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Are Your RV's TVs Ready For The Digital TV Transition?
February 10, 2009

The Gazette 005 Are Your RV's TVs Ready For The Digital TV Transition?
February 10, 2009

Issue 005 - February 2009

Just For You In This Issue

What's New

What's new at Everything About RVing.

Special Report On The Digital TV Transition and RVing


Does Our RV Need A Digital TV Converter box?

Did We Purchase The Right Digital TV Converter Box For Our RV

How Do I Install A Digital TV Converter Box In My RV?

Monthly RV Safety Tip

Motor Home Boondocking Safety Tips

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Can I RV During The Winter? 

How Do I Prevent My RV's Holding Tanks From Freezing During Winter?

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110 Volt Plug On RV Not Working

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Digital TV Transition Introduction

Who knew that when we opened up our Ask An RV Question page that we would receive a ton of questions from RVers about the transition to Digital TV.  Well we did receive a lot of questions, so we decided to make this issue of the The Everything About RVing Gazette a special edition on the changeover to Digital TV and how it affects the TVs in your RV.

First the Good News, originally the transition was scheduled to take place on February 17th, that was the date that all broadcasters were to discontinue broadcasting analog TV signals.  Due to action by Congress and President Obama, the date has now been changed to June 12th, 2009.  I am not going to bore you with all the details on why they decided to change the date other than to say that they did not feel that all of the American populace were ready for the change.

So, if you have been procrastinating on finding out if you need Digital TV Converter Boxes on your RV's TVs to make sure they work off of an antenna after the changeover, you now have a few more months to procrastinate. 

This special edition is here to help you determine if you need a DTV Converter Box and if you do; how to install them in your RV.  We cannot help you with the procrastinating part.

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Does Our RV Need A Digital TV Converter box?

by Dolly
(Pomona, NJ ,USA)

I'm still confused about the digital TV thing. Our 2006 unit is cable and internet ready, but if we are not at a campground do we need a converter to pick up TV signals after Feb?

Greetings Dolly,

Thanks for your question. There is a lot of confusion about the change to Digital broadcast TV now rescheduled to take place on June 12, 2009.

If you do not have a TV with a digital tuner, you will not be able to receive any stations when using an antenna, all you will get is snow.

If you are at a campground with cable TV, you will be able to receive TV, whether your TV has a digital tuner or an analog tuner.

Since your RV is a 2006 model, there is a pretty good chance that you will need a converter box for each TV in your RV to watch TV using an antenna.

The government required that all TVs sold after March 1, 2007, had to have digital tuners. Your TVs in your RV were manufactured before that.

You say that your RV is "cable and internet ready". Unfortunately that does not mean that it is Digital TV ready. It simply means that the cable and wiring to hook up your TV and computer were included when they constructed the unit.

The first thing I would do is find the owner's manual for your TV/TVs. The manual will tell you specifically if it has a digital tuner. If you do not see anything in the manual about a digital tuner, then you will need a converter box.

If you are still are not sure, try to find the model number of your TV (this is sometimes hard in an RV because the TVs are usually built into a cabinet). Once you find the model number, go to the TV Manufacturers website and look up the specifications for your TV. If the Specs do not mention "digital tuner" then, you will need a converter box.

Digital Converter boxes can cost as little as $40.00 to well over $100.00 (depending on the extra bells and whistles the box comes with).

The boxes are available at electronic stores, WalMarts, K-Marts etc.

Now, here is the GOOD NEWS. There is a government funded program to help offset the cost of purchasing a converter box for TVs without digital tuners.

This program is called the "TV Converter Box Coupon Program". When you go to their website you fill out a simple form and you can receive up to two coupons valued at $40.00 each towards the purchase of a converter box.

These coupons look like credit cards and are accepted at places such as Best Buy, etc. Here is the catch; these coupons are only good for 90 days after the date they were mailed to you. There is a limit of 2 coupons per household.

The last I heard, the demand for these coupons was so great, that there was a chance that they would run out of them by the middle of January, unless they received more funding from the government.

The website to get the coupons is located here:

I certainly hope that we have given you the information you needed. If we have missed anything I am sure that our visitors will leave a comment to add other information.

Thanks again for your question and Happy RVing

RVing Al

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Did We Purchase The Right Digital TV Converter Box For Our RV

by Danielle

I was recently told that not all dtv converter boxes are good to travel with. After the initial set up with the box, it will not work if you take it to a new city. I looked at a manual of a very popular dtv box and it did say if you take it to a new city you will need to contact the digital signal provider to find out how to re-access the initial start up menu on the box.

We purchased a box to put in our rv, do you know anything about this confusing situation, so we can purchase a box that will travel with us without anything more than a channel search?



ANSWER Greetings Danielle thanks for submitting your question on our free Ask An RV Question Page.

This is the first time that I have heard of any DTV Converter Box not having the ability to rescan channels after initial setup. Every DTV Converter Box I have looked up has the ability of rescanning the channels any time you want.

