Tuesday, December 12, 2017

DTV in Your Lazy Daze

Introduction:
• This article is intended to help you deal with television, especially DTV in your motor home.
• Notation: Since we are talking about both analog TV sets with DTV converters and DTV sets themselves, the word “set” here means any TV receiving device
Overview:
• The United States requires its larger (called full service) television stations to transmit DTV signals.
• There are other “secondary” TV services consisting of Low Power, class-A, translators and booster transmitters. Many are now transmitting DTV signals while others remain analog. These stations are typically found in the rural areas where we often camp.
• CATV systems in RV parks will typically have analog signals. Any digital signals on CATV systems will be in a different format than over the air DTV signals. Set top boxes typically will not decode them. Some DTV sets will
• Conclusion: The TV in your coach needs to have the ability to receive at both analog and over-the-air DTV signals.
The American DTV System:
• A DTV transmitter transmits 19.4 million bits per second.
• Computer networks typically send from 1 to 3 million bits per second.
• The DTV System is pretty spectacular, being able to send those 19.4 Mbits/sec under very difficult conditions.
• DTV has some other nice features
o Excellent picture quality
o Info button gives positive station ID
o Most sets have a program guide (what’s on right now and coming programs)
o Some sets are able to scan all stations and gather a full program guide
DTV Channel Numbering:
• DTV stations are able to send one very detailed program (HDTV) or several programs of varying definition. When they send several signals, it’s called multi-casting.
• A DTV signal’s channel number is always shown by the set as a number with a decimal or hyphen. For example, “10.1” or “10-1”. An analog signal may be shown as just the number. For example “10” or it may be shown as “10-0”.
• When multi-casting the signals are numbered thusly: 10.1, 10.2, 10.3, 10.4 etc
• But, DTV channel numbering is very different than analog in a very different way:
o There is the “Physical Channel”, which is the actual RF channel that the signal is being transmitted on. These are the numbers you have known all your life.
o Then there is the “Virtual” or “Display Channel”. This is the number that the station tells the DTV set to show as the channel number.
o For example, in Portland, OR, KOIN TV’s old analog transmitter was on channel 6 so everyone knows the station as KOIN 6. Its DTV transmitter is now on channel 40. KOIN sends a message to your set to show its channel as 6-1 so viewers recognize it as KOIN. TV people will say that KOIN is on virtual channel 6-1. You typically will only know the signal’s virtual channel number. Some sets have the ability to show you the real or RF channel number, but many don’t.
o Furthermore, translators carrying signals from distant transmitters often show the channel number of their parent station. Thus, along the north Oregon coast you will see channel 6-1 on your set while it’s actually tuned to physical channel 38, 41 or 23 depending where you are.
Connecting Your Converter Box:
• While you need to be able to tune in DTV, you must still be able to receive analog TV:
o Translators and Low Power analog TV stations not immediately converting to DTV.
o CATV in RV Parks will still mostly be analog TV for some time.
• There are two connections that must be made:
o A signal from the coach’s TV antenna must be connected to the DTV converter’s RF input.
o The signal(s) from the DTV converter must be directed to the TV set.
• There are essentially three ways to make each of those two connections. You can mix and match the antenna connections vs. the TV set connections.
Note: If the diagrams below are hard to read, just click on them and they will open in a larger view.
Method A:

Method A shows that if one can get to the back of the Winegard RV distribution box, there is an unused RF outlet available to provide the RF signal to the DTV converter set. This approach is good when the DTV converter box does not have a bypass mode (that mode feeds the unprocessed antenna signal directly thru to the TV set).
Method A also shows that one can connect the signal from the converter box to the TV set using audio/video connections. This approach creates the best picture quality.
Method B:

In Method B, the signal is provided to the DTV box by splitting the signal from the front of the Winegard unit. The big advandage of this approach is that no access to the back of the Winegard unit is required.
The analog TV signal on channel 3 or 4 RF signal created by the converter box is used to provide the TV set with a signal. Because it is necessary to be able to use the TV set to view analog TV signals, an A/B is needed as shown.
Method C:

