Monday, December 14, 2015

Battery Separator Upgrade to Blue Sea ML-ACR 7622 Automatic Charging Relay

My Roadtrek came with Sure Power Battery Separator Model 1315-200, a 200 amp solenoid version. The separator works fine, but draws about 1.5 amp when it is latched on and that is a significant solar energy loss.

I replaced mine with Blue Sea ML-ACR model-7622, a 500 Amp magnetic latching (bi-stable) automatic charging relay with manual and remote control. It is pretty expensive, about $200 US, but for me it is well worth it. Per manufacturer, it draws very low current (<40mA to monitor terminal voltage) in the "ON" or "OFF" states, and draws moderate current for very short time when changing state. It is dual sensing, senses charge on both batteries. It also has a start and engine isolation feature, but I did not use those. With the remote switch, I can manually isolate and combine batteries from the driver seat. I usually leave it to auto mode and turn it off (isolate) when house battery is charging from solar panels.

The replacement is pretty straight forward, same wiring were used from the old Sure Power isolator. ML-ACR terminal studs wiring for the batteries are interchangeable, so no need to trace what wire goes to start battery or house battery. I only needed to run 3 new wires (red remote, red (+), and yellow led wire) to the remote switch which I mounted on the dashboard next to the headlight selector switch. I also have to slightly enlarge the (+) cables ring terminal holes as ML-ACR terminal studs are slightly bigger (size 3/8") than the old isolator. You can change the (+) cables terminal rings at this point if you prefer going that route.

Blue Sea ML-ACR automatic charging relay wiring diagram.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Permanently Mounted Bullseye Level for RV Leveling

I bought an inexpensive bullseye level from eBay which I found to be pretty accurate comparing to my other levels and couple of Android apps. I decided to permanently mount it on the driver seat base right uppermost corner. I picked this mounting location for easy visualization from the driver seat which makes it easy to instantly check RV "levelness" while parking or when finding a level ground on campsites and during RV leveling using my Andersen Camper levelers.

The bullseye level mounting bracket is fabricated from aluminum angle bar/ flat bar, and a recycled mini tripod head. With the tripod head, I can zero/recalibrate the level at my convenience. To zero the bullseye level, I use a second bullseye level placed on the bottom of the RV freezer compartment then drove the RV to a level ground, with the bubble level on the freezer reading zero, I adjusted the other level with the bubble at dead center.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

DIY Rear Table Swing-Away Adapter/ Roadtrek Rear Table Modification

Getting in and out of the rear table has been a problem for us, there is barely enough room to move around it. You literally have to suck your guts in to squeeze through around the table. Moving the tabletop base further off-center is not an option for me as it will put too much strain on the tabletop, not to mention the modification needed for its storage. The tabletop also doubles a bed platform and cannot be modified or shortened.

My solution is to modify the table leg and adding a swing-away bracket. The swing-away bracket will add 6-inches off-set of the tabletop from the center pole and allows the table to easily swing out of the way if needed. It only needs few materials which are readily available at your local home improvement store but it does involve some metal welding/fabricating.

The rear table swing-away adapter.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Wall Mounted Shoe Storage Rack for Roadtrek Agile

Finding a place to keep our shoes inside the Agile has always been a problem, it's either we keep them on the door mat by the sliding door entrance or in the rear storage compartment. Our shoes are always on the way and taking valuable storage space plus it looks untidy and unorganized.

The shower wall facing the cab is the perfect and convenient place to store our shoes. If shoes are placed vertically against the wall it would only take very little space and should not be on your way getting in and out the RV. The shoe storage rack is fabricated from 1/4 inch thick acrylic plastic sheet and tarp bungee cords to hold the shoes in place. The posts that holds the bungee cords are made from 1/2 inch thick acrylic plastic. The shoe rack was painted black to match the appliances trim colors. I use 3M VHB tape to attach the shoe rack on the wall. Make sure the shoe rack is resting against the floor when using double sided tape as fastener to prevent unnecessary vertical shear tension on the wall plastic veneer finish.

