Entertainment

This page was last edited 06/15/05

I'll try to cover various areas that the RVer might want to think about for both electronic entertainment and the old fashioned kind of entertainment such as games, sightseeing, etc.  The old adage that you can spend as much as you want is again true here.  For instance serious RVers have turned to the satellite dish for entertainment these days.  But we should start with old fashioned games, camp fun and then move to audio and video entertainment.  ChannelPlus can put it all together for you.  Here's the wiring diagram <WIRING DIAGRAM>

RVing takes you away from the work that you normally do every day or if you are retired you have a lot of free time to enjoy.  It isn't going to be spent sightseeing and going and doing.  There is going to be some time that you want to just relax with friends.

Campfire Fun (see Outside Page also)

Campfires are a good place to get together in the evening.  If needed they can provide warmth and enjoyment.  This is a good time for S'mores (sp?)... those marshmallows cooked over the fire and then put between Graham crackers and Hershey's Chocolate Bars.  Toast marshmallows over a campfire and place them on a graham cracker with a piece of chocolate.  Take a second graham cracker and mash it on top to complete the s'mores.  Be careful, toasted marshmallows will have very hot centers.

Copper pipe in the campfire can be fun and entertaining. Take some copper pipe (1/2 or 3/4 inch diameter) and cut it in lengths about 6-12 inches long. Then drill a few holes in it (1/4 inch dia) and slide a piece of old garden hose into it cut to the same length. Toss a few of these things into the campfire after it gets going, then sit back and watch the colors. I've seen fires where the entire thing was blue!

Games

Getting back to basics here... what about a deck of cards?  Or perhaps a game of Monopoly?  Cribbage was always on of my favorites or pinochle perhaps.  And dominoes are a never fail for fun!  There are a lot of board games out there that are very suitable for family entertainment.  I hope that we haven't lost the family atmosphere that sitting around a game table playing one of these board games makes fun.  We can now take this one step further... and into the computer games world.  Many of these board games are available on CD-ROM.  There are also many more CD-ROM only games like 'You Don't Know Jack' which is quite fun.  Given the proper space, money and computer the sky is the limit.  Outdoor games are a good one in the nice weather.  Horseshoes, croquet, badminton, ring toss, volleyball, etc. are all fun.  The Triangle Game is another one you see at a lot of restaurants around.

A new game that I was introduced to on a campout was "Hillbilly Checkers" which was simple, easy to learn and a quick challenge for adults and children alike.  <INSTRUCTIONS>

While at the rally I also learned a new group game called "Bean Bag Baseball".  This was a good warm weather game that all could play and not get out in the sun on a hot day.  The game is played with a board which has holes cut in it for 1B, 2B, 3B, HR, FOUL, OUT.  Obviously the bean bag is thrown through a hole and that is the action of the participant.  Chairs are set up for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd base, along with a home plate where the bean bags are thrown through.  I've put the game information on line here for you to grab. <CLICK HERE>

Interactive Fun

In a group old fashioned interactive games can make the play fun.  Tell a story, piece by piece, with each individual adding their own part as you go around the circle.   Makes for an interesting story!  Ghost stories around the campfire are always good for a laugh.

Camp Fun

1.    Bubbles - Fix the kids up with some inexpensive bubble making stuff and you're bound to have fun.
        A.    Make your own bubble solution:
                1.     What you need:
                        a.     4 oz. Joy or Dawn dish soap
                        b.     1-2 oz. Glycerin (optional)-drug stores
                        c.     32 oz. Water (left out over night)
                2.     What to do:
                        a.     Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl.
                        b.     Let solution sit for several hours.
                        c.     Dip "bubble tool" of your choice into solution and blow!
        B.    There are numerous types of bubbles to make.
                1.     Swimming pool bubbles are made by using a hoola hoop in the pool and having a small adult or child stand on a block in the center of the pool.  You pull up the 'ring' or 'hoola hoop' and make a bubble around the individual.
                2.     String bubbles are easiest to make with a string tool which is simply a tool that attaches the string to the end of a rod and in a spot close to where your hands would be.  Dipping it in the solution and letting the wind blow the bubble can create extremely large bubbles as much as 40 feet long in some cases.
                3.     Bubble tools of varioius kinds are available at hobby/kids stores.

