Showing posts with label Accessories/ Gadgets and Gizmos. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Accessories/ Gadgets and Gizmos. Show all posts

Saturday, April 29, 2023

Wiring Android Head Unit to Coach Batteries

To utilize the Android head unit without starting the engine or depleting the chassis battery (when used with the ignition set to ACC), I rewired the Android head unit to operate off the coach batteries. It's a great way to enjoy streaming media like YouTube, Netflix, Spotify, etc. when parked or relaxing at the campground using the upgraded Android head unit's larger screen. It's also an excellent way to get the navigation started to our destination before starting the engine. A dash switch is installed to toggle the power of the head unit between ignition only and always on. A simple wiring modification and the addition of an automotive relay are all that is required. This is how I did it.

Thursday, February 2, 2023

ML-ACR and DC-to-DC Charger Transfer Relay with Time Delay Start

If you upgraded from Blue Sea ML-ACR to DC-to-DC charger and wants to keep the ACR functional, this is for you. I added a Renogy 40-Amp DC-to-DC charger (this post) and decided to keep the Blue Sea ML-ACR as a backup alternator charger for our coach batteries.  It will come in handy if the starter battery needs a boost from the coach batteries. When connected to shore power, it can also be used to charge the chassis battery. This mod will also work on battery separator system, although wiring for the separator will be different.

The changeover/transfer relay only activates one charger at a time, either the ACR or the DC-DC, turning them on at the same time could cause some issues down the road. I also added a time delay relay for the DC-to-DC charger D+ trigger so that it does not immediately turn on as soon as the engine is started. I added a 3-minute delay (user selectable) to allow the chassis voltage to stabilize before starting the DC-to-DC charger. Here's how I did it.

Saturday, January 28, 2023

Replacing/ Upgrading Sprinter Door Speakers, and Dash Tweeters. Installing Sound Deadener on Cab Floor

Our factory door speakers broke, the rubber surround that holds the paper cone has disintegrated into pieces, causing the speakers to sound terrible. I used an eBay speaker adapter to replace it with a larger speaker. The factory speaker is proprietary and cannot be simply replaced with an aftermarket speaker without the use of an adapter or some modifications.

The new speakers have a much better dynamic range and a deeper bass response. I also replaced the tiny dash tweeters and was very pleased with the upgraded speakers. Here's how to change them.

Sunday, January 22, 2023

DIY DC-to-DC Chassis Battery Trickle Charger (Trik-L-Start Alternative?)

You've probably heard that the Trik-L-Start DC-DC battery trickle charger has been discontinued, the only commercially available alternative is the Echo 15-Amp Charger by Xantrex. The Echo Charger is quite expensive at around $150 and only compatible with lead acid batteries.

I wanted to add a chassis battery trickle charger from my Solar Charge controller's auxiliary output but couldn't find an inexpensive low current DC-DC trickle charger for my application. The Trik-L-Start trickle charger would have been ideal, but they are no longer sold, necessitating the DIY approach. With the addition of a battery protection module to the circuit, it will mimic the Trik-L-Start trickle charger and can be adjusted to start/stop charging depending on the source voltage.

Sunday, December 25, 2022

Sprinter Vital System Monitoring using ScanGauge III

My UltraGauge monitor lost many of its gauges after the MB Approved Emission Modification. I did like the UltraGauge when it was working, but UltraGauge support is almost nonexistent and there is no current firmware update to fix the issue, so...I jumped over to Linear Logic and got their new ScanGauge III.

NOTE: My 2011 Roadtrek Agile was built on a 2010 Freightliner Sprinter chassis with an OM642 3.0 L 6-cylinder engine. AEM (Approved Emission Modification) was performed at the MB dealership, and a new updated ECU was installed.

Sunday, March 13, 2022

Roadtrek Sprinter Eclipse Head Unit Upgrade to 10-inch QLED screen Atoto S8 Premium (2nd Gen)

Our 11-year-old Eclipse AVN4430 head unit with TomTom navigation maps is now woefully outdated. I won't miss its small, difficult-to-read screen or any of the other quirks that came with it. Enter the Atoto Android head units, which are rapidly gaining popularity. Their premium, ultra, and ultra plus models boast a QLED display that remains easily readable even in bright sunlight. Opting for the larger 10-inch Atoto S8 Premium model was a no-brainer for me, especially considering its affordability compared to other high-end units with similar specs.

