RVTripWizard To The Rescue

RVTripWizard To The Rescue – Review and Demonstration


After using several trip planning tools, we selected a subscription to RVTripWizard, and listed a high level overview here.  At $39 a year we consider this a bargain.  Let’s do a hands-on demonstration of creating a trip.

First off, define your Trip Preferences On The Road

First enter information that will tell the wizard about your rig by clicking on Trip Preferences.

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Trip Preferences

Trip Preferences Include:

  • Refueling information
    • Miles Per Gallon (MPG)
    • Average cost per gallon of the fuel you use
    • How much remaining fuel (reserve) should you have for the wizard to warn you to refuel
    • Tank capacity to determine the estimated refuel stops and fuel trip for each leg of the trip
  • Height for clearance warnings in feet and inches
  • Personal Expenses used to calculate total trip costs
    • Camping
    • Meals
    • Miscellaneous
  • Routing Preferences
    • Avoid major highways
    • Avoid toll roads
  • Driving Preferences
    • What’s your average speed
    • How many hours per day or miles per day do you want to drive (or no preference)
  • Whether you want to automatically load the last trip you were editing

I have not found any other software that uses this amount of detailed information for RV trip planning.  But wait… there’s more.

Second, define your Trip Preferences on where to stay

Select and prioritize your preferred places to camp.

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Subset of Camping Choices

You can either show all campsites known to the system or just your preferred sites.  That way if you only want to show the campgrounds that you are a member of, BLM and state parks for example – you can.

Third, create a new trip

Click on the New Trip button, give it a trip name and start date.   Optionally tell the wizard to use your current location as the start point.

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Click Start A New Trip

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Type a Title and Start Date

Fourth, sent the beginning and end points of the trip

  • If you did not use your current location in step 3 to set the Start Point, type in the start address for the trip.  You can enter a specific address, or a city.  Click set start.
  • Using a specific address or city, enter the end point of the trip as stop #2, click Find and click Add to Trip End.
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Type in a Starting Location (City or Address)

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City works for me

If you know each stop along the way, you can also set the Start Point, then enter each stop one after the other.   Adding the actual start and end points help define the route.  I’ll just add Tampa Florida as our ending point.  You can also select a specific camp site from the map or type in an address.

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Start and End of Trip Entered

Fifth, select the Start and decide where to camp and/or refuel

From the left navigation area click on the starting point.  The map will zoom in to that location.  Zoom out until you see the red circle.

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Zoom out to see the red circle

This gives you the radius for you to set your next stop.  In this case, it’s 4 hours of driving at 55 MPH.  This will be closer to 5 hours total time for us.  If we leave around 9 a.m. this will put us in to the next stop around 2 p.m.

Click and drag the map so the edge of the red circle is aligned with the next stop is suggested, and zoom in.

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Our driving limit goes almost to Bakersfield. Let’s stop there.

Based on your preferences, a listing of parks will show up on the map.  Click on an icon to get information on that site including the web site, reservation phone number and a basic description.  The icon will show the type of park based on your preferences.

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Pick a place to stay

You can continue to move the map around and click on the icons to decide where to stay.  Once you make your decision, enter the number of nights to stay, and where to add the trip – either after an existing stop number of add to the end of the trip.

You can always modify the route and stops later.  So if you can’t make a reservation at one spot, delete that point and add a different point.  You can also enter a specific address – so if you are visiting a friend or relative just add the specific address.

Now, here’s where things get really cool.  Don’t see anyplace you want to stay, or do you want to search for a Walmart that allows parking?  Just click on the POI link.

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Display the Points of Interest choices

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Pick what you want to see

Need to stop and shop?  Select Costco, Sam’s club, Camping World etc.  Not just cool, but WAY COOL.  You can add stops with a zero Nights defined and include that in your route.

Sixth – select next layover and/or refuel spot

Our current route now has us going on Interstate 40, but we want to visit friends in Palm Desert.  Let’s add Palm Desert to the map and see what happens.  Type in Palm Desert and insert after our stop in Bakersfield and add that.

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Check the Red Circle and Pick Another Layover

Our route now shifts to Interstate 10.  Also note the refuel spot.  Looks like we need to get diesel!  Let’s go back to the POI panel and click on the Fuel selector.  That will give us truck stops and other ‘default’ fuel spots.  But if we select our layover point (if it’s a campground) or just click on a campground on the map, then click on the Fuel Price icon, RVTripWizard will do a Bing Maps Gas Station search in a separate window.  You can select the type of fuel.

