Tag Archives: DIY campervan

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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Catch up posts are becoming a bit of a theme!

Maybe it’s because nothing much newsworthy happens, but it has been far too long since I posted so I figured a catch up post was in order.

Obviously, since I last posted in February, it’s mostly been work and airsoft around here, but we did manage to go on holiday too, as a family of 4 (yes, that’s FOUR!) back to Portugal for 10 days.

Nik visited the MotoGP in Jerez while  we were there, and we all did some touristy things like waterparks (Nik and Eliot), theme parks (Zoomarine, all of us) and mini golf (various combinations!) as well as eating out and general Lagos-y wanderings.

Proof that even Jake enjoyed Zoomarine
Obligatory photo from “The Lighthouse”
The river from the Marina bridge

I won’t bore with more photos. You all get the general idea. Sunshine, holidays, touristy things etc. It was a great trip and probably both Jake’s and my last. Eliot will probably just move back one day and Nik, I am sure, will do many more trips for the Jerez MotoGP race.

It was almost certainly our last family holiday, so it was nice that it went well.

Since then,  (and after the mammoth job of catching up with 10 days away from work!) we’ve been trying to get away in the van for the odd weekends here and there.

We’re experimenting with local-ish smaller sites, just for Friday and Saturday nights, and without either of the boys (but usually with dog).

We’ve been to Wolds View Touring Park near Caistor which was really nice. Adults only, and on a quiet weekend at the end of half term (not that half term makes a difference at an adults only park, but that’s why we chose it) so only alternating pitches were occupied. The facilities were great and the owners were lovely. Cafe on site served a good breakfast and afternoon tea (although we didn’t try that). Bit of a walk into the town, and not really worth the effort unless you need anything from the Co-op. It’s about all that’s there.

We had a fab weekend though and will definitely go back.

It was a weekend we did without the dog too so it was truly a weekend of doing absolutely nothing whatsoever (except streaming MotoGP qualifying!) which was great! Although we did miss the dog!

Pitched up (and having a quick kip) at Wolds View Touring Park

A few weeks later, we had another trip, this time to a place near Harby, Lincoln run by a place that sells campervans and motorhomes (which, oddly, I hadn’t come across previously!)

It was a larger site but it was lovely to only have to drive 15 minutes down the road! We had a grass pitch, which we wouldn’t usually choose because they can be uneven and a bit damp, but it was fine with a lovely view of the fishing lake. We’d probably choose a grass pitch next time, although they are a little further away from the toilets/showers. It had plenty of space to walk the dog too (including a rally field)

We liked the site and its owners a lot and had a great weekend. Another definitely re-visit!

‘Vans across the other side of the fishing lake
I recognise that ‘van!
It was a lovely setting
Looking forwards to going back here!

We’ve also been away for a third time since the beginning of June! This time to somewhere a little further up, in Barton upon Stather. A (former?) award-winning Camping and Caravanning Club certified site at Acorn Wood.

Again, a lovely site. Small, with only 5 hardstanding pitches and perhaps room for 3 or 4 grass pitches, but with fabulous toilet and shower facilities and lovely owners. There wasn’t much of a rural area to walk to dog nearby (there’s a very small fishing pond with a walk around) but we took the short walk into the town (village?) itself and sat in the park for a bit, so we didn’t miss out. Definitely another gem of a site that we’d recommend and revisit.

Ducks on the pond bridge at Acorn Wood
Playing doggie bubbles in the awning

So many places, so little time!

There is another story I could tell about a site who decided they didn’t want me on their site in case I blogged bad things about it (this coming from a 10/10 rated site), but I’m done ranting and brewing on it now! Their loss!

Our next trip is to Tattershall Lakes, which is where we made our first real trip last year. There’s lots to do and Eliot is coming with us this time too. It’ll be fun. We hope!

Apart from being busy with work, Jake is out at work most days and Eliot is getting ready for starting school in September. We’ve had a trip up to school today for a(nother) tour around and to discuss his options. He’s chosen to do Music, Drama and Construction, leaving the 4th option slot open for additional support lessons for maths and English if required. He seems happier about going back now that he’s got some control over what he spends his time doing all day.

Nothing more disheartening that sitting in a class learning about stuff you’ll never need to know again. I remember it well (or, perhaps more pertinently, I don’t!)

I hated school. In fact, I hate schools in general, but these next 2 years will be good for Eliot. Unlike Jake, who was already advanced enough to teach himself, for the most part, to get through his English and Maths GCSEs at home, Eliot needs more help and support than I can give him. Hopefully, he’ll come out with some qualifications and some friends from being at school, and both of those are good things.

Maybe some of his mates will fancy campervan weekends away, or airsoft days out!

Oh, just one more thing. If anybody is into Forza or knows anybody who is into Forza, Jake does Youtube videos and regular(-ish, internet permitting) live streams with gameplay, giveaway and dev builds. His channel is here and support is always welcome!