My CMS Sharing our experience about RVing

August 10, 2005

Making Life On The Road Simple

Filed under: Uncategorized — donwood49 @ 5:35 am

Here are some things we do to make life on the road more simple.
Shop Towels: We hate to do laundry. We also hate moldy towels. We solved this by using blue shop towels. There is no comparison with a paper towel and a blue shop towel. Blue shop towels are much stronger. We use them for everything, kitchen towels, bathroom hand towels, and bath towels. Lou tears off a strip of four towels to use as a bath towel. Don gets by with one towel and wrings it out to use over again until dry. We buy the ten pack of blue shop towels from Costco, about $1.44 per roll. Now we don’t have a bunch of towels hanging around drying and our laundry is less than half the size.
Paper Plates, Bowls, and Plastic Utensils: Using paper plates, bowls, knives, forks, and spoons saves a lot of dish washing, therefore adding to the length of a boondock stay.
Plastic Grocery Bags: These are used for garbage bags. They are about the size for one days use.
Spray Bottles: We keep a plastic spray bottle in the kitchen and in the bathroom.
In the kitchen, the bottle is filled with plain water. We use it to wet down pans and utensils that need washing. First the dirty dishes are wiped with a shop towel. Then they are sprayed and wiped again. Now you can wash then with a small amount of water in the largest pan and a little dish washing soap. We can wash and rinse the dishes (a couple of pans, a couple of cups and a knife and big spoon) with about a cup of water.
In the bathroom, the spray bottle has water with a little dish washing soap in it. It is used to rinse the toilet after use. The soap makes the things slick and the #2 doesn’t stick as much. The stream spray knocks off what does. Saves an awful lot of water use. Since our bathroom sink also drains to the black tank, there is actually plenty of liquid in the tank. The two of us can easily go 10-12 days without trouble.
Bathing: When boon docking, shower less often, usually every third day. In between, take sponge baths. Actually “wet-one baths”. We get unscented baby wipes from Safeway. We use them for washing our hands after using the toilet and we also use them for bathing. 2-3 wipes is all that are needed for a good bath.
Tea Pot: We use a nice whistling tea pot to heat water for our tea when we don’t want to use the microwave. A cup of tea uses about 2 ampere hours from the battery. It’s often better to use gas and cook some water. We use the inverter and microwave sometimes but if we’re trying to save battery for more important things like TV or Internet use and not start the generator, possibly to keep a nice campground quiet, a tea pot is a good idea.
Camp Fires: Starting camp fires is very easy. We use a one-hour log and place our real logs on top. The fire is started with one match (actually a lighter) and you have a really nice fire in a couple of minutes. The fire is for looks only, not cooking though.