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Find other refueling options in the Fuel Prices link

Then copy the address from the Gas Station search page and paste it into RVTripWizard and add it after the right stop #

Click on the Edit button beside your fuel stop.  Add the number of gallons (estimated) and enter a comment like Refuel at Sam’s.

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Add an address to refuel and the Fuel Added. Add the name in comments

Click  on our current stop (Palm Desert) and zoom the map out.  You can now see the red circle of where our next layover is recommended, and note that the next refuel stop is before El Paso Texas.

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Refuel Spot Moves Forward

Nifty!  RVTripWizard to the Rescue

Continue on selecting the next layover & refuel spots until the you finish the trip.

Printing

There are two options to print the trip.  Paper (or PDF) and Excel.  Select the Print icon to see the print choices.

 

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Click Print

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Select Print or Excel

The Print selection gives you the normal choices (Printer, PDF, XLS etc.)

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Print option

And the Excel option creates an Excel file

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Excel Option

Along the way you can enter comments for each stop and record the reservation number.

Send to GPS

Last, you can select Send to GPS to get the trip uploaded to your GPS.  We had to download a little utility from Garmin to move the trip points to our RV GPS.  RVTripWizard has instructions on how to do this when you select the option.

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Summary

RVTripWizard meets all our needs for trip planning, and then some!  Trippin’ Engles recommends this product.  We purchased this product ourselves and have received no compensation from RVTripWizard.

There are more options and features available!  Check it out at RVTripWizard.

So, where are we going?  We’re heading to Florida this spring to establish our domicile!  We used RVTripWizard to plan our trip for both camping spots and refueling.

 

 

Cool Shades – RV Quickshades Unboxing and Review

Cool Shades – RV Quickshades Unboxing and Review

Our (new to us) 2008 Winnebago Journey has curtains on the interior of the front windshield, the pilot’s side and the co-pilot/door. While the curtains are good at blocking light and some heat, you can’t see out of them. Shades for your RV windshield are used to restrict viewing into the RV yet allow those inside to have a view outside. In addition UV rays get blocked either on the outside of the windshield or close to the surface of the windshield reducing heat inside the RV. This will help interior materials such as the dash last longer and reduce A/C costs.

RV Shades are either attached outside of the windshield or inside. Usually the shades that attach to the outside of the RV use snaps, Velcro, magnets or twist lock. Interior shades usually use suction cups.

We narrowed our choices to 3 brands – all seem to be excellent. QuickShades, Magna Shade and Sunguard.

Coach Window Shades

Company Product Considered Comments
RV Quick Shades RV Pana Shade 108W x 46H We ordered a set of samples and just a few days after our order we received 4 samples about 4″ x 2″so we could see the quality of the fabric and the colors offered. For our sized rig the shades were $84.99.

Pros

  • They hang inside the rig so they don’t get damp or dirty from the weather
  • Initial setup is easy and installation is quick
  • They offer good privacy during the day as well
  • Good UV and heat protection (more on that as we use them)
  • Quick Delivery
  • US made
  • Warranty – “Yes”
  • Price

Cons

  • Pana Shade offers almost no privacy during the night (see our video review)
  • Their sizing PDF chart is a real hassle to use. First of all there is only one header for the columns in a 14+ page file, leaving you to either guess at what the columns mean or scrolling up and down.
  • Also please note that when they state “This chart is offered as a guide only; we have not, personally, measured all of he coaches listed in the Size Chart” they are correct.  Our rig was in storage, so I went with the listing on the chart for our pilot side window and our side screen is about 2″ too small.  It will still offer UV protection and daytime privacy though.
Magne Shade Magne Shade system The Windshield Shade package is $496 plus $29 shipping. To us it looks sleek and the reviews are very good. They offer a variety of fabric colors and styles. One concern that some people voiced was that they did not use the product as often as they would like because it fits on the outside of the coach – having to go outside to install the shades as well as challenges on storing them if they were damp or dirty. Because we have a concern about stowing damp shades away we opted not to buy Magne Shade, but they were are #2 choice.

Pros

  • Stylish sleek look
  • Large variety of fabrics  including photo patterns
  • Installation available in North Carolina
  • Claims easy setup to attach the shade to the magnets on the windshield with the supplied pole (about 30 seconds in the video)
  • Easy to clean – just hose off
  • Excellent UV/Heat protection
  • Great setup videos on the web site
  • Very good reviews
  • Warranty – “Yes”

Cons

  • Price
  • Exterior shade so it will can get damp/wet and dirty
  • Ladder required (only for installation process aligning where magnets are placed)
  • Concerns about staying on in high wind situations

We’re curious to see the privacy offered at night with this product.