Method C is the easiest but it requires a DTV converter box that has a bypass or feed-through mode.
Keep in mind that one can select any method to provide an antenna signal to the converter box and independently select another method to connect the converter’s output signal to the TV set; like a Chinese restaurant menu.
Connecting Your Power to your Converter Box:
• You must also connect power to the converter box.
• This is much more situational; depends heavily on the converter box and the RV.
• Some converter boxes have an attached AC line cord. You must provide it
110 VAC power via an inverter or shore power.
• Some converter boxes have external power supplies:
o You can plug the external supply into an 110 VAC inverter or shore power, or
o If the supply has a DC output, you may be able to use a DC to DC adapter.
• If the converter uses 12 VCD, one can plug it directly into the 12 VDC power in the coach.
DTV Background:
• To steal a line...”It’s not your father’s TV signal anymore!”
• DTV is like Frank Sinatra’s song a DTV signal is “All or Nothing at All”.
• DTV produces flawless (no ghosts, herring bone, etc.), noiseless (no snow or fuzz) pictures and sound ... until the signal amplitude falls to the receiver’s threshold .
It goes through a narrow “fuzzy” zone.
• And then:
IT FAILS COMPLETELY
As in ... NO Picture … NO Sound … NO Nothing.
• It goes from here...
.... to here...
To here...
... with a very small change (1 dB).
• It must be emphasized:
– Picture and sound are sent together.
– When you have a picture you will have sound. When the signal fails,
Picture and Sound Fail Together.
– In fact, the first indication that the signal has fallen below threshold is the sound muting.
• For those few who know the term, the picture/sound can go from IDEAL to NOTHING with a 1 dB amplitude change.
• For those that don’t know what that means, 1 dB is about the change in volume one gets with one or two clicks of the volume control on a modern TV or radio.
• If you have just barely enough signal, small changes can cause the picture to become “pixilated” or vanish. Causes like:
o A storm.
o A vehicle moving.
o A new source of interference (like a fan.
• DTV troubleshooting is difficult
o When there is a picture, the picture is ideal.
o When there is no picture, you have nothing.
o There is little in between.
o You are flying blind.
• The only available strategy: just keep trying various things until something works.
Tuning In DTV Signals:
•If you are camping where the signal amplitudes are low, tuning in DTV signals can be ... uh … .....trying.
•The RF performance of most set top DTV converters is adequate to good for use in a RV. However, the user interface is quite variable with some MUCH better than others.
•DTV sets try to make finding signals “easy” by providing an automatic scanning mode to find the stations for you.
•Many sets won’t let you tune to a given channel until the set finds it for itself during some form of a scan, either manual or automatic.
•Other sets will tune to a new channel just by entering its channel number on the remote control.  Try your set to see if it works this way.  If it does ,and you know the new signal's RF channel number that is a fast way to tune the set.
• During an automatic scan, if a DTV signal is detected but is below threshold the set may or may not add the channel to its list.
• It’s very useful if it does so because it points to where to search for a DTV signal.
• If you don’t know what direction the signals are coming from, you may have to turn the antenna, scan, turn the antenna, scan, etc., which can be very time consuming (more below).
• A few sets have a manual add/delete mode or allow a manual scan. These sets are the best for use in an RV.
• The DTV set-top converters that have the best user interface for use in a RV are the Artec T3A, the Winegard RDCT-09, the Zenith DTT 900 and 901, The RCA STB 7766G-1, The Radio Shack stock # 15-149 and # 15-150, The Insignia NX-DTA 1. These units have an excellent manual scan add/delete mode that works very well in a RV. The Artec and the Wineguard are the only DC powered units.
Setting Up Camp:
• So, you just pulled into a new campsite. How do you find out if there’s any TV to watch?
• You may have a DTV set or a set top converter so there is a wide variation of user interfaces. This makes it impossible to give just one best method. Just some general guidance ...
• Where do you initially point the antenna?
o Ask someone where the TV stations are.
o If you are camping with other RVs, note where their antennas are pointing and point yours there too.
o If camping alone, start by pointing toward the nearest large population concentration.
• If you have a set and DTV converter, first scan the analog receiver to see what is around. Transmitters are typically found in groups so if there is an analog signal there may be DTV signals there also. Turn the antenna to get the best analog picture for a starting point.
• Now scan the DTV set. Hopefully, that will turn up at least one decodable DTV signal.
• Or perhaps after scanning, when you push the remote’s up/down the set stops at a channel but there is no picture. This might be a near miss.
o Slowly turn the antenna first one way and then the other and see if a picture will pop into view.
o Slowly equals one Winegard antenna azimuth notch every 5 sec.
• Perhaps the scan turned up one or more viewable DTV signals.
Slowly turn the antenna first one way and then the other to find the range over which the signal(s) are above threshold.
• Then center the antenna in the range.
• Signal strength indicators:
o Many sets have some sort of signal “goodness” indicator mode.
o If you have a signal above threshold, you can use the signal strength reading to aim the antenna directly at the station. (The strength indicators don’t seem to work until the signal is above threshold.)
• Aim the antenna at the center of the range that makes pictures on at least one channel.
• Run another scan to see if more DTV signals can now be found.
• If no signals are found on the first try, turn the antenna 45° and scan again.
• DTV transmitters are often, but not always, sited near each other so if you find one, you may find many.
• After finding station(s), you may want to try pointing the antenna in a different direction to see if there are more to be found.
• If your converter or TV set has a manual scan or manual add/delete mode it often can be used to find stations.
o Point the antenna in a likely direction.
o Manually tune the converter through the channels looking for the presence of a DTV signal on the unit’s signal strength indicator.
o Once a signal is found, slowly turn the antenna to maximize its strength.
• One of the oddities of DTV is that after the signal is above threshold, greater signal amplitude does not help. Therefore, if there are several signals, work to bring the smallest above threshold without loosing the larger signals.
The RV Batwing Antenna:
• Your present Winegard Sensar (batwing) antenna system works very well for DTV.
• For channels 2-13, the batwing is bi-directional: it gets its largest signal when you aim either of its flat sides toward the station. (There are very, very few DTV signals on channels 2 – 6).
• For channels 14-51, it’s directional: it gets its largest signal when you aim the flat side that’s away from its support posts toward the station. (Since DTV signals like to hide what channel you are actually tuned to, try to turn the antenna so that side is toward the station.)
• When looking for DTV signals be sure to turn the antenna completely around.
• Winegard introduced an accessory for the Batwing antenna called Wingman. Wingman improves performance and makes the antenna much more directional on channels 14-51. While the Wingman’s improvement is relatively small, because of DTV’s threshold, it can make the difference between receiving and not receiving a signal.
A Nag:
• Have you lubed your coach’s TV antenna mechanism lately?
• It gets stiff if you don’t.
Contributor: Linley Gumm

Revised: 6 Oct 11

Monday, December 11, 2017

Cab AC - Air Flow Cuts Off Under Acceleration

Losing air flow from the dash vents under acceleration may be caused by a failed vacuum check valve. The HVAC's vent controls are powered by engine vacuum. Engine vacuum decreases during acceleration or going uphill. Under acceleration, stored vacuum from the reservoir is used to maintain HVAC's vacuum supply.

You can test for a bad check valve by turning the engine off, waiting 30 minutes and then, without starting the engine, moving the HVAC control to a new position, listening for movement under the dash, indicating that stored vacuum is still present. If you hear nothing, good chance the check valve has failed. The HVAC controls should normally operate the controls after sitting a day or more.

[Note: The default vent setting is to the floor vents. So the air is still flowing, it’s just not where you may want it. As an aside, you should set the vent control to off before turning off the engine in cold weather to keep air out of the passenger compartment]

The check valve/vacuum canister cannot be replaced by mere mortals. This why Ford charges $900 labor to do it.

