Archive for the ‘RV Modifications’ Category

Digital TV Converter

July 2, 2010

If you have not converted your old analog TV in your camper or RV to a digital one you might want to get a digital TV converter box.  This is not a “new” thing… they’ve been around for at least a couple of years.  I bought mine (with the government coupon on a trip to Branson, MO.   I suspect that some of you are a bit like me… slow to make the conversion (at least with my TV’s at home).

The bad news is… I think if you did not get, or use, your government coupon(s)… they are no good now. 

The good news is… I have noticed that the digital converter boxes have dropped in price from $40.00 to around $29.00 in some, but not all, retail stores.

The better news is… they are starting to show up at yard/garage sales!

I bought this one today…

DTV Converter

If you noticed the little green sticker… I bought this one for three bucks!  A cheapskate’s dream price!

It has the standard RF connections on the back for your antenna and connecting to your TV’s antenna input.  It also has composite video and L/R audio outputs plus an S-Video output.  One way or the other… it will hook up to your TV (or video recorder for that matter).

Of course you could put it in your house instead of your camper… or if you have access to a video projector you can use one of these boxes to convert it into a “big-screen” TV.

Work Day On The RV!

July 2, 2010

The weather promises to be GREAT!  I’ve got most of the day to spend on a few of those projects I’ve mentioned… wooo hooo!

I’m thinking I’ll get the power monitor installed first… and then tackle the rest of the list.

Made a couple of quick day trips this week.  We went down to Madison, Indiana… they are getting ready for the Regatta on the 4th of July.  It’s a festive little town right now!  Enjoyed a great lunch at the “Lighthouse” right down on the river.  The “Black and Bleu” burger is fantastic!

While we were in the area we took a drive through Clifty Falls State Park.  It’s a nice, but rather small, park (as far as most Indiana State Parks go)… nice campground.  

Of course I had to try out the MiFi wireless Internet card… worked like a champ.  I’ve yet to find a place that it won’t work!

The next day we went to Columbian Park Zoo in Lafayette, Indiana… what a treat!

Here is their web site… http://www.lafayette.in.gov/zoo/

This has got to be one of the nicest city parks in the mid-west! 

The park is free!  The zoo is free!  The only thing they charge for is the little train ride ($1.25 a head) and the water park/swimming pool!  Lots of hands on in the zoo… for the kids (and big kids too).

Headin’ for the RV!  I’ll report back soon…

A Couple Of Quick Ones!

June 19, 2010

I know, I know… I tell you I’m going to do one thing and then I do another.  

A couple of “quickies” got in front of some of my other publicised projects.  I hope you will forgive me. 

The first came in the form of an early Father’s Day gift.    A Vornado (CR1-0117-06) under cabinet fan. 

Vornado Under-cabinet Personal Fan

According to lots of other RV sites… this is “the one” when it comes to fans.  I can’t say I disagree.  It’s a dandy.  It came with simple instructions and a drilling template.  Start to finish I had this installed in 30 minutes.  20 of those minutes were consumed by me going through my junk to find four screws.  The ones that came with the fan were only half as long as they needed to be for my particular application.  My overhead cabinets have a false bottom.  That’s where the manufacturer ‘hides” the electrical wiring.  Clever… but it complicated mounting the fan just a little.  

The mounting screws have to be inserted down through the bottom of the cabinet to meet the threaded mounts on the fan. 

Thankfully I had saved some “transport” screws (the kind you take out and throw away after you take the item out of the box) from an old DVD player or quite possibly turntable some years ago.  (My wife says I never throw anything away.  This proves exactly why.  Ha!)  The screws were the perfect length and the proper threading.  Ta Da! 

The fan is quiet (as advertised) and moves a lot of air (also as advertised)!  When not in use… the fan folds up under the cabinet out of the way.  I also liked the fact that you can hide the excess electrical cord by wrapping it around inside the mounting bracket.  Clever! 

It was not cheap (like I prefer)… but I shopped around (Yes, I got to shop for my own Father’s Day gift!) on the Internet and found a source that had a slightly higher price than most everybody else but the shipping was free!   Even though others were cheaper for the fan itself… the shipping made it anywhere from $7.00 to $10.00 more expensive.!  (So there is where the “cheapskate” in me came into play.) 