Slingbox For TV From Home

Filed under: Uncategorized — donwood49 @ 5:29 am

I went to Best Buy and bought a Slingbox. The SlingBox is a device that connects to your home network and a TV antenna or cable box or other video source. You run a player on your computer and video and audio are streamed from you home to your computer, wherever it may be where there is a broadband connection. It works great from point to point on the network at home.
Our first night using the Slingbox in the RV we were at the Pinnacles National Monument South of Hollister, California. There are two things that occur there. There are no cell phone signals and there are no TV signals. There are great views and there aren’t many places as nice to visit as the Pinnacles, but no signals.
We use Vonage for our IP phone and that fixes the first problem.
Our Slingbox seems to handle the second.
The first time we tried it in the RV using the Datastorm Satellite Internet connection it was a bit shaky to start. The feed was dropping and requiring a manual restart, every 5 sec to 5 minutes, suddenly it started working continuously with occasional short dropout but returning automatically. After becoming more familiar with the thing and making a few tweaks, it works much better. I reduced the sample rate from 310K and 30 frames per second to 220K and 20 fps.
I watched as much as 5 hours one evening and there was no impact to bandwidth of the Internet connection over the satellite. I was even doing a lot of website updates at the same time. In the evening, there was some momentary dropout, not enough to bother me and, just as David Letterman came on, it became perfect and stayed that way until I called it a night after another hour or so. The same effect on a subsequent night. Must be a lot less traffic on the satellite that late. I think it will work out OK.
We enjoy our home broadcast stations. There are a lot of them and occasionally, something is worth watching. I’m too cheap to pay cable of DirecTV rates. The cost is just 2-3 times what it should be. I’d prefer it if they charged by the channel and you could select which channels you wanted. I’d pick a couple and pay my $2 month and be happier, but that’s not this world. So, paying the $200 for the Slingbox seems to be a good alternative. It will pay for itself at that rate in 8 years. Actually, since DirecTV cost $41/month, minimum, as an alternative, it pays for itself in 5 months.
Lou returned home while I was still away. Lou called to say there was a problem with our house phone. It is a Vonage phone connected to our DSL line. The person she called said they couldn’t understand her. I knew right away what was wrong. I was watching TV and there wasn’t enough up link bandwidth left to feed the SlingBox video and the Vonage phone. When she’s home I’ll have to curtail my TV watching until later at night. Interestingly, I can watch TV and browse the Internet here in the RV without any problems.

Article under construction. Pictures to follow.

August 9, 2005

What drains where?

Filed under: Uncategorized — donwood49 @ 6:28 am

I had a potentially disastrous event happen on a visit to Las Vegas. It had been freezing and I was concerned that the water hose would freeze up. I had heard that if you leave a trickle running through the hose, it wouldn’t freeze. I had hooked up the drain hose, opened the gray water valve and turned the bathroom sink on at a trickle. There is more to know.
I went out that evening and fortunately returned a couple of hours later. When I returned, the bathroom was just beginning to flood. The toilet bowl was full. After opening the black drain valve I cleaned up the spilled water and dried every thing out. It’s a good Idea to carry a wet/dry vacuum for just such needs. Fortunately nothing was permanently damaged but it did take a while to cleanup. Fortunately, the water that spilled looked clear but it had been through the mill so everything was disinfected as well.
What the heck had happened? The manufacturer had routed the bathroom sink to the black tank for some reason. It could have just as easily gone to the gray tank as I had thought. They must have done it to balance the tank use?
What was learned? Know where everything drains to. Don’t use that stupid trickle idea! Just use the water from your tank and the water pump and don’t even install the hose except to fill the tank. Wait for warmer weather.
Actually, we now tend to not even hookup the drain except when the holding tank needs to be drained or we know we’ll be at this site for a while.