You can Google for other DIY fixes, you will find thousands of hits. There are also YouTube's on the subject. I have not found any of them that speak to me. Of course, you may not find my fix to be understandable. Here is one from the Sportsmobile Forum.

The following describes a DIY procedure to save $900. In this procedure, we locate both ends of the hose and abandon the middle inaccessible section.

Parts:
Dorman Vacuum Reservoir
[If this is a dead link, Google for Vacuum Reservoir]

5 feet of 5/32 inch Vacuum Hose

On the E-series, the vacuum supply line runs from a port on the intake manifold, disappearing behind A/C components and exiting through the firewall near the passenger footwell.

1) Look for a 1/8" black plastic hose. One end leads to the intake manifold. The other end leads toward to passenger side of the firewall.
Here is a photo with the hose marked with red tape.



We will return here later.

2) Pull the plastic cover off the right side of the passenger foot well to gain access to the other end of the vacuum hose. What you are looking for is marked with the red tape.

 Closer


Cut the existing hose close to the firewall.  With a small flat blade screwdriver, remove the plastic grommet protecting the hose from the firewall. This will allow you to pull the hose out an inch or so where you will find another fitting slightly larger than the grommet hose. Cut on the other side of the grommet. Say goodbye to the old hose.

3) Now snake something through the grommet hose to the other side of the firewall to be able to pull a new hose through the firewall. I found that my coiled fish tape was too flexible for this purpose. I used a 2-foot long metal shirt hanger straightened out with a U on one the leading side. The angle that worked for me was inserting it through the hole from a 2 to an 8 o’clock position.

For this step, you need to be over 6 feet tall or use a stool so you can see straight down behind the battery. The snake will exit the firewall below the battery. Follow the wiper fluid fill tube down and you will see an electrical connector on the firewall. The snake will exit below that connector. You will be able to see it, but not touch it. When the DW got the U on the snake where I could see it, I used another shirt hanger also with a U on the end and grabbed the other U and pulled it up.

Now you can pull the hose from the passenger compartment to the engine compartment. I made a slit in the hose and inserted the U in my homemade snake through it so it could be pulled through.

Now insert the 1/8 hose from the manifold into the 5/32 hose.

4) The reservoir has an inlet and outlet nozzles, but it's not marked which is which. The 5/32 hose (the one you just pulled through the firewall fits one of the nozzles, but it's not the right one. Cut a short piece from the 1/8 hose you cut off, stick it in the 5/32 hose and the other into the cannister. Just reverse that for the other nozzle.

You should now test for air flow from the dash vents.

5) Now you need to locate the reservoir out of the way of feet. I elected to remove the small vertical dash panel just in front of the seat. The dash panel is mounted to an easily removed steel plate. Pull the plastic gently from the bottom.


Behind that plate is a home for the reservoir. I used Dual Lock to secure it to a plastic cover. By using Dual Lock I can grab the reservoir and remove it if I ever need to.


Secure the hose with quick ties and button everything up.

6) Enjoy cool air from dash vents.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

TV Ignition Cut-out Switch

In our 2002 30' with entertainment unit, I was told to disconnect the TV lockout in 2 different places: look for a blue wire directly behind the TV on the driver's side rear corner of the cabinet and/or a blue wire connected to the the yellow/black striped wire in the Ford radio harness accessible by removing the radio.  The blue wire receives power only with the ignition switch in run or accessory.

Thanks to Chris the solution was a 5-minute fix. In our case, the black Bosch relay box is behind the panel that has the inverter switch, TV amplifier switch, and amplifier plate. The wire was blue with a spade connector. He unplugged that and taped off the spade connector and it works now with the engine on. I am attaching a copy of the photo that Chris took of his wiring. The relay is at the back bottom left.





Chris H, Jim C




Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Window Regulator (Power Windows)


Our driver side cab window regulator failed on the trip we just returned from, and despite a kind offer to help with repair from Mr. Wade, I decided with time constraints I would give it a go myself in his absence. The mechanism gave a pop sound when raising the window, which then slowly descended into the door. This regulator has a vertical track that the window carrier slides on, with a cable drive whose ends attach to the carrier from top and bottom plastic glides. The cable is wound on a drum, driven by the window motor, under spring tension. In our case, the upper cable end released from the carrier, allowing the window to drop.


Once the inner door panel and water shield are removed, you can access the regulator and motor assembly attachments. The bottom edge of the window is affixed to a metal bracket with some sealant/glue. The bracket is attached to the regulator carrier with two 1/4" pop rivets, and more of these attach the bottom of the track to the door, and three more attach the motor assembly to the door. The top of the track has two studs attached with nuts.


I removed the pop rivets by using a spring-loaded punch to pop out the nail in the middle, then a 1/4" drill to separate the rivets. It takes a bit of fiddling with the window glass to be able to access those rivets. I blocked the window fully up to wrestle the old mechanism out and the new one in and used 1/4-20 bolts and nylon locknuts in place of the rivets for re-installation. I used duct tape pieces to hold the nuts/bolts on the tools I used to install some of the marginally accessible ones.


Note: I believe a worn plastic attachment point for the cable on the window carrier allowed the cable to release. I disassembled the old regulator cable drum and found that attempting to operate the motor after that had destroyed the cable inside the drum - not repairable. The part I ordered was a regulator with motor complete for about $60 from RockAuto, but replacing the unit without motor would have been successful as well.


Steve

_______________________________________________________________
                 
When I replace our LD's window regulator, every pop-rivets' pin was bent and they would not pop out, no matter what tool I used on them. The pins were too hard to drill out, so they had to be cut off using a pneumatic angle grinder.

I was able to find a Motorcraft regulator from Rock Auto but I see they are no longer available.


I used pop-rivets to reattach the new regulator but would have used 1/4" bolts and lock-nuts if I didn't already have the tool.


Amazing how cheap the replacement parts are. Even more amazing is how much it cost to have one installed.


There is only a $20 difference between just the regulator, the part that breaks, and the whole assembly. You can swap the motor but, being many years old,  it's a better choice to replace it too.