Saturday, February 12, 2022

Installing an On-Board Air Compressor (Maxi Trac)

Finding the right RV compressor can be challenging, especially if you want one that can inflate RV tires to a high pressure. Many RVers highly recommend the Viair RV compressor. Off-roaders and overlanders choose the ARB CKMTA12 On-Board Twin High Performance Air Compressor because it is a quick and dependable inflator, but it is pricey.

I'm looking for a low-cost, high-output, high-pressure compressor capable of quickly inflating RV tires, air mattresses, and inflatable toys (kayaks, SUPs, and so on). Our 120-volt portable compressor inflates one SUP in about 20 minutes, which is excruciatingly slow. The Napa Maxi-Trac air inflator is getting a lot of buzz in the DIY community, so I took the plunge and ordered one. With a 20% OFF coupon, it cost me slightly more than $100.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

"Scooler", A Custom Built/ DIY Electric Riding Cooler

"Scooler" at the beach.

I need a new roto-molded cooler but I do not like the idea of manually hauling it around as they are heavy, so it got me thinking...why not make it a riding cooler? I later found out that you can actually buy one of these riding coolers; they’re not cheap though not to mention the inefficient coolers they use. Amazon sells the "Crazy Cooler" with 4-stroke 2HP engine.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Roadtrek Bedding Options

This is a widely discussed topic in RVing, many swear by RV Superbag which I also own. Things that I don’t like about the RV Superbag aside from being expensive, it does not have enough support/ cushion to smooth out the peaks and valleys of Roadtrek sofa bed cushions, it is also harder to get in and out of the bed when everything is zipped-up, and if you like tucking in under the blanket you’ll find it harder to do with the Superbag…unless you’re using the King size bag for yourself.

Dense foam and Memory foam toppers sure looks comfy, but if you plan of using the dinette every day, storing those bulky foams could be a problem in a small RV. I found this Hospitology Ultrasoft Gelled Filled Polyester Microfiber California King Mattress Pad on Amazon about 3 years ago and we've been using it since then along with our compressible Down camping blankets.

The Hospitology Mattress Pad is about 1” thick but a lot denser than Superbag cushion which helps even out the RT cushions making a softer and comfier bed to sleep in. It is a good compromise between comfort and storability. It is also easy to setup, just roll it out over the sofa bed and Voila, bed is done.

Monday, December 11, 2017

DIY Portable Power Station/ Jump Starter and Battery Charger with Bluetooth Stereo Speakers

Most of the parts used in this project were unused stuff and taking up garage space, the Walmart 12-volt battery was purchased last year to temporarily replace the original RT coach batteries that got fried during our summer road trip, the inverter is my old 750-watt Trip Lite Inverter/ Charger.

Obviously this is not for RV use, but can be a great power source while picnicking at the park, at the beach, etc. or just something to brag around, lol. It can also be used as a jump starter or a car battery charger. It has built-in 200-watts Bluetooth wireless stereo speakers, good for entertaining or annoying crowds at the park.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Our Gears (Part 2: Pots, Pans, Grill, Stove, and Camp Oven)

 I have put together some of our favorite RV camping gears, gadgets, and accessories. Most of our camping gears are compact by design thus minimizing storage space in the RV.  This post covers our Pots, Pans, Grill, Stove, and the Camp Oven.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Our Gears (Part 1: Camping Chairs, Table, etc.)

 I have put together some of our favorite RV camping gears, gadgets, and accessories. Most of our camping gears are compact by design thus minimizing storage space in the RV

Disclaimer: I'm not endorsing any products in this post; I'm not affiliated nor paid by any of the manufacturer to do this. I'm merely sharing camping gears and things that have worked for us, although what works for us won't necessarily work for you. 

