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First Impressions of our Oliver, and Some Questions (Part Two) 


GeoffChapman

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We had hoped to get a good introduction to our Oliver this fall, setting the stage for more trips next year. Looking ahead, we hope next year to travel out to the west coast (southern route in March or April) and return on a northern route. Later in the summer, we’d like to go up to Canada around a Great Lake, east to Nova Scotia and return through Maine. We will see!  But first, we have several follow up issues that we’d like to pay attention to over the winter. We could use some advice. 

 

Next up, I will need to learn how to:

·      Figure out if the Cell Phone Booster is worth it. I can turn it on, but it sure doesn’t seem to make a difference. Other threads seem skeptical as well. 

·      Figure out if the Bluetooth connection on the entertainment unit works. I’ve read up, reset the firmware, but can’t make it work. Any hints?

·      Take out the microwave to add a storage cabinet (perhaps)

·      Figure out if I can changeover one of my external propane connections to be high pressure (to fuel a Camp Chef Everest 2x). Or maybe just go with a different tank and regulator.

·      Hook up the Tireminder signal booster to the Rear Camera switch on the entry light panel (so it does not drain our battery when not needed). @ScubaRx, did I see a post where you did this and mounted the booster in the bathroom vanity? Any details on how you got the wire forward to the vanity?

·      Do a solo cold weather trip up to Cherry Springs State Park in Pa, a world class dark sky spot. I do astrophotography and have been hoping to make that trip for a couple years. The Oliver can make it happen!

·      Bed it down for 2-3 winter months. We have an outdoor slot in a secure storage park 30 mins away.  Might I be wise to get a cover for it? It has been covered in each winter of its short life. 

 

If we are going to travel like that, we wonder if we might need:

·      More electrical power? We have 2 6v Napa Commercial AGMs, rated to 190 AHr, installed in Jan 23 by the previous owner. Lithiums would double that, I suspect, and another solar panel could be added. But $’s are an issue. Thoughts?

·      Better AC? We will likely not be using much AC (we will stay out of the south during the hottest months), so I think we could stay with the noisy Dometic and be limited to AC when on shore power. Thoughts?

·      Any other recommendations? 

 

Geoff and Becca Chapman

 

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Geoff and Becca Chapman * Pittsburgh 

Legacy Elite 1 Hull #731 * TV 2022 GMC CANYON V6

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14 hours ago, GeoffChapman said:

Might I be wise to get a cover for it? It has been covered in each winter of its short life. 

Assuming that your storage facility does not provide you with any protection from the weather then I'd suggest a CalMark cover for your Oliver.  These covers are not cheap, but I've had mine for 8 years and it is still going strong.  If you do this - be sure to pad (pool noodles are good for this) the bumper and the solar panels such that they don't abrade the cover.

14 hours ago, GeoffChapman said:

We will likely not be using much AC (we will stay out of the south during the hottest months), so I think we could stay with the noisy Dometic and be limited to AC when on shore power.

The only time I use my A/C is when I travel from Western NC to the Rockies each year to fish.  If the temps are hot (above 90) I'll simply plan on staying in a commercial campground for the night where I can use shore power.  Yes, the A/C is a bit noisy but it doesn't keep me awake and I can't hear it when I'm sleeping 😁.

14 hours ago, GeoffChapman said:

More electrical power?

Perhaps a relatively small set in the direction of more power while staying relatively cheap could be had from a portable panel.

This way you could charge those relatively new AGM's a bit quicker.  This might give you time to really assess just how much power you are looking for while not wasting the batteries you have now.  And, you can always use that additional solar panel if you later decide you want to go with the lithium route.

Bill

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14 hours ago, GeoffChapman said:

Figure out if the Cell Phone Booster is worth it.

Carrie and I just got back from Smith Rock in Oregon. We had 1 to 2 bars of LTE. Borderline reception and most information wouldn't load. Over the week I tested the cell phone booster. Turned on, the booster help some pages load when they weren't loading with it turned off. However, the difference was minimal and the reception was not adequate to do more than slowly load the news or the weather and check emails. It was not improved to the point where one could move around on the web as needed. Borderline improvement, minimal at best. 

Kirk

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I will add a couple points:

- When  you turn on the cell phone booster, I am told that you need to restart your cell phone so it connects to the booster.