Macerator Use

Filed under: Uncategorized — donwood49 @ 5:39 am

We have a macerator that provides a means of draining our RV’s holding tanks when we’re at home and wherever the drain inlet is difficult to access. Our RV drain outlet is very low so we often can’t drain into the park drain inlet. We also have run across some parks that must believe water flows up hill since they place the drain inlet as high as our bumper on occasion.
A macerator is like a garbage disposer. They can be either permanently installed or portable. Ours is portable. It is attached to the drain outlet of our RV. The macerator requires a good power source. It uses about 20 amps. Since it would be used regularly, I installed a pair of #10 wires to a power connector that terminates next to the drain outlet. The macerator is carried in a plastic case for easy, neat storage. To use the macerator, just attach it to the drain outlet like a drain hose. Connect the power cable. Attach the drain hose to the macerator outlet. I have a 75′ long 5/8″ hose with shutoff valves and caps for each end of the hose. Remove the caps and attach the hose. Secure the male end of the hose at the drain point such that it won’t move when the flow begins. Use a weight or good old duct tape. When the hose is attached, the valves on each end can be opened. Hook up a second hose to the water faucet and attach it to the hose inlet on the macerator. Turn on the water and the macerator to check that the water arrives safely to the drain with no leaks (I use a short 10′ hose that I normally use for cleanup of the conventional drain hoses). If it does, turn off the water faucet and macerator and open the black drain valve, then turn on the macerator. Check that all is going where it should. When the black tank is empty, close the black valve and open the gray valve. When the gray tank is empty, close it’s valve, turn on the faucet to add clean water to purge the pump and drain hose. When the hose has cleared, shutoff the macerator. Be sure not to run the macerator without liquid to pump. Coil the drain hose as you drain the water from it then close the valves on the hose. Install the hose caps. Wipe down the macerator and place it back in the case.
The shutoff valves on the drain hose are for emergency shutdown in case something goes wrong.
We haven’t yet used it where we are dry camping. If you use it where there isn’t a good source of clean water to purge the macerator and hoses after use you would end up with a dirty macerator and hose to store. I’ve always just used the conventional hose for those locations. The macerator is saved for use where other means won’t work as well.
We got the macerator kit from Camping World when they had a good sale. I think it was about $170 on sale but is usually less than $300.
Macerator System Storage Boxes Macerator System Storage Boxes Opened
Above left are the closed storage boxes for the macerator and the drain hose respectively. Above right they are open. It’s kind of important not to mix-up fresh water and drain water hoses. All the drain water hoses are gray, both the one above that is used on the macerator outlet and the hose used to connect water from the faucet to the macerator. The later hose is used to clean the conventional 3 inch hoses as well. All fresh water hoses are white and never used anywhere near the drain system not even just to extend the water toward the macerator. Not shown is the anti-syphon coupler that is part of the connection from the faucet to the macerator.
Macerator Hose Couplers Macerator Pump
Above left are the drain hose couplers and caps. Above right is the macerator pump. The red button at the end of the cable is the push on/push off control. It’s kind of cumbersome. I’ll probably replace it sometime with an inline switch without all the extra wire. The blue at the top of the pump is a coupler with valve where the clean water attaches. It can be turned on to clean out the drain line and to clear the impeller is it clogs. At the bottom center of the macerator is where the drain hose connects.

August 8, 2005

Traveling In An RV With A Cat

Filed under: Uncategorized — donwood49 @ 5:53 pm

If you enjoyed the company of a cat in your stick house, you’ll probably want to bring them along with you in your travels. Some preparation is needed as well as some orientation for the cat and its people. Our cat was eight years old before his first trip and hated to ride in the car because it always meant he was going to the vets office. Preparing him to travel was possibly more important than for a kitten.
Our cat was already trained to walk on a leash. Obtain a good harness and attach identification tags. One thing to note, it is important to use a light weight leash cord to minimize the strain on the cats neck.
Prepare a new nest.

The cat needs a place of their own. Someplace to get away and feel safe. We prepared a nest in the space under our couch where the cross bracing prevented good use as storage. We cut a cat sized opening into the couch base cabinet about the center of the cabinet. There are two drawers on either side of the cabinet and the new cat nest in between. We padded the nest for comfort. Other places that might be used are a shelf in a kitchen or bathroom cabinet with an opening for the cat to enter.
We also provided a perch. A shelf was added by the passenger side window above the couch. This allows the cat to ride in comfort and watch outside as desired.
Find a good place, out of the way, where the cats food and water can be placed. It will need to be out all the time so a good location choice is important. We placed it by the wall under the table in a high walled tray. Spills or scattering of the cat food is contained in the tray. It also helps to keep the our feet out.