The second “fan” project was also inspired by a couple of articles I’d seen on the Internet.  I’m going to put it over in the “project pages” (18.  A Frigid Fan…) on the right-hand side of this blog.  It is in the experimental stage so I will keep you posted on how it works out.

A Couple Of Projects For The Near Future

June 11, 2010

I took a day off to run through some of the area yard sales, a couple of the “biggies” are this weekend.  I can usually find something useful along the way… but not this time.  Nuthin’.  (Well there was the space helmet for my grandson and a couple of electronic video games… total expenditure $1.50!)

Harbor Freight is also having one of their “sidewalk sales” this weekend so since the yard sales were a bust I decided to run over there and see what they have.  I only spent $5.00.   I’m not sure how I got out of there so easy.

What I did find is pretty cool.  It is a voltage/charging monitor for 12 volts D.C.   In some of the RV supply shops and catalogs these things can be rather pricey.  But like I said… this one only cost me 5 bucks.   I can’t find that the others do any more than this one does.

12 Volt DC Battery and Charger Monitor

I will upload some pictures and put them in my “pages” with a little installation information shortly. 

FREE Harbor Freight Flashlight!

(Oh yeah… of course I got my free LED flashlight!   Woo hoo!)
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Since I was on that side of town I made a run over to Menard’s.  No point missing an opportunity to roam their aisles. 

I found yet another bargain over in “lighting”…

9 LED Under Cabinet Light

These were on sale for a few pennies less that $5.00 each.  (I guess $5.00 was my magic “retail” number today.)  
There are only 3 LEDs in each of the three 320 degree rotating heads… so I don’t expect them to be blindingly bright.  But they should provide some usable light.  (If nothing else I need lights in my RV closets.)
 
As they are designed… they run on 6 AAA batteries.  (Which totals 9 Volts DC.)  I will put a regulator inside the light so I can run them off of my onboard 12 batteries.
 
Again I’ll post a “page” with this project shortly.
 
I might have started these projects today but it is 91 degrees outside right now and the digital thermometer inside the RV reads “O F” (for “Over Flow”).  That means the interior of  is in excess of 99 degrees… and I’m just not designed to work in that kind of heat!)

Planning Ahead…

June 3, 2010

If you are planning a trip to a campgrounds you are unfamiliar with… here’s a suggestion.  Look it up on Google Maps (or some other equivalent service)!  

Most of the hard copy or online maps provided by campgrounds are simple line drawings with campsite numbers, location of the comfort station(s) and maybe water spigots. 

Typical State Park Site Map

Here in Indiana that’s the kind of map the DNR (Department of Natural Resources) provides. 

It doesn’t really tell you much about the actual site. 

If you pull up a Google map of the area, and then switch to “satellite” view, you can actually see the site from above!  The resolution is good enough to see something as small as a pop-up on a site!  

Google Satellite Map of the Same Area

Most of the satellite pictures seem to have been taken in the fall after most of the leaves are off the trees.  You can easily see if the site is shaded or in full sun… and you can see how close it is to other sites.  

One thing to keep in mind… Google’s satellite views are often quite a few years old… so there may have been some changes made between the time the picture was taken and your arrival.  Most of the time this should not be a problem.

12 Volt Microwave!?!

May 12, 2010

I have no first hand experience with this item I found on the “Think Geek” website today… but it could be the answer to a lot of campers’ prayers!  It is a smallish microwave oven that runs on 120 volts AC, 24 or 12 volts DC. 

The Wavebox Portable Microwave Oven

http://www.thinkgeek.com/homeoffice/kitchen/d6b8/?cpg=131H&link 

There’s no viewing window and it isn’t all that big inside… but I’m sure it could handle most of your microwave needs… warming up some coffee or tea, a small plate of left overs, breakfast sausage, popcorn… that sort of thing.  I know I could find plenty of uses for it… even though it defiantly falls outside of the “cheapskate” department.