- My Tireminder booster came with alligator clips on the two power wires. I cut them off and bought a USB connector which I connected to the end of the wires. Now I just plug into one of the Ollie USB connections when I want to power up the booster. I added velcro to the back of the booster and hung it above the dinnette table and plug into the USB connector under the dinnette table when the Ollie is mobile.

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16 hours ago, GeoffChapman said:

Next up, I will need to learn how to:

·      Figure out if the Cell Phone Booster is worth it. I can turn it on, but it sure doesn’t seem to make a difference. Other threads seem skeptical as well. 

 

My experience has been that the improvement of signal quality / strength has been minimal with the cell booster and any improvement dissipated quickly as the phone was moved away from the indoor antenna; I only saw improvement of signal strength when the phone was within a few inches of the indoor antenna. In testing I saw a difference of 11 db, 1 bar or so when using the booster and that required the phone to be within a few inches of the antenna. Maybe a better external antenna would help but still the signal radiated from the indoor antenna had very little effective range within the trailer. In my opinion it might help to sustain or place a call but barely. 

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Tom & Doreen • 2023 Elite ll • Hull #1321 • 2023 Tundra Platinum Crew Max • Cheshire CT 

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1 hour ago, snakeriveridaho said:

Turned on, the booster help some pages load when they weren't loading with it turned off. However, the difference was minimal

Our experience this summer, exactly. The booster didn't increase the bars on the phone, but it did seem like some things would load after turning it on. It was so minor, I'm not sure it wasn't just coincidence.

I also identified an installation error made by Oliver. There is a hard 90 degree kink in the coax cable leading from the booster to its internal antenna over the dinette.

PXL_20230809_142747138.thumb.jpg.b98b78cb846706d59fa7a55c00156d75.jpg

Coax cables should never be kinked like that. In fact, OTT routered out a groove under the booster specifically so that cable could make a nice radius turn, but the installer ignored it. I thought that was the reason for the poor performance but, based on what @snakeriveridaho reported above, maybe the booster doesn't do much anyway. 😕

 

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Tow vehicle: 2016 GMC Sierra 6.0 gas dually 4x4.

Our Oliver journey: Steph and Dud B's RV Screed

Where we've been RVing since 1999:

ALAZCACOCTDEFLGAIDILINIAKYLAMEMDMAMIMNMSMOMTNENVNHNMNYNCNDOHOKORPASCSDTNTXUTVTVAWAWVWIWYmed.jpg.b96241bad6752dec89d25af6ffbc8d99.jpg

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15 minutes ago, Steph and Dud B said:

I also identified an installation error made by Oliver. There is a hard 90 degree kink in the coax cable leading from the booster to its internal antenna over the dinette.

I had the same issues and decided to purchase a new indoor antenna from SureCall thinking that surely the coax had been compromised from the extreme bend. Unfortunately that did not help. Being that the phone needs to be in such close proximity to the antenna to gain any improvement maybe the indoor antenna can be relocated to a place more easily accessible to the phone like closer to the table top or night stand. 

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Tom & Doreen • 2023 Elite ll • Hull #1321 • 2023 Tundra Platinum Crew Max • Cheshire CT 

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Was said difference for the good or bad?

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Thanks for the multiple replies, everyone, and the encouragement.

@topgun2, I like your cautious recommendations on electrical power and AC. No need to move too fast on those, and I am certainly just learning how well my current capacity will work. We have yet to be camping under full clouds for multiple days. And the CalMark cover sounds like it would be worth it.  

@dewdev, the placement of your Tireminder booster is easy to do. Connecting it to the Rear Camera switch would be an attempt to pair it with a device that would have an identical use pattern - and would prevent me leaving it on (and draining the battery) when the trailer was not in use. I'd still like to try that.

Sounds like the cell phone connectivity is an unsolved challenge. I'll be interested in any solutions that are not too expensive. My primary concern is doing a solo set of nights in a 'dispersed camping' area - say the Allegheny National Forest here in western Pa - where there is little connectivity. My wife will want to know I am safe, and functioning text messages would get it done. 

My booster unit was installed 90° perpendicular to @Steph and Dud B's unit, and does not suffer a kink in the coax cable. And I have not tried resetting my phone after the booster unit was turned on, as per @dewdev's suggestion. I hadn't tried that and will give it a go. 