Sunguard EZ RV Shades Sunguard actually sells both external shades like Magne Shade and internal shades like RV Quick Shades. The external shade offers a variety of fastener options. Stainless Steel and Twist Lock snaps thatrequire drilling into the rig, and Velcro. Their web page does not offer any details on the internal shades nor any way to order online – you have to order through their dealer.

Pros

  • External or Internal shades available
  • External shades look very sleek
  • 6 year guarantee and 30 day return policy

Cons

  • Price – $350 for Class A exterior windshield cover, $200 for interior (but sale prices are less)
  • No local dealers for us, challenge to find online

We purchased RV Quick Shades in October, and installed them in January. While we like the looks of the external shades we don’t like that we may have to store wet material in the RV.  Once we use our new shades during the summer we’ll report the heat difference with and without the RV Quick Shades installed.

Here’s our unboxing and setup video for RV QuickShades – let us know what you have for your cool shades.

CJ

VIAir 400P RV Air Compressor

VIAIR 400P RV Air Compressor

The Unboxing and Review of the VIAIR 400P RV Air Compressor:

VIAIR 400P RV Air Compressor

VIAIR 400P RV Air Compressor in the box

Unboxing

You may wonder why we are looking at purchasing an air compressor when our rig already has one built-in.  There are a couple of reasons why we decided to buy the VIAIR 400P Air Compressor.  First when we use the Journey’s built-in air compressor the diesel engine is running while we go from tire to tire checking and airing them up.  Our neighbors probably don’t appreciate this early in the morning or late at night and it’s even a little irritating to us.  Secondly this air compressor actually can  air up a tire from zero to 100+ pounds of pressure.  The tire just has to have a good seal!  Built-in air compressors often can’t fill up a tire from zero to over 100 pounds pressure.

Now, let’s be truthful here.  The manual does state that you hook up the VIAIR to your vehicle’s battery and use it while the vehicle is running so the batteries won’t run down.  However our toad (Honda Pilot) can fill this need and is a lot quieter than the Journey’s diesel engines.  In some cases you can run this off the chassis battery while when connected to shore power depending on your setup.  As a backup you can also connect it to the chassis battery and use it while running the diesel engine.  It has more “oomph” than our built-in air compressor if the air pressure is really low.  Also it’s compact.  There is no tank and as you can see in the video it’s small.

What’s in the box?

VAIR 400P RV Air Compressor

VAIR 400P RV Air Compressor

  • Convenient canvas bag with pockets and handles

    VIAIR 400P RV Air Compressor Canvas Bag

    VIAIR 400P RV Air Compressor Canvas Bag

  • VIAIR Air Compressor with battery connectors
  • Instructions
  • Tire Pressure Inflator
  • Tire Pressure Gauge
  • Air Inlet cover & Filters
  • 2 air hoses
  • Adapter

Assembly

Easy-connect hoses make it quick to connect the hoses once you figure out how they connect ;-).

VIAIR 400P RV Air Compressor unboxed

VIAIR 400P RV Air Compressor unboxed

Using it

  • Connect the RED VIAIR clamp to the positive (RED) connection of your battery
  • Connect the BLACK VIAIR clamp to the (BLACK) negative connection of your battery
  • Connect the two air hoses to the air compressor
  • Connect the air gauge to the air inflater
  • Connect the air inflater/gauge to the hose
  • Use the built-in (big) gauge to read the pressure & inflate (note the air gauge goes to zero if you remove it from the wheel’s stem)
  • Optional – double-check the inflation using a digital (recommended) or analog gauge

 

Hope you enjoyed this review,

JC

 

The following review(s) were not paid for by Viair or Viair Dealers to say positive things about Viair products. Our goal is to share with you, the viewer, honest and unbiased Viair product reviews to show what to expect when you purchase a VIAIR brand compressor.

Are you protected (Surge Protection-Voltage Regulator)?

Surge Protection, Voltage Regulator or both?

Are you protected?

We have visited many RV parks over the years and never worried too much about poor quality electricity. That is when our mode of transportation was a Volkswagen Vanagon or our antique Prowler trailer. Neither of these had much in terms of electronics that could be damaged by low or high power. We only had lights and a small fridge.

