Oh, the dreaded switch from analog to digital TV… The FCC, broadcasters, retailers and politicians made it sound so good. “Digital is better!” and “You will ALWAYS have a crystal clear picture!” and on and on… Boy, did we get sold a bill of goods!
Yes, digital TV does have better clarity – I love the high def – but it comes at a cost. It can be a pain in the as* for campers. If the signal wanes too much, you don’t simply get “snow” like in the old analog days.. You end up with an annoying stutter and no picture. Lots of things can kill the signal, too. The leaves on the trees, even semi trucks going by, etc. can blank out the screen. Did we really come that far?
For the most part, I’ve been happy with broadcast TV in the van. I’m using the boomerang style TV antenna which you can find on EBay for about $60. Once the signal comes into the van, it is amplified with a Radio Shaft brand powered amplifier system and passed on the to TV. It’s a pretty effective setup but there are those times in the boonies when more signal is desirable.
For some time, I have contemplated adding a removable antenna mast that would get the antenna up a little higher and still be stealthy when not in use. The antenna would need to be stored inside and only used when the van would be stationary. Today while painting the solar panel mounting boards, an idea came to mind… Why not mount a PVC stealth mast to the ladder rack support?
Here is what I came up with… A two piece mast that sticks up a little over three feet above the van.
Some time ago, while working at the Home Depot, I would loiter in the plumbing aisle looking at 2 foot, pre-cut lengths of PVC pipe. Like a typical male who never grew past playing with Fisher Price toys, I used to slide the 1″ pipes inside the 1.25″ pipes and marvel at how smoothly they fit. I knew there had to be an application for something like this..
The two pipes are secured together by running a fastener through a hole drilled all the way through them. I used a two inch long, 1/4 – 20 bolt and a simple wingnut. When trying to install the antenna for the first time, I stood in the doorway of the van and, using both hands, tried to put the hardware together. I dropped the bolt, lost my balance and almost fell on my ass.