Tuesday, 5 June 2012

TV on board

I think I may have sussed out the TV issue.

I think, so long as a few basic principles are are followed, it's quite simple really. I found on Amazon a 16" 12v/240v portable LED tv made by Cello and retailed by Mr LCD.

At about £170, it's not the cheapest on the market but has all the bells and whistles to watch telly, listen to the radio, play DVDs, connect to your laptop, etc. The sound is good for a small telly, the picture is clear and brilliant and provided you keep the screen angled towards you, you don't get that bleached-out appearance. Time will tell if the extra cost will pay-off (I may never know) but I am pleased with it. btw, its already gone up £10 since I bought it but you may be able to find it somewhere cheaper. There are of course many other suppliers - take your pick!

The blurb for my set:

Stylish Design and Modern LED Technology for Superb Contrast.
This stunning little set is packed with features - Analogue and Freeview Tuners,
Multi Region DVD, Hidden Speakers, High Gloss Piano Black, USB record allows you to pause live tv and set the tv to record while you are out
1440 x 900 Resolution Widescreen HDMI / Scart / PC input / CI Slot Auto Search / Auto Shutdown Sleep timer Audio inputs / Digital coax sound / Headphone socket output
12v TV - This TV is suitable for caravans/Motor homes/trucks and boats
USB memory stick required for USB recording
Dimensions 29H / 39.5W / 8.5D CM
Power consumption tv- 20w/1.68a DVD 24w/2a
Manufactured by: Teinuro
LED Backlit Display for Better Contrast
Multi Voltage 12v/230v - Ideal for Caravans
Built in Freeview and DVD
Pause Live TV and USB recording
12-30v DC power surge protection adaptor included free

At the time I bought it, I also ordered a neat little tv bracket to attach it to the wall for about £10. Obviously the tv has its own table stand, but I thought this would take up too much room in the boat, so opted for the wall mount. It has to match the screw fittings of the set - in this case four screws set at 100mm centres. This may be fairly standard but needs checking.

I have located the set under the breakfast bar so, during the day it folds away out of sight and out of harms way, and in the evening, it just folds out at seated head height.

When I came to wire the thing into the 12v system, I found that I had only been sent the 240v transformer. This meant that, even with a bit of crafty rewiring of the plug, I could not get the thing to work. I tested it at home, so I knew it worked off a standard 240v system and roof top aerial, but I could not get it to work on the boat. The poor reception on the boat does not help the setting up process because you aren't always sure if a problem is the set, the aerial, your wiring or the poor signal - more about that later. Anyway, I rang Mr LCD and Mike, the kind LCD man, posted a 12v transformer in the next post. It worked a treat.

Turning to the aerial, I took the advice of the company ATV (stands for Aerials and TV's). See http://www.aerialsandtv.com/

Their website is comprehensive - it seems to contain everything you could ever what to know about aerials, and is written in a simple to understand and humorous style - in particular, it covers boats, caravans and lorries. I strongly recommend it. Anyway, it just so happens that the bloke who runs the company had a boating holiday in the fens some years ago and got to know the problems of trying to get a tv signal into a steel boat that is cruising often below sea level. Following his years of research, sales and feedback (and a bit of of trial and error I guess), he has come up with the best aerials for the job. Incidentally, he makes some quite derogatory comments about omi-directional aerials - you need to make your own mind up after you have read what he says about them.

I opted for the smallest, most basic one given the signal from the Sandy Heath transmitter near Bedford is good. His site lists every transmitter in the country along with their polarity, maps of their coverage and lots of other interesting stuff. Knowing the polarity lets you know if your aerial should be installed horizontally or vertically - very important to get this right - and the map lets you work out what direction to point it in!

The aerial I bought was the DM Log periodic which is the correct aerial for strong signal areas for any transmitter. The 25 squid was not bad compared to other High Street or contractors aerials. I also bought a metal bracket and a 1m aluminium pole for attaching it to the roof. After some fairly basic coaxial connections (including the new F connectors), I was ready for ignition and lift off. Nothing. Lots more checking of connections, pointing the aerial in slightly different directions (checking my compass and where other people are pointing theirs), more checking F connectors (they seem to wear loose with frequent use). Still nothing. A chat with a nice man in a traditional TV/electrical shop in Ely suggested my location, downstream of the main railway line and next to various buildings and bridges could be the problem so I re-tried the kit when I got back to Lazy Otter. With a good 'view' of Sandy Heath (such a nice boy!), the picture not only came through after the first attempt but it was brilliant. Job done.

The only modification I am planning is to wire in a variable signal booster for those places where the reception is poor. I bought this on Amazon from Maxview for just short of 20 squid(also being sold at Crick last weekend so must have some followers) . Being variable means it can be set according to the strength of the signal. It could be that there will places, like at Lazy Otter, that won't need it, whereas others like the riverside at Ely, that will. The man in the TV shop said digital signals are so good now, aerial fitters are tending to fit more gizmo's that moderate the signal rather than boost them. Anyway, we will see what the effect is once I have fitted it. 

I can't take any credit for the set up because I have been given lots of advice from the two companies already mentioned and people like Peter and Viviene who have a similar system that works in the fens. As I said at the start, provided a few basic principles are followed, I think anyone can sort out a simple tv set up. If I can do it, anyone can. I'm not sure about how to use the DVD player yet and as to linking it to a laptop, well, that's something for another day.

If anyone would like more details or a set of photos, just let me know.   

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