Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
We have just started traveling and living in a pickup camper several months a year. We have two slides and find it very comfortable. At home we always watch movies. We love movies. On the road we find we seldom can. We are camping off grid most of the time. My husband does not want to pay for satellite TV. We never stay in commercial parks with cable. Seldom do we find a town with a movie theater unless we wander into a big city. I miss my movies. My husband says it is not so important. I don’t think we have to give up something we both enjoy just because we want to see the rural and natural areas of the country. Am I asking too much? Don’t you think we could find a solution? My husband is the tech guy, but he just doesn’t seem interested in working on a solution to this problem.
--Oscar the grouch
This is not a difficult tech fix. When the sun drops early in the winter sky it is often enjoyable to go to the movies in your RV, no matter where it is parked. I will give you a few ideas to pass on to your tech guy and maybe he will become interested in tackling the project. Not knowing what you now have on board, I will throw out a few hardware/software additions you may or may not already have. You can watch movies from a computer very easily or, for about thirty bucks, cable it to a newer flat screen TV. If you don’t have a DVD/VCR player, pick one up at a second hand store. Every thrift store has a mountain of VCR movies that no one wants anymore. They are usually about fifty cents apiece. That’s pretty cheap entertainment. Libraries often have tons of movies. Some will let you check them out as a visitor, but if not there is another solution. Some will comment on this blog that this is illegal and the FBI will track you down and send you to an RV park with walls topped with concertina wire. But it is only truly illegal if you are profiting from breaking the copyright law. My suggestion is only allowing you to decide when you want to watch a movie you legally have access to. What you will need is a small hard drive. You can find one at Best Buy for about thirty bucks. It will have a Terabyte of storage, enough for a thousand movies. Rent movies or borrow them from libraries. Download a free software app called HandBrake. This will allow you to transfer movies to your computer or the new hard drive. Your entertainment center, or one you add, will not draw much 12v power. If you have strong batteries and a small inverter you will be able to watch hours of movies without firing up a generator or having electric service. If you find you are running low on 12v power, add a panel or two of solar. The solar will be the best investment you can make for the type of camping you are doing. Popcorn is something you will have to work out on your own. Various methods for making the best popcorn will have to be another column.
--Keep Smilin’, Dr. R.V. Shrink