Tag Archives: rv bits

Switch it on and up it goes

One of the nice things about talking to people in the Motorhome industry is you get to hear about some neat new things coming on the market.

New to New Zealand is a new range of  Automatic Satellite systems and Tv’s from France called  Alden.

Frankie with the two new Alden receivers.

This is unique as the controls are all in the matching Alden TV’s. You simply turn on the TV and are prompted to fold out and tune the dish which it will then go ahead and do. It will also fold down when you turn it off or when you start the motor to move away.. all automagically!

on the left and the Portable one on the right

The price is amazing too..with the top of the range partly transparent (see photo) Evo 65 retailing for $2695 incl GST. If you buy it with an Alden 22in TV, the whole package is $3200 incl GST. This seems to me to be a pretty good deal given these are the bees knees in TV’s for Motorhomes.

Showing the  insides of the Aldens are all precision engineered.

Vantage RV are the agents and can fit them for you too.

A Tune Up for Rafe’s Dome and Some Smart New Technology!

I had to pop in to Apollo TV to get my now nearly 4 year old Apollo dome serviced as I was having trouble getting some of the channels. Chris was very happy to sort it all out for me!

Click on an Image for Hi Res

All is revealed.. looking good

Ever since Prime moved, it has been really difficult to get and TV1 and TV2 suffered badly from rain fade where TV3 didn’t!

Chris checking over the Dome

After talking to both Chris and Duncan, I made and appointment and off I went to their office in Whnagaparoa. Nice guys that were only too happy to help me with the dome. It also turns out that my Dome cover has just about done its dash so there is a new one coming. $399 fitted. They get hammered by our high UV and get cracks in them. Mine has cracks around the screw holes on the edge so is all good for a wee while.

Chris got the ladder out and within 10 minutes or so, had it reset and pointing correctly at the Satellite fixing all the problems. Apparently my dome has a GPS in it to it knows where it is in the world and sets itself and the skew based on position and the signal strength as well.
Chris was telling me that when they first starting bringing in the Domes, they realised that the Dome Cover was much bigger than the Dish so they had the Dish made as large as they could and still fit under the Cover giving us TV watchers more signal!

I couldn’t get over the friendly customer service and speed at which they dealt with my wee problem.

The sample straight out of the Box

While talking to Chris, he was telling me about the new Avtex Sound Bar which fits on the bottom of the Avtex 19” TV and vastly improves its sound while only drawing .75A and they’re only $375 retail.

Chris with the first Sound Bar

Duncan set one up for me to have a listen and the sound is stunning. The power and sound is all sourced directly from the TV where they mount underneath. All very easy and tidy. They can also be used as a remote Bluetooth speaker for your cell phones too.

Their first shipment is arriving shortly and is already just about completely spoken for!

The sound bar fitted to a 19″ TV

Some of the new technology in this space is amazing with so much happening.. now to just win Lotto and I’ll be very happy 🙂

Nitrogen in your Tyres

I’ve been using Nitrogen in tyres for years and it does seem to make a huge difference. The biggest bonus is the consistency of the running pressure so you tend to run your tyres at the correct pressure. The other difference is apparently the heat is controlled much more effectively. What makes it even better is it is so cheap to use. Click the images to see Hi Res

Rafe getting Nitro'd
Rafe getting Nitro’d

My regular tyre shop in Bridgestone Tyres Devonport, have had a machine for years which effectively sucks the air (and other things like moisture) out of your tyres and replaces it with Nitrogen from the atmosphere. Yep, the atmosphere is 78% Nitrogen.

Jane and Monty with The Nitrogen machine
Jane and Monty with The Nitrogen machine

I went down today to get a top up and check as my recent service rotated the tyres and they didn’t have a machine so it was off to Jane and Monty today to get the tyre pressures sorted. I’ve got 70psi in the front and 74psi in the rear and that seems to work fine with a GVM of 4300kg.  I’m using soft compound Michelins and with my 30,000k service and tyre rotation, the engineers that rotated the tyres, were really impressed with the condition of the front tyres, especially given that its front wheel drive.  No scuffing at all and absolutely even wear right across the treads. Some of that can be directly attributed to Nitrogen but also I tend to mother it a bit.

Monty watching the machine top up my tyres
Monty watching the machine top up my tyres

Below is what the experts say:

  • Nitrogen is used in Formula 1 racing, aviation tyres, military vehicles, NASCAR and heavy construction vehicles.
  • Nitrogen maintains tyre pressure 3 to 4 times longer than air-filled tyres and disperses heat more effectively resulting in better fuel economy.
  • Nitrogen delivers longer tread life due to less heat generation.
  • Nitrogen inflated tyres deliver optimum handling characteristics for longer as pressure is more likely to be maintained at the correct level.
  • Nitrogen also slows the chemical ageing of the tyre’s rubber components resulting in fewer tyre failures.
  • Nitrogen results in improved performance, increased safety and lower maintenance.

