needed the southern sky to be clear. Anyway, I climbed up on the roof and installed the new RG-6 cable…and that fixed the ‘No LNB voltage’ problem. I was now getting satellites at 99, 101, 103 all with a ‘*’ (means very strong signal) on the Winegard box readout. But no picture. All channels had the same 775 error message. So I contacted DirecTv again and this time, the tech determines I needed a new receiver. They send that, I installed it in place of the old one (and that one was only a year old), and boom, I’m getting all channels. And that’s through branches and green leaves. These satellite devices are really getting good at pulling out a good signal from a bad set up.

So I’m back up and running. Working up in that satellite electronics cabinet above the drivers dash is a real bitch and I’d rather not do it ever, but I really need to spend some time up there organizing. I’ll try to get to that soon.

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