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RV External Wiring

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#1 Namlak

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 01:27 AM

Forgive me if this is in the wrong place but it seemed the closest fit. Moderators feel free to move it if needed.

I've recently acquired a small RV trailer with the intention of using it as a base station out at the dark sky site (typically Mt Pinos, CA). I'll be imaging most of the time. I'm looking for a good way to run power and USB cables out from the interior to the scope that will be set up nearby.

I've investigated some panel-type connectors but I think the easiest route might be to run a 1.5" or 2" PCV pipe through the wall of the RV with appropriate amounts of silicon sealer and simply run cables through, capping it off with a threaded end-cap when not in use.

Does anyone have any words of wisdom or lessons learned with regards to running cables out of an RV? Thanks in advance!

#2 Alex McConahay

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 08:33 AM

I would suggest that you look into one of the various doors you have hiding the storage compartments. They are already covering a protected area. Instead of having the plugs, jacks, etc. exposed to the external elements, you can have them behind a somewhat weatherproof door. TO use them, you simply open the door, and do your thing. Failing that, you may want to form a connection box by cutting a new door and installing a complete box to hold the connectors. You can buy the doors and boxes and such from Camping World and other RV suppliers.

Alex

#3 David Pavlich

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 08:57 AM

You might consider running the wiring and conduit through the floor. You may want to sell the RV at some point and having a chunk of conduit sticking out of the side would be a lot harder to repair than a hole in the floor inside a cabinet or some such thing.

David

#4 1965healy

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 10:18 AM

I'd go with some thing like a dryer vent that has a sort of hood on it to shed water. You can stash it inside a cabinet near where you'll position your computer etc. Looks like a normal thing from the outside, it's large enough to get a bunch of cables thru and you can store the cables in the cabinet when not in use. You can rig a little cover for the inside of the cabinet to keep out elements and critters when not in use. The fewer connectors you have the better from a "fail" aspect the better so while the idea of having a "panel" on the outside seems elegant and sexy remember that you need to solder or find a lot of specialty adapters for all those connections plus the corresponding ones on the other panel on the inside that you need to plug all the inside stuff to. What you need is a long umbilical cord, probably 50 feet with 12V, USB, serial etc. Lay out everything you have (or hope to have) to connect the computer, the scope, cameras, dew busters etc on paper or better yet for real in a large area where you can walk around it and really look at it. Then imagine adding about 50 feet to those various cables. Once you're sure of what you need you can try locating the needed cables locally or online. If you're handy you can build them yourself or consider having them made by a fabricator. You'll need to make sure that you shield your power cables from your data lines etc. It also needs to protected against the environment, dew, rocks, boots in the dark of night etc. Consider doing as much "connecting" as you can wirelessly, Bluetooth etc to cut down on physical connections. Have fun!

#5 Tom Andrews

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 11:30 PM

My wife and I lived in a motorhome for 5-1/2 years. My other hobby is ham radio. I needed to run cables to the roof and I did just as you mentioned with PVC pipe. I used expanding foam around the PVC to seal it plus once it cured, the foam locked the PVC into place. I then caulked around it on the roof to hide the foam from the sun. Using two 90-degree connectors (elbows) glued together with some insulation stuffed in the end around the cables created a weather/critter-proof installation. Now that we are selling the RV, I removed the elbows and capped the PVC.

You could do the same through the wall with a single elbow. But I agree with others, if you can bring the cables out through a storage compartment or the floor, it will be more weather-proof and unseen. You could put PVC through the floor and cap it when not in use.

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#6 Tom Andrews

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 11:30 PM

Close-up.

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#7 David Pavlich

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 10:47 AM

A good fix for your needs, Tom! Do you give it a shot of bug killer once in a while just in case?

David

#8 Namlak

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 03:06 PM

Great info!

I like the idea of using one of the cargo doors and putting in a "patch panel" but the only external door on the trailer is at the opposite end from the table.

At this point, I'm leaning towards a 2" PVC port (room for connectors, etc) with an elbow going from under the table, through the seat box and out the floor with a threaded end for a cap when not in use.

#9 Mary B

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Posted 05 January 2013 - 08:49 PM

Hardline from the motorhome? Running VHF?

#10 Canada_LX10

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Posted 17 February 2013 - 10:59 AM

What about the same door that the main RV power cable comes out of? It snaps shut and has a small passageway for the cable to run through. It is an actual 'RV' designed part so it wouldn't look suspicious to anyone buying the unit later. Probably only a few bucks too. Just make sure you get the tape sealant to put behind it.

#11 Namlak

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Posted 19 February 2013 - 12:43 AM

Thanks for that suggestion but I ended up installing a 2” PVC pipe with two 45-degree elbows (to make threading cables through easier than a 90) so that I have a port at the seat-box face and leading out the floor. I glued on a threaded end so I can put an end-cap on for when not in use. Everything is glued and siliconed in for a weatherproof seal.

I got to try it out last week and it works great. I also drilled a 2” hole in my table and fit a desk-grommet in it so that laptop cables can go straight across the table and down to the exit port without danger of catching my feet on them.






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