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Old 05-08-2016, 04:53 PM   #1
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Improving the iRV radio reception and sound

I am a self proclaimed radio nut so this was a BIG annoyance to me. I set out to fix two issues with the factory radio/media center in my Roo 19 and accomplished both. The first was that the sound was terrible inside, mostly because the factory unit was never wired correctly to the speakers, and the second was that the radio reception was unbelievably terrible.

The first problem was a quick one to fix. Instead of wiring the two indoor speakers as left and right in a single zone, the factory wired one of them as zone 1 right, and the other as zone 2 right You can see this in the picture I included of the factory harness. Thankfully the pinout for the radio is right on the unit itself so this was an easy fix, by just clipping two wires and connecting them to the correct pair on the connector. Others have commented that you may want to check the polarity of the connections at the speakers themselves also. Mine were fine.

Yay! Mission #1 accomplished... total cost = $0

Even though the tuner in the iRV33 leaves a lot to be desired, the antenna was a BIG contributor to the issue as well. Instead of replacing the 'cheapest we can find' junk antenna that Rockwood installed, I adopted to use the existing Winegard amplified TV antenna as my radio antenna. Part of my reasoning for this is that the camper is already tall and a decent antenna is just going to either be directional from being mounted on one of the sides of the ground plane (chassis) or it is going to have to stick up quite high from the roof, and thus require raising and lowering. The primary thing that needs to be done to use the TV antenna, is to adapt from an "F" connector on the TV antenna system to a "Motorola" connector for the radio. Complicating this in my Roo 19 is that it is a tight squeeze behind the radio, so I have no room for an adapter to stick out the back of the radio.

I started by cutting about 2' off the end of the radio antenna cable. There was plenty there as my unit has about 15' extra just stuffed up in the cabinet. This gave me a short pigtail to work with that could run from the back of the radio up to the TV antenna amplifier or splitter. It also meant that the male, 'motorola' connector was already installed on my new adapter cable.

Next, I soldered a fully shielded, female RCA jack on the end of the cable opposite the 'motorola' connector.

Into this jack, I plugged in an 'RCA male' to 'F connector male' adapter that I pick up at a rat-shack. The part number was 278-253. I put some electrical tape on this connection. Although it was nice and snug, I didn't want it to vibrate apart once back inside the wall.

** NOTE... if you would rather, you can get a premade, short adapter cable that has a male 'motorola' plug on one end and a male or female 'F connector' on the other. They are available many places online, and do not cost much.

Now I looked at the amplifier board to find the "Set 2" jack and track it to the splitter. This is the cable that carries the antenna signal to other outlets in the camper. My camper has a jack near the sink and also outside for connecting the TV. I wanted to make sure that I kept the outdoor jack connected in case we want to take the TV out there, but the connector by the sink will likely never get used as it is literally less than 6' from the factory location of the TV! Rockwood used different colors of coax going to each of these connections, so it was easy to look behind the one by the sink to find which color of coax I wanted to disconnect from the splitter. In this case, it was the 'white' cable. After disconnecting the white cable from the splitter I connected my new antenna cable with the adapter on the end. Note, that in the picture you can see my several wraps of electrical tape to make sure the whole thing doesn't vibrate loose.

Plug the other end into the back of the radio and you are good to go! This is a great time to snug up all of the other antenna connections. I found many of them to be quite loose.

There are two things to be aware of with this modification.
  1. You must turn on the antenna amplifier for signal to pass from the actual antenna to the radio receiver, just as you would when using the TV. The current draw is really quite low though, so it is well within "our" energy budget, even when boondocking. When boondocking we are usually out doing things and not listening to the radio anyway, but just don't forget to turn off the amplifier when you are not listening.
  2. The antenna is directional. This means that you might have to turn the antenna to get the best reception of the station you want to listen too. Along with that though, you get more signal gain, and better rejection from other stations on the same, or neighboring, frequencies that are in a different compass direction. This REALLY helps with the tuner in the iRV33 as it has terrible 'selection' and allows for a lot of bleed from first adjacent channels in my experience.
My usable reception has over tripled in distance! I live in a rural area and like to camp in even more rural areas so this was a very important thing to me.