On the remote control of these boxes is a button titled either "Menu", "Setup", "CH Scan" etc. When you go to the menu, it gives you the option of scanning the channels.

"Perform a Channel Scan

*Digital-to-analog converter boxes and digital televisions have a button, usually on the remote control, that is labeled “set-up” or “menu” or some similar term. Press that button to access the set-up menu.

Using the directional arrow buttons on your remote, scroll to the option that allows you to perform a “channel scan.” The channel scan will search for digital broadcast channels that are available in your area. Consult the owner’s manual of your digital-to-analog converter box or digital television for detailed instructions on how to perform a channel scan for your device. Once the channel scan is complete, you will be able to tune to the digital channels received by your antenna.

*You should perform a channel scan periodically to check whether additional digital channels have become available."

Now for a manufacturer to disable or only allow you to do a channel scan once, would be defeating the whole purpose of the box. The only advice I can give anyone is to ensure that the box that they are buying allows channel scans to be performed anytime they want.

Another important option on any DTV Converter Box that is going to be installed in an RV is that it has the option of Analog Pass Through. The Analog Pass Through option allows your RV's existing DVD, VCR or Cable signals to get to your RVs TV when the DTV Converter Box is turned off.

I hope we have cleared up some of the confusion you may have had with the Digital TV Conversion.

RVing Al

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How Do I Install A Digital TV Converter Box In My RV?

by frank dorn
(ft lauderdale fl)

I need to install a digital converter box in my rv. does it go on the television or does it connect to the video distribution center box that allows me to switch my tv's from satelite/ antenna and or cable?

Frank Dorn

ANSWER Greetings Frank, thanks for submitting your question through our Free Ask An RV Question Page. Quite a few RVers are confused about the Digital TV transition. Hopefully you have reviewed the Does Our RV Need A Digital TV Converter box? page.

What You Need To Do Before Installation

If you have determined that your RV's TVs do not have digital tuners, then you will need 1 Digital TV Converter Box and one extra length of cable (length of cable depends on far the TV is going to be from the DTV Converter Box) for each TV. If you have a VCR that does not have a digital TV tuner, then you will need a converter box and extra length of cable for that as well (more on this later).

When purchasing the converter boxes, make sure that they include the option of Analog Pass Through. Analog Pass Through allows analog signals to pass through the Digital TV Converter Box when it is turned off. If you are hooked up to cable at an RV park, or if you want to watch a video or DVD the converter box should be turned off (not unplugged) so that the analog signal will Pass Through the converter box directly to your TV.

If you do not get a Digital TV Converter Box with Analog Pass Through you will have to install A/B switches and basically be creating an installation nightmare for yourself.

Things You Need To Understand Before Installation

Most RVs have a video switch box with buttons and/or knobs which allows you to choose different video sources for each of the TVs in your RV. These boxes vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. But usually you have choices such as Antenna, Cable, VCR, DVD, Satellite, etc.

On the back of the Video Switch Box you will find a lot of cables coming into the box and leaving the box, do not let these cables intimidate you. We will only be worried about the cables leaving the Video Switch Box that are going directly to the TVs in your RV.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Do not install the Digital TV Converter Box on the cable going from your RV's Antenna to the Video Switch Box. Depending on the type of antenna your RV has, there could be 12 volts running through that cable and it will fry the Digital TV Converter Box the minute you turn it on.

Depending on how the Video Switch Box is installed on your RV, you may have to start moving things around to get to the back of the box where all of those cables are located. Due to different configurations in each RV, I can't tell you how hard or how easy it will be to get to these cables on the back of the Video Switch Box.

The back of video switch box will have labels on each of the cables that are either going in or coming out. The cables you are looking for are going directly to your TVs they will have labels such as "TV1 Out, TV2 Out, etc." or "To TV1, To TV2 etc." or "TV1, TV2 etc." Again, the labeling will vary by manufacturer. The Digital TV Converter Box will be installed on the cable leading to your TV from the Video Switching Box. Where you put the Digital TV Converter Box on this cable depends on where the TV is actually located.

The Digital TV Converter Box should be installed right next to the TV that you are going to be using it on. Digital TV Tuner Boxes come with remote controls to setup the box and change the channels. So if you are installing the Digital TV Converter Box on the TV in the bedroom located at the back of the RV you do not want to have the Digital TV Converter Box at the front of the RV. Remember, the Digital TV Converter Box has to be plugged into electricity to work.

Installation Of The DTV Converter Box

OK now comes the fun part actually installing the Digital TV Converter Box on your TVs. Depending on how accessible the cable leading to your TV is; will determine how easy the installation will be. Here are the supplies you will need to complete the job for each TV.

1. Digital TV Converter Box.
2. 1 extra length of TV cable (length of cable is based on how far away the Digital TV Converter Box is from the TV). You should have enough cable to reach the back of the TV from the back of the Digital TV Converter Box.

