Over the years we've made various minor alterations to Bluebird, most of which are shared here. We hope you find one or two good ideas you can use or adapt for your own boat.

Digital TV Mk1 (Satellite)

Living in Cumbria we were aware of the need to upgrade the TV on the boat (Cumbria was the first to have the analogue signal switched off)

Soon after purchasing the boat we’d fitted a cheap flat screen LED TV purchased from Tesco. While not specifically made for a mobile installation. Many LED TV’s come with a 12v DC transformer and work well onboard if you upgrade the transformer to a 12v Regulated Power Supply as we did. It provides a stabilised 12-volt output even if the input varies between 10 volts and 28 volts.

 

Typical voltage on board can vary from 10 volts to 15 volts depending upon the state of the battery, what else is being used inside on the boat and whether the battery is being charged or not at the time. Ordinary TVs are not designed for such a wide variation of input supply and cannot tolerate this level of variation in voltage. The TV may switch itself off when a water pump is operated or be damaged by voltages over about 13 volts.

 

This TV however wasn’t equipped with Freeview and reluctant to replace a good TV our first attempt at going digital was to use a satellite receiver. Aldi had one of their special offers of a complete portable satellite system for much cheapness. My bother bought one for his motor home and after seeing it in action we bought one for the boat.

The receiver was designed for a 12v system so just plugged straight in to a free socket. We mounted the dish on the front of the boat between the Houdini hatch and the headlamp with a SatFinder device (supplied with the kit) left permanently inline and to hand when you had your head sticking out the hatch while aligning the dish.

The system worked well so long as you had line out sight on the satellite which could be ascertained with a quick check of a compass. We were impressed how the system held onto the signal even though the boat rocked.

The downsides of the system were that we frequently didn’t have line of sight due to canalside trees or buildings and aligning the dish after every move was a pain in the proverbial, especially if it was raining.

After one season with the Satellite system we decided it had been false economy and decided to upgrade the TV.

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