Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Time to shed more weight and upgrade the GPS

Well, it's a new week and we're still in lockdown mode so I'm calling this the Covid upgrade. Our factory GPS unit was top of the line when it was new. Now, not so much. Like TVs of old they were big, bulky and weighed a ton. The maps no longer could be updated and it was simply cumbersome to use. I bought a Garmin unit that I attached to the driver's window and I used that for navigation. Debi liked to program our destination into the Kenwood but I rarely used it. I decided it was time to upgrade what we had and see if I could combine both GPS units into one that would satisfy our needs. I was pleasantly surprised to see that Garmin just came out with the RV890 which looks like it will fit perfectly for our needs. So, today I decided to demo the old unit. Here is the breakdown:

The Kenwood system consists of several parts. This is the GPS monitor which sits in the middle of the dash. The lower portion of the dash contains two 12VDC plugs, the microphone for the GPS and a voice sensor. There are two a/c vents as well. The monitor, microphone and sensors will be removed.

Here is the second part of the system. This contains the radio and the Aladdin system. The top portion extends and tilts upward when the unit is turned on. The Aladdin system contains the four outside and one inside cameras. It also provides all the operating data for the coach including mileage etc. This portion will not be touched.

After loosening the bezel, I tilted the monitor forward and removed the four screws holding the monitor in place. It was held onto the mounting plate by four velcro tabs. The A/C vent hoses are removed by 1/4 turn tabs. I set them aside to re-route later. 

With access to the back of the monitor, I unplugged the two cigarette lighters, the a/c hoses and unplugged the monitor. This allowed me to remove the bezel and the monitor as one piece.

Monitor has been removed. I intend to save the mounting assembly and attach the new Garmin device to it. This will allow me to mount that to the bezel and hopefully make it look like a factory install.

As I said, the Kenwood system consist of several pieces. The monitor which you've just seen, the receiver which is the silver box with the multi colored ports seen here, the radio assembly, described above and the CD unit which will be discussed below. The wiring was amazing and I knew I'd have to clean all that up before I was done. 

Here you can see three of the pieces of the system all in one picture. The monitor is removed and laying flat on the console. The receiver is the silver box in the back and the CD player is in the cabinet below the dash assembly. Four screws hold the CD player to a bracket and all the cables and wires simply unplug. That huge mess of wires on the console is for the microphone. I think the engineers thought the microphone would be mounted 150 feet away from the unit.

This is the single disc CD player. Kenwood uses CDs that contain all the information necessary for the GPS unit. North America is available on two discs, one for the East Coast and one for the West Coast. This sometimes is cumbersome if you're traveling across country as you must change discs to access the information needed.

Four screws and several wire plugs removed and the disc player is removed. After removal of the monitor, the receiver and the CD player, all the wiring must be removed. What a rat's nest. Very little thought went into the installation as wires went everywhere. The microphone had 150' of wire, the monitor, 15' and the receiver another 15'.!


System is out and on the table. The microphone and sensors were double sided taped to the bezel. It will take a bit to clean the residue off before I can reinstall it. I also found the bezel was broken at the top where the screw went in. I'll repair that with a thin piece of aluminum from the scrap pile and some JB Weld. All told the removed components and associated wiring weighed 10 pounds! The Garmin RV890 tips the scales at a mere 13.7 ounces.

I re-routed the a/c hoses away from the wiring, cut out most of the wasted wires and re-routed a bunch of them. Fifteen to twenty zip ties and a plastic anchor now holds all the wires together and out of the way.

So, I drew the bezel opening on a piece of paper and cut out the dimensions of the Garmin RV890 on another piece of paper. I then overlaid the Garmin onto the bezel and this is the result. The black lines are the bezel opening and the lime colored image is the Garmin RV890. I'll post the finished product once I've received and installed it. Wish me luck!


  1. Great job Dennis. I'm following your project very carefully. Strange that ours doesn't require discs to be installed for the GPS and we have a multi disc CD changer in ours. When traveling I'll power ours up and then touch the screen in the data area to fill the screen with the traveling data (speed, miles, hours etc). The wife has her old GPS sitting on the dash in front of her that she can 'play' with. It looks like I have the Kenwood KVT-M700 like yours that the Alladin system displays on and the Kenwood LZ-702W GPS system and the 10 Disc Kenwood KDCC719 CD changer

  2. I don't think my coach has a 10 disc CD changer. We've never used the radio as we like to talk while traveling so I don't know. We've never used the radio in the car either. I guess we are just weird that way. :) The small unit in the lower cabinet is only a single disc unit and I had an east and west USA discs. It's too bad we can't repair a lot of the stuff in our coaches as they seem to be a one off item....Dennis

    1. That's funny Dennis. We don't use the radio or the CD player either nor do I use the one in my truck. I don't want any more distractions while driving the coach anyway as I have enough already LOL. Once in a while I might hit the 'on' button for my truck radio just to see if it still works. I can't stand all that rap noise on the radio but I have liked listening to the news, if you can find a new radio station, but now even that had become similar to the Rap noise so I tend to just shut everything off and listen to the hum of the old Detroit 60 pushing us down the road.

  3. Very cool unit you two have there now and looking better all the time
    I have a Monaco too bit older tham yours but better than a lot of the new stuff coming out today. We are in Mesa for the winter from Alberta Canada.

  4. Thank you. Welcome to the States. We too, winter in Apache Junction. Nice weather today...Dennis