Thursday, May 24, 2012

TV surgery

Old glass tube TV's never die, they just get thrown away. The is a very well loved Searay 48' sedan bridge, and the bad news is that it has an old electron beam gun TV inside of it. The good news is there isn't a VCR built into it. It works okay, but the coax splitter behind all of the gear has crapped out resulting in poor pictures on the other sets in the boat, and the sound quality is less than stereophonic.

The real trick in replacing older entertainment stuff is in not making the new electronics look out of place, and giving it, as much as possible a "factory made" appearance. The devil is all in the details.

In this project, the old TV has been ripped out. A flat panel LED TV is going to be attached with an articulating mount on a new cabinet door that will cover the huge hole that is left. A lot of new storage space will also be gained. A sound bar and sub-woofer will be added, along with a new DirecTV receiver for the Seatel satellite system. We will also add a input jack for Ipods, and Iphones to use for tunes, and upgrade the video feeds to the DVD player from composite to component video.

I always like to start with the hardest part of the job first, and get it out of the way. In this case it is the new cabinet door. This had to be perfect in appearance and fit, along with being sturdy enough to carry the moment loads of the TV when it was cantilevered out away from the door. To make the door, my skilled carpenter friend Joe Boyer came out and measured the opening with his tape measure. This was done because tape measures vary slightly, and since he was cutting the door it needed to be his tape measure that had to be used.

The original cabinetry opening was cut with a CNC router, and it was dead square. The new door had an additional requirement, and that was the need for a close to a zero reveal at the bottom. The reason for this was twofold. The first was no matter what we did, the bottom non-hinged side of the door would eventually sag because of the TV's weight thus screwing up the edge reveals. The second reason was that I didn't want the bottom of the door bouncing up and down on the cabinet frame when things were rocking and rolling during inclement conditions.  The new 3/4" cabinet grade plywood door was cut out on a good table saw, and then taken to Delcraft Acrylics where Bob routed out a piece of black 1/8" acrylic for the face of the door. The acrylic panel edges were polished, and the face was then bonded to the plywood.

A stainless steel piano hinge was used to attach the door with long screws. A magnetic push in to release catch was installed at the bottom of the door, and a barrel bolt latch was used at the top of the door to insure it couldn't pop open if things got bouncy. It looked great, and the polished black acrylic face worked well with the boat's interior finish. Punch some holes, hang the mount and TV, and it's now tunes time.

For thumping tunes a Polk Audio  sound bar system was used. This genre of gear uses a wireless connection to the sub-woofer. This saves you the painful exercise of having to pull an audio cable. The sound bar is low profile, and can mount in a wide variety of locations.

The sub-woofer was placed under the settee, and restrained by a battery strap set. 110VAC was acquired from an engine room outlet, with the help of about 15' of extra wire, and a little bit of splicing.
This little box is the star of the show. The boat had a very old DirecTV receiver, and it now has a shiny new one. Here's the catch. The new receivers no long have the old fashioned screw on coax fitting marked "To TV". I mean who would ever directly connect your fancy TV to the receiver that way, when you have HDMI, and optical audio? The little Steren box costs about $15 bucks give or take a few, and takes the composite video output from the DirecTV receiver, converts it to coax RF. You can then plug it into the boat's cable backbone splitter. In this case the brand new splitter. A great picture, low cost, and simple implementation. This is a winner.

In the end it worked out great despite some initial trepidation on my part. A little synapse iteration, and patience by the owners yielded good solutions for all of the aesthetic issues. It looks like it has always been there. A bungee cord is used to restrain the TV during travel. It attaches  to stainless steel eyes behind the set.

The articulation offered by the mount is terrific. The set can swivel out and point forward toward the dinette, and galley. It swivels in the other direction to allow TV to be watched from the cockpit.

There is still a little clean up to do. The exposed wire harness behind the TV will get covered with black split loom. The cabinet door will get a black handle to facilitate opening it, and the new storage cabinet will get a full coat of black paint, with mesh attached to the top of the new backboard keeping Captain Morgan, and  his mate Sailor Jerry from attempting to escape.

See, it's possible to let the shag carpet, harvest gold appliances, and pole lamps go. You can update your toy without making it look cheesy. It also bumps your resale value if you do it right. 

"I think life should be more like TV. I think all of life's problems ought to be solved in 30 minutes with simple homilies, don't you? I think weight and oral hygiene ought to be our biggest concerns. I think we should all have powerful, high-paying jobs, and everyone should drive fancy sports cars. All our desires should be instantly gratified. Women should always wear tight clothing, and men should carry powerful handguns. Life overall should be more glamorous, thrill-packed, and filled with applause, don't you think?" Calvin talking to Hobbes about TV. It was written, and drawn by Bill Watterson. Damn I miss them.

1 comment:

  1. Nice job, Bill. Very clean look. Probably the most expensive TV install of their life...but the end result is great.
    You are so right about Calvin and Hobbes....out of the mouth of babes (and tigers). Best cartoon ever...


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