Stoopid Mistake!

May 11, 2010

(Stoopid= something dumber than “stupid”.)

Last fall I added a few strips of the very clever “Twin Track” (from IF Designs) to my awning roller… so I could hang my lights and still have that little awning flap that hangs down in the front. 

Twin Track from IF Designs, LLC

Both ends of the Twin Track are open to make sliding things in and out easy.  I wanted to leave the little awning clips I’d bought (“Awning Hook-Ups” from rvawninglights.com)  in place so I pushed a short bolt into each end to hold them in the track. 

Awning Clip

Somehow… in the process of putting the cover on the RV last fall I pulled one of those bolts out and spilled all the clips onto the ground.  I recovered them and put them away until this spring with the idea of gluing the bolt in place with a little silicon.  Which is precisely what I did… sort of.

Because it was very windy on my first camping excursion of this season I did not roll the awning out.  So I never gave it much thought (or a look for that matter).  But as I was getting ready to move the RV back into its regular parking spot at home I noticed that all 20 of my awning clips were missing! 

How could that be?  I’d glued the bolts in place and I could see that they were both still there.

(Insert the sound of a hand slapping a forehead here!)

Like the name implies “Twin Track” has two tracks… lets call them “A” and “B”.  On the right side (front of the RV) of the awning I’d inserted the awning hooks in to track “A” and glued the bolt in place.  On the left side (rear of the RV) of the awning I inserted the bolt into track “B” and glued it in place.

Somewhere along the road between my home and the campground now lay 20 never used awning clips.  They simply scooted out the open end and were set free!  (Kiss about 20 bucks goodbye.) Doh!

You have no idea how “stoopid” I feel… especially being the “cheapskate” that I am.

The clips were perfect for the job they were intended… so I will be replacing them before my next trip out.  (They are on order from www.rvawninglights.com and they were cheaper than where I bought the first batch!)

That was a perfect case of the left hand no knowing what the right hand did.

(Final update:  My new/replacement “Awning Hook-Ups” arrived yesterday!  Good, quick service from the vendor and USPS.  I’m ready to give it another shot.  Think I’ll be able to hang on to these?  I hope so!)

My new Awning Hook-Ups

Things to come…

May 3, 2010

I was looking back through this site and saw that very early on I’d promised an article on my $200.00 RV air conditioner.  I guess the reason I have not written/documented this one is that it hasn’t been warm enough, since I purchased it, to actually need air-conditioning.  I’m guessing, as toasty as this spring has been, I’ll be getting around to that one soon!

Also on the list of my “things to do” is a TV antenna.  I need to replace the one that’s up there… mostly because it has been glued/welded in place with some sort of roof sealer.  It goes up and down… but it refuses to rotate.   It is also 30+ years old and the plastic housing has become quite yellow and brittle.  It needs to be replaced.   I have a couple of electronically “enhanced” antennas I want to try.  One is a small flat panel antenna with a built-in pre-amplifier.  The other pre-amplified antenna I’m afraid will turn out to be too big to use.  (But boy does it pull in the channels… and it only cost about 12 bucks!)  The third antenna I am considering will probably do the trick but I don’t have it in my hands yet.  Film at 11:00.  (Or when I get around to doing some testing.)

I’m also working on a portable satellite dish scrounged from “junque” I’ve collected over the past few years.  It just dumbfounds me when I see how much commercially produced portable satellite dishes cost.  (Especially when the basic components and most expensive components can be found at most yard sales these days… or if you are a really good scrounger… can be had for free!)

I’ll have a “quickie” cup holder modification shortly.  (By the way it worked like a dream.)

On Being a Cheapskate!

May 3, 2010

In keeping with my original intent of being a “cheapskate camper” and sharing some of the things I’ve learned with you… I offer the following;

Just yesterday I got an “e-flyer” from one of my favorite sporting goods vendors.   One of the things they were pushing was a set of four 9-LED flashlights.

They are asking $14.97 for the set… and they said they were a $60 value!

Whoa Nelly!  Talk about inflated values!

