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Old 07-13-2015, 02:09 AM   #1
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Default Skylight remote issue

My remote isn't working, it opened the skylight once in mid June as I was starting my season, it closed early in the morning with the morning moisture and hasn't worked since. I've tried 2 sets of new batteries.

Since this is not an uncommon problem and because a new remote sells for about $250 I'm considering having a manual switch installed. An unidentified person posted a nice clear set of pics and instructions on how to do it.


I'm also thinking about trying the easier universal remote fix. I'm looking for any input from anyone who has remote skylight issues.


below are the switch instructions, there are pics which I can't seem to include.

Converting the Airstream Westfalia Sunroof to Operate with Switches Instead of the Remote
Issue: From Day One the remote control that operates the overhead sunroof and the two florescent lights on either end of the sunroof have proven problematic. At times, the remote sensor would not “recognize” the beam from the controller, the buttons on the controller often would stick and/or the batteries in the controller would either become dislodged or corrode.
There is no reasonable way to operate the sunroof if the remote becomes disabled. OEM replacements are difficult to find and/or expensive. Some have purchased less expensive “learning remotes.” However, many of these are only able to be programmed if the original Dometic controller is still operational, and because they are universal TV remotes, the function buttons can prove confusing.
One solution is to simply REPLACE the remote control system with fixed switches that are operated manually. This document is an overview of the process that I used for this retrofit.
• This solution will disable both your remote control and the rain sensor in the sunlight. That
means your remote controller will no longer operate the skylight (unless this is reversed). It also
means that your skylight, if open, will not automatically close if there is moisture.
• It is possible that with additional expertise you could make this retrofit and still enable the rain sensor. I am not an electrical engineer and the rain sensor was not an important feature for me,
so I did not research ways in which the rain sensor might have remained in the system.
• This process is reversible; no circuit boards, wiring harnesses were removed or destroyed in this
process, so by reverting to the initial wiring the sunroof would operate in its factory-delivered
• This project will require some basic wiring and electrical skills. You will be working only with
12V DC current, so there is minimal safety risk if you follow common sense rules.
• Proceed at your own risk. This document is provided as an informational courtesy only; I
accept no responsibility or liability for negative outcomes, no expertise is professed.
Aside from basic tools, here are the parts that you will need to complete this project:
• One 30 AMP Rocker Switch Polarity Reverse DC Motor Control. This is a fancy name for a
rocker switch that has three positions: one to close the sunroof, one to open the sunroof, and returning to a “neutral” center position. You can find this switch for about $15 shipped on Amazon.com or elsewhere. I found mine on Amazon.com from a seller named GAMA Electronics, SKU 129-PR-MOM, Note: A 30-amp switch is overkill in a circuit that is fused for 10 amps, but it is the only one I could find.
• One standard 10-AMP on-off switch to control the florescent lights. About $4 at any auto parts store.
• A few feet of 14 or 16 gauge wire, available at any auto parts store; one roll should run about $7, and you'll have plenty left over. It will make the project easier if you get two rolls of different colors; I'd suggest one red, one black and/or white.
• Several appropriately sized “spade connectors” to connect wires to switch terminals.
• Electrical tape, small wire nuts, etc.
Step One:
Disable the 12V power from the Westy conversion with the master breaker in the “bread box” to the right of the stove.
Step Two:
You must remove the skylight frame from the actual skylight. To do this, remove the five opaque and four translucent rectangular covers (each about 8 inches long) from around the skylight. These are the covers with the embossed “perforated patterns.” There are three on the galley side, and two each on the remaining sides of the skylight.
To remove these covers simply squeeze the long sides of each cover until it raises from the frame, and place a fingernail inside the crack, gently lifting the cover away from the frame. Be gentle so that you don't break any of the tabs on either side. After the first couple you'll get the hang of it.
Unplug the two white and one blue wire from the florescent bulbs on each side of the skylight. The wires can simply dangle in place. Carefully remove the bulbs from the fixture and set them aside. Be careful, as they are held tightly in place and you don't want to break them in your hand.
Along the perimeter of the skylight you will see about 10 screws that are actually holding the skylight frame to the ceiling of the Westy and the rest of the actual skylight. Using a small Phillips screw driver, remove each of the screws. Unless you have three arms, you will need a helper to support the skylight frame so that it doesn't drop from one side while still attached to the other – if that happens you could break the plastic frame.
Under the cover nearest the sliding door, you will find a white plastic connector that links two sets of wires. The red and brown wires are the 12V feed. They connect to wires leading to the circuit boards that control the operation of the sunroof. You'll see the + wire has an in-line 10 amp fuse.
Using a small flat-head screwdriver, loosen the screws and disconnect the power-feed wires, which you will want to label for reference.
You now should be able to remove the entire frame from the ceiling of the Westy.

