RV Experience Sharing our experience about RVing

August 8, 2005

Telephone, Voice Over IP

Filed under: Uncategorized — donwood49 @ 3:09 am

Telephone commications on the road is as important or even more important than at a brick house. Keeping in touch with friends and business associates while on the road can be a challenge. We each have a verizon cell phone, which works well for the three of us most of the time. A problem arises when the RV enters into the cell phone twilight zone. In order to keep in contact, where the cell phone signal won’t go, I added a Linksys PAP2Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) phone adapter to the RV network. I got it at Circuit City. The Vonage telephone service is what is used. We can use the DataStorm Satellite Internet System for the connection. It’s OK most of the time in the RV and works perfectly on the house DSL connection. It’s only OK in the RV because the uplink ocassionally breaks up a little due to the uplink bandwidth being only 30-38Kbps while the downlink works well due to it being 250-500k. The devices lowest bandwidth requires 30k. There is a considerable delay of 1-2 seconds due to the satellite propagation delays. The delay takes a little getting used to. The delay is sort of like the delay you see on the nightly news where the reporter at their remote or network seems to be asleep when asked a question taking a couple of seconds to start their response. The sound quality is as good or better than our Verizon cell phone. In the RV, it works really well at night but during the day, sometimes, you don’t get a good connection. Just hangup and try again and it usually is OK. In the house on DSL there is no difference from the SBC copper line.
What’s really neat about this, in addition to the price ($15/mo for 500 minutes, or $25 for unlimited, anywhere in US and Canada) is that you can have any phone area code you want and you can take it with you. Just unplug it from the RV, take it in the house, take it into the office, the library, anywhere there is an Broadband connection. You could even do it at any WiFi spot if you add a wireless bridge device like the (about $80). Hawking Wireless AP/Bridge or similar bridge.
The VOIP performed so well that I got another for our daughter Dawn’s apartment. I’m a little upset with SBC’s costs recently and while we have to keep the phone to have the DSL at both Dawn’s apartment and our house, we can keep the long distance and zone charges down by using Vonage. Another great thing, the hardware is free and it only requires a three month committment. They must be confident it works. The PAP2 Lynksys adapter cost $60 at Circuit City and they give two rebates totaling $60. You can get a $50 rebate anywhere else or get the hardware directly from Vonage for free. It takes all of 5 minutes to have your new phone number working, including setup of the hardware and the account. I’m impressed!

The Vonage PAP2 adapter is the small box under the router in the middle of the picture. It has three cables, one to the Ethernet, one to the phone and the third for the wall wart power supply. Quite easy to move around.
We hooked up a wireless phone to the vonage adapter in the RV and can use the the phone anywhere around our campsite, wherever that may be.
Update:
I’m currently trying out the NetZero VOIP system in the RV. Vonage is good at home on the DSL line but not always good in the RV using the DirecWay satellite system. The bandwidth of the uplink is too limited in the RV. NetZero has a satellite option and also claims to work on dialup phone service. So I’m trying it out.
So far, it has worked great. Very clear voice quality now. If this continues, I’ll add a USB phone adapter and load the software into the Network Access Point so I won’t need a laptop as I do now while testing.
More information to follow.

Toad Setup

Filed under: Uncategorized — donwood49 @ 12:58 am

Our towed vehicle (Toad) is a 1992 Volvo 245 station wagon. This is our “new” car as our other car is a 1987 just like it. We like them so the decision to set it up as our toad was easy. The cost of the modifications probably exceeded the value of the car? There were three problems to be overcome in preparing this vehicle to be towed on its own wheels. One was to disconnect the drive line; the other was to setup the brake system.

The front towbar mounts for our 1992 Volvo 245 station wagon. The brackets are not removable, only the cross-bar can be removed. We always leave it in place.

The Roadmaster Sterling towbar on the RV.

Remco driveline disconnect control. Attached on paassenger side of driveline hump.

Remco driveline disconnect

The Unified Brake System from US Gear on our Volvo is installed under the hood, not under the seat as it would normally be. This made a much cleaner installation. The brake solenoid (actuator) is shown on the left center of the above picture, the gold tube with the cable circling to the top right.

The vacuum pump (gray box in center of picture) for the brake system that makes it work more effectively.

The control for the brake system is the device on the top left of the dash to the right of the headlight switch. This can be used to set the sensitivity of the brakes and to manually apply the brakes.
Hookup and disconnect couldn’t be easier. Just hookup the tow-bar, connect the umbilical cord, place the transmission in neutral and pull the disconnect lever. This connects the brake system and lighting. The Unified Braking System is a proportional braking system and we never even notice we are towing the extra weight.
Note:
4/1/05 Our Toad was setup almost two years ago now. The Remco drive line disconnect has worked well except for some difficulty re-engaging it after disconnect. It almost always involved some pushing or rolling of the car. For this reason, I tried to disconnect on pavement and on a slight grade. Forget about trying it on gravel.
Finally, we had an occasion when we couldn’t get it engaged. I looked underneath and decided the cable sheath had come loose from the holding clamp so it didn’t apply any force to engage the disconnect. I crawled under and wrapped some #18 wire around the sheath and reinstalled the clamp. It now works like it should have all along. Now it snaps right in with just a slight roll to mesh the cogs. I intended to adjust it sometime but necessity forced this to the top of the list. It’s probably been loose from day one. I had the Remco disconnect installed but I don’t blame the installer. It looks like the clamp wasn’t sized appropriately. The sheath has a plastic coat over the metal sheath. The plastic had pushed out of the way and the clamp wasn’t tight on the metal sheath. The addition of the coil of wire around the sheath increased the diameter such that the clamp now holds the sheath tight. The control now has a positive feel and engages easily. Wish I hadn’t waited so long but that is the power of procrastination.