A cat needs a litter box. It needs to always be available so again, a good location is important. We placed ours in the bathtub. Our tub/shower has a shower curtain so it is easily left open for cat access. It is important to keep the litter out of the drain since it will expand, cling and clog the drain. We obtained a good secure fitting plug. When we shower, we place the litter box in the hallway. We sweep out the kitty litter that gets kicked out with use, then wipe with a damp cloth. and are ready to shower. When we’re through showering, we wipe the shower walls and curtain dry and return the litter box to the tub. If you have swinging shower doors you may not be able to use this location. If your shower doors slide, you may be able to use the shower. Other locations could be the sacrifice of another cabinet but this will require fitting the litter box into the space available. Remember, the cat needs some head room to do their business.
We leash our cat whenever he’s outside. In order to allow the screen door to be left open for ventilation, we attached a bungee cord nearby and use it to secure the screen door closed when needed. We also installed side window louvers to allow the windows to be left open but not allow the cat to get through the screen.
Speaking of ventilation, it’s important to keep the inside cool for the cat. Our air conditioner sometimes trips the breaker or stops working for other reasons. In general, air conditioners can’t be relied on unless someone is there to monitor the operation. The ceiling exhaust fan is much more reliable as well as are open windows. We set the exhaust fan on manual and open our side windows and ceiling vents. If it’s really warm, we also turn on the shower exhaust fan.
Practice RV living with your cat before you leave. We camped in the RV in our driveway for a week or so. Each evening we would go out to the RV with the cat and watch TV or eat dinner for a couple of hours. We would run the generator occasionally and do other noisy activities like running the range hood vent so the cat became used to the RV noises. We slept in the RV with the cat. We also went on short trips in the RV with the cat, like to the market. When we did leave on longer trips, the cat was ready.
Due to the limited space, the cat may need to be exercised. Be sure to have cat toys and to play with your cat. Our cat also likes to take a walk outside whenever we arrive. That usually is the only time he wants outside. We encourage him to go outside and take a walk occasionally.

Our cat has adjusted well. Toward the end of our first long trip, he learned to ride the dash, leaning into the turns to stay on the dash. He likes to ride on the dash when we’re driving at night because he likes the lights.
Also, prepare copies of the cats medical records including shot records to keep in the RV.
Before we drive away from our campsite or other parking place, we take inventory of our cat to be sure of where he is. This is also important before activating slide-outs if your RV is so equipped.
Our travels with our cat have been very enjoyable. Our methods may or may not apply to you and your cat, however, you and your cat can probably develop your own methods. A little preparation and effort makes everyone happy.

WiFi Router Setup

Filed under: Uncategorized — donwood49 @ 4:52 am

This article describes the setup of the wireless access network on my Motosat Datastorm satellite Internet system.
My VAR is Ground Control. I have a Ground Control Network Access Point (GCNAP) which provides the Internet connection using the Datastorm satellite system.
I have tried a NetGear WGR614 Wireless Access Point/Router, then a Hawking HWR54G Wireless Access Point/Router, and now I am using the Belkin Pre-N Access Point/Router. ($135 with shipping from Tiger Direct)
I keep upgrading, trying to get better coverage. The NetGear didn’t allow external antennas. The Hawking allowed external antennas but coverage didn’t improve significantly. The Belkin Pre-N promised 400% better coverage. After installation, I had two bars where I previously had an intermittent one bar.
The Belkin is twice the cost but the range is so much better. You could get better range with other WAP/routers with better antennas, but the cost would probably be more than the Belkin, which doesn’t need the external antenna. The other systems get most of the aditional range by using directional antennas. The Belkin is omnidirectional. Therefore, you don’t have to aim the antenna in the direction you intend to be.
Setup of the Belkin router was the easiest I have experienced. I did have to run setup a second time because I didn’t have the network adapter enabled and I had to disable the proxy I normally use so that the router was seen by the computer. Other than that it was mostly a job of clicking “next” several times. I did, of course, enter my own Sysid and after it connected to the INTERNET, I setup security.
Unlike previous routers, the Belkin connected itself to the Ground Control NAP automatically. I didn’t have to fudge anything. I then turned on my proxy again with an exception for the new router IP.
Previously, I didn’t use the WAN port but used a LAN port to connect from the router to the NAP with a crossover cable. With the Belkin, I used a straight cable to connect from the router WAN port to the GCNAP. This allows the use of all the power and protection of the router and it’s firewall. Suffice it to say it just works and was setup extremely smoothly.