Usually the TV located in the front of the RV is the easiest to install. If the front TV is located right next to the Video Switch Box, then all you have to do is remove the cable that is leading to that TV from the back of the Video Switch Box and attach that cable on the "TV Out" port on the back of the Digital TV Converter Box. Now take the extra cable you have and connect it to the "TV out" port on Video Switch Box and connect the other end to the "Antenna In" Port of the Digital TV Converter Box.

Now we get to the work intensive part of the installation. If your RV has a TV in a bedroom located at the back of the coach, you may have to do some digging to get to the cable that is hooked up to the back of the TV. In most cases the TV is built into a cabinet. Your task is to get to the back of the TV to get access to that cable. I am not going to try to tell you how to take the TV out of the cabinet, because the way they are installed varies by the type and model of your RV.

Once you get to that cable on the back of the TV the actual installation is simple. Remove the cable from the back of the TV and attach it to the "Antenna In" port on the DTV Converter box and take the extra cable and attach it to the "Out To TV" port on the DTV Converter Box. The other end of the cable gets hooked up to the "Cable In or Antenna In" port of the TV.

Special note on VCRs

You can hook up a DTV Converter Box to your RV's VCR, but you really should not do it as the VCR will be limited in its operation. The VCRs built in tuner will be useless and recording programs will require that you use the DTV Converter Box to manually change to the channel you want recorded. With the cost of the DTV Converter Box being from $40.00 and up, you can get a good VCR with a built in digital tuner for the same price.

Setup And Operation Of The DTV Converter Box

Now that the hard part is done, the setup and operation of the DTV Converter Box is relatively simple. If my instructions confuse you, you can always refer to the owner's manual that came with your Digital TV Converter Box. Here are the steps you need to follow to get your tuner set up.

1. Plug the DTV Converter Box into electric (you would be surprised at how many problems occur when this first step is not followed).

2. On the DTV Converter Box, should be a switch that allows the box to transmit a picture to your TV either on channel 3 or 4. If you cannot find this switch, refer to the owner's manual.

3. Turn on the DTV Converter Box.

4. Now turn on your TV and tune it to the channel you chose in step 2.

5. You should now see a menu on your TV screen. The menu will vary by DTV Converter Box Manufacturer. If you do not see a picture, ask yourself the following questions. Is the DTV Converter Box plugged in and turned on? Is the TV tuned to the right channel? Do I have the Video Switch Box set to Antenna for this TV?

6. Now that you have a picture you need to run a channel autoscan, using the remote control for the DTV Converter Box, find the Channel Autoscan Option. Again refer to your DTV Converter Box User's manual, if you cannot find this option.

Important Reminder: Every time you go to a new location and use your RV antenna, you will need to use the channel autoscan option to find the channels in that area. Also moving your RVs antenna around could help you find more channels. Some of the DTV Converter Boxes have built in signal strength indicators. Move your RV antenna until you get the strongest signal.

7. Once the autoscan is done you are all set. You can now use the DTV Converter Box Remote Control to choose the channels you want to watch or choose other options from the option menus. Depending on the brand of DTV Converter Box you bought, you might have a ton of other options you can choose from to enhance your TVs picture, resize the picture to fit your TVs screen, enhance the sound on your TV etc. Refer to the Owner's Manual for your DTV Converter Box for what options are available.

Special Note When you are not using the antenna to view TV. Turn the DTV Converter Box off (do not unplug it), so that the analog TV Pass Through is activated, that way you can use the TV to view Videos, DVDs, Cable like you did before you installed the DTV Converter Box. Remember you have to change the source for that TV at the Video Source Selector Box in your RV.

I urge you to read the Analog Pass Through section of your DTV Converter Boxes Owner's Manual, so you understand how it works on your particular box.

Hopefully, this has helped you get your RV setup to receive Digital TV.

Happy RVing

RVing Al

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Monthly RV Safety Tip

Motor Home Boondocking Safety Tips

By: By: Andrew Stratton

Boondocking is a wonderful way to enjoy your motor home. You pull up where you want to, far away from civilization and other hassles, set up your lawn chair, and just relax by a mountain stream. You've got everything you need - gas for cooking, a generator to power your motor home, plenty of drinking water... life is good.

But just because you're out of the grasp of civilization doesn't mean there aren't rules to follow! Out in the wilds, you've only got yourself to rely on, so some steps have to be taken to keep yourself safe.

Get Familiar With The Area

Before you head out on your boondocking adventure, you might want to check out the area first. This means more than just looking at maps; make sure that the roads are okay for your rig, it's legal for you to park there, and there aren't any other surprises that might be waiting for you. Everybody wants to just get out there and explore, but turning down a rough road that gets too small for your rig, and having to turn a giant trailer around where there's no shoulder on the road is a lesson in trip planning that you don't want to go through. Talk to locals and check things out before you head out.

Continue Reading


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