If the rivet's center pins pop out easily, as they did Steve's LD, it isn't an exceptionally complicated job. He used a spring-loaded center punch to break to break the pins loose.

TEKTON 6580 Automatic Center Punch - - Amazon.com There is a bolt or two, used in installing the new regulator, that is a challenge to get to.

I was able to install new, 1/4" pop rivets, to hold the new regulator in, already owning a big pop-rivet tool.

Amazon.com: Astro 1426 1/4-Inch Heavy-Duty Hand Riveter: Home Improvement It isn't something you will probably ever use again so don't bother buying one, use bolts and lock-nuts instead. 1/4" pop-rivets are often used in kayak construction to attach accessories and deck gear.

FYI, Steve's new regulator came with the needed nuts and bolts. The Motorcraft replacement I used didn't.


Larry




Monday, November 20, 2017

Tire Pressure Management Systems (TPMS)

Tire Pressure Management Systems (TPMS)

The following discussion was compiled from a long thread about TPMS on the Lazy Daze Owners' Group forum. Various TPMS brands have been bolded.



We have TPMS from Tire Safeguard. Flow through for LD and not for the toad. Have been very satisfied, especially with the telephone support when monitors got out of sync and technical spent about 1/2 hour helping to re-sequence. Kudos.

Tom



From Technomadia:

Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems (TPMS) for RVs - Why the EEZTIRE is Our...



We recently purchased the TireTracker system at a Rally in Indiana. It is a different system compared to one pictured in the link. We haven't installed it yet but plan to do so in the very near future, It was an expensive purchase but something we just felt we couldn't live without any longer. It has some features we liked including a notification when tire temp suddenly changes, alerting the driver to a potential problem. Jeff from RV safety came across as knowledgeable and credible at the various rally presentations he made on safety.  




I would not be without one.  I have been happy with my PressurePro TPMS.  It has been on for 9 years now. I bought it before I took delivery of my '08, and have had the sensors, with non-replaceable batteries, in place since then.  Around year 2, I had a sensor go bad.  It was replaced, no cost, under warranty.  At 7 years, in very cold weather, I had a sensor (1 of 10) that would be slow to register, and would occasionally lose its connection to the monitor.  So, with 7 years on the sensors and an expected life of 5 years, I replaced all the sensors.  I am at 9 years on the system, with no other issues.  As Larry said about his system, programming the sensors is annoying but other than needing to press the buttons just right, is not onerous, particularly since I have only needed to do it a few times in 9 years.

I should note that I set my tire pressure with a digital pressure gauge.  That gauge agrees with the two analog gauges on my compressor, e.g., I can set them at 80 psi, let the compressor charge the tire, then check the tire and I read 80 psi.  However, the reading reported by the sensors can vary by several pounds.  That really doesn't matter, because the sensors are intended to measure and report a CHANGE in tire pressure.  They do a good job of that, and as the programming is individual sensor rather than group programming, if a number reading is off by a few pounds, that is of no consequence.  A loss of pressure on one sensor will be reported as quickly as a loss of pressure on another and is a function of percentage pressure change.  There is an old expression - "Man with one watch knows the time.  Man with two watches never sure."  As the sensors are highly reliable in detecting and reporting pressure changes, but not as much in reporting actual pressure, I do not use them to set my tire pressure.  I make the tire pressure right and use the tire pressure to set the sensor.

My TPMS, PressurePro, does not require a pre-departure scan.  Once I turn it on, it takes a few minutes before every sensor "logs in" to the monitor.  Once they do log in, any low values set off an alarm.  Pressures are subsequently checked by the sensors every few seconds.  If a pressure falls outside of the range, an alarm is immediately sent to the monitor.  If all is ok, each sends pressure information to the monitor every few minutes.  It is no distraction unless an alarm goes off, but that is something I would want to know.

In 9 years of full timing, I have gotten one alarm from a failed sensor, and I have seen a number of first things AM alarms where a tire pressure is down a few pounds, due to the cold weather overnight.  The pressure in the low tire is displayed, allowing me to decide if I need to pull out my compressor, or if it is OK to roll.  Case in point, currently my TOAD pressures are reading 29 to 30 in the morning, and I usually take them up to 33.  So, the alarm goes off, I look at the readings, and I silence the alarm.  It will repeat in a few minutes if the pressure stays low, but usually, a mile of driving brings the pressure up to my "OK" range.

When you check the pressure in the morning before starting out, you travel, knowing ONLY what the pressure USED to be.  With a TPMS, you know what the pressure is, all the time.  For some, they see no need for a TPMS.  I would not travel without one.

My TPMS, PressurePro, does not require a pre-departure scan.  Once I turn it on, it takes a few minutes before every sensor "logs in" to the monitor.  Once they do log in, any low values set off an alarm.  Pressures are subsequently checked by the sensors every few seconds.  If a pressure falls outside of the range, an alarm is immediately sent to the monitor.  If all is ok, each sends pressure information to the monitor every few minutes.  It is no distraction unless an alarm goes off, but that is something I would want to know.

In 9 years of fulltiming, I have gotten one alarm from a failed sensor, and I have seen a number of first thing AM alarms where a tire pressure is down a few pounds, due to the cold weather overnight.  The pressure in the low tire is displayed, allowing me to decide if I need to pull out my compressor, or if it is OK to roll.  Case in point, currently my TOAD pressures are reading 29 to 30 in the morning, and I usually take them up to 33.  So, the alarm goes off, I look at the readings, and I silence the alarm.  It will repeat in a few minutes if the pressure stays low, but usually a mile of driving brings the pressure up to my "OK" range.

When you check the pressure in the morning before starting out, you travel, knowing ONLY what the pressure USED to be.  With a TPMS, you know what the pressure is, all the time.  For some, they see no need for a TPMS.  I would not travel without one.

Ken F 



TST (Truck System Technologies). We have used this system for a number of years on two RV's. Works just fine. I change the batteries each Spring simply to avoid having to change them on the road should they fail. Much easier to do at home at my convenience with all the tools I might need.