Geoff

 

IMG_5391.thumb.jpg.fe31d84907e0990b346406932cc28621.jpg

 

Geoff and Becca Chapman * Pittsburgh 

Legacy Elite 1 Hull #731 * TV 2022 GMC CANYON V6

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19 hours ago, GeoffChapman said:

to:

·      Figure out if the Cell Phone Booster is worth it. I can turn it on, but it sure doesn’t seem to make a difference. Other threads seem skeptical as well. 

I find this procedure quite useful. I have managed to get cell service, although limited at times, in areas said to have “no cell service” for calls and text messaging, but sending photos was sporadic. In doing so my phone’s ‘personal hotspot’ provided internet access. 

IMG_4642.thumb.png.b4607b73f6105064673909d78842875b.png

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3 hours ago, GeoffChapman said:

My primary concern is doing a solo set of nights in a 'dispersed camping' area - say the Allegheny National Forest here in western Pa - where there is little connectivity. My wife will want to know I am safe, and functioning text messages would get it done. 

You could look into a satellite communicator like the Garmin InReach or the ZOLEO.

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Stephanie and Dudley from CT.  2022 LE2, Hull #1150: Eggcelsior.

Tow vehicle: 2016 GMC Sierra 6.0 gas dually 4x4.

Our Oliver journey: Steph and Dud B's RV Screed

Where we've been RVing since 1999:

ALAZCACOCTDEFLGAIDILINIAKYLAMEMDMAMIMNMSMOMTNENVNHNMNYNCNDOHOKORPASCSDTNTXUTVTVAWAWVWIWYmed.jpg.b96241bad6752dec89d25af6ffbc8d99.jpg

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3 hours ago, GeoffChapman said:

Thanks for the multiple replies, everyone, and the encouragement.

@topgun2, I like your cautious recommendations on electrical power and AC. No need to move too fast on those, and I am certainly just learning how well my current capacity will work. We have yet to be camping under full clouds for multiple days. And the CalMark cover sounds like it would be worth it.  

@dewdev, the placement of your Tireminder booster is easy to do. Connecting it to the Rear Camera switch would be an attempt to pair it with a device that would have an identical use pattern - and would prevent me leaving it on (and draining the battery) when the trailer was not in use. I'd still like to try that.

Sounds like the cell phone connectivity is an unsolved challenge. I'll be interested in any solutions that are not too expensive. My primary concern is doing a solo set of nights in a 'dispersed camping' area - say the Allegheny National Forest here in western Pa - where there is little connectivity. My wife will want to know I am safe, and functioning text messages would get it done. 

My booster unit was installed 90° perpendicular to @Steph and Dud B's unit, and does not suffer a kink in the coax cable. And I have not tried resetting my phone after the booster unit was turned on, as per @dewdev's suggestion. I hadn't tried that and will give it a go. 

Geoff

 

IMG_5391.thumb.jpg.fe31d84907e0990b346406932cc28621.jpg

 

@GeoffChapman, prior to ordering our 2022 LEII, I received what proved to be good advice on multiple points from another Ollie owner.  One recommendation was to forego the cellular booster option, as they were widely seen to be ineffective.  I also read reviews elsewhere convincing me this was not a desirable option.

If you anticipate going into areas with little or no cellular service, I recommend you consider purchasing a Garmin InReach MINI2, or similar Garmin inReach device.  These cost approximately $400 and operate on the Iridium satellite network.  They will operate anywhere in the world.  Several service plans are available through Garmin and the plans may be started/stopped on a monthly basis.  The least expensive plan is about $15.

These devices provide safety features the cell booster cannot.  Carried on your person, they could save your life if you are lost or injured in a remote area.  IMHO, the devices are of much greater utility.  They provide two way test communication and emergency messaging.  The inReach devices can be paired with a smart phone via Bluetooth.  A Garmin app on the phone will enable use of the phone keyboard for text messaging, which is far easier than entering text characters directly on the inReach device.

Connecting your TireMinder booster to the switch for the rear camera should work well.  I had not thought to do that, or seen such recommendations.  I installed my booster under the rear dinette seat, so I must remember to turn it off when storing our trailer.  You can access the rear of the control panel containing the rear camera switch through the access hatch over the microwave oven.  You will probably need to pull out the control panel to access the switch wiring connections, which involves removing only a few screws.  I assume you would leave the booster in the space behind the control panel.