Previously I was using the Hawking HWR54G WAP. This article used to contain the information below. I’ve left the information to aid anyone who might need it to setup their Hawking WAP. I got the Hawking WAP because I was looking to increase my range. The Hawking was cheap and had antenna connectors that allowed use of external high gain antennas. I didn’t see a significant increase in range with the high gain antennas. I returned the equipment.

LAN Settings:

The DHCP was turned on even though the NAP had a DHCP running as well. This didn’t seem to present a problem but if it did, I could have turned off the DHCP in the NAP. The DHCP is needed in the WAP to set the correct gateway and DNS for wireless and wired users. The source for these was set in the WAN configuration (below). The NAP IP was set as the WAN IP, and gateway. The DNS was a valid Ground Control DNS.

WAN Port Configuration from Advanced Options:

The Hawking HWR54G was very versatile but most of the settings were unchanged from default, except as noted above and for normal personalization.

Originally I used a NetGear WGR614 Wireless Access Point/Router but it wouldn’t allow the use of an external antenna so I replaced it.

Using a router with the Motosat system takes some consideration. Normally a simple Wireless Access Point is used rather than a router.

The original NetGear WAP worked well but had limited range. It worked inside and immediately adjacent to the RV but I couldn’t connect from inside my house.
It would seem that the Hawking, with a 6 dB antenna, should have quadrupled the range. In actuality, it was maybe half a bar, at best, from the original antenna. The Belkin setup was even easier including automatic setup of the WAN port to the GCNAP (Satellite host), something none of the other WAPs I’ve tried would do. In fact, some wouldn’t allow use of the WAN port with the GCNAP because they incorrectly set the addresses and couldn’t be changed.

With just the installation of the Belkin WAP, and not using Belkin pre-N laptop WiFi cards, the range improvement now is from 0-1 bars to 2-4 bars inside my house. Someday I’ll get a pre-N card for the laptop and I expect another doubling of the range.

This article is still under construction. I’ll try to get some current images of the Belkin as installed some time soon.

Electrical System

Filed under: Uncategorized — donwood49 @ 4:00 am

The electrical system is vital for powering the comforts of the mobile living space. It consists of the 12 volt DC and 120 volt AC system. The 12 volt system consists of a battery pack, and chargers. The AC system consists of a 30 amp cable to the shore power connection and inverters to generate AC power from the 12 volt batteries, and also a 5Kw generator. The batteries are charged either by the inverter or the solar panels.
Six AGM deep cycle batteries to replace to 2 wet cell trojan batteries. This should allow for up to two days of our heavy use without the need to run the generator. AGM Batteries are no maintenance low internal resistance batteries that are great for high current use and fast recharge, good for use with the inverter.

The 6 six volt AGM batteries are on the right.
A 2000 watt inverter, which includes a 100 amp charger, replaced the original converter charger and provides AC power to all outlets but not to the refrigerator nor the air conditioner.
There is also a small 7oo watt inverter in front of the large inverter which is always on and supplies power to the Motosat system, computers and the bedroom TV like a UPS.

The large inverter can be controlled by the remote panel inside the RV.

The Hughes Autoformer was added to compensate for low voltage connections in campgrounds and at home. We haven’t had any damage due to low voltage or surges but have had circuit breakers trip due to the increased current under low voltage conditions. We got the Autoformer online from PPL’s RV Parts Superstore. Due to a fixed 30′ service cord on our RV, the autofromer was usually chained to the service pedestal or RV when we connected. Later, the autoformer was installed inside a compartment after shortening the service cable to 2′. There were concerns about overheating in the small compartment but a Hughes representative was asked about it and we were convinced it would be OK as long as space was maintained around it. It seems to handle the problem by providing a voltage boost when needed. We should have gotten it right away rather than waiting a year and a half.
Solar System:

I installed two 120 watt and two 80 watt Kyocera solar panels which provides a total of 400 watts of power. I used Unirac 990002 Tilt mounts that allow tilting the panel either to the left or right of the vehicle for maximum power output.

