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Old 06-16-2009, 11:31 PM   #1
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New Nav and Audio. How hard is this going to be (or how much is it going to cost me)?

I'm not a big fan of the nav and audio system Newmar installed in the 08 KGDB. The system in the 09 is much better. For those not familiar, here's what I've got:

The Nav system is the Garmin GVN 52 which has no display of it's own. It uses a Sony LCD display that is also shared with the cameras and the Triptek. Since there's no touch panel, all interaction is with a hand-held remote. And the display is kinda crappy, since it's composite video driven instead of direct LCD. The Garmin software is pretty nice, though.

The audio system is a basic in-dash auto unit (Sony), which is ok except it's mounted fairly low and it's hard for me to see the display to select inputs or content from my iPod while driving. Sue can't see it from her seat either.

What I'd really like is a nice integrated unit like they installed on the 09 model. It's a Kenwood DNX-7120, which I think has been discontinued, but the current DNX-8120 model is a direct replacement. There's also some other Kenwood and Pioneer models which are similar.

Now, what's it going to take to do this?
  1. The space needed in the dash is bigger for the Kenwood, but I'm pretty sure that the dash panel for the 09 KGDB will fit in my 08, and I can order that from Newmar.
  2. The old display would need to be removed, and the second display and all the switches, etc will need to be moved to the new panel.
  3. The old audio head unit will need to be removed, and the antenna input and the speaker outputs switched to the Kenwood.
  4. The GPS antenna for the Kenwood would need to be installed. On the roof I hope (for best reception), with the wire run down in place of the Garmin antenna. I'm pretty sure that the two antennas are not interchangeable.
  5. Some of the camera wiring will need to be reconfigured since I'll only have one screen available instead of two. Right now, one input is GPS and turn cameras, the other is camera select with Triptek overlay. I'd want the camera select with overlay as the default, switching to turn cameras as needed.
  6. Installing the microphone for the bluetooth phone connection should be easy.

I'm sure I'm missing something. The part that concerns me the most (for doing it myself) is the GPS antenna. I don't think doing the in-dash changes are that bad, assuming I can identify all the wires. Which is scary in itself, because I already pulled that dash panel once, and it's a rat's nest of wires back there.

Is this something I should even think about doing myself? Or should I hire a pro? And who would I get to do it? I'm thinking a specialist auto audio shop would have the most experience with this kind of thing, but they've probably never seen the kind of custom dash that's in a big MH.

Anyone else ever had this kind of work done?

TIA!

joe
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Old 06-17-2009, 03:50 AM   #2
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I have done something similar, so I might be able to help.

My folks 07 MADP came with the GARBAGE VDO "car-in" nav system. I have never seen another newmar with this particular unit. Honestly the UI was so awful it was unusable.

They had a single LCD display that similar to yours was shared by the cameras and NAV. They had a separate double DIN stereo/CD/XM system.

What I did was remove the nav system, its DVD-Rom drive took up a single din slot, and removed the stereo.

I replaced the double din stereo with a fold out LCD to be used for a 4th dedicated camera (installed in the dingy).

I added a single din Alpine ipod unit within the former location of the DVD-Rom drive.

For navigation I got a stand alone Garmin unit (660). The reason I used a stand alone is ease of use, and upgradeability. With the speed of innovation within the GPS market, you most likely will want to upgrade in a couple of years. (if you want to get geeky with GPS chipsets we can take this offline, I don't want to bored people to death here)
I have played with most all of the "built in" nav systems. Pioneer makes a nice setup, but its UI still could use some work. All of them are grossly overpriced.
For the price of a double din navigation system you are looking >$700, add on a xm tuner, or ipod interface and it can climb to over a grand.

As a comparison you can get a top of the line in dash stereo (no nav) for less than $450 (ipod/xm/sirus/hd radio)

Now a warning about installing anything in the dash. Unless the King Aire is completely different the dash is comprised of molded plastic, with "plastic rainforest" wood finish.

This "wood" is extremely fragile. I have had the entire dash apart, and its rigidity leaves much to be desired.
I would not trust it to a car stereo shop. Nothing against their work quality, but to the fact that even a pro will damage something. It is that fragile.

This photo was taken during the installation. The garmin nav sits on the left side of the dash in its own holder. So while driving there are 3 separate screens. Nav on the left, rear/L/R cameras in the center, and the dingy cam on the right. No more switching between video sources.


Now for better sound.

Above the drivers area were two compartments that contained separate cube speakers for the "home theater" system, and a separate cube setup for the dash stereo. Both were garbage, and in-fact the speakers were so poorly secured I am surprised no one was hurt with them falling out.

I removed both sets of speakers and created my own ported cabinet. With some simple wood working tools I used MDF to create a proper speaker cabinet within the existing cabinet.

After properly damping the inside of the cabinet (using dynamat) I mounted a pair of JBL 3 way 6x9's.

Finally I removed the louvers on the cabinet cover (held in with wood staples) and replaced it with some high quality speaker grill cloth.
So far no one has noticed it isn't factory.

Even though I only power it via the new in dash stereo, I can POUND out the tunes if so desired. It is a monumental improvement to what was there.

All said and done I have about $150 into the new speaker setup.

Here is a photo of the finished speaker cabinet. Sorry I do not have handy photos of the speaker setup install. The tweeters are only visible because of the camera flash.
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Old 06-17-2009, 07:34 AM   #3
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Hi Joe - we had the same experience with the factory installed unit, so 2 years ago I had an audio tech in Elk Rapids, MI replace it with the Kenwood DNX-8120 and we LOVE it!

As to difficulty, it took him nearly a day to install at a total cost of $2000.00 including the iPod and Bluetooth units. Well worth the money as it is a spaghetti factory of wires behind the dash and as I recall he installed a new roof antenna as well.

As to the who to do it, my installer is a younger guy who runs a car stereo shop but also does alot of marine work (many boats in his area). He had no problem with doing the work on the RV.

PM me if you have any questions.

Mark
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Old 06-17-2009, 11:33 AM   #4
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Monkey - yes, the King Aire is significantly different. The dash panels are not plastic wood. They're some sort of plastic, but seem fairly sturdy. And it's not all one big piece on each side, as yours appear to be. I have separate upper and lower panels.

As for the actual sound quality, it sucks too. Not because the speakers are so bad, but because of the placement. The left speaker is over my head pointing back, and the right is over Sue's, also pointing back. So we each only hear one channel. Fixing the speakers is something else to be addressed, but the two issues don't have to be done at the same time.

I did think about a separate Nav unit, but I really don't want to mount another unit on top of the dash. I'm keeping what space I have available on the left side for a laptop running the Silverleaf software. So I think it really needs to go in the dash space I have on the right.

Thanks for the info Mark. I'll probably get in touch with your installer and see what he says. We'll be passing through that way in 2 or 3 weeks. Looks like we'll finally be leaving Little Rock on friday or saturday. So we'll be in Nappanee early next week, and Charlotte the end of the week or the week after.

joe
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