Regards, Don

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9 hours ago, dewdev said:

I cut them off and bought a USB connector which I connected to the end of the wires.

That is a great idea! Mine is currently located in the battery compartment and constantly ON.

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No installed solar, Renogy 40A DC-DC charger, 460Ah LFP battery bank/Victron SmartShunt

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1 hour ago, Steph and Dud B said:

You could look into a satellite communicator like the Garmin InReach or the ZOLEO.

@Steph and Dud B @dhaig I did not know about these kind of devices. They would greatly resolve any family anxieties about off-grid camping. I watched a comparison video on them tonight. Interesting!! Thanks...

 

49 minutes ago, dhaig said:

Connecting your TireMinder booster to the switch for the rear camera should work well.  I had not thought to do that, or seen such recommendations.

@dhaig The idea came from a post by @ScubaRx. He called me today and helpfully detailed how he fished a wire from the switch panel down to the bathroom vanity where he grounded and placed the Tireminder booster. The reports on the strength of the booster's broadcasting makes me think leaving it behind the switch panel is far easier.  But it certainly is a rat's nest of wires in there!  I'll find a ground wire, wedge it in, and give it a try. Pairing it with the Rear Camera Switch seems worth it.

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Geoff and Becca Chapman * Pittsburgh 

Legacy Elite 1 Hull #731 * TV 2022 GMC CANYON V6

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5 hours ago, GeoffChapman said:

My wife will want to know I am safe, and functioning text messages would get it done. 

Had the same scenario last June when I went on my first ‘solo’ trip to Davis Mountains SP in West Texas. I purchased the inReach Explorer+ and the SAR insurance plan they offer. The Service Plan I got can be suspended and reactivated as a cost savings measure. I was able to let my wife know I was okay when out on the trails or biking AND if something were to happen to me that Search And Rescue (SAR) was a push of a button away!

 

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2012 Silverado 1500 4x4

No installed solar, Renogy 40A DC-DC charger, 460Ah LFP battery bank/Victron SmartShunt

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On 10/17/2023 at 4:45 PM, Steph and Dud B said:

My wife will want to know I am safe, and functioning text messages would get it done. 

Always had good luck with Iridiums.  They're a bit spendy but the plans are fairly reasonable.  With a clear view to the southern sky, I've had reasonable contacts on the opposite of the globe - easy peasy.

Screenshot2023-10-23at06_47_42.thumb.png.57ce25fb4bec2915c668a1b270ae9e1c.png

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On 10/17/2023 at 11:49 AM, GeoffChapman said:

Thanks for the multiple replies, everyone, and the encouragement.

<snip>

Sounds like the cell phone connectivity is an unsolved challenge. I'll be interested in any solutions that are not too expensive. My primary concern is doing a solo set of nights in a 'dispersed camping' area - say the Allegheny National Forest here in western Pa - where there is little connectivity. My wife will want to know I am safe, and functioning text messages would get it done. 

<snip>

@Steph and Dud B

Another vote for Garmin InReach.  In addition to being able to send a SOS to the InReach response center in an emergency, the two way communication path works well to let others know where you are, and what your status is.  Your contacts can also reach out to you if there is an urgent matter at their end.  You can send and receive messages via SMS email, cell phones, and other InReach devices.  There are canned messages, as well as the ability to send your own text.  When paired with a Bluetooth device, it’s easier to use.   We have the older InReach Explorer+, our subscription is $12/month.

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On 10/16/2023 at 6:06 PM, GeoffChapman said:

Figure out if I can changeover one of my external propane connections to be high pressure (to fuel a Camp Chef Everest 2x). Or maybe just go with a different tank and regulator.

We have the same stove. Our solution is to carry a 5 lb “gas growler” in a padded case to run the stove. I also use it with the Camp Chef flattop - sometimes it’s just easier than trying to T off the tank prior to the regulator. 

Of course - that’s likely because I have an LE I with the smaller propane doghouse on the front. 🙂 Not much space to put a splitter before the regulator.

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On 10/17/2023 at 5:28 AM, Tom and Doreen said:

Maybe a better external antenna would help but still the signal radiated from the indoor antenna had very little effective range within the trailer

I suspect you are  experiencing the RF shielding the Oliver between hull insulation provides.  

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