ChannelPlus

The ChannelPlus product is a Multi-room video, audio and control. Since 1983, ChannelPlus has been the number one brand of whole-house video distribution systems.  I installed a ChannelPlus UHF 3 channel unit in the RV.  This is not a cheap unit at $400 but well worth the investment in my opinion.  This unit brings the following satellite, audio, video, etc. together for your pleasure.

The ChannelPlus basically adds one to four channels to the TV RF cable.  They are UHF channels in my case and can be selected, so that they do not interfere with off-air channels.  There are three audio/video inputs on my ChannelPlus.  I attached the satellite dish audio/video out to the first set of inputs.  The second set is from the VCR audio/video out.  The third set I have plugged in a 3 meter A/V cable that I can use to feed other units that I own such as the Canon ES6000 8MM Camera, Sony GV-S50 Video Walkman (8MM TV/VCR), or the Panasonic DVD-L10 Portable DVD/Video CD/CD Player.

The function of the ChannelPlus unit is to make these additional channels available on all TVs that are attached to the cable.  Thus I can go to the TV up front, in the bedroom, or the outside TV.  You choose the channels you want to add, although there is a default already set for you of 25, 37, 47 or something close to that.  Each TV has these channel selections and does not interfere with other channels, or viewers.   This is really nice so the kids can watch the Disney Channel while we're watching something off-air, or a movie, etc.

Additionally, I've had an outside feed installed next to the incoming cable feed so that I can set a TV on the picnic table for outdoor watching.  This is an easy addition and inexpensive.

Audio

The Sony radio/cassette in our motorhome is 'hot' all the time.  That means it will work with the ignition key off.  It also has a cassette player built in.   Some units have a CD player instead.  We have an add-on CD player we can plug into the cassette unit.  This unit has a four speaker system and is more than satisfactory for our needs.  If you like audio, the sky is the limit of course.   The same audio units that work at home will work in the RV.  The obvious choice these days is the CD player.  CDs are fairly compact and you can carry a nice selection without too much space being wasted.  A search capability on the radio is also a must when you travel.  Off-air AM/FM has proved to be quite a fun thing more than once.  The 'local' information presented is much different than the big city presentations.  You might well hear about a local event that is taking place you'd like to see.  We once learned of an upcoming visit by John Denver on a local radio station and we were very happy that we made the effort to see his show.  His untimely death made that show more than a mere remembrance.

Video

The television that your unit comes with, if so equipped will probably be monaural rather than stereo.  Did your unit come with a VHS 'player'?  This seems to be the standard if you order one and it too will be monaural.  The 'player' puts a real kink in recording something while you are out.  It would appear that the theory here is that this is a recreational vehicle and about all you would ever want to do is to 'play' a tape.  In fact many RV parks rent a minimal selection of tapes.  'Off the air' broadcasts are limited to what is available in the area you are visiting.

I replaced the 12 volt 'player' unit with a 110 volt Hitachi VCR.  This unit particularly was small and it had one feature that I've come to look for.  That feature is a high speed rewind.  Rather than wait forever for a tape to rewind, it quickly senses that the tape is not just being 'backed up' and it goes into a high speed rewind mode.  Nice.

TV - The size is dependant on the available space in your RV and of course what exactly you want in a TV.  Our RV came with a 19" Audiovox monaural set.  Good picture with a channel scanning ability.  The RV was set up for a second TV in the rear bedroom.  It had a 12 volt and 110 volt outlet near the antenna outlet.  If the TV is replaced with a stereo unit then my main consideration will be the available space that the TV is mounted in.  I must select a TV that will fit.