TST 507 Flow Thru Kit - Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems - Truck System...

"How much space does the read out gizmo take on the dashboard?  He has a Scan Gauge up there now."
Can't speak to all brands, of course, but the general answer to your question is 'not much'. Perhaps an area say 3' long by 1" deep. And it doesn't have to be right in front of the driver's eyes either, especially if there is a passenger to keep an eye on it now and then. I have a Scan Gauge, GPS and a TPMS and they all get together just fine.

"Can the sensors be put on if one has the air-thru filler valves, or do these sensors replace the filler valves?"
The sensors replace the valve stem cap.

"Limited physical acuity will probably preclude self-installation, unless it is really easy to do.  What sort of dealer (tire?) should we contact, if needed?"As long as a person in your group can check the tire pressure now, they can install any of the TPMS systems. You just remove the existing cap and screw these in their place. However, sometimes, depending on the type of decorative wheel covers you have, the length of the valve stem and the size of the sensor, it may be necessary to enlarge the hole on the cover to accommodate the sensor. I had to do this to the two front wheel covers on my 2015. The holes simply were not large enough. Now I could have added a short extension to the valve stem to get it further out, but I really didn't want too. A drill with an abrasive attachment made quick work of making the hole larger. Plus I'm guessing that some of the metal I ground off would help offset the additional weight of the sensor.



The first set of sensors we had did not have the flow-through stem feature. Before every trip,  I like to get the tire pressures balanced because tires simply lose air over time. With the old system, I had to take all the sensors off to do this.  Doable, but a PITA. The ones I have now have the flow-through stem so, before each trip, I just check the tire pressure with my gauge and use my pump to get everything just as I want it. A very convenient, time-saving feature.

Ed 



Hello all,
I had the experience yesterday of having a tire blow out on my Lazy Daze 26.5.  It was the left outer tire that blew as I hit something on the way south on I95.  I saw it and had tried to avoid it but no luck.  My TireTraker system did exactly what it was supposed to.  It started flashing a bright red light and beeping loudly warning me that I was losing pressure very quickly.  I have a hearing loss and I was still able to hear it quite clearly.  I drove slowly to the next exit and had the spare put on the camper.  While the spare was being installed (for $25) we got to witness the Eclipse within six miles of the center of the path.

Fortunately, I had ordered a TireTraker system last week and had it installed the night before I had the tire problem.  This is the first trip I have made with the TPMS and I am sure glad I had it.  Being able to check on what pressure was in which tire and see the individual temperatures is very helpful.  I am now a believer in TPMS systems and their value to RVers.  Had I not known what happened I would have had to pull off to inspect the damage and the traffic was VERY heavy going south on I95 in South Carolina at the time.  Stopping on the highway would have been a very dangerous option but I did not have to thanks to the TireTraker system.

I bought a TireTraker because I had heard about it from some close RVer friends who have had one for many years.  In the latest issue of an RV magazine, they reviewed all of the popular systems including the one I bought.  It was very easy to install as the manual was quite complete and easy to follow.  One of the reasons I bought this system is that the individual sending units attach directly to the end of the tire valve stem and weigh less than 1/2 an ounce.  I can add sending units when pulling a trailer. No having to remove a tire from rims or anything like other TPMS equipment I have seen.  The batteries are cheap and plentiful and can be changed without removing the sending units.  It is a well thought out system and I am sure glad I had put it on when I did.

When I purchased my system I was told by the representative of TireTraker that I would need their "Repeater transmitter" as our RV's have an aluminum skin.  That may be true with a trailer but the basic system worked just fine on my 26.5 LD and the signal strength was fine in my vehicle.

This little device made a potentially bad experience into a manageable one.  It kept me from having to stop on a crazy busy road and risking an accident.  It protected my family and my dear little Lazy Daze RV. That made it worth every penny it cost, to me.

I hope you never experience a blow out at speed as it gets exciting fast.  Having safety equipment like the TireTraker makes my confidence level go up a notch while cruising along at 70 mph on a busy highway.

I really liked how simple the TireTraker was to install. I installed the batteries on the sensors and screwed them on in place of the caps on the tire valve stems.  Next, I programmed the controller by identifying each sensor, it took less than two minutes to finalize the programming on the system.  I spent less than 10 minutes installing the entire system (including the repeater) myself and getting it setup.
My system uses a battery inside the receiver which will last for a month of everyday use they tell me.  The kit includes a charging adaptor that uses the cigarette lighter or you can use a USB port to charge it up.  The receiver is smaller than my iPhone 6.  One negative on the TireTraker is that you cannot leave the system plugged in continuously, the instructions tell you to charge it regularly but don't leave it plugged in 24/7.  The battery can be overcharged and damaged if left charging continuously.

The kit has a dashboard mount but I used a piece of Velcro to hold it in place.  In the kit are included a set of locks to secure the sensors from thieves if you feel it is warranted.  

Overall I have been very impressed with the quality of the TireTraker kit and it works great!  I have looked at several of the competitors and they all seem to be very nice as there are several ways to get the same information.I am handicapped and don't bend very well as I crushed five discs in my lower back.  Even with my limitations, it was very easy to install and setup.
Having a serious hearing loss I had to find a device that would get my immediate attention in times of emergency.   The receiver has a little red lite that flashes very brightly as well as a loud beeper.  When it went off I was immediately aware even with my limitations.

Safety equipment is a "must have", and since I do most of the maintenance on my vehicle it had to be simple to maintain as well for me to buy one.  There are some nice systems out there and I came close to buying a system with the blow through sensors but decided against it as it would require shorter valve extensions or having pressure pushing on the extension mounts.  I really did not want to have to remove wheels to install parts.  The system I have made it as easy as checking the pressure, just change the caps and the installation was practically done.  The programming was easier than putting the sensor caps on.

I am happy with my purchase and feel it was the best option for me.  I hope that you folks that are in the market for a TPMS have an experience like mine has been.  Life should be so simple all the time.  Good luck and safe travels.

