Dear RV Shrink:
Our 12-year-old backup camera has failed on our motorhome. My husband has spent hours reading RV forums related to repairing or replacing our system. I sometimes think he wants to become a backup camera specialist. I say, “Buy a new system and be done with it.” He says, “It is not that easy because the newer units do not have the connectors that our unit does.” I am so tired of hearing about it.
Is fixing an RV problem that complicated, or do you think he is just a fanatic? He never solves a problem until he has exhausted every avenue of repair. Do you think this is normal behavior, or am I married to an obsessive-compulsive mechanic wannabe? —Camera Shy in Sheridan
Dear Camera Shy:
I suggest you back off, and give the guy some credit for trying to solve a very confusing situation. Backup camera systems are not rocket science, but also not a cut-and-dry decision. They come wired, wireless, dirt cheap and expensive. I am assuming your husband is looking for an easy fix or replacement, meaning a unit that would be plug-and-play with the wiring you already have.
A factory-installed wire through an RV would be hard to replace and would most likely have to be rerouted along the frame. That would make your husband consider a wireless unit. The problem with wireless is interference and signal strength over long distance. Replacing older equipment often means rewiring, adapters, relocation of monitor or camera, and finding a reliable source to purchase and even install the new equipment. All of this can be expensive and many people just throw money at the problem until it ends up being solved. Your husband is putting the effort into discovering the best method of solving the problem. Whether he performs the work himself or not, at least he has some idea of what needs to be done. I applaud him for that.
Usually it is a monitor that goes bad. The age of your system probably makes it a large square monitor much like the boat anchor televisions that populated RVs 10 years ago. Its replacement today is normally a flat screen monitor. There are many brands that might replace yours, but trying to find one that is plug-and-play is the Achilles heel in making that decision. To add to the confusion, there are many retailers that will tell you they have a plug-and-play solution that turns out to be false when the equipment arrives.
It is very hard to nail down what has failed in a backup system without proper equipment. It could be the monitor, the camera, or the wiring that has failed. Having a repair shop work on your RV starts at around a hundred bucks an hour. If your husband can find a replacement unit that he is capable of installing, he might be miles ahead, financially speaking, and end up with better equipment.
The work your husband is doing will hopefully root out all these problems and eventually give him the direction he needs to come to the right conclusion.
I don’t think you are married to a fanatic. It might improve your relationship if you agree not to share the play-by-play action, detailing progress on every problem. But often a sounding board is necessary when working on a complicated issue – so give your husband some slack.
Finding a solution that insures the RV still has that factory look is important for resale. Hopefully, with all the time and effort your husband has spent on this project, he ends up with a plug-and-play solution that eliminates some spider web of unsightly wires. —Keep Smilin’, Richard Mallery aka Dr. R.V. Shrink
P.S. I would suggest your husband Google RV Cams. They are a wealth of good information on whatever system you have.
Can’t get enough of the Shrink? Read his e-books, including Book 2 in his two-book series: Dr. R.V. Shrink: Everything you ever wanted to know about the RV Lifestyle but were afraid to ask or check out his other e-books.