Step Three:
As you look up, the black cylinder in the center of the cockpit side of the skylight is the motor that raises and lowers the skylight. You will see a blue and red wire running from that motor back to the power source. Snip those wires and mark them for reference. It won't matter which is positive and which is negative.
Step Four:
On the skylight frame that you had removed, locate the circuit board where two sets of red and white wires meet. Unscrew that circuit board from the frame of the skylight and you'll see that the two sets of red and white wires go into connectors on the circuit board.
These wires feed the circuit boards for the lights – those circuit boards contain the electronics for the lights, which are ultimately fed by the blue and white wires that you removed earlier from the actual light bulbs.

Remove the red and white wires and then connect the ends: red with red, and separately white with white. Label the wires for reference.
Step Five:
Find the red wire with the 10-amp fuse, and it's negative (brown) mate on that same circuit board with the red/white bulb wires. Snip those wires about 2-inches from the circuit board and set the red wire with the fuse and the brown wire aside. Screw the circuit board back in place on the sunroof frame.
Congratulations, you have now finished all the necessary steps for “deconstruction” of your skylight.
Next, we begin rewiring the various elements and putting it all back together.
Step Six:
Strip the ends of the wire with the in-line fuse and its corresponding brown wire. Using small wire nuts, attach these wires to the main feed, obviously with red to red and brown to brown. This now becomes the fused main feed for your manual skylight operation.
Cut two 10-inch lengths of red wire and two 10-inch lengths of white wire from the spools you purchased, and strip all four ends. Twist one end of the two red wires together. Twist one end of the two white wires together. Then take those twisted ends and insert them into the white connector from your 12V lead, two red wires now joined to the red 12V positive feed wire, and two white wires now joined to the brown 12V negative feed wire.

On the ends of the two red wires and on one of the white wires, crimp on spade connectors. The other white wire will simply be stripped at the end. Allow these wires to simply dangle from the ceiling for now.
Step 7:
Find two red wires feeding the florescent lights that you have previously twisted together. Cut a 10- inch piece of red wire, stripping both ends. Using a small wire nut, attach one end of that 10-inch wire to the two red wires from the florescent lights, uniting all three wires. On the other end of that 10-inch red wire, crimp on a spade connector.
Step 8:
From your purchased spools of wire, cut one red and one black (or white) piece, each about 20 inches in length. Strip all ends. Using a small wire nut, connect one end of the red 20-inch wire to the red wire coming from the sunroof motor (remember, you snipped the motor wires earlier). Do the same, connecting the 20-inch black (white) wire to the blue wire from the sunroof motor. Crimp spade connectors at the other end of the red wire, and the other end of the black (white) wire. Label appropriately.
Step 9:
Cut two rectangular holes in the sunroof frame in which you will seat your two rocker switches. Obviously you'll need to measure the length and width of each of your switch housings. You will want to make sure that wherever you locate these switches, there is enough room behind the switches so that the connectors will fit. For ease of installation I elected to place the switches forward of the cover closest to the front of the skylight on the sliding door side. This keeps all the wiring together and is the easiest path. If you decide to locate the switches elsewhere, you will need to make adjustments on wire length, etc.)
Dry-fit the two switches in the holes and then remove those switches for re-installation later.

Step 10:
If you don't have four arms, use a helper for this part. This is where we will now re-attach the sunroof fame to the sunroof on the ceiling. You will need to ensure that the necessary wires are routed through cut-outs on the front of the skylight frame nearest the sliding door. These wires are as follows: The red and white wires that will power the florescent lights, the red and black (white) wires that will power the sunroof motor and the (four total) red and white wires that are the 12V feed.
One red and one white 12V feed wires along with the two wires running to the motor will need to be fed through the hole you cut for the sunroof raise/lower switch. The other red and white 12V feed wires and the red and white wires running back to the florescent lights should be routed through the hole cut for the other on/off rocker switch.
Many of these wires will be longer than you will need, but this makes it easier to keep everything straight as you reassemble the frame to the skylight. If you like, these wires can be cut and shortened, but that is not necessary.
Step 11:
Place the skylight frame in place, ensuring that no wires are crimped. Then carefully replace the 10 screws that you earlier removed from around the perimeter of the skylight frame.