Chris McCloskey



Like you, I too have the TST 507 flow thru...I just this year replaced the batteries, even tho they were still working fine..just thought that nearly three years of use might be pushing it, and wanted to do the replacements before needed, at my leisure...grin. 

I'm very happy with the system--and love the temp as well as pressure readings. Keeps me informed what temps are running especially when driving in the south west in 110 plus weather. 

I just had a "loss of air" on the infamous inside passenger tire..the alarm told me instantly there was an issue..got me stopped asap. 
The system has paid for itself several times over. 

Gini Free


Our Doran RV360 is still working fine after five years.

I wouldn't want to travel without it working.

Larry



I have the RV 360 as well. This trip west is had trouble with two sensors intermittently losing contact with the receiver.  I called the company and they confirmed my belief the batteries are getting weak.  The sensor life can be prolonged by (being more diligent than I) taking the sensors off when the RV is not in use.  I've had the system for 4-5 years.  I purchased extra sensors for the Subaru. I need to get metal stems for the car before adding the cars to the system. 

John DeCrema



Ed  G



Do you use a repeater with your setup, Ed?


Chris 

No. Not on our '08 MB and not on the TK. Never had a reception problem so far.
But I only have the sensors on the camper, not on the Jeep. The wheel style on my Jeep doesn't have holes large enough for the sensor without me adding an extension to each tire, which I rather not do.

I just keep the rear view camera on while driving and watch for black smoke which might indicate a flat tire on the Jeep. 

Ed 111 




We have the EEZ TPMS and tow a Subaru.  The monitor picks all 10 sensors within a few minutes and we've not lost a connection once it's turned on.  In other words, does not need a repeater.  This system gives us PSI and temperature readings for each tire with the capacity to change settings.  I'm liking this.

Ed G



If one gets the type of TPMS that plugs into a cigarette-lighter-style 12V outlet, the only installation that might be required are all metal valve stems and toad.  The monitor for the TPMS can just sit in a drink holder or some other pocket that can be reached by the cord.  They alarm if there is an issue, so you don't need to have the monitor "front and center" to watch for problems.  

For the dualies on the coach, you'll want to get the stems from someplace like Borg or Tireman, for the toad we used Discount Tire.  You do not want to attach the weight of the TPMS sensors to the end of a rubber stem or flexible extender; you want solid metal valve stems (and in the case of the inner rear duallies, you want the stems supported by a stabilizer as they stick through the outer dual rims). 

We generally advise against Camping World touching anything on a coach (although there is a handful of CWs that we have heard aren't bad.  That hasn't been our experience).

Michelle Cook



In response to Chip, the TPMS I purchased and am trying to decide whether to keep or return is a TireMinder Smart TPMS that uses one's phone for displaying tire data and alerts. It's a fairly new model.

The valve cap pressure sensors communicate with a TireMinder module that can be placed anywhere in the cab and which then communicates with one's phone via Bluetooth. Assuming it works, I like this approach because it means one less screen in the cab.

Also, the TireMinder module alone will signal an alarm with just a tone and a light. You thus can check the data on your phone only when needed, not having it as a constant presence, and distraction. This is much like how factory installed TPMS works on most cars.

Our LD is a 2003 26.5' Rear Bath and we tow a Jeep Wrangler.     

Terry Burnes



I use the TireMinder system.   Having worked as a Test Engineer in a past life I have a bit of understanding of lab vs real world situations.  I will not nor am I able to defend any company but having said that most folks don't read the spec sheets or have expectations of equipment that the company will never meet.  

For instance, I did not install the wireless booster so I expect that I will lose signal from the transmitters.  Also, there will be interference from assorted other wireless transmitters that a boosterless system will not be able to overcome.    Having read the spec sheet I understand the system is accurate to plus or minus 3%.  In the real world on my standard tire pressure of 75, it can read anywhere from 72 to 78 and still be within the range of 'normal'.  When you toss in the tire gauge itself you could have an error of another 2 to 5%.  If the 'errors' go in the 'wrong' direction you could have an error of 8% or more - meaning tire reading with your tire gauge could be plus or minus of 6 pds on my standard 75 tire pressure ie 69 to 81. 

So the question is should I buy a TPMS.  Frankly, I use my system because I'm lazy.    I will know when a tire goes flat - I'm very sure of that.  I use the system to 'check' the air pressure before I drive off.  Yes, there is a cheaper way, like going around with a tire pressure gauge but like I said I'm lazy.  This ensures in my personal life I 'check'.  My recommendation --  If you don't have an extra 300 to 400 dollars and you ALWAYS  check tire pressures before you drive off to save your money.  

Glen (colddog)



Other than the recent blowout, we have had a couple slow leaks. I'm more concerned about our toad's tires, there is no way of knowing what is going other than the view from the camera.

I know several LD owners who had flats on their toads and never knew about it until they could see smoke or passing motorist flagged them down. 
One toad burned to the ground. Preventing this alone made the purchase
worthwhile.

One thing I love about the TPMS is NOT having to daily manually check the tire pressure, It takes about ten seconds to scroll through the ten tires, on the TPMS's monitor. It a real pleasure to use on a cold, rainy morning. 
Not having to manually check the pressure prevent any air from being lost, during the checking, which can add up on a long trip and require adding air. I rarely add air while on the road.

I would not want a system that uses my cell phone as it's monitor, preferring it to be completely stand-alone, so nothing needs to be done other than turning on the ignition. Make it as easy on yourself as possible is my logic. YMMV

Larry



Our TPMS-TireMinder TM66 has a wireless Signal Booster. Prior to setting up the booster when I originally installed the system, I got several "warnings" of both air pressure and temperature failures. 

Since activating the booster, I have had no false warnings and one warning of a lost signal from a sensor (battery failure). 

If the rig has been sitting in the driveway for a couple of weeks or more, I will check each tire manually. I use an analog tire pressure gauge manufactured for TireMinderwhich is stated to be within +/- 1 psi accuracy. The TM66 itself is stated to be within +/- 2.7 psi. This would suggest that there could be a variance of +/- 4.7psi. Is it perfectly accurate? Probably as good as others, I suppose. I have no issues with the system other than those I have mentioned.