The shoe rack size dimensions are specifically made for our shoe sizes.  If you have wider shoes, you might not be able to fit 2 pairs side by side as the shower wall width is limited. To save you the trouble, carefully measure everything before you start. Have fun building!

If DIY is not for you, Amazon has variety of "Wall Mounted Shoe Racks" products that might interest you.

Simple Showerhead Mod

Problem #1: During shower, Agile's showerhead spray pattern automatically reverts back to normal center aerated spray when the water is turned off. Most people including myself will turn the water off and on when showering to save water. An easy fix to prevent it from reverting to normal spray is to remove the spring  from the spray selector button inside the showerhead as pictured below.


Monday, June 8, 2015

DIY Soda Can Organizer/ Dispenser

To save space in our tiny refrigerator, I made an acrylic soda can organizer/ dispenser. It holds 7 soda cans and is gravity feed. The dispenser base has a small channel that securely rest on the fridge divider railing to prevent it from sliding out during travel. Here's how it looks like.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Adding a Wireless Remote Control to the Macerator

Dumping the holding tanks with Roadtrek macerator system is pretty easy and quick, although the switch location which activates the macerator pump is not very ideal. The switch is located on the frame of the driver seat facing the driver side door. To operate the macerator you have to open the driver side door and reach for the red switch, and since it is momentary switch you have to hold the switch the entire dumping process. It is a minor inconvenience, but leaving the driver side door open while dumping the holding tanks is an open invitation for flies/ bugs to get in the RV not to mention when it is raining...I thought, there could be a better solution.

At first I thought of replacing the momentary switch with an on/off rocker switch, but someone could accidentally flip the switch on and run the macerator dry causing early macerator failure. RT used a momentary switch there for a reason.

My solution is a wireless on/off momentary switch. Again I decided to go with a momentary switch on the wireless controller as for the above reason.  The wireless controller and remote transmit/receives analog signals which is prone to radio wave interferences that could inadvertently activate the controller. Although I am using a separate switch to power the wireless controller, there is always a chance of forgetting to turn it off.

I got the wireless remote switch from EBay. I've seen Amazon carries them but it is a different brand. Wireless momentary switches. I bought the less expensive controller with a lower load rating internal relay and used an external heavy duty automotive relay instead as pictured below. It would be easier and cheaper to replace the external relay if it fails. An inline fuse is needed for safety as you are tapping power from the 25-amp fused line.

wiring diagram

Monday, February 2, 2015

Adding a Bathroom Medicine/Storage Cabinet

Our Agile did not come with a medicine cabinet in the bathroom; rather it has a small odd shaped mirror installed above the pull out sink. The stock bathroom mirror looks terrible with rough/ chipped edges and several small cracks around it. Roadtrek did a terrible job cutting the acrylic mirror. To make it look decent, I temporarily installed a decorative trim around the mirror using a chrome automotive door edge molding (pictured below). The original plan was to replace the mirror with a surface mount medicine cabinet with mirrored door for extra storage, but because of its odd shape it needs to be a custom built.

I had few days off from work last week and had the chance to start the project. The medicine cabinet was fabricated using acrylic plastic. I thought plastic would be a better choice as it will be installed inside the shower area. The first step was to remove the old mirror and to make a paper template by tracing the shape of the stock mirror.

Here's what it looks like when done.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Simple Auto Deploy TV Antenna Reminder

You can buy a TV antenna reminder clip like this "Clip-on Antenna Saver" or make your own. The problem with the clip-on antenna reminder tags is if someone forgets (ohhh... the irony) to hang them after raising the TV antenna. If you have kids like I do, believe me, they will "intentionally" forget.

So, I designed and patented (jk) this self-deploying antenna reminder. All you need is a line ( a fishing line, pull chain, etc.), fishing swivel (optional), instant glue, a small magnet, and a small item to hang preferably with striking colors or maybe a glow in the dark item; the choice is yours. The hanged item will serve as your reminder that the antenna mast is up.