The SolarBoost 2000E MPPT charge controller provides up to 25 amps of charge current.
The cable from the roof to the electrical compartment came down beside the bathroom vent to minimize the wire length. I used #8 wire throughout except for #10 jumpers at the controller end to fit the terminal block on the charge controller.
Everything was obtained from Azsolar in Cambria, Ca. I went to Quartzsite, Az looking for the best price on a system but I found the best prices I could find there to be 25% higher than that offered at Azsolar.
The system should allow normal electrical use while dry camping (boondocking). The Motosat satellite system used for the Internet connection is a bit of an energy hog using about 10 amps for everything.
Battery Monitor Meter
Meter Panel
A Link 10 Choice battery monitor was installed (the round meter above) that is capable of moitoring the in and out to and from the battery and can keep a history as well as display a charge available amount. It is also capable of causing the generator to start as well. I can also hook it up to the computer to track usage.
The meter was installed in the pantry area where the other electrical controls and the existing inverter control panel are. It doesn’t look big, but it does a lot.
RV Link 10 Meter Shunt Electrical Compartment
The shunt (left picture above) was installed in the battery ground cable. It is used to measure the current.
The only adjustment that was needed was to set the battery capacity to match my system. There are many other adjustments that can be made but the default was good for my system.

Internet Access Anywhere

Filed under: Uncategorized — donwood49 @ 4:00 am

Why Do I Need Internet Access
Well, If you don’t miss it, maybe you don’t. In you’re an Internet or email junkie, then you’ll miss it when you’re on the road or in the wilds. The Internet can be invaluable for making travel plans and keeping in touch while on the road.
Types of Internet Access
There are four common methods of connection to the internet while on the road. Dialup, Cellular, Wifi, and Satellite.
Dialup uses a wired connection, usually not in your campsite, to connect at up to about 33k bits/second (kbs). This is OK for email but not too good for browsing the internet. Cost is about $10/month and up.
Cellular uses the digital cellular network to provide connection at between 10kbs up to 128kbs. Generally it wouldn’t be much faster than dialup and on most plans you pay by the minute. This may be OK if you have unlimited Nights and weekends.
Wifi is becoming available at many RV parks, Restaurants, coffee houses, truck stops, etc. It allows for a high speed wireless connection to the Internet. This can provide a good connection but there are many different providers. This may require having many service plans or changing plans when you move. Often there are hourly use fees.
Satellite can provide a high-speed connection anywhere the Southern sky is visible. There are three common services for satellite Internet access. Some only provide the high-speed downlink and require some other connection for the uplink like your cell phone. The Datastorm system provides a two-way link so access is available almost anywhere, such as your favorite forest service campsite near East Timbuktu. There are two types fixed and mobile. The fixed systems can be relocated by a qualified person but actually aren’t too convenient unless you’ll be staying someplace for an extended period. A mobile system from Motosat automatically acquires the satellite. The Motosat system costs about $7000 installed and the monthly service is $99. This is a little, possibly a lot, steep, but it’s currently the only high speed connection that is available anywhere. This is what we have on our RV.
Our System

