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Saturday, June 26, 2010

Meanwhile back on the home front…..

We left Alder Lake with an overcast sky.  Good thing we saw Mt. Rainier NP on Thursday because Friday it was mostly invisible!  You could have driven right by the mountain and not known it was there.  Soon though, we were in sunshine – something we haven’t been able to say of late in the Northwest. 

On the way home we stopped at our favorite stand to buy berries on Highway 12.  Too early by a week or so for blueberries, but Carol did find some strawberries.  The rest of the trip was uneventful.

This morning we went for a walk in the neighborhood.  With the sun out and a mostly clear sky with warming temps, it was like maybe we are going to have summer after all this year.  While on the walk, we saw many wildflowers.  I’m sure Carol’s blog entry will have some pictures for you, but below is a close-up of a California Poppy.

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There are many modifications I have made to our new RV in the 8 months or so that we have owned it.  I want to show off two of them here and may do some others later.

First, is our TIVOs.  Carol and I both love Direct TV and their DVR systems.  Unfortunately, we only have 5 of them – 3 in our house and 2 in the RV.  The RV installation was a bit tricky.

First, the TIVO can record two channels at one time, which means you need a dual LNB satellite dish and two feed cables.  While the RV came with the dual LNB (they don’t even make singles anymore), there was only one feed cable from the dish to the receiver area.  The one cable that was installed at the factory was defective, so I just cut it off.

Next I drilled two holes fairly close together in the roof right above the cabinet where the TIVOs would be placed.  This is the only real scary part of the job.  Miss the location, and you can put a nice hole in the ceiling!  Measure 5 times, drill once!

Then I ran the cables through the holes and put the crimp ends on them.  Next I put a special cover plate over the holes and screwed it down and put rubber roofing calk all over it.  I also cinched down the cables on the roof to prevent them blowing around.

Back inside the RV, I ran the 2 feed cables from the disk into a 2x4 switch.  That gives me 4 outputs, 2 for each TIVO.  I also put a signal meter inline with one of the feeds to help align the dish when we park.  I’ve gotten real good at that and can do it in under 60 seconds from anywhere in the western states.

Then I installed the TIVOs, one on each shelf.  I did this for reasons of heat dissipation.   In the picture below, you can see the two units.  The bottom one is actually sitting on a one inch high shelf I made to hold it up above the cabinet door frame.

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In the lower left of the cabinet opening, you can see a piece of natural colored wood.  This wood (see below) is actually to hold the door slightly open to allow air flow when the RV is parked and the units have power.  Otherwise there just is not enough airflow.  These wood offsets are removed for travel and the doors close naturally then.

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Here you can see the offset in place ready for the door to come down and be held open for 3 inches or so. 

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The next trick was to be able to control either TIVO from the living room or the bedroom with the door closed.  To do that, I installed some IR relay devices from Radio Shack.  There are two in a set, one you aim the remote at and it converts the IR signal to radio which is then received by the other unit which converts it back to IR for the device to “see.”

My problem was that these devices are in the shape of cones about 4 inches high and with a three inch diameter.  The radio receiver unit has to be placed where the sensors on the front of the TIVO can “see” it.  But they are way too big to just mount on the wall.  Fortunately, you can put a small IR transmitter on the end of a cable from the unit in line for the TIVOs to see.  That’s what I did and you can see in the picture below.

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Here you can see the IR remote transmitter mounted at the end of the cabinet above the left side of the driver’s head.  The window in the picture is actually a side window on the slide-out.  From this location, both TIVOs can see the transmitter.

In the bedroom, under the TV, I placed the IR Receiver cone.  You can see it below right next to the DVD player.

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This setup works really well, the units both stay pretty cool, and either TIVO can be controlled from bedroom or living room with no problem at all.

The second modification I want to “show off” was really a device I made to solve a problem.  Both Carol and I like taking our bikes on the RV when we can.  Usually I put them on a bike rack on the ladder and hang them vertically.  On our old Bounder, I noticed that this was scratching and slightly denting the back of the RV where the handlebars from the first bike would hit when driving.

I really wanted to figure out a way to hold the bikes away from the RV without harming either the bikes or the RV.  What I came up with was a restraining bar.  It mounts to the ladder and holds the bikes away.  You can see it in place in the picture below.

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The way this works is quite simple.  The tubing is actually square and has holes every inch on all sides.  You take a U-bolt and put some protective tubing over it and secure one end of the square tubing to the ladder using wing nuts.

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Next you take another U-bolt and tubing and wing nuts and secure the handle bar riser.  Repeat for the second bike.

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Now both bikes are secure and cannot move forward and bang into the RV.  Works great and was cheap and easy to make.

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