All of that has changed buying a modern RV. Our 2008 Winnebago Journey has enough electronics just in any one of the rooms to call for investing some time researching how to protect devices like TVs, microwave/convection ovens, PCs and air conditioners (just to name a few devices) from power surges and low power conditions. Both can damage electronic devices.

The National Electric Code specifies a range of 126 Volts to 114 Volts as acceptable (105% – 95%) Average is about 117 volts. High voltage can burn out fuses (if you are lucky) or worse burn out your appliances and electronics. Low voltages can cause air conditioners and other larger appliances to work harder and heat up more. Both situations can results in fires and safety issues besides damaging equipment.

In reality, if I want the ultimate protection I need to buy both a dedicated surge protector and a voltage regulator… or do I?

Our Finalists

Of the many surge protection and voltage regulator devices available these three stood out in our research.

Product

Pros

Cons

Hughes Autoformer
50 amp Voltage regulator and Surge protector

Provides 10% boost in low power
situations if power is less than 115 volts

Provides Spike and Surge Protections

Simple easy to understand
diagnostics lights

Boost indicator lights

Portable

Only 2 Year Warranty

High cost – MSRP $548.00
($520.94 at Amazon) compared with dedicated Surge protection only
devices

Hardwire installation kit is an extra $65.00

Not weather proof – must be covered if not installed inside

Progressive
Industries ems-hw50c Surge Protection

Less expensive – MSRP $431.00 ($347 at Amazon)

Remote display included

Hardwired

Open Neutral and Open Ground protection

Lifetime warranty

No Boost – shuts down power below 104 volts or above 132 volts

 

Surge Guard
10175 RV Voltage Regulator – 50 Amp

Provides 10% boost as low as 95 Volts

Easy LED status panel

Rain-tight enclosure

Can be mounted inside

 

More expensive – $660.90 at Amazon

Does not provide surge protection (Surge Guard does offer a variety of surge protection products)

1 year warranty

Other Resources used to learn about the products

Manufacturer links

Other Resource Links

 Our Decision – Hughes Autoformers 50 Amp RV Power Booster

After looking at the various options we decided to get Hughes Autoformers.   Even if the power looks good when you get to a park, that’s no guarantee that the voltage will remain good when everyone switches on their A/C during the middle of a heat wave – or when you arrive at the park and the section you’ve been assigned to has “Low Voltage” like you see below.

WARNING  - Low Voltage

WARNING – Low Voltage

Here’s the unboxing and review on YouTube.

Besides providing surge protection it boosts the power between 3% and 10% depending on the situation.  This would help out in those ‘Low Voltage in Section A’ situations. You may want to buy a surge protector anyways though – to protect the Autoformer!!!

The device came with no instructions however it’s fairly obvious how to set it up.  No manual in the box must have been an oversight because I was able to find it online – but not at the manufacturer’s website!  Plus their contact information is in a horrible blue against brown background that I can hardly read on my PC.  However the product itself seems solid and well built.

One negative is that it is not weather proof, so either must be installed inside the bay (there is a kit you can buy for this conversion) or cover it up.  We elected to cover it up for now, but will probably move it into the electrical bay sometime in the future.

The 50 amp power plug on the Autoformer plugs into the power pedestal at the park, then the rig’s power line plugs into the Autoormer.  It has 3 lights on the side – one central status light and two outer lights that show whether there is 30 or 50 amps coming in to the device.

  • Amber light – all is good – you have power and it’s within specs
  • Red Light – Park power is low – boost in progress.  It takes a few seconds for the Autoformer to analyze the power and decide whether to boost the power.

The Autoformer will boost when the park power is below 112 Volts and go into bypass mode at 115 Volts according to the manual that is posted here: Hughes_Autoformer

Always turn off the power at the pedestal when plugging in your RV power into the Autoformer or the Autoformer into the park pedestal.

You may need to supply pig-tails to go from the Autoformer’s 50 amp plug to a 30 amp park circuit if you buy the 50 amp Autoformer.

We only used the Autoformer for a long weekend and our park power was good.  We will update you with another post as we use it more and when we get the conversion kit to keep it in the electrical bay.

As always, Happy Trails!