We also had a problem with the rear 'bedroom' TV position.  Coachmen had furnished a mirror that folded down to hold a small TV set.  The shelf was located such that it was invariably hit when we tried to climb into bed.  The TV would not secure in place and therefore was a hazard at all times.  I removed the TV shelf and replaced it with a corner TV cabinet that I saw in some of the more expensive units my dealer had.  If the TV 'cabinet' was in those units, then it could be in my unit was the philosophy.   It fit nicely and moved the TV (now permanently mounted) to the corner of the room up against the ceiling.  Tilted for viewing while in bed, it now is a pleasure.   We installed  a 13" GE color TV we purchased at Sam's for about $130.

Cable - The cable inlet for the TV is usually located in an outside door or under the unit in an access panel for external services.

Antenna - Most RVs come with an 'off the air' antenna that cranks up.   Others are permanently mounted omni-directional antennas that don't need to be cranked up.  These antennas usually also have a 'booster' on them that strengthens the signal input into the TV.  The 'booster' has an on-off switch conveniently located.

Video Switch - Magnedyne makes a video 'switch' that allows you to direct the RF signals  (audio-video)  from three sources to the destination that you want... TV1, TV2, VCR.  Here's how to work it. <CLICK HERE>

Satellite Dish

We have purchased and installed a Winegard Satellite Dish Winegard Model RD-9946 Automatic Mobile Digital Satellite System.  In plain English that boils down to a satellite dish that has a positioner in the cab of the vehicle and when we arrive at a site and level the unit, the next step is to position the satellite.  The dish has a 'search' switch that raises the dish and finds the satellite, locking in on it.   There is a warning device that alerts the driver if the ignition is turned on and the dish is still raised.  There is also a remote 'search' pad that can be mounted in a convenient location if the positioner is not conveniently located.  If the RV is located under tree cover then we simply use the free-standing dish we've purchased, listed below.

Free-standing dish modifications make it much more portable at a cost of less than $5.  Check out my mods... <CLICK HERE>

I am now using the Bullseye dish mount for my free-standing needs.  It attaches to virtually any fixed object, and has a steel stake to drive into the ground to mount it to, if you choose.  It has a level mounted on it to simplify leveling.   I have run a cable from the receiver to the same basic location that the incoming cable is mounted.  This gives me a clean way to attach the remote dish if needed due to the RV being under tree cover, etc. 

Bullseye 'stakeout'

I highly recommend the Bullseye mount.  It is phenomenally simple and easy to set up.  Real 'idiot proof'.

Bullseye stakeout setup on left.  Has built in level.  Mounts on virtually anything to support a satellite dish with a 1 11/16" mast size.  (Adapter to work with Sony.)

 

Freestanding mount alternative: DISH-POD

With a DISH-POD, you can take your 18" or 21" dish satellite with you anywhere. DISH-POD works with all 18" or 21" dish systems to make your dish portable for the best reception possible. Anchors securely with included ground stake and adjustable cord. Quick and easy set up in as little as five minutes. Lightweight and folds compactly for storage. Includes instructions and hardware. USA. Ship Wt. 3.00 lbs.  It would appear that the link to Dish Pod is no longer current.  You get the idea though... such a tripod mount would be one alternative to setting up a dish away from the unit.

Note: You can mount a simple round 'refrigerator level' in the center of the mast which makes leveling the Dish-Pod easier.  There are also several brands and configurations of the tripod mount.  This is just one of them.  I personally like the Bullseye listed above.  It is a better alternative mount for me.

DISH-POD

To ease locating the satellite signal I use a  signal meter such as the Winegard or the Digisat II.

Winegard Signal Strength Meter

The Satellite Signal Meter makes finding the DBS signal a one person operation. A must for users of the Remote/Portable DBS Antenna. No more yelling back and forth out the window! 75 ohm cable connects between your receiver and dish. Helps you to find the correct position for dish to receive the strongest signal. Includes 3' of 75 ohm coaxial. Uses 13-18V DC from receiver. Ship Wt. 1.00 lbs.

