Old Camper, New Tech: Safety and Entertainment Made Easy

Making these convenience, safety and entertainment upgrades to a renovated camper was surprisingly simple. Check out the project here.

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When we set out to upgrade a camper from 1972 to today’s standards, we knew we were starting with practically primitive technology. So we harnessed new technology — everything from a convection cooktop to a Bluetooth sound system — to make our camper better than before. Here are some of our favorite upgrades that brought this RV into the 21st century.

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Entertainment In a Can

A video projector is just right for a camper, displaying movies and sports inside or on a big screen outdoors. We chose the Anker Nebula Capsule II.

It’s tiny, about the size of a 12-oz. can, but it projects a image up to 100 in. diagonal. You can connect it to various video sources via cables, but we just used a smartphone to wirelessly stream movies. To make a screen, we cut 1/2-in. medium-density overlay (MDO) plywood to size and coated it with Ultra HD screen paint  To mount the projector, we rigged up a magnet on the ceiling.

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Cell Booster System

Whether designed for homes, cars or RVs, cell booster systems all work on the same principle. An outside antenna — larger and more effective than the one in your phone — receives a signal and sends it to an amplifier, which enhances and transmits the signal. We chose the SureCall Fusion2Go 3.0.

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Rearview Camera

To make backing up safer and easier, we installed a camera on the back of the camper. There are lots of backup cameras available, but we narrowed the choices by searching for two features.

First, we wanted a wireless model to save the hassle of running cable through the camper’s frame (we still had to wire the power supply to the camera, but that was easier). Second, we wanted high definition for a sharp image. Many backup cameras have 720P monitors. We chose a DoHonest 1080P model.

Aside from running some low-voltage wiring, installation was as simple as riveting a bracket to the camper’s shell

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Why Tech Upgrades Are Simple

Our technology improvements gave us bigger benefits with far less effort than the other projects. Until a few years ago, retrofitting audio or video equipment meant hours of wiring work, figuring out how to snake cables from one device to another.

Today, wireless systems like Bluetooth eliminate most of that hassle. We still had to hardwire some power supplies, but that was pretty simple. The small size of devices is another big plus. Our video projector, for example, provides a large, sharp picture but takes up about as much space as an old transistor radio.

We did keep one piece of old technology: the main control panel. It no longer controls anything, but it looked so cool that we just couldn’t bring ourselves to tear it out:

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