Here is mine.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

200 Watt Solar Panel Installation on Roadtrek Agile

I’ve been eyeing on AMSolar Sunrunner Signature System kit for a while and when they had a holiday sale last year, I grabbed that opportunity and ordered (2 )GS-100 solar panel kit, a Sunrunner Signature 25 MPPT/6/ Pro Core kit, and a combiner box. Other needed items were purchased on Amazon, like the hydraulic crimper, a Sikaflex 221 sealant, etc. etc. The AM solar kits were pretty much a complete set; you just need appropriate tools to complete the install. If you have questions, give Dave at AM solar a call, they are very nice people.
Agile’s roof real state is fairly limited, but I figured out how to fit (2) 100-watt solar panels without losing any roof appliances. With careful measuring and using cardboard cutouts, it showed that one GS-100 panel would fit in between the fan and the AC and another one towards the rear of the AC. It is not the ideal solar panel placement as the AC shroud can cast shadow on the panels depending on the angle of the sun but there is no other placement option in an Agile. The space in front of the AC is also partially occupied with the Winegard antenna. To free up that space, I replaced the antenna with the new “Winegard Rayzar retrofit kit”. The kit came with a shorter mast, or you can use the existing mast but that would defeat the purpose for my application.  Without the antenna, one could actually fit (3) 100 watt panels on the roof but I’m not ready to lose my antenna just yet.

Update: I added a 3rd 100 watt solar panel (link here). The 3rd panel is made by Renogy (Eclipse Series) which has same small footprint and specs but a cost a lot cheaper than AM Solar sells (SP100 or the older GS-100), it also uses same SunPower back-contact PV cells (Amazon link: Renogy Eclipse 100 watt Solar Panel).

With the 200-watt solar panel installed.

Protecting the Fresh Water Tank/ Water Drain Fitting and the Gray Tank from Road Debris.

The location of the fresh water tank and the drain fitting at the front passenger side wheel well is highly vulnerable to damage from road debris the tire spews at it. The front facing wall of the gray tank is no different; it gets pitted and sandblasted from road exposure. I covered the exposed areas of the tanks with an anti-fatigue mat few years ago using plain silicone adhesive sealant and it held up and protected the tanks well for thousands of miles.

The fresh water drain although now protected by the mat, it is unsightly and needed an update and extra protection. I got the idea from a sprinter-source forum member (credit goes to Mein Sprinter). I bought an inexpensive plastic splash guard cover (pictured below) from a local auto supply chain. Pre fitted into the wheel well, I marked the area of the splash guard that needed to be bent inward to prevent it from rubbing against the wheel.  Using a heat gun, I slowly and evenly heated the marked area and while it is still warm, I slowly bent it inward by hand and then let it cooled down under running water. The splash guard retained it shape and was a perfect fit with no trimming needed. I slathered a good amount of silicone sealant along the top J-shaped edge of the splash guard for extra hold then secured it in place using 3 screws.
Splash guard with inner corner bent inward.

Upgrading Dometic Penguin Duo-Therm AC Analog Thermostat to Digital Single Zone Wall Mounted Thermostat.

While cleaning the AC air filters, I noticed 6 unused color coded wires inside the air distribution box. I'm pretty sure I noticed these wires before but really never paid attention to it. I tested the red and black wire for power and was surprised that it has live 12 volt power. I contacted RT but they never gave me a straight answer, so I traced the wires and 5 of the wires terminates into the rear of AV overhead compartment close to where the furnace thermostat is. Obviously it is pre-wiring for the electronic AC thermostat control.

I called Dometic and asked if I can upgrade my current AC (Dometic Penguin Duo-Therm with heat strip option model) to a single zone digital thermostat wall mounted control. I was given the part numbers needed for the upgrade. I was told that I needed the electronic control box (Part # 3313270.000 with Heat Strip option) and I also needed to change the air distribution box in order to mount the electronic control box inside. The air distribution box that came with the RT is a low profile model and does not have enough space for the new electronic control box, but I do like it because of its low profile design.

I bought the Dometic Single Control Kit (Part # 33313270.000) from Ebay. The kit came with the electronic control box, single zone LCD digital thermostat, a manual, and 4 mounting bolts.

The new single zone digital thermostat.