A few tweaks as we go – installing a powered omni-directional TV antenna

We’ve generally had little to tinker with on the ‘van of late. We’ve done three trips away in the past month and have had few niggles now that the whole thing is bedded in a bit.

One thing that has been a total pain in the proverbial though is our TV tuning. We’d found a very decent digital TV aerial (and actually have the same aerial on the downstairs of our house now, for the kitchen) and Nik made a mounting pole for it, fixed to the rear roof of the ‘van. We ran a coax cable along the inner ceiling channel and fixed aerial points at each end of the interior: one above the top bunk, for the cable entering the ‘van, and one above the TV area for a short cable to the television itself.

The set-up was fine, except when it came to tuning! Each time we pitched up, Nik would climb up onto the bunk beds at attempts to align the aerial until I yelled that we had a decent picture. It was a real pain in every way, especially if the weather wasn’t ideal.

We’d originally ruled out a “proper” caravan aerial, purely because they required power. At the time, it’d put us off as there is limited access to 12v at the back end of the ‘van, but, having struggled with tuning numerous times, and even losing our signal completely overnight on one stay (after having had it working fine the previous evening!) we bit the bullet and bought an Omni-directional aerial from Maplin.

An omni0directional aerial does what is says on the tin: it points all directions so that, in theory, it’ll be tuned in wherever you park. They’re very commonly factory-fitted to caravans and motorhomes, so we decided that was recommendation enough.

We decided not to use the original cable entry point (which was via the rear door jamb) and fitted it slightly further forward on the roof instead, drilling a new entry point through the roof and into the wardrobe, where we also fitted and powered the booster box (taking the 12v from the feed that is there for the lights and charge points for both bunks.

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Nik sealed the aerial to the roof of the van and now we have a good TV signal without fiddling with it each time we pitch up, which will be GREAT!

As well as fitting the aerial, we also took a look at the 240v sockets we had initially installed. After realising that most of what gets plugging into them is USB charge cables, we decided it’d be much easier to swap the main sockets for ones with USB plugs in (the bunks at the back both have USB points as well as their 12v reading lights). We switched the single socket in the kitchen area for a single with 2 USB (as it’s next to the bed and most used overnight) and swapped the single that was next to the TV to a double with USBs for media use as well as charging.

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We’ve also lowered the TV bracket, as it was much too high to watch TV comfortably before.

Now we have charge points and power for all needs and we can even get a TV signal when parked out the back of the house which we couldn’t really with the previous aerial (which meant that making sure stuff worked was tricky!)

The powered aerial and USB points are just two of those things that we probably should have done from the outset.

But we’ll know for next time!

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