While traveling, I rely on the TM66 monitor to determine air pressure before hitting the road. 

ONE THING: TireMinder states that a Scan of the Sensors be taken prior to departure. The manufacturer states that if the rig has been stationary for more than 9 hours a scan is needed to update the accuracy of the TPMS. It's a simple matter of pressing two buttons on the monitor and waiting about 20 minutes before departure. Then I check each tires pressure/temp via the monitor. Easily done and part of my travel routine.

I am not certain if other TPMS's need a pre-departure scan but it would seem to be a prudent action to take. If for nothing else, a little peace of mind.

Kent 




We started using a TPMS (Pressure Pro) in 2011.  We had a situation earlier where we discovered low pressure in a toad tire that turned out to be a nail, and if we hadn't noticed the low-ish looking tire, we likely would have done damage.  That tire needed repair, and a TPMS would have shown that slow leak.

Our initial experience with PressurePro was frustrating.  One seal kept causing a tire to leak down.  We got new seals.  Another sensor failed bizarrely reading very HIGH pressures (in a construction zone.  In a torrential downpour).  The sensor continued to send odd readings even when removed from the wheel.  Tap it on the counter and the reading would change.  Pressure Pro had never heard of such a thing.

After replacing that sensor (and the seals in all the others), the system has been solid.  It actually alerted us to yet another nail in a toad tire.  We replaced all sensors in 2016 since a couple started failing (internal batteries).
At a minimum, we would always have a TPMS for a toad.  We also like having it for the coach.  Now, you do need to make sure you have one-piece metal valve stems on any wheel that has a TPMS sensor, and support any long stems with a proper stabilizing grommet (e.g. if you get Borg stems for the rear duals and they stick out through the holes in the outer duals).

Our research showed non-replaceable battery sensors were a little lighter than those with replaceable batteries, so that's how we chose our TPMS.  Less stress on the valve stems.  When the current sensors start to fail we'll revisit the TPMS options at that time.

N.B. - Valterra has purchased Minder Research, the makers of TireMinder.

Michelle Cook



I don't understand why you would remove them for manual air checks? That is one of the main purposes for having them. In the case of the LD, we use flow-through sensors and they are never removed except to replace batteries. On the Subaru, we use the non-flow through so they are removed when we have to air up the tires. While we should remove sensors when parked for any extended time to preserve the battery we never remove them. So, for over 9 years now we have had TPMS on our LD. 

On our previous model the Doran RV 360 we had battery failures which required the sensors be replaced. On the EEZ RV model, we have used since Jan 2014 we have had one sensor fail to work properly that was replaced under warranty and other than that no air loss because of a sensor.

The only alarms we have had are the occasional beep if the monitor temporarily loses a sensor. That is partly my fault because I don't have a regular schedule for replacing batteries. Recently, I set up the repeater to see if that completely eliminates that from happening but have only used it once so can't comment on that.

For me, TPMS is just another form of insurance and convenience. In my case, I hated checking air pressures every time we headed out.

All that said, I agree, that they aren't perfect but it works for us.

Jim C


Our Doran RV360 TPSM is almost five years old, with two of the sensors replaced due to failure. It has worked, without failing, since new and has stayed accurate

A repeater was added early on after losing contact, at times, with the inside dual tires.

The biggest problems have been the difficulty of programming and the limited pressure differential range. The Jeep's oversize tires often alarm low, on cold mornings, and can have a high-pressure alarm the same day, if driving on a hot day.
I have compared the Doran's accuracy to several digital pressure gauges and the sensors are within a pound or two of being the same. The Doran updates very quickly, even after being off overnight or days, useful for when adding air, which isn't very often.Not losing air every day, while testing, and tight Michelin tires, let us go for weeks or longer without adding air. In fifteen years, I have never used our 12-volt compressor, on the road, ordinarily airing up at home. I should plug it in some time to see if it still works :-)

The Doran's biggest fault is the non-replaceable batteries. On the plus side, 8 of the 10 sensors are still good after five years. I know folks, with TPMSs, that have needed to start changing their batteries after just a year. It would be interesting to know how many sensors fail due to battery cap seal leakage, before and after a battery replacement.

If towing, I fully recommend a TPMS, along with a rear view camera.
The piece of mind is worth the cost, IMO
No one ever said this was going to be cheap.

Larry



I first used a TireTracker several years ago which quit working after 3-years. I replaced that with the TST which has given me no problems in the last 6-years of use. The only difficulty was with the programming of the unit. However, the TST people easily assisted me by phone to finish the task. The tire sensors have replaceable button batteries and O-ring seals. Very easy to do. I did opt for the repeater that I placed on the back window of my RB and powered it from the light fixture above the toilet. Easy job. The tire pressures are within 1-3-lb. of my gauge. I used non-pass through sensors that require a special security wrench to remove. Still easy to do. TSTdoes offer the pass-through sensors. 
Mike, 2010RB

First, a big thank you to those who do the heavy lifting on the LDO forum and make it possible for newbies like me to read and learn from those willing to share their expertise and experience.

I think it had a lot to do with my positive experience using a few of the products and services recommended by others on this site during this recent string of unplanned LD related events over the past couple of weeks.

It started with installing the 2nd hand TST 507 TPMS that I found didn't work due to a broken antennae solder connection.

That led to an email to TST support, which promptly replied I could make a warranty claim since it was under 3yrs old or upgrade to the latest color version for $99.

Mike Benson, mbenson@tsttruck.com, said they are offering the new color monitor to existing customers at a "discount" and others if they call and ask.

Ordered a new TST 507 cap set that comes with a color monitor, 4 sensors, and repeater for $318 since I wanted 4 more sensors for the toad.  Plus I sent in the old one for the warranty claim and both arrived within a week.

Went to install the TPMS again before our trip and developed a valve stem leak on the outer curbside dually when testing out the new TPMS.

