When I left for Mexico last November, I suspended my DISH Network subscription since American DISH channels were not available in Mexico. So, when I got back to Chicago earlier this month, since I had not been watching much of any TV over the past 4 months, I thought it’d be a good time to finally “cut the cable” and try going with just over-the-air (OTA) television for awhile and supplementing that with a $7.99/mo Netflix DVD subscription (and renting occasional Redbox movies too if desired).
So far, with Chicago’s 50+ OTA channels, this approach has been working just great and I’m enjoying the $60/mo savings! Now, I think I’ll be cancelling DISH permanently and selling the Winegard Carryout, ladder mount, and DISH receiver.
I’ve loved my new J floorplan tremendously so far, except for one issue-- the default TV position above the door. You’re forced to only sit in the dinette benches and crane your neck up to the ceiling to watch TV!
Another full-timing challenge is how to best do my photo editing. I’ve got a 26” NEC pro photo monitor at the house that I would REALLY like to bring full-timing in the View, but I just can’t justify the added weight and space unless it could do double-duty and replace the View’s TV as well.
Fortunately, I’ve now figured out a way to do just that and solve both problems. As an added bonus, this solution will also even give me some cool DVR capabilities as well so I can record shows when I’m in larger metro areas and watch them later when I’m in the boonies!
Here’s the new setup:
The monitor is mounted onto a heavy-duty HP articulating arm (actually a rebranded Ergotron LX) that clamps onto the dinette table and allows the monitor to be positioned high, low, near, far, or even swung around to be viewed from the rear bed!
Windows users have a lot of options when it comes to TV Tuners. But for us Mac folks, we currently only have one solution—a SiliconDust HDHomeRun Dual Tuner (HDHR-4). Fortunately, it’s a high-quality, small, lightweight box that works really well!
While the HDHomeRun can be used with the free VLC media player software, that solution was a bit clunky to change channels and seemed to pixelate more channels than a normal TV set. But once I bought the recommended Elgato EyeTV 3 software ($79), those problems were eliminated and TV-watching via the Mac is now a fantastic experience!
EyeTV 3 has a terrific interface that is more readable and functional than my old DISH DVR receivers (which I had been happy with for years)!
All features are accessible using a simple Apple Remote and my old eyes appreciate the large, easy-to-read text! EyeTV lets you pause live TV, record it to your Mac, and offers a variety of program guide and scheduling features.
Channel changing can be done from the Apple Remote itself, or via the quick-scroll selector above.
The Program Guide is delivered via TVGuide and is free for the first year (and $20/yr after that).
To set up the system, I just unscrewed the existing Jensen TV’s cable from the Antenna booster (in the cabinet above the sink on a J model), and plugged in a new TV cable to run to my HDHomeRun box.
When an HDHomeRun is installed in a typical home setting, it is usually attached via an Ethernet cable to a Wifi Router. Computers, tablets, etc can then access the TV signal via a wired LAN or wireless Wifi connection. But since I’ll just be using the HDHomeRun with one computer/monitor in the RV, I just connect it directly to my Mac with an Ethernet cable.
The HDHomeRun is not much bigger than the tee tiny Apple Remote!
For sound, I could just have it play right through my Mac laptop speakers. But, since I updated my cab stereo to a Sony Bluetooth model, I can stream the sound from my Mac to play through my stereo speakers!
Even better, I can flip the toggle switch in the RV to “Radio” and allow the cab stereo to also use the 2 speakers and subwoofer in the center of the coach so that I now have a full “surround sound” experience just like home!
The final bit of coolness to complete the system is an iPhone app called TV Towers USA that lets you see the coverage area of every free OTA TV station in the US, and also includes a compass to help you know exactly which way to point your RV antenna to get the strongest possible signal (additionally, both HDHomeRun and EyeTV provide signal meters per station to aid in getting the antenna into the best position).
I’ll likely be removing the over-the-door Jensen TV to reclaim the 20 lbs of cargo weight capacity, and will tidy up the HDHomeRun installation so that Millie and I aren’t tripping over cables. I’ll also probably make a slipcover for the monitor to keep it as free from dust as possible when not in use and/or being transported.
Awesome sauce! I am one happy “gadget girl” today with this new setup!