Step 12:
Connect the three-position rocker switch. The 12-V power feed wires will attach to the center spade connectors; the two wires running to the sunroof motor align to the other two spade connectors. Leave the switch hanging from beneath the frame.
Step 13:
Using a small wire nut, connect the remaining white 12V power feed wire directly to the white wires linked to the florescent lights. The remaining red 12V power feed wire goes to the spade connector on one side of the on/off switch for the lights. The wire linked to the red wire from the florescent lights will be attached to the other spade connector on the on/off switch. Leave the switch hanging from beneath the frame.
Step 14:
This is the moment of truth. If you wired everything properly, it's time to see if it all works. Turn on the master switch to the RV conversion (that key in the “breadbox” next to the stove.)
By actuating the on/off switch you should be able to control the florescent lights.
By activating the sunroof motor switch you should be able to open and close the sunroof.
WARNING: Note that any “limiter” that was built into the original circuitry that prevented you from “over-opening” or “over-closing” the sunroof is no longer part of the system. You determine how far open or how tightly you close the sunroof “by feel.” When closing the sunroof, when you begin to hear the motor strain let go of the button immediately so you don't ratchet the sunroof too tightly, potentially damaging the top or motor.
Also note that the “rain sensor” is no longer part of the circuit. When leaving the vehicle, if rain is anticipated, close the sunroof enough so that you are comfortable rain would not enter the vehicle or, if some does, would not cause damage.

Step 15:
Tuck all wiring into the cavities of the sunroof frame, ensuring that none of the wires impede sunroof operation and push the switches into their respective holes. If you cut the holes properly, they should fit securely without any additional adhesive.
Step 16:
Replace all the covers. If you like label the switches up/down, on/off.
Step 17:
Enjoy your remote-free/trouble-free sunroof. If you have a working remote, you can probably sell it to another Westy owner and more than recover the cost of the conversion!!!

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Old 07-14-2015, 03:27 AM   #2
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Default Re: Skylight remote issue

I messed up on the site with the instructions.. Try this

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Old 07-15-2015, 03:32 PM   #3
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Default Re: Skylight remote issue

Hi Juju, Thanks for the above info. The skylight remote has been a bit of a problem all along. I finally took the control apart a couple years ago and put about three little round pieces of duck tape on top of the little buttons that you press down on while pressing down on the open/close buttons of the outside cover. Seems like I always had to press soo damn hard. Now the gap is smaller and I get good contact between the cover buttons and the actual buttons inside. Maybe this will help. If I keep our Westy much longer I may try the new switch option you just posted. I've always worried about being out somewhere and not being able to close the hatch...

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Old 07-19-2015, 08:22 AM   #4
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Default Re: Skylight remote issue

Here is my weard solution of the remote control problem. I open the remote box and inserted two small pieces of spongy type of material over each battery to keep them in place, they tend to move and loose the contact. Also I noticed more than a year ago that the two luminiscent lamps on each side of the skylight started to go on and off by themselves with no apperant reason. What I did was disconnecting both of them, I never use them, this somehow fixed the remote control issues as well. I can't explain what the relation between these two items is but it wouldn't hurt to try it.
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Old 07-27-2015, 06:49 PM   #5
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Default Re: Skylight remote issue

I solved the problem by removing the #5 fuse behind the bench seat, then reinsert fuse, the red indicator will start blinking, during this time with the controller facing the red blinking light, push both on/off buttons , hold for 5 seconds. It nay take several tries.

Thanks to David in Seattle.
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Old 08-12-2015, 08:00 AM   #6
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Default Re: Skylight remote issue

I did the manual switch conversion. I also moved the two lights to the rear of the frame and installed switches. Now I have a manually opening/closing skylight and 2 fluorescent lights over the kitchen area...
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Old 08-12-2015, 11:42 PM   #7
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Default Re: Skylight remote issue

Good work, does the the auto close still function if it rains or gets damp early in the morning?

Did you follow the directions that were posted?

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Old 05-27-2018, 06:32 PM   #8
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Default Re: Skylight remote issue

James Cook Friends Forum has a thread on adding manual switches, with an electrical diagram from poster Richard. He also mentioned that he added a priority circuit which closes skylight automatically "when the ignition is switched on."

Do not know how this differs from modification posted in this thread.

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Old 07-18-2018, 11:44 AM   #9
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Default Re: Skylight remote issue

Do you have a photo of this?

Originally Posted by dmwaves View Post
I did the manual switch conversion. I also moved the two lights to the rear of the frame and installed switches. Now I have a manually opening/closing skylight and 2 fluorescent lights over the kitchen area...
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