These are the very same 9-LED flashlights I’ve been getting for “free” from Harbor Freight Tools.  (I’ve got six of them now.  Watch for the occasional coupon for a “freebie” with their adds!)  Even if you want to “buy” them they are usually only three or four dollars for a package of two… with batteries (3-AAAs)!

For what it is worth… this is a fairly well made flashlight (not hardly in the Maglite class… but still nice).  Small enough for your pocket but it throws out a decent beam of light!  I’ve accidentally dropped ‘em, stepped on ‘em… and otherwise gave them a fair amout of day-to-day use and abuse and every last one of them still work perfectly.

And according to the other “vendor’s” add… I’ve saved $90.00!  Now that’s great news for a “cheapskate”.

The First Trip of the Season

May 3, 2010

Well, we’ve just returned from our first camping trip of the season!  The “boys” (son, grandson and, Papi) did an overnighter at one of our favorite local campgrounds.  

It was not ideal camping weather but not totally awful.  On Friday the wind was gusty (30+ mph)… so I didn’t roll out the awning… or (obviously) hang my lights. 

It was warm… near 80.  That was great and made sitting outside a pleasant experience.

My grandson had a good time riding his bike and “big wheel”.  He has a good head on his shoulders when it comes to traffic safety.  He pulled off into the grass when he saw a truck drive into the campground.  (It was wayyyyy on the other side of the campground but he was not taking any chances!) 

We had a nice campfire that evening… after the wind subsided to a tolerable level.

My grandson asked if the frogs were “…going to be making that “noise” all night?”  (It didn’t take him long to get used to it.  It was “music” to my ears.)

Early the next morning a thunderstorm blew through.  (That drove off the folks from the only tent pitched in the place.)   There was a little thunder and lightening… but nothing close.  I think we only got about a half-inch of rain.

The old RV rocked just a little.  The stabilizers held her pretty firm.  No leaks… so I’d call it a good night.  My grandson didn’t wake up until the end of the storm and all he did was crawl from his upper birth down into the bed with his dad.

We ate like guys!  Grilled jalapeno burgers, pork and beans, macaroni and cheese (for the grandson) and cottage cheese for supper… scrambled eggs, bacon, fried potatoes and onions, coffee, milk, juice for breakfast (with doughnut holes for desert).  Junk food for lunch!  Mmmmm.

On a side note:  In preparation for the trip I got to looking at some of the online maps of the area.  I was convinced there was a closer route between my home and the campground.  According to Google Maps there was!  In fact… about 11 miles closer!  (That would save me over two gallons of gas each way.)  It appeared to be just a little drive through the country.   The first hint that I’d made a mistake was the one-lane road restriction I came across early in the short cut.  That only slowed me down about 3 or 4 minutes.  No big deal.  The rest of the trip will be gravy… wrong.  The rest of the “short cut” was made up of some of the narrowest, winding, bumpy, hilly, chuckhole riddled back roads I’d ever encountered with the RV.  Add to that… the far and few between road signs to confirm I was still on the right route… and it became a bit of a stressful drive.  I took one wrong turn (it looked like the right place on the map) and ended up on the road I would have been on anyway if I had not taken the “short cut”.  My new route only added a total of 30 minutes to the trip.  Some “short cut”!

You may be wondering why I didn’t use any of the readily available GPS technology.  That could have, at the very least, helped me through the wrong turn situation.   In fact there is a GPS on the RV dashboard… I mounted it there myself.  But it might as well be grand piano, or a box of Ding Dongs… because the “cab over” portion of the RV blocks all GPS signals.  My dashboard is a radio frequency dead zone.  Somewhere in my “stuff” (the key word is “somewhere”) I have a remote magnetic antenna for my GPS.  If I had some clue where it might be I’d slap that sucker on the hood and get those satellite signals.  But sadly… after searching off and on for nearly a year… I am still clueless as to where I’ve put it (so it wouldn’t get lost).

I sent word to my son to throw away my “short cut” instructions and drive in the way he already knew. 

All in all… it was still a great camping experience.   As some wise person once said… “The worst day camping is better than the best day working!”  I can’t wait for the next trip!


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