Sunny Tackles a Number of RV Projects

Stormy and the Surround Sound

Several of you have asked, “Sunny, what do you do all day while Storm is up to his elbows in airplane rivets?”  From the way the question is posed, I get the impression people picture me lounging in the RV eating bon-bons and watching soap operas all day.  That is HARDLY EVER the case.  In fact, soon after we thawed out this winter I began “helping” Storm by tackling some of the RV projects that he does not have time to address.  Those of you with partners who possess limited mechanical skills similar to the ones I lack, can imagine just how thrilled Storm is to have my “help.”

But I guess he figures having me search for answers on the web is better than having me shop on the web all day.  I will let you be the judge.  Here is a list of projects I have recently taken on.  Would Storm be better off locking up his tools?

Project 1

Amplifier Face Plate
The amplifier face plate fills the hole left in our cabinet wall when I removed the amplifier

The front three speakers of our surround sound system buzz pretty loudly when on and the rear two speakers remain completely silent.  I think the buzzing got worse when Storm ripped out the tooth rattling sub-woofer from our kitchen and replaced it with a paper towel dispenser (click here to see Storm demonstrate the dispenser).  

I accidentally discover the speaker buzz lessens when I bump against the disconnected amplifier above the driver’s seat.  According to my expert consultants, Dean and Storm, the amp powered the aforementioned now trashed sub-woofer.  Storm says trash the amp too if I think I can get it out of the cabinet.  Think I can?? Like a demolition dervish, I grab up a handful of Storm’s tools to pry the amp from its hole and consign it to the dumpster.

The now destroyed amplifier goes into the dump.

To fill the cabinet wall hole left by the amp, I pry the face off of the amplifier before discarding.  The faceplate creates a cleverly disguised hidey hole and provides easy access to the TV wiring.   The remaining much quieter buzz from the speakers appears to be caused by a ground loop in the wiring. 

Prior to my in depth research into the causes of speaker buzz, I thought a ground loop was when a tail-wheel aircraft tried to swap ends and proceed down the runway tail first after a bad landing.  I study the instructions for eliminating an electrical ground loop.  Because troubleshooting this noise requires more understanding of wiring than I possess, I determine that we will just have to hope the ringing in our ears drowns out the now slight speaker buzz.

Problem 2

Our DVD/Surround Sound unit refuses to boot up DVDs in warm weather.  Of course that has not been a problem for us recently, but will soon resurface as the temps climb.  Also the universal remote that controls this player works erratically.  Using the remote is like playing a dexterity game requiring you to push a button before it moves the focus to another button.  Rewinding via the remote is out of the question.  Although I mitigated the speaker buzz somewhat, we are still only getting sound from 3 of the 5 speakers.

Fixing the Surround Sound and Remote

We suffered this same broken DVD player problem when we first bought the coach.  Storm’s solution was to buy a refurbished exact same model of receiver so we would not have to rewire anything.  Not having to figure out the wiring is something that Storm holds dear.  I totally understand as just looking at the rat’s nest of wiring behind our audio equipment makes my stomach a little queasy.  I do know all speakers worked with the original system so my challenge is to figure out what we did wrong when we replaced it.

What kind of error is this?

The obvious answer is to push the tiny button labelled “surround sound” on the the front of the receiver. I press that button and an error appears on the system display: CANNOT.  What in the world kind of error is that???  I immediately Google the error “CANNOT” for my model system.  I find a free manual and hope to discover there the troubleshooting for this error.  Do I?  No, I DO NOT!  But, I do find setup instructions.  Hmmm… I don’t remember Storm and I setting up the replacement when we installed it.

To perform a setup, I must first find the remote for the surround sound.  Do we even have one? Maybe it is in the box where all weird electronics go.  I finally find the remote cowering beneath some old chargers and power supplies.  Now I can proceed with setting up the system.  After setup, I press the tiny “surround sound” button again.  The display now offers me a wide array of speaker options including Orchestra and Movie and all five speakers work!  Plus now we have a working remote to control the sound system.

Replacing the DVD Player

All I have to find now is a temperature influenced way to play DVDs.  Based on advice from Dean, we decide to purchase an inexpensive ($65) Sony Blu-Ray player to replace the DVD portion of the surround sound. The only wire we have to run for the player is an HDMI to the TV. 

Storm fashions a wire puller from a flimsy coat hanger and a long length of string.  Using our special God-given tools, the VLAs (very long arms), Storm and I are able to fish his wire puller through the front space behind our cabinets over the windshield pulling the HDMI cable with it.  Since thanks to Dean, the surround sound is already wired to control all sound from the TV (we have the TV sound turned off), we get all five speakers with the Blu-Ray player too!

Problem 3

Blu-Ray player with Bluetooth receiver Velcroed (is that a word?) on top

Our dashboard radio is old and limits us to AM/FM radio or CDs.  We have been using small bluetooth speakers to play music from our phones when on the road.  This is not ideal as we have to remember to charge the speakers and they often rebel against hooking up to our phones. 

While trying to figure out how to solve problem 2, I spend a lot of time studying the connection options on the back of the surround sound.  A connection that we have not used is an “optical in (aka Toslink).”  Everything I read about this input convinces me that wasting it would be a crying shame.

So I search for a Bluetooth receiver that has an optical out port.  I find one!  This tiny Archeer unit receives the Bluetooth music from our phones and transmits it through the optical cable to our surround sound system.  Now we can rock and roll!  As a bonus, our new bluetooth player has a USB port on the front to plug in this unit for charging.  Serendipity achieved!

Thanks to Dean for all of his great suggestions and forensic research into our audio setup!  Now everyone out of the way.  I need some bon-bons!!!


About Sunny Weathers

Pilot, motorcyclist and full time RVer. Follow me as I travel all over the US in my Country Coach RV volunteering, making new friends and pursuing a constant outdoor temperature between 70F and 80F. I'll share the fun and the tribulations and any great survival tricks I learn!

4 Replies to “Sunny Tackles a Number of RV Projects”

  1. All those wires and I would NOT get along very well. Congratulations for sticking with it. One of those things that nothing works no matter what you do, then all of a sudden everything works and you wonder why. But wisely take the attitude that now it it Ain’t broke then DON’T try to fix it anymore. :>) Way to go kid, you got more patience than I do. GOD BLSSS


    1. Sunny Weathers says: Reply

      I agree about the wires. That is why it took us over a year before either one of us was willing to try to fix this stuff. Thanks for the support, I am definitely leaving it alone now :-)

  2. LOL! Now you’re an expert and because of the update to your blog people will be breaking down your RV doors seeking help with their Audio/Visual systems ;)

    1. Sunny Weathers says: Reply

      Oh I think I am far from expert status. I am probably just lucky no one got hurt :-) I sure could not have done it without your help! Thanks again!

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