DBS Signal
Strength Meter

The new Digisat is a handy pocket size satellite locater and dish alignment tool. The LED display and audible squawker work together to let you quickly know WHERE the DBS satellite is and the LED signal strength bar graph provides instant and accurate dish tracking. An additional circuit in the digisat measures the LNB supply voltage and current consumption.  The Digisat can be powered from the satellite receiver (through the RG-6 cable) or from a 12-18 volt battery pack.

Remember that in an RV you are not nearly on the level, in most cases, that you are at home as far as high level audio video components.  Most RVs have a monaural TV.   You can easily change that to stereo buy buying a better TV and sound system.   That can get expensive.  Buy your satellite dish and receiver accordingly.   If you want AC-3 (an advanced surround sound system), it is available.  We purchased an RCA basic dish for $200 rather than the $400 AC-3 unit.  The sound system in our rig wouldn't handle the AC-3 anyway.

Satellite Dishes come in several flavors.  RCA has a nice simple one, along with Dish Network, PrimeStar, and Sony.   Winegard and Datron produce mobile satellite units.  The can range from a $3,500 Datron-STS which is a full motion tracker system to the simple RCA for $50 at Wal-Mart.  Other brands include but are not limited to Braund Sat-trol TV DBS, EchoStar's Dish Network, Best Made, Moto-Sat and Travel-Sat to name a few. Pro-Brand's DBS To Go is a 14-inch dish that fits in a travel case. The dish affixes to the RV with a suction cup and comes with a compass and wire.

A new era of satellite use has come about now... making Internet a reality for the mobile satellite user.  There are several satellite Internet providers.  Particularly Motosat Datastorm is notable for the mobile qualities.

For further information contact:
Barker Mfg. Co. (Braund Sat-trol) 800-537-9940
Best Made Satellite Systems 209-266-1043
Datron 805-584-1717
JMC Marketing Gp. (Portable Mini-dish Mount) Rick Barfield 912-994-8883
Moto-Sat Royal Lamb 801-972-8869
Perfect 10 501-982-2354
Pro Brand Int'l (DBS To Go) 770-423-7072
Travel-Sat 800-270-1692
Winegard 319-754-0621

Satellite Broadcast Networks
Information regarding the use of a satellite to receive broadcast networks on your dish is located here.
Dish Network    Direct TV

Satellite Internet
Enter the Internet now available on satellite feeds with bi-directional service.  This means that the RVer can now have high speed internet while on the road.  The disk is a little bigger (24"x36") and must be aligned with little tolerance.  The trade-off is worth it.  You get high speed Internet where there was none!  Give a look to Dish Network's offering called Starband Direct or Direct TV's offering called Pegasus Express.

2nd DirectTV Receiver?

Pets

Given time I'll try to cover traveling pet accessories, laws, and plain ol' courtesy... something that pet owners seem to forget much of the time.  Everyone isn't in love with that stupid dog you chose to bring along or they'd have one of their own!   Neither my wife nor I enjoy leaving the neighbor's barking dog at home so we can listen to the barking dog in the campsite... nor is it 'cute' that the dog seems to incessantly lick you, slobber on your clothes, jump up on you, and shit everywhere people want to walk.  My wife and I love dogs... the kind we have owned.  We have had registered Siberian Huskies for many years.  We currently do not have any dogs or cats.  We do have fish.  They stay at home.  Our dogs stayed at home when we had dogs.  If you take your dogs with you, please observe some simple courtesy.  Florida has recently started allowing pets in some parks (12/01/99).  I found a very sensible set of rules on their web page and have copied then here for your ingestion.  <CLICK HERE>


Plumbing - Sewer hookup, water hookup
Electrical - Getting power to the right places in the right quantities
Rig - Basic additions to the unit itself you may want or need
Kitchen - When you fix something to eat it's just like at home with the same needs
Outside the RV - What you'll need to enjoy the great out of doors while RVing


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