I chose the One Touch system from Ground Control ( This system packages the control box, the two modems, and the Network Access Point Computer (NAP) in one box with a control panel making the system a simple appliance that provides the internet connection. I connected the RJ45 LAN connector on the back to a Belkin Pre-N Access Point. More information about the WAP setup. This provides a high speed wireless connection so we can use our laptop anywhere near our RV.
There are four buttons and thirteen indicators on the front panel of the One Touch NAP. That may sound complex but it’s not really. Actually, there is another switch. The system needs to be plugged in to a power strip. There are two power cords coming from the NAP. One powers the Modems and the controller, the other the Control PC. The front panel power switch only controls the Control PC so to control power to the rest of the devices you need to have a switch on the plug strip.
When you arrive at your destination (The Motosat system only works when stationary), apply power to the system by turning on the plug strip then pushing the power button on the face-panel. After a minute or so the system tested and antenna stowed lights will be on steady. Simply press the “Find Satellite” button. The antenna will align itself with the satellite and do some testing and then it will be ready for use with the “ON Signal, “Tested”, and “Tx Enabled” indicators on.
When you’re going to move, simply press the “Stow Dish” button and the dish will be returned to the stowed position. You can then turn off the system. The other switch is the stop switch in case you need to stop the dish for some reason.
The other indicators show status information not needed for normal usage.
When not needed for use, you can power down the system leaving the antenna up and when needed again, simply turn on the power and the connection will be available in a couple of minutes. The power sequence may be important. I always power off the NAP PC and then the rest of the system. Power up the system first and then the NAP PC.
The Motosat system provides a reliable Internet connection with downlink speeds of 200K to 4M on occasion. The uplink is much slower averaging 10-25k. This is fine for browsing the internet but uploads can still take a while. Most internet traffic is down so it is OK.
This is a sophisticated system and there are occasions when all does not go right, so, someone onboard or reasonable available should be able to check indications and readings and take other actions on the NAP to restore operation. Ground Control has 24/7 online and phone support in the event of a problem.
The installation of the system does take come cabinet space and requires a roof penetration.

(Note: The picture above shows our old Netgear WAP. We now use a Belkin Pre-N Access Point)
Our installation is in a cabinet above the dinette. In order to properly ventilate the cabinet, I installed a muffin fan in the side of the cabinet (another penetration) and installed a door stop such that the door remains open a ½” when closed. I didn’t want to destroy the door by putting in a grill. In addition, I replaced the existing dash mounted TV with a Samsung TV/Monitor. I used VGA and USB extension cables to the dash to allow use of the monitor and a keyboard and mouse on the NAP computer. This allows for internet access without the use of another computer and allows for easier trouble shooting in the event of a system problem.
The system is a bit power hungry. With the system and my laptop (power hungry itself) it consumes about 10 amps DC for the inverter. A 400 watt Xantrex inverter provides continuous power to the Motosat system, Wifi and network devices, Vonage phone adaptor, the Internet camera and the laptop. The inverter is on all the time and works like a big UPS system with 300 ampere hours of battery available so it could run for more than 30 hours.
If you have questions about our use of the Motosat system please use our contact form to contact us.
Power consumption:
Toshiba P25S609 Laptop = 45 watts typical. (.4a ac)
NAP Modems = 22 watts (.2a ac)
NAP PC = plugged in 33 watts, turned on 78 watts (.3a ac / .7a ac)
Belkin Access Point = 22 watts (.2a ac)(estimated)
Vonage PAP2 = less than 10 watts (

A Printer For The RV

Filed under: Uncategorized — donwood49 @ 3:45 am

I’ve been looking for a good, small printer to install in the dash where the TV was. I found the Brother MFC-420cn, a multifunction scanner, fax, copier, and printer. It’s a color inkjet printer and it includes a document feeder for the scanner. It also has USB and Ethernet ports. I connected the Ethernet port to the RV’s network hub so it can be shared. All this for $149. Wow!

The LCD monitor leaves lots of room behind where the tube TV used to be stuffed. I wanted to build the printer into the dash behind the TV/Monitor, but I haven’t had enough ambition yet. I did build a box to hold it temporarily and I’m thinking it may be a better idea. I’ll try it for a while. I can always use the dash area for more storage.
The box provides protection for the printer and some storage area for all the other stuff you may need like sun glasses, camera, note pads and maps.
The top lifts off when you want to make a copy. The top is a good place for the laptop when using the drivers seat.

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.
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.

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