5/2007 More problems reconnecting the drive-line. It was next to impossible. When the car was in for service last time I requested the mechanic to put some grease on the disconnect mechanism. (I’ve become a bit too large to squeeze under the car anymore). He did and it made a wonderful difference. It works again. It didn’t have any grease on it when new but I’ll bet the manual, if I’d read it, mentions lubrication.

August 7, 2005

Create Your Own Website

Filed under: Uncategorized — donwood49 @ 8:57 am

Why Would I Want A Blog
A blog allows your family and friends and other perfect strangers to follow your experiences with ease.
But I’m Not A Geek
You don’t really need to be technically inclined to start your own website. This website uses a “blog” to make it easier to maintain. A blog allows you to post articles to your website and the blog software takes care of the basic format and maintains the links that relate all the pages on your website. When a site becomes larger, this automatic link management really comes in handy. This site uses a blog managed by blogger.com and hosted on our own website. The simplest way to start your own blog is to utilize the hosting provided by blogger.com. You can always move to another web host at any time in the future.
A Simpler Way To Find Your Blog
You may desire to register your own “domain name”. A domain name is a shortcut to your website. It is useful to provide a simple link to your site that will be consistent in the future and allow you to change where the website is hosted (the company providing the computer your site resides on) in the future without changing how people go to your site. Your blog may reside at http://www.mycurrenthost.com/users/myname/index.html but if you registered a domain name it could be simplified as http://www.mysimplelink.com. If you change your web host later, you’ll still be accessible as http://www.mysimplelink.com even though its now hosted at http://www.myfuturehost.com/users/myname/index.html. Domain names can be registered for less than $10 per year so they are not cost prohibitive. Hosting of your website can cost as little as $5 per month.
This site is hosted at RegisterFly.com, the domain name is registered at Registerfly.com as well and the blog software is at blogger.com

Note: Changes have been made and Blogger is no longer used for this site. WordPress is now used because it is much more versatile, and faster. Blogger is a good choice for a simple blog but I wanted more. In addition, the site is hosted at WestHost using a Virtual Private Server (VPS). I now host all of my domains using the same VPS server. They also provide single domain hosting for as little as $4/month. I’ll make a better update as soon as I can.
Links
http://www.blogger.com Has the blogger software and can host the blog as well.
http://registerfly.com Can host your blog as well as register a domain name.
http://www.ipowwrweb.com Can host your blog as well as register a domain name.
http://www.1and1.com Can host your blog as well as register a domain name.

November 30, 1999

Using A Favicon

Filed under: Uncategorized — donwood49 @ 12:00 am

What’s a favicon. check the location bar in your browser when viewing this website. There is a little icon just before the URL. It’s a tiny red RV. The icon also appears in the bookmarks listing.

You can make and use your on icon to distinguish your website. Here’s how.

HughesNet Upgrade

Filed under: Uncategorized — donwood49 @ 12:00 am

Testmy.net results before upgrade.

Download 14Kbps or (2kb/s)

1.42% of DirectPC.com Average speed.

Upload

42Kbps (5kb/s)

29.79% of typical.

The amazing improvement is amazing. Much more like DSL. It connects easily. The power usage is tremendously less. Now I can use it all day and still recharge the batteries. Onece pointed, it can be powered on and off with only a few seconds delay before being reconnected.

Driving With A Toad

Filed under: Uncategorized — donwood49 @ 12:00 am

When you park towing a car, pull to the end of the parking area so that no one can block your exit or cause you to need to back up.

When parking parallel b the curb, be careful of the tilt of the vehicle whic might cause you to hit street signs or other objects.

Install and use a tire pressure monitor syatem.

Before each departure, even for short stops, do a walk-around. Check the towbar. Are all pins and cables as they should be? Check all the tire.

Do a test of the tracking of your toad. Start a turn. Mark the position of your rear tire as you makeĀ  the turn. Use rocks or cones. Check the position of the toads wheels as it completes the turn. Does it track with the tow vehicles rear tires or does it pass inside, closer to the roads edge?

Check your lights.

Install a braking system and use it. Check its operation regularly.

Never backup when flat towing your car. Except for short distances to tighten the turn. Watch out not to turn too much and jackknife. You should secure the steering wheel to hold the tires in the current position. The tires will tend to not track correctly when backing and could damage the front end alighment ofr worse.

If have backed up several hundred feet on a sandy dirt road. The loose road surface allowed the tires to slide more easily and securing the steering wheel kept the tires close to the proper alignment since i didn’t turn when backing.

I’ve secured the steering wheel in several ways. Use another person to hold the steering wheel in the toad. Use the seat belt or a rope to secure it. or just remove the key and lock the steering wheel. The later method might lead to shearing the lock pin so be careful.

When we hook up we have to turn off the air conditioning compressor, the lights, the radio etc. We unlock the steering wheel and occasionally it ends up in the accessory position.

Make a checklist of what needs to be done and checked when hooking up and disconnecting.

We keep a hammer available in the toad to use to quickly knock the pins out to disconnect the towbar if needed when we get trapped. If the tow bar isn’t relaxed the pins can be real difficult to get out.

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