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A Custom Audio Video Cabinet for my RV.

When we bought our Thor Four Winds 28z motorhome, one of the things I immediately knew was that I would have to improve the Audio/Video cabinet as the existing one was - shall we say - lame? It merely existed of a Quest QS53D AV switch mounted into the bottom of an empty cabinet with 120VAC power connection as well as composite video connector tot he main TV in the salon (Video + Left + Right).

This setup was marginal and let's not even get to thinking about HDMI, which in 2011 should have been installed rather than a RF/CATV type switch. But it is what it is, and I'm going to make the most of it. Afterall, the big picture is still camping - not a luxury suite at the finest NYC hotel... so some sacrifices must be made I suppose.

So my goal was to add the functionality of a DVD/Blu-Ray player, perhaps our ancient XBox video game system, as well as the nifty Winegard Sensar Pro antenna tuner.

And as long as we are at it, a provision to turn off the DC powered devices would also be great for boondocking so I am not unnecessarily wasting DC power.

So, with these ideas in mind, I came up with a conceptual idea of how the AV Cabinet should be layed out:

 

 

As it turned out, this is pretty much how I did the project. The only real differences are that I had to split the two side pieces into two pieces that bolted together (with blind nuts) as I could not fit a "L" shaped piece into the cabinet. So the woodworking consisted of 4 pieces. The left and right front piece, and the left and right side pieces. And I ended up extending the right-side face over a bit to completely enclose the cabinet.

I am not including dimensions as they would certainly not be the same for your RV (and considering "manufacturing quality" of RV builders, no two are probably the same anyway). You'll just have to measure to fit your application if you are considering such a project.

I have to tell you though, I have a pretty nice wood shop, and I would not even attempt such a project without the correct tools to do the job. I used a table saw, drill press, router table, band saw, and many Incra shop devices; miter gauges, Jigs, LS positioning fences, and the like. Accuracy can only be assured when you have the right tools. Even then, it takes skill and (especially) patience to pull this off.

I am not trying to discourage anyone from attempting such a project, in fact, just the opposite - I want you to use my project as a catalyst in forming an idea of your own version of the project. But I am merely saying that if all you have is a hack-saw and hammer, you may not be able to pull off such a project.

 


Mock Up.

 

From the mock up photo above, some details are in order. This is pretty much the finished cabinet carcass prior to the addition of the veneer and final finishing. You can see both left and right "L" pieces (again, each "L" piece is two individual flat pieces bolted together). The acrylic panel on the front not only allows access to the wiring (when it is removed) but also holds the WineGard Sensar Pro antenna tuner and on/off switches for the WineGard antenna tuner and the Quest AV switch.

 

 

Since the access (my fat hands) to the cabinet will be restricted, I decided to drill a series of holes and install blind nuts so the shelves could be easily installed and adjusted. The holes are spaced every 2.5" to the vertical, so there is plenty of adjustment. The shelves are secured with simple cable clips.

One thing I did discover is the made-in-China cable clips were not all exactly the same size, so when I first installed the shelves, they were crooked. I was sure I drilled the holes even as I used one of my many Incra Jigs to do it. I was puzzled until I measured and found they were indeed drilled correctly, but when I looked at the clips, they varied in size slightly.

Is this the new norm? Do we have to put up with poor materials and workmanship for everything we buy (and I am including USA made RVs in this comment, not just made-in-China items)?


Using a home-built drill press fence to assure alignment of shelf holes.

Using a router table to round off the corners of the acrylic panel.

Perhaps the most difficult aspect of the project was machining the acrylic panel. It can be a challenge to work with. The main issue with acrylic is drilling into it without cracking it. The trick is using the proper drill bit. There are specialized acrylic bits that have a 60 deg cutting bevel on the bit, whereas the standard metal/wood bits are 45 deg. Other methods (using standard bits) include running the bit backwards, incrementally increasing the diameter of the hole by using several drill bits, and using step drills. But again, there is just no substitute for using the correct tool - in this case 60 deg drill bits.


A trick I actually learned is to use a scrap piece of styrofoam to jig-saw acrylic.

Detail of how I joined the "L" frame pieces together with blind nuts.

 

 


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Last reviewed and/or updated June 15, 2017