A Poster on the wall
A Poster on the wall
To do a first bleed of Air and fill with Nitrogen takes about 20 minutes and costs about $40 and the top ups every 6 months are $20. While getting my tyres topped up today, I joked with Monty about how the high pressure was making their compressor earn its keep but that’s normal, so they can deal with the high pressures. If you want to get the Nitrogen in, call Jane at Bridgestone Tyres, Devonport before you go , as Motorhomes do tend to take up a big chunk of their parking 🙂

Good Sounds

My son Andrew very kindly gave me an early birthday present of a Nakamichi 8inch subwoofer to match the stereo we have in Rafe.

The boys at Vantage RV had warned me not to install a subwoofer as they can draw heaps of power but having done this before on our old Whalechaser Rorqual, I felt confident we could do this without thrashing Rafe’s batteries.

I’ve found that speakers generally tried to reproduce the whole range of sound but compromised to get full depth with the bass. It tended to take the edge off the treble and mid range and add some distortion as well.
By adding a subwoofer and directing all the bass at the sub and removing it from the mid range speakers, you get a much cleaner sound but still with the depth from the bass.  Also with motorhomes, you get to remove the bass from the door speakers and get rid of some rattles 🙂

When  I did this with Rorqual, my first version of the installation had a bit of a boy racer look to it as soon as you entered the saloon.
I got a bit of stick from a couple of fellow Classic Yacht Association committee members who were telling me it was “Very non CYA compliant” and it needed to be addressed fairly quickly 🙂

The VERY obvious subwoofer
The VERY obvious subwoofer

My second attempt with a teak grill which I made with glue and clamped together looked vastly better. The sound was spectacular with several saying it was one of the better boat stereos around.  Since then, my son Andrew  has removed everything I did, and taken it to a whole new level !

After with the "CYA compliant teak grill
After with the “CYA compliant” teak grill

Anyway, back to the birthday present !
I was surprised how heavy it is for its size. There must be some serious speaker magnets and stuff in there. I was also quite surprised to hear they can draw up to 80 amps ! I suppose that’s if you’re really cranking it. As I said, for me its about having the quality of the sound rather than the volume.

Remember to click on the images for the detail

The bits on the table. Look at the size of that fuse holder.
The bits on the table. Look at the size of that fuse holder.

After arriving at Vantage to get it installed and getting past all the jokes about trying to be a 15 year old again :-), Phil got the job of installing it.

Before we started
Before we started

We had a spot under the table on a kick board which is well out of the way and I figured that would make it easy to get at the dashboard where the stereo and power was .. How wrong could I be!

It was the perfect place but getting the wires across the floor wasn’t an easy task and then getting the big 80 amp cables across to the house batteries under the drivers chair, meant actually pulling the chair out! It was turning into a major.

Sub fixed to its position
Sub fixed to its position

There was a stage it looked like a nightmare with all the wires out of the dash, the starter battery box opened on the floor, the drivers seat removed, it looked pretty chaotic but as quickly as it came apart, with a bit of time, it all tidied up.

What a shambles. Seat out for access to the batteries.
What a shambles. Seat out for access to the batteries.

Another hour later of finishing the wiring and putting the stereo away in the dash, it was all good.

The stereo on the dash with the blue sub wires plugged in
The stereo on the dash with the blue sub wires plugged in

The sound was spectacular. Later that night, Andrew helped me tweak bypass levels and whatnot with the stereo and it sounded amazing.

The end result
The end result. A very tidy installation.

I also got a switch installed on the dashboard to disable the sub in case the power becomes an issue. As always,  Phil did a magic job of the installation with all the cables in conduit and tidied up with the appropriate clips.

Getting rid of cooking moisture

When we first bought our van, we looked at the option of getting an extractor fan over the cooking area but decided there were too many other things higher up the pecking order.  Deckchairs, tables, barbeques and mats but having seen how they work in other vans, we decided it was time to finally do it.

On a not so sunny Wednesday morning, I took the van up to my favorite RV place in Silverdale, Vantage RV to get the extractor fitted.  Phil got the short straw and got stuck in.

Phil unwrapping the unit
Phil unwrapping the unit

After unpacking it and sizing it up, he cut the hole in the bottom and middle shelf for the Vent and then later through the roof.

