Extra USB Outlet

Time: 4 Hours

I decided that I wanted to have additional USB ports for charging the iPad and Garmin VIRB camera that I’m going to mount on the roll bar. Since we will usually enter the RV from the left side I will mount the camera on the right side. So the perfect place for the USB’s would be just below the roll bar on the right side. I decided to mount the outlet vertically so the USB’s would be facing up towards the iPad/camera. The horizontal support would work perfectly. I need to conceal the outlet as well as it’s wiring, so fabricating a side wall was the first task to complete. I took some measurements and drew a pattern on some sheet stock I had. I marked for the screw holes and a flange I would bend in the bottom to give the panel strength.

I cut the piece out on did the final shaping and smoothing with the files and 3M wheel. I then used the brake to bend the flange for rigidity. With all the screw holes drills and deburred I put it in place for a trial fit…perfect fit.

I original put the 12v outlet that was in the bulkhead just behind the passengers right elbow on one circuit that would allow for up to 10 amps. For the USB outlet that I’m going to replace there the total amps would be 4.8. So I could tap into that power source to provide for that new outlet. I removed the passenger right side panel to expose the wire bundle and located the two wires, ground and power, for the aft outlet, I will call the new outlet then mid outlet. I cut the two wires and labeled them with my shrink tube label machine. I crimped a butt splice onto the wires that lead to the aft outlet. The other ends of the wires I put into the splice but also added another 18awg wire to each for the new mid outlet and labeled them as such. I ran those new wires through the bulkhead and into the space just under where the new outlet will be. I re-laced all the wires back together and cleaned the harness back up.

Now that the wires were all crimped and run to the new location I could work on putting the outlet into the support arm. There are a couple of rivets that I used to plug some homes and the nutplates in the flange(I put those in a long time ago for side panel that I didn’t use) all of which I needed to work around when deciding the spot for the outlet. Once I determined the spot I drilled a #30 hole followed by 3/8” hole using my step drill bit. Then I used my 1-1/8” hike punch to create the final hole.

The punch makes a perfect and clean hole that only requires a little edge cleaning compared to drilling. I then put the outlet in place and secured the nut to hold it tight. I labeled and crimped on the 1/4” tabs to attach the wires to the outlet. Once connected I pushed the extra wire back into the side panel area and laced them up.

A quick power up of the RV’s electrical system and the outlet worked perfectly. I spent the next hour cleaning up all the tools and replacing the side seatbelt and panel back in place. I primed and painted two coats on the new side panel and will install it when it’s dry and durable. So now I will have two USB ports by the instrument panel on the right armrest, two at the passengers right elbow and three(two in the outlet and the original single one in the bulkhead) for the mid area. We should have plenty of charging capabilities and able to keep everything powered up without cables all over.

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