Monday, February 13, 2017

Long Range Wi-Fi Booster Installation (Ubiquiti Bullet M2 Titanium and airGateway Combo)

Staying connected on the road is important to us, not just streaming movies or music and browsing the internet but also keeping in touch with friends and families. To make use of free public Wi-Fi's (campgrounds, public parks, Mickey-D's and other business with free Wi-Fi) a Wi-Fi booster is needed for better and reliable connection especially over long distances. Our home internet provider also provides their customers many free Wi-Fi locations and in most cases, their hotspots are fast enough for video streaming.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

weBoost Drive 4G-X Cell Phone Booster Installation

When on the road, traveling and touring, it is always important for us to have good cell reception. An RV breakdown or an emergency in the middle of nowhere without any means of calling for help is a scary thought, but of course a cell booster will not help you in every situation- as the name implies “cell booster” means it needs an existing cell signal to boost. Sometimes a cell signal is too weak or cell tower is too distant for your cellphone to connect, this is when the booster helps. The weBoost Drive 4G-X can simultaneously boost voice and data, so you can make calls and browse the internet at the same time if your network supports it.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Leveling Your RV using Andersen 3604 Camper Leveler

I’ve used “Lego" blocks levelers for years and they work fine for leveling the RV. The last sets I had started cracking and splitting in the middle, so I started looking for a better replacement. I was searching the net when I stumbled upon the Andersen 3604 Camper leveler (Amazon Link: Click here ). Although I did not find any user reviews for a Sprinter based RV's, trailer campers swear by them as easy and simplest leveler to use, so I took the plunge and bought a pair. It is fairly expensive at about $45 a set ($90 for a pair). Another set and all 3 wheels should be cover, but for now, I'll keep using the few remaining "Lego" blocks I have for the 3rd wheel, just in case.
Per manufacturer, it can level anywhere from 1/2-inch all the way to 4-inches and anything in-between. The lift measures 4-inches at the very end of the leveler. It is made of tough plastic and definitely looks heavy duty.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Repurposing Your Old Smartphone for RV Use.

If you have an extra smartphone lying around and doesn't know what to do with it, this might give you an idea. I mounted one on my dashboard, loaded with some free apps, like dashcam, inclinometer for leveling the camper, etc. It can also stream music through Bluetooth connection to my dash radio.

I modified an old windshield mount for dashboard mounting as pictured below. The old windshield mount sits low and the phone camera does not clear the top of dashboard on its intended placement. The mount came with a circular plastic dashboard mounting disk with adhesive backing.

This is how it looks like mounted on dashboard.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Most Compact Portable Grill

For anyone looking for a really small grill, here it is... the Iwatani Cassette Gas Grill. I've been trying to find this here in the US for ages, it is now available on Amazon. It still shipped from Japan though, but I'm more comfortable buying through Amazon than from an unknown oversea online store. Here is the Amazon link: Iwatani Cassette Gas Grill.
The description from Amazon is misleading, it says "grilled skewers only", this is definitely not for skewers only, but its best use for skewered meat hence it's called "Yakitori" grill. I have tried grilling steaks, pork chops, burgers, hotdogs, veggies, etc. and it cooked nicely done.

I really like the grill because of its smaller footprint, saving a much needed storage space especially in a small class B RV's. It cooks great and evenly heats up, unlike my Coleman grill which gets really hot in the middle where the burner is located. For skewered meat, it's the best way to cook at the table while picnicking, the kids loved it.

The grill only measures about 15 x 7 3/4 x 4 3/4-inches (LxWxH). It uses an inexpensive butane canister as fuel source. One would ask, why butane? Butane don't work well in cold weather. The Iwatani grill has an ingenious metal heater plate that warms up the butane canister as it cooks, so cold weather is not an issue anymore. The heat is adjustable with the simple turn of the dial; it also has an auto igniter built in. The grid for the skewer is adjustable in 3 positions and it's easy to clean. The only thing lacking is a lid, which I don't prefer using anyway.

The Iwatani Cassette Gas Grill

I made a storage box for the grill. The box is air tight when locked to prevent the grill from smelling inside the RV when stored. 