Remember to click on the images for hi res or a slideshow

Once on top, it was time to slide in the plastic vent and seal it up with a cap.

The end result
The end result

There were two lights that were there under the cupboard which were removed and replaced by the built in ones on the fan.

Screwing in the unit
Screwing in the unit

After wiring it all in, the unit was screwed in and put together.

All done
All done

We’ve since been away and it works a treat. You can see steam off the food going straight out. A very worthwhile upgrade. Thanks Phil.

Casting with the Web

The Motorhome Broadband articles were hugely popular over the last few days. The Blog stats went up to over 55,000 views from all around the world :-).. And its really nice to get some good feedback from several people who have cottoned on to this and are really enjoying the value and speed.

Our Location
Our Location

Now that the aerials are installed and its all working to perfection, with Fiona’s (and mine to a lesser degree) fondness of things Netflix, I found it sensible to take on my son Alex’s advice and install Google chromecasts on the Tv’s. This enables the TV’s to essentially take on the role of being smart TV’s to a degree and have access to the internet so you can “cast” Netflix movies (and others) to your TV. Its a very cost effective way of making it easy to enjoy your movies without wires and being able to watch them without being restricted to watching them on your ipad. Your iPhone or Ipad take on the role of remote controls for your movies or On Demand apps which then cast the data from the router to your TV.

Casting American Pie onto it with 10 minutes from opening the box!
Casting American Pie onto it with 10 minutes from opening the box!

They’re dead easy to install, follow the basic instructions and you’re away. You’ll be asked simple things like your Router name, its password and that’s about it.

The Chromecast with its power lead
The Chromecast with its power lead

The Chromecast itself needs two plugs on your TV. An HDMI port and a USB port for power. Rather than have mine have off the TV as shown in the piccie, I put some Velcro on it and velcroed it to the back to the TV.  And where can you buy them?  From Noel Leeming and PB Technoogies for around $70.

LTE 4G Aerial Installation on a Motorhome

The moment I’ve been waiting for, for a few weeks now, came today.

I have been testing the system over the last week or so and been getting some good throughput  but my son ( a tech person) suggested last weekend that if the router supported two aerials, get another one and install it. I think he’s right as the throughput is amazing.

The aerials and bits all over the table
The aerials and bits all over the table before starting.
The Truma panel with the TV wiring behind
The Truma panel with the TV wiring behind

I took the van up to Vantage RV at Silverdale this morning and Phil got right onto it. Using the TV for a power source as the wiring was easily accessible and installing a Dethleff switch to match the others in the van.

The switch all done
The switch all done

Then on went the aerials. The aerials need to spread apart if you have more than one so they don’t interfere with each other. Something to do with the wave they have and the rule of thumb is 1.5 times the height of the aerials apart minimum. Ours are much more than that anyway.

Click on the images to see Hi Res or a slideshow

After a couple of hours of running conduit, screwing it onto the roof and setting it up, we fired it up and in the industrial part of Silverdale, this was the result:

Test Date: 27/04/2016 10:39 AM
Download: 29.91 Mbps
Upload: 17.48 Mbps
Ping: 46 ms
Connection Type: Wi-Fi
Server: Auckland
http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&q=-36.626536,174.676301

Later when I got back to Milford and parked up. I tried again.

Test Date: 27/04/2016 12:02 PM
Download: 34.55 Mbps
Upload: 17.77 Mbps
Ping: 56 ms
Connection Type: Wi-Fi
Server: Auckland
http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&q=-36.767335,174.765883

Both tests showed only 3 bars out of 5 for 4G reception so it can only get better but given that ADSL mostly averages around 5 – 6mbs download and we’re getting 34 mb plus, its pretty impressive all the same.

Phil on the roof setting up the aerials
Phil on the roof setting up the aerials

Now the data package.  After searching high and low for weeks looking for someone who could do mobile cellular without any geographic constraints (like Skinny) or being in a fixed position, (like RBI), I got onto Netspeed in Dunedin.  They were happy to provide me mobile data as long as I used one of their routers which they provided by courier. They assured me it worked at 12v and there would be no problem with the fluctuating voltage from either the solar panels or the alternator and this has all worked faultlessly.The whole thing was setup in a blink (by me) and there were no issues at all.

The day after I received the router, we were meeting friends up at Mahurangi West (Sullivans Bay) and even there where you can’t get a cell phone signal, Fiona was able to watch Netflix movies on her Ipad with no issues and that was without an aerial.
See the Blog I did on Sullivans Bay.

The end result
The end result

So we’re all setup for fast broadband on the road.
I’m impressed and very happy with the setup.