Dropped off the LD at Les Schwab in Elk Grove who replaced the valve stem for free but also put on a stem that was too short and not centered on the hole since they said that was all they had.

Left for the trip with the TPMS gadgets in the box and minus one wheel cover since it touched the edge of the new valve stem when installed.

Returned to S&B from a trip and checked the tire pressure the next day and discovered the valve stem on the inner curbside dually was broken off at the base.

Called Progressive Insurance partnered with USAA on the chance it was covered under the roadside assistance and it was.  The service tech showed up at the S&B within 30min of calling and put on the spare.

Called Six Robbless and ordered the DL1EC brass Dually valve kit for less than anywhere else I could find - you have to call since they do not list the valve stems on their site.  Received the tracking number via email within a couple of hours.

So, all in all, we got a ton of good info out of this event and trip.  Found out TST now has a color monitor, good support and warranty policy, Les Schwab has good customer service but should probably not be the ones to install the new valves without more direction, Progressive insurance partnered with USAA has excellent roadside assistance - at least in Sacramento area, Six Robblees has excellent customer service and prices, and the LD can go at least 5hrs and 250mi on half a dually though not recommended.

Sometimes things go your way - whew!

Rich Meek



I've been using the Tire Minder TM66 since we started traveling in our LD.  https://youtu.be/FA1ZHbWcEnc Along with the TPMS, be sure to pick up an accurate tire pressure gauge that you will need to insure the TPMS accuracy.

My first choice of pressure gauges was the Tire Minder Analog (needle style read out) gauge but found that accurately assessing the pressure very difficult. This required me to take the tire stem sensor of the TPMS off several times before I could find the right pressure. Very frustrating to say the least.

I recently purchased the Tire Minder Digital pressure guage and while I haven't used it yet I can only imagine how much easier it will be to see what pressure I have added to the tires.   https://youtu.be/DopVLHn1iyc

Picked mine up on Amazon for $25. it's the best price I have found for this particular guage. I believe the video states the guage is accurate to +/- 1 psi but the package states it to be accurate to +/- 2 psi. Still not bad and a better option than its analog kin.

A good TPMS is essential. Makes heading down the road so much more relaxing. You have enough to think about while driving your new LD. Like what's for lunch or where is the nearest Starbucks.

Kent H

Nov. 2017

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Intermittent Cruise Control

We've had a worsening problem with intermittent cruise control operation on our late 2003 E450. The cruise control operated as it should for many years, but then we began to experience periods when it wouldn't activate. This got steadily worse until on our last trip it hardly worked at all, despite pushing all the steering wheel controls repeatedly and in various orders and checking other things.

A post on this site and a number of posts elsewhere suggest that the most likely culprit in this situation is the cruise control deactivation pressure switch on the bottom of the brake master cylinder. This switch provides redundancy to the mechanical switch on the brake pedal, creating two ways that the cruise control is deactivated when the brakes are activated.

Similar switches have been the subject of recalls on various Ford vehicles due to the slight risk of fire should they leak, resulting in brake fluid reaching the electrical contacts and igniting. That can apparently happen even when the vehicle is parked. But our E450 was not part of that recall, having been built in May 2003 after the problem was presumably solved.

That doesn't mean that this switch can't fail though, and when it does it fails so as to leave the cruise control deactivated, which makes sense. In our case and many others, this seems to happen slowly with the switch working sometimes and not others.

I ordered a new switch here:

New Motorcraft SW-6350 Cruise Control Cutout Switch 1L1Z-9F924-AA * P184 * |...

[If the eBay link above goes dead, Google for Motorcraft SW-6360]

That is actually a kit for replacing the switch "in kind" on newer vehicles like ours and also apparently upgrading the switch on older vehicles that used a different one. Thus it includes a short wiring harness to adapt the old electrical connection to the new switch. It's actually useful to have that even if you don't need it, as it allows you to clearly understand how the connector detaches from and attaches to the switch, always an annoying step when working with automotive electrical connectors. Sometimes figuring out how they work is the hardest part of a job like this.

To gain access to the switch I worked from the fender on the driver's side of the engine bay. I removed the three bolts that hold the round plastic coolant reservoir and moved it out of the way. No need to detach its plumbing. Leave the cap on and no coolant will spill. Then I moved some other cables out of the way and held them aside temporarily with zip ties.

I then placed a towel down under the switch to catch the few drops of brake fluid that will result from this and to catch any dropped tools or parts and keep them from descending into the nether regions of the engine bay.

Then I removed the electrical connector from the old switch. Use the wiring harness that came with the new switch to figure out how to do that. Then I removed the switch itself. Both my old and new switches require a 7/8" wrench. Older switches might be different. I just used a small crescent wrench to loosen the switch and then removed it the rest of the way by hand. The shorter the wrench the better as space is tight.

Before you fully remove the switch note that it is tapped into the brake master cylinder at an angle. You will need to install the new switch at the same angle. Failure to notice this could result in a lot of frustration when trying to thread the new switch into its receptacle. You'll get a few drops of brake fluid coming out with the old switch. But provided you leave the cap on the master cylinder reservoir you won't get any ongoing dripping from the hole into which the switch is threaded.

I hand tightened the new switch and then snugged it up tight with the crescent wrench. Don't over tighten. I then reconnected the wiring and went for a drive and the cruise control worked flawlessly. I'll be keeping an eye on the new switch for awhile to be sure it isn't leaking brake fluid.

It's very gratifying to fix something like this, that has been an ongoing and puzzling annoyance, for the grand sum of $18 and about 15 minutes of time. As opposed to going to a mechanic who might or might not know about this problem and who could spend hours going through all the steps for diagnosing cruise control problems and/or replacing several much more expensive parts before finding the culprit and fixing it. A process that would be made more difficult if the cruise control happened to be working while it was in for diagnosis.

If your cruise control is intermittent or not working I suggest giving this a try as a first step.
Terry Burnes - October 2017

A slightly helpful YouTube.