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Compact Camping Propane Lantern

A good bright reliable camping light is essential for camping safety and comfort. For general camp lighting, an LED lanterns are good choice because of their low power consumption. The brightest LED lantern I can find is the 580 lumen Coleman Twin High Power LED Lantern, but it is too big for storage in an small RV where space is a premium. A compact/ smaller LED lantern like the 300 lumen Rayovac Sportsman LED lantern is another good option. For brightness, it is hard to beat the twin mantle propane lanterns, but again they are bulky and heavy.

For the above reasons, I really like the Primus EasyLight Lantern it is bright enough (max. 490 lumen's as per manufacturer) and packed really small into the included plastic internally padded storage case. We've been using one for couple of years without any problem. Amazon link/ reviews here: Primus EasyLight Lantern. The lantern is very fuel efficient for the amount of light it gives off, an 8oz. fuel canister should last about 12 hours on maximum brightness to 24 hours on lowest setting. The lantern also has an attached wire for easy hanging on trees or poles.

Primus EasyLight Lantern with an 8oz. Isobutane/Propane cartridge.

Plastic storage case. Size is about 3.3" x 3.3" x 5"

Thursday, March 14, 2013

DIY Sprinter Window Insulation

Our Roadtrek is surrounded with single pane glass windows, although tinted, they don't do much to reflect/ block suns radiant heat. The AC struggles to cool the inside of the RV during summer, and there is a lot of heat loss through the glass windows during winter camping. Insulated window coverings should help.

I made the window covers using Reflectix insulation (available at your local Lowe's home improvement store) backed with an ironing board cover with special aluminized coating and padding (available at Joann Craft Store). I used newspapers to make window templates. The template is then laid into the Reflectix and traced the edges with a marker; I then cut about 1-cm. allowance outside the line to compensate for the Reflectix sagging overtime. The layers were fused together using spray adhesive, then a grey color seam bindings were sewn around the edges. The rear window covers just slips into the frame around the windows and they stay put real well. The covers make a huge difference in interior temps, both in the summer and winter.

For the front window covers, super strong neo-magnets were used to hold them in place. A more rigid reflective insulation was used for the windshield. I found a cheap ready-made windshield sunshade for trucks/RV's at Campingwold. It is thin and rigid and perfect for the sprinter, just needed some trimming to fit. But with the addition of the aluminized backing, the windshield cover becomes heavy enough that collapses on its own weight when installed. To prevent the windshield cover from buckling, I placed plastic ribbings in-between the reflective front and the backing for rigidity. The plastic ribbings were salvaged from a broken beach umbrella. The windshield cover is just held in place by the sun-visors.

If you decided that the DIY solution is not for you, Amazon has wide variety of window/ windshield sunshades from the fancy Remis privacy blinds to the pre-cut custom fit reflective sunshades- check them out first: Covercraft UVS100 and Coverking Custom Sunshade for Select Sprinters are available on Amazon.

Tap pictures to enlarge.

Portable Blongo Ball/ Ladder Ball Game

My kids love this game. Camping is always fun if they have something to do/ play with, and this is perfect. It is portable and cheap to make. For those who rather buy them ready-made, Amazon has them listed from $29.99 to the more expensive $89.98 sets. Here are the links: $29.99 set$56.07 set, and the $89.98 set.

For this project, you need a PVC pipe, PVC fittings, golf balls, a nylon rope, and a PVC cement. How much PVC pipe you'll need depends on how big you want your ladder to be - see the sample measurements below. You can use any size PVC, it's a personal choice, I used a smaller 1/2-inch pipe. You can find PVC pipe at a hardware store, as well as nylon rope. Buy 6-elbow fittings and 6-T fittings. Make sure the golf balls you choose are solid all the way through.

Cut all of your PVC pieces to size. Use a hacksaw, a miter saw or a plastic pipe cutter, I use the later, it's so much easier. For this built I ended-up using about 20 feet of 1/2-inch PVC pipe.
  • Cut (7) 24-inch  PVC pieces.
  • Cut (2) 18-inch  PVC pieces.
  • Cut (4) 8-inch PVC pieces.
Fit the pipes together. Build the ladder from the base upward. I did not use PVC cement on some of the PVC pieces so you can easily disassemble them for portability. I then painted (optional) the detachable PVC pieces for easy identification. Click on pictures to enlarge.