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.