Choosing and Installing Digital to Analog Converter in a RV (Motorhome)

I am a full-time RV'er and my motorhome is my "home". We have a 2003 model with 2 analog sets (one located in the livingroom, the second in the bedroom). Both sets receive local antenna signal from a rooftop antenna and that signal is fed into a control box, (located in a compartment next to the living room tv), and from that control box, the signal is split and made available to be viewed on/through each of the two televisions and to the VCR receiver.

To explain the control box a little further, it takes each type of broadcast (antenna, satellite, cable, vcr, dvd) and makes each available to each of the two televisions by way of a switch (push-button) on the front of the control box. So if I want to watch satellite tv on the living room (TV #1) set, I push the satellite button choice under TV1 and the satellite signal now is sent from the satellite receiver to the living room TV. Then if I choose to have, say, antenna broadcast in the bedroom, I simply push the antenna button choice under TV2 and the antenna signal is sent to the bedroom tv. I also have a choice to feed satellite, antenna, or cable broadcast to the VCR.

I need to have the antenna signal converted to digital for each TV and the VCR. I had hoped I could install a converter box between the antenna and the control box, converting the signal for the control box to send to each of the televisions and the VCR, but am reading that the converter box operates as a tuner as well with a remote control to change the channel. This will not work for viewing digital signal in the bedroom if the box is installed in the living room.

Do they make a converter box that simply converts the signal and allows the channels to be selected on the set???

If not, can you think of a solution for me? I am thinking that I need to convert the signal to each of the two televisions and also convert the signal to the VCR (located in the living room, in the same compartment as the control box) so that I can record local programming broadcast in digital format.

Oui vey....this is getting so confusing.....HELP!!!!!


Jason Fritz

Staff member
Hi Joanne,
Great question! It looks like you have a couple of different options to get yourself ready for digital television.

Option #1:
Since both televisions are connected from a single antenna, your your first option will be to add a digital-to-analog converter box inline before the connection into the control box.

This would probably be the easiest and most cost effective option. You'll only have to purchase one converter box, and installation would be relatively easy because you can remove your coax/RF connection from your antenna to your control box and plug it into which ever converter box you purchase. You'll then have to run a coax/RF cable from the output of the converter box to the input of your control box which will plug in where the antenna input used to be plugged in.

As for your VCR, I'm guessing that you like to record shows from it? You can split the signal three ways, and have the third output connecting to the VCR. This most likely isn't a good option since you'll have to watch whatever you're recording on the two other TVs. You might want to think about purchasing a seperate converter for the VCR? If you only watch VHS tapes from your VCR; you won't have to purchase a converter box for it, since there's no analog broadcast signal.

The Con's of Option #1: You will only be able to watch the same channel on both TVs at the same time when you're receiving broadcast signals from the converter box. Also, the location of the converter box will be important, because that will be where you have to aim the remote when you change the channel.

Option #2:
Purchase three converter boxes. Ack! That sounds horrible, but you've got a lot of analog equipment to convert to digital. Choosing this route would give you the ability to locate a converter box at each TV in your RV, and one at your VCR. This would give you the freedom to watch seperate channels on each TV, and record a different over-the-air television show on your VCR.

The Con's: The cost! Even with two $40 converter box coupons from the government, you'll have to pay for the third set top box out of pocket plus the difference in cost after using coupons for the other boxes. There's also the inconvenience of providing power to the boxes, and while I think of it, the heat from the extra electronic equipment inside your RV will be a factor too.

I hope this helped a little bit, if anyone else has any ideas as well, please post away. Joanne, if you have any other questions, let us know!
Thanks Jay for the research and suggestions. I have applied for the coupons for converters for two sets, and think that when I get them I will do the following.

Purchase one converter box that will be installed inline before the controller box. This way we will have digital television with ease to use the remote in our main living area. It will also give me, as you pointed out in option #1, the ability to view digital broadcast on our second television in the bedroom. I will just have to set the channel that we will be watching before we go to bed.

As far as the VCR goes, we rarely record programming, but when we do it will pick up the converted signal from the inline converter because it is receiving its broadcast signal through the controller box as well.

Later, if we see that we need the ability to change channels often or watch a different broadcast station in the bedroom than what is being viewed in the living room, we decided that we would probably upgrade our VCR to a new combo DVR/VCR with an integrated ATSC digital tuner. We would then watch local broadcast television running through the DVR/VCR in the living room and install the converter box in the bedroom. A little costly, but a way to elliminate one piece of equipment and free up a little more space in a cabinet!

Anyway, thanks again for all your help. I'll post a follow-up later after we get a converter box advising on my results.



DTV converter hooked in directly from antenna

This will not work in a motorhome if the antenna is a winegard powered antenna - the 12 volts to the antenna will burn out the DTV converter. Read the reply I gave to the other motorhome problem