Making The TV Play Through The Radio Speakers in Airstream Interstate


We recently became first time RV owners with our 2013 Interstate. The first night we hooked up the computer to the front TV to watch a movie on Netflix. I was disappointed to see that I could not play the TV through the radio speakers.

To fix that issue, I looked at the Kenwood radio installation manual to find that there were audio-in leads. I removed the trim panel around the radio and then removed the four torx screws that mount the radio.

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Once the screws were removed, I pulled out the radio and then found the leads. There were two sets of RCA plugs, one for audio-in and one for audio-out.

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I pulled down my box of audio cables and found one that had an earphone jack on one end with two RCA outlets on the other end. To see if this would work, I plugged the cable into the headphone jack on the TV and then hooked it up to the audio-in cables on the radio. On the radio, the name applied to the audio-in on the main menu was for “Game”. Popped a DVD into the TV, selected “Game” and I was rewarded with sound on all of the speakers.

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Having installed many car stereos during my life, I now looked for the best way to run the cables. I pulled the windshield pillar trim loose only to find that part of the air bag was behind it. Not wanting to do anything in this area, I looked for another way to route the wires but could not come up with a workable solution that did not involve partially disassembling the motorhome. So I routed the cables from the back of the radio to the glove box, re-installed the radio and called it good for the day. While it was not the most elegant solution, I could simply pull the cables out of the glove box and hook it up to the TV.

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That evening it came to me that since I had a Bluetooth radio, I needed a Bluetooth transmitter that I could plug into the headphone jack on the TV to send the signal to the radio. After doing some research, I settled on a device made by Clear Sounds. It has a rechargeable battery and a charger I plugged into the 110 outlet in the front storage compartment.

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I followed the instructions that came with the unit to pair it with the radio by going to the phone pairing screen on the radio. Once the unit was paired, I selected “Audio A2AP” on the menu, turned it on and plugged it into the TV, chose “Bluetooth” on the radio menu and, voila, I had sound to the front speakers of the radio. Once you select “Bluetooth”, “Clear TV” appears at the top of the screen. It took me a bit to figure out why I only had front speaker sound. On the same phone page where I paired the radio, at the bottom there you could choose “front” or “all” speakers. Once I chose “all” I now had sound on all of the radio speakers. And I did not have to run a single wire! If I had only thought of this before I pulled the radio out, I would have saved a bunch of time.

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If you go back to the beginning of this post,  you will see that I wanted to hard-wire the TV to make it work with the radio speakers. After taking loose the windshield post trim and seeing an airbag in the way, I switched over to using a Bluetooth transmitter. I had coiled up the wiring from the radio in the glove box and had an extension cable that I could use to hook up the wiring. Unfortunately, this meant cables dangling in the cab area.

After using the Bluetooth now for a few months, I noticed that the sound was better when I used the direct wiring. Also, there was occasionally a lag in the audio reflected in seeing lip movement not synchronized to the actual sound. So I was not completely satisfied.

While sitting in the motorhome on a rainy day in Florida, it came to me that I should try to run the wires under the floor and up the pillar between the passenger door and the sliding door. I wasn’t sure if that would work but I had some time today to give it a try.

First I removed the cover over the jack and tools. I zip tied the cable from the radio to an existing cable. I then removed the trim panel at the top of the step so I could pull back the rubberized floormat. I ran the cable through the tool area to the base of the seat.

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In the front overhead cabinet on the right side is a hole through which the HDMI cable from the rear TV enters this area. I fed one end of my second cable through this hole. This takes a little finessing as the RCA ends are large enough that you can only slip one end at a time through the hole.

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There is enough room to get a finger or two up into this area from just above the door opening. You will have to feel around for the ends but I soon had as much cable as I wanted pulled through. I left about a foot of cable in the storage area as I needed to be able to hook up the cable that will run from the headphone jack on the side of the TV. You will need RCA female to female couplers to attach these cables.

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Next I removed the top screw on the vertical door jamb trim so I could pull the trim out a bit. I also removed the tie down at the floor area. I ran the cable along the side of the overhead cabinet towards the door trim and fed it down to the trim. I then pulled the trim out at the top and fed the cable behind the trim over to the rubber door seal. From here it was a matter of pulling back on the rubber seal and inserting the cable into the gap between the trim and the metal.

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Eventually I had the cable at the floor level. Here I removed the aluminum strip that runs just behind the seats. I also removed some of the screws on the black plastic trim in the step area so I could pull it up. And I pulled up the rubber floor mat under the passenger seat. I fed the cable from the rubber seal to the rear of the seat base.

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Now I had the cable on both sides of the seat base. Initially I was planning on running the cable along the plastic trim in the step area for the passenger seat but that trim was difficult to remove and there was very little clearance between the trim and the steel below. Then I noticed that there was an existing hole at the rear of the seat base. The hole was too small but that could be easily remedied. But how to get access to the inside of the seat base. When I pulled up the skirt on the side of the passenger seat, I cold see that the panel that held the awning switch could be removed. Now I had a relatively large hole that allowed me to work under the seat base.

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To enlarge the rear hole I used a step bit and soon had that hole big enough to get the cable ends through. I made it somewhat larger that it needed to be for the cable so I could install a rubber grommet.

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The low part of the front of the seat base is double walled. I had to drill a hole from the outside through both panels, which are about a 1/2″ apart. Once I had the hole started, I used the step bit again to enlarge the hole for the cable and grommets. Now I had both cables under the seat where it was simply a matter of hooking them up.

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From here it was time to put everything back together. No more wires dangling!!!! On the radio I now select the “Game” option and I am ready to hear the TV over the radio speakers.

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