Wednesday, July 16, 2014

I Want My RVTV! - Installing A 12V TV Amplifier

    Finally! I got around to installing a +25dB TV antenna amplifier. I've had it for well over a year, and simply haven't gotten around to it. Been watching digital media from a USB drive mostly or some DVDs I still use. Now that HD signals are OTA (Over The Air) which means free...I figured I should try and get them on screen. I've already got a "Boomerang" antenna and there used to be an amplifier installed long ago...before I owned the RV, I also have a digital TV receiver box. Make sure you have one! Or your TV receives digital channels. So how hard could it be to put a new one in?

I've been putting it off mainly because I didn't want to remove the LCD Monitor I use as a TV display. It's been rattle I've been procrastinating! Well...not anymore! With the proliferation of HD OTA signals floating around, I should be able to receive SOMETHING in many of the places I visit. Without some type of amplifier I had to be almost on top of the antenna to get any picture at all. Unlike old style Analog TV signals, Digital is an "all or nothing" affair. Either you have a nice picture or no picture at all! So I did some research and found a nice 25dB amplifier online for around $20.00. It's small, runs on 12 Volts and can be mounted almost anyplace.

So, here we go! Since I have A LOT of space behind my flat screen LCD monitor (the old CRT Tube-type TV took up MUCH more space, I try and install anything I don't have to get to easily behind it. (Of course, eventually I'll be adding some kind of hinge and latch assembly so it can actually be USED for additional storage.) First, figure out where you want to put the amplifier. It's best to find out where the antenna coax cable ends and locate it pretty close by. Make sure it will be easy to find 12 Volt power nearby as well. This may not be possible with your setup, so you may need to run power and/or coax cable around.

Disconnect your NON-POWERED antenna lead from your receiver or switch-box and connect it to the amplifier's IN terminal. Then run a new cable from the OUT terminal back to where you removed the original antenna cable. Sounds complicated, but really isn't. You may already have a power switch for an amplifier installed, if one! You should NOT leave this connected 24/7 as it will be a drain on your batteries. Connect the ground wire to ground (DUH!) and then run the power lead from the amplifier to the switch. You can use crimp-on terminals or you could solder it on.

The Switch And Amp Connected For TESTING!
If your wiring will NOT be accessible when you are done it is ESSENTIAL you have a solid connection because I will guarantee that once you close everything up and drive down the road, it will begin to disconnect itself. Now take the other terminal on the switch and connect it to your 12 Volt power source. This device uses very little current, so almost any "hot" 12 volt lead will work.  In my install, I located the leads and the box very close to the switch, so I wouldn't use too much wire. I had lots of coax antenna cable around, so I used that to get the signal to the digital TV receiver.

My switch was also internally lit, so it required a little bit more wiring so it would actually LIGHT up when it was on. This way I don;t forget to turn it off when I'm done using it. (Don't ask...)

Then affix the amplifier to a convenient spot using two small screws. I used self tapping wood screws as it was the easiest. The amplifier is only a few ounces, so they will be more than strong enough, even with all the road vibrations.

I cannot stress this enough:


I ended up re-opening everything, because I forgot to tighten the coax connections and tape the connections.

Results? Not too bad. In the location that I am parked, I was getting ZERO channels with my digital TV receiver. Now I have four. Hey, it's better than none, right? I imagine if the RV was turned (the antenna is FIXED in place), I could get more. Hmmm...How about figuring out a way to be able to rotate the antenna?? Maybe in a year or two!

The picture looks really nice in HD coming from the digital receiver. I have the audio going through the stereo system. Sounds great and uses very little power.

If you have an antenna and it ISN'T connected to a powered amplifier, this is a really nice retrofit. Don't be scared of the lengthy instructions. It was very simple. if you have access to the wiring without taking your RV apart, it will go much faster.

Be Seeing You...Down The Road,

Rich "The Wanderman"


  1. Is that one of the ones they sell at the truck stops? It looks alot like the one I have in my camper that I since disconnected because I was losing signal when it was off because I was in an area where the signal was stronger and in some cases, it just over powered it.

    1. Matt,
      I ordered this amp from an online supplier. They mostly carry 12 Volt electronics for Limos. This was the one recommended for use with a trunk mounted boomerang style antenna. I have seen no signal loss (well I am certain there is a little!) with it off, and lots better when it's on, especially in fringe areas. I will be testing it more fully as I travel around to various locations.

      Rich "The Wanderman"


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