CJ

 

New RV Accessories – TPMS

RV Accessories – TPMS – Tire Pressure Monitoring System

Now that we have our RV, let’s look at some of the accessories we felt were critical.  We will start in the cab.  The rubber meets the road in an RV with the tires.  Many RVs have dual wheels that make it difficult to check if the tires have any issues, and the correct tire pressure is based on the weight, brand and model of tire being used.  For a great overview of tire pressure and how to inflate RV tires, see RV Geeks HOW TO: Inflate High pressure RV Tires and the follow-up UPDATE: High Pressure RV Tire Inflation  videos.  Most often when tires fail it happens over time, not suddenly.  Tire pressure and temperature is the best way to monitor the current condition of RV tires.   In addition we wanted to monitor our TOAD (Towed Vehicle) so we needed both 10 tire monitor ability and the range to reach the Toad.

We weighed our RV with full diesel and LP tanks but otherwise empty after getting it from La Mesa RV in Davis, and we weighed each item going into the RV for our first trip, so I was able to estimate our loaded weight.  Since we are spending the week-end at Thousand Trails, we don’t need to pack very much water.

TPMS choices

Once you get your tires to the correct pressure based on the vehicle’s weight and tire brand how should they be monitored? Of course you could manually check the pressure, but pressure is only half of the story.  The temperature of the tire is also important to know to understand if something is going wrong. After reviewing a number of websites and blogs we narrowed our choices to a couple of choices.

Tire PressurePro has the advantage that it interfaces with Silverleaf Electronics’ products if you are looking for a complete engine & tire

Tireminder Package

Tireminder Package

monitoring system.  Since we believe at this time that the Freightliner’s engine monitoring system is good enough for us, we decided to go with Tire Minder, especially with the endorsement of this product from Gone with the Wynns in their list of Must Have gadgets, and reading many reviews on Amazon and Camping World’s websites.  Only Camping World had the latest version TM66-M6 kit that includes a monitor, 6 monitoring modules, 12 batteries plus a hardwire booster for the toad.    This version can monitor 22 tires – more than enough for our RV & Toad.

Getting the pressure right

We purchased a basic stick tire pressure gauge from O’Reilly auto parts.  We then adjusted the pressure of the tires to Toyo’s recommended pressure based on their weight/pressure chart +200 lbs. for a quarter tank of fresh water (8 lbs. * 25 gallons).  It ended up that all the tire pressures should be set to 95 lbs. for both axles given my assumptions.  The tires were at 105 lbs.  Note that the Journey’s weight will change once we start full-timing or pack for a longer trip.

TireMinder installation

Tireminder

The installation of the TireMinder system went without a hitch.  The included printed instructions were easy to follow and in English.  It came partly charged, but since the RV was in storage when I received TireMinder I charged it up.  When I arrived at the storage facility the Journey was already pulled out and sitting off to the side so I could work on it.  The tires were cold so I didn’t have to worry about that.

Following the instructions, I inserted the batteries into the monitoring module.  I then released the air until the tires were at 95 lbs. according to my stick gauge.  With the monitor in learn mode, I selected the correct tire on the display then screwed the monitoring module onto the tire stem.  After just a few seconds (the manual states it could take up to 30 seconds) the LED turns green and the tire pressure is displayed on the screen.

I pressed the down button and repeated for all 6 tires on the Journey.  It’s a bit tight putting on the monitoring modules on the dual tires, but I was careful and didn’t drop them.  The modules have a molding that is easy to grip.

Next we need to purchase the monitoring modules for the toad.

 

Monitor Mode

Once done I switched TireMinder to monitor mode and cycled through all 6 tires reviewing the tire pressure and temperature.

Once the Tire Minder is installed and the tires being monitored there is a deviation of up to 3 lbs. both ways from the target 95.  Tire Minder is accurate +/- 2% so that could account for part of it, but me reading a scale on a stick may also be part of it.

Other Accessories

We were going to order a Tire Minder digital gauge, but after reading reviews ended up ordering the Acme Automotive A567 Truck Digital Dual Foot Tire Pressure Service Gauge 2- 150 PSI sold by JB Tool Sales on Amazon.  The next time out we will weigh the RV after getting fully loaded then use the new digital tire pressure gauge to correct the tire pressure then see what the Tire Minder reports for pressure.

Besides TireMinder and the Acme digital tire gauge we have two 50′ high capacity hoses, truck tire inflator and air nozzle.  I also added a gauge & release valve following the instructions at the top of this post provided by RV Geeks.  Everything connected with the same standard quick connectors that the coach is equipped with.

Next Up – Accessories to purchase for the basement!