Mission #2 accomplished... total cost = <$2 for the rat-shack adapter (I had everything else already laying around)

Now I will probably remove the upper portion of the radio antenna so that it isn't sticking up to catch on anything, and I also won't have to worry about tipping it down if I put a trailer cover on in the future.

If anyone figures out a firmware hack to disable Zone 3 (outside speakers) from automatically coming on when you turn on the radio, there is at least a 6-pack in it for you
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Old 05-08-2016, 06:52 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by dragon-roo View Post
If anyone figures out a firmware hack to disable Zone 3 (outside speakers) from automatically coming on when you turn on the radio, there is at least a 6-pack in it for you

I'm a couple of days away from adding hard-switches for zones 2 and 3 that will always be OFF. Then it won't matter that the stupid radio always starts with them on. I'm just going to mount them in a cabinet beside of the radio.
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Old 05-08-2016, 07:08 PM   #3
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I'm a couple of days away from adding hard-switches for zones 2 and 3 that will always be OFF. Then it won't matter that the stupid radio always starts with them on. I'm just going to mount them in a cabinet beside of the radio.
Yeah... that's the only solution that I have come up with so far

I did spend some time trying various button combos to try to unlock hidden setup configurations but so far no luck.
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Old 05-08-2016, 07:35 PM   #4
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My brother just picked up a new Flagstaff TT Friday. One of the things I cautioned him on was the speaker zones. When trying it to show him what I meant, his zones do not automatically come on on every time once turned off. Must be a firmware change? Hopefully it will be available to the rest of us who have a desire for something better.
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Old 05-08-2016, 07:47 PM   #5
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Yeah... that's the only solution that I have come up with so far

I did spend some time trying various button combos to try to unlock hidden setup configurations but so far no luck.


I've been in communication with the company bag distributes the iRV radios and he confirmed that the "next generation" radios will not behave like this. He did say that neither they or the manufacturer consider it a defect and to get the upgrade, I'd have to buy a new radio.

From the next post- it sounds like the new generation may be out. That surprises me as he didn't indicate that they're out and this was like last week that I emailed with him.
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Old 05-08-2016, 08:16 PM   #6
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My brother just picked up a new Flagstaff TT Friday. One of the things I cautioned him on was the speaker zones. When trying it to show him what I meant, his zones do not automatically come on on every time once turned off. Must be a firmware change? Hopefully it will be available to the rest of us who have a desire for something better.
Our 2017 Roo built mid April came with the 34. I have not had the time to screw with it much but I beleive the zones are not on by default. You can also play a cd or stream on zone 3 (outside) while playing another source inside with the ability to control volume seperatly.

I was a little shocked to see these for sale at Crutchfield for $400.
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Old 05-09-2016, 12:21 PM   #7
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I received the iRV 34 about a month ago and can confirm that the zones do not all come on by default. And yes, Zone 3 can independently play a different source from Zone 1 or 2. In fact, i thought I had received a faulty one as I got static on Zone 3 when playing BT on Zone 1. I thought it was bad, but it was actually set to FM (no station was tuned in).
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Old 05-09-2016, 12:24 PM   #8
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I'm envious... the 34 sounds like it has some useful improvements.
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Old 05-09-2016, 12:33 PM   #9
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I'm envious... the 34 sounds like it has some useful improvements.
Agreed. The 34 definitely sounds better than my 66.
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Old 05-09-2016, 06:37 PM   #10
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We had the same issue where they tied one channel to the internal speakers. I think the reason they did that is that the radio has no fader. They used balance for fading, so i guess if you wanted to hear stereo you could stand in the doorway. This was my mod:

Genesis gt 2.0 mods
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