Thursday, December 22, 2011

Swapping out & Upgrading the TV to HDTV

My neighbor David (who has been mentioned here before) and I frequently discussed our frustration with the stock TV’s installed in our Outlaws.  In the spring of 2010 we both concluded that we could and would find and upgrade the main wall mounted 26” TV, and over entry door 19”, TV’s with flat panel HD’s to improve the quality.  So, this modification is specific to both a 2008 & 2009 Damon Outlaw 3612 model motor home.

Our criteria was a) HDMI capable Flat panel with low profile (no more than 2 inches) b) maximum width of 36” for the main wall / 32” for the over entry door and c) comparable with a wall mount system.

Our search led us to the LG series.  Because these HD TV’s seem to change so much I won’t bother with the model numbers.  We also obtained two different types of mounts from our local electronic store (Altech) in San Antonio.  For the wall, it is a wall mounted, flat back, with a swivel and 18” extension arm.  For the doorway, the bracket is a simple flat back, swivel arm with a 12” extension.

As an aside, 2 days after both of our installs were complete, the LG Surround Sound Bar came on sale at our local Best Buy and both of us purchased and added them to the wall mount TV in this modification. They were not part of the original planning.

If you want the specifics on any of these parts, drop me a note and I will happily reply.

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The following discusses the main wall (stock) TV replacement only.  The entry door replacement will be described separately.

The main wall stock TV is enclosed in a recessed wall space surrounded by a wood trim piece held in place by four (4) screws.  The TV was mounted on a flat metal. side mounted “H” frame, held in place by 24 screws (12 along the top and bottom).  Frankly, removing the original TV was the most difficult part of the dismantling process as the TV was not on any kind of a swivel or extension arm and we had to use long handle drives to remove the mounting screws.  The combined weight of the two pieces was about 30 pounds – far higher than either of us expected; so be cautious.    The stock frame was discarded and the TV saved for future use as an outside TV.         Life is tuff eh?

(*) The photo depicts the stock wall trim & clearance with the slide in the closed position.

Once the TV and mount were removed, the area behind the TV was cleaned up (dusted!); the cables were identified (Expect loads of AV, cable, and power cables) and organized.  The next step was to prep and tape off an area 10” wide from the right edge of the recess of the cabinet wall for black paint.  The purpose here was to provide an illusion that the recess actually extended further to the right then the original when the (new) TV was extended from the wall at a viewing angle.



Damon confirmed that the recess area is constructed of 2 x 4” framing with a ¾” plywood backing, with an additional dead space of 2-2 ½ “ between the rear framing and the interior wall for the bathroom.

The new wall mount was measured and mounted with sixteen (16)  SS screw (1/4 “ x 5/8” ) bolts into the stock plywood backing in the recessed area.  Take note that the mount “may not” (and definitely was not in our case) be the center of the cabinet, rather the center of the TV in relation to the center of the wall measured from edge to edge (in other words measure from the wall edge nearest the hall to the edge of the interior wall near the slide).  As you’ll note in the photo, my bracket is closer to the top right edge than the center of the recess – yours may vary.



I then mounted a power strip along the inside edge of the interior area to power the TV, the sound bar (more on this later), and an anticipated PC printer added in a later modification.  The power strip is powered from a standard electrical connection already located in the recess. A battery operated light strip was also placed along the inside edge of the recess to provide some addition light in this low-light environment when necessary.



After installing the mount, the original cables were run through the channels of the mount and the TV was mounted to the extension arm.


To secure the TV during travel (you don’t want it to swing out and hit the slide during travel, right?), I installed two “J” shaped hooks, one on the top and bottom, of the recessed area.  Painted black they blend into the background and a simple piece of cloth (or a bungee cord) is used to wrap from the hooks, across the front of the TV prior to travel, to hold it in place.
(*) The "J" Hooks are located in the center top and bottom of this photo 1/4" from the leading edge of the recess frame.


That completed the installation.





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SOUND BAR addition.

As I mentioned above, 2 days after completing the change out, the LG Sound Bar option came on sale at our local Best Buy.  After looking at them, and listening to an in store demonstration, I was sold on the idea that it was worth the cost to have a surround sound system option for the main TV.

The sound bar is mounted with two screw-in type brackets and can be located along the underside edge at the bottom of the wall recess.  The bar is mounted by slipping the power bar over and into the brackets.  The power cable, and associated power bar to TV cable can be run to the power strip and TV with no impact on the range of motion for the TV.  The accompanying sub-woofer is wireless and was placed behind the passenger side seat towards the front of the motor home.



The black cable on the left of the photo was later routed out-of-sight, and the gray cable shown in the photo is a Blu Ray cable from a later installation / addition of a printer, removable table, and Blu Ray player located under the TV area.  (Yet another modification to be posted later).

I hope this helps you if you decide to upgrade your own stock TV to HDMI, and please let me know if I can answer any additional questions.

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