Monday, August 31, 2015

Wifi Booster

Howdy folks!

Another cool day in Seattle today!  I LOVE Fall weather so I love the weather here this week.

The last major upgrade to our RV that I have not mentioned yet is our new WifiRanger.  We live full time at Issaquah Village RV Park east of Seattle.  This park has amazing Internet service.  They have several repeaters throughout the park and we can usually stream with no problems. 

However, there are times when the signal is weak and we needed a booster to receive signal.  Also, when we travel, most RV parks do not have great Wi-Fi coverage like we have in our current park.  We have needed a Wi-Fi booster on many different occasions.

We have also really wanted and needed a secure firewall and internal network because we are very leery of using public Wi-Fi, especially to conduct banking and online purchases.  Having an internal network also allows us to use our printer without having to connect the cable each time.

We follow of blog called Technomadia.  Chris and Cherie are fulltime RVers who specialize in technology and are app developers as well.  We contacted them and they recommended the WifiRanger to us. 

We purchased the Elite Pack FM (flat mount), which included the 13” antenna for the roof, 30 ft. of Ethernet cable and an indoor Go2 router. 

It was super easy to install.  Tex got on the roof and ran the Ethernet cable down through the dryer vent.  He adhered the antenna with the small screws provided and then caulked it really good to prevent leaks. 

Inside, we drilled a hole in the PVC pipe so we could thread the Ethernet cable through the hole.  We screwed the Go2 router to the wall next to the wall outlet where the washer/dryer is plugged in.  All we had to do then was hook up the connections.

Once installed, the setup is super simple and it walks you through setting up the router, establishing a password and connecting to the public Wi-Fi source.

All in all, it took about an hour from the time we began the installation to readily using the Internet.

We highly recommend this product.  The company is based out of Idaho and was started by a fellow RVer.  Their customer support is outstanding.  A couple of times I have needed to contact them to ask a question and they have responded back within just a few minutes.  They are extremely knowledgeable and can talk you through anything, no matter how complicated. 

So that is it for our upgrades, I think!  The final big upgrade that we will do in a few years is to add solar panels to the roof.  Having solar power, in addition to our generator and batteries, will allow us to boondock or dry camp and not be so dependent on RV parks.  

We plan to do the solar upgrade in early 2017.  We want to have AM Solar in Springfield, OR install the solar panels before we leave the PNW for our full time travels.  AM Solar is highly regarded in the RV industry.  People come from all over the U.S. to AM Solar so it would be smart to have it done while we are so close to them.

So that is it for today.  I need to get to my cross stitch projects so I will post again soon!

Until next time!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Super Simple Solutions!

Hi everyone!

Hope everyone is having a great day! 

Seattle is finally seeing some rain this weekend and it is sorely needed!  We haven’t had significant rain fall for several months and everything is bone dry.  Unfortunately, the rain is not supposed to make it over the Cascade Mountains to the east side of Washington where all the horrible fires are out of control.  They desperately need rain!

Been a pretty quiet week here.  I have been doing a lot of cross-stitch trying to get a couple of projects completed.  Not anywhere close yet so I will be working on them a lot this week.

Tex has been able to cut back on his hours a little this week.  Instead of 12-13 hour days, he is working 11-12 hour days.  Ha!  Not much change but hopefully in the near future he can cut back some more.  He has all new bosses and even though they are now here, he still has a lot of info to provide them and to help them as much as possible.

I thought I would show you a couple of simple solutions we came up with to help with my jewelry storage and mirror issues.

I have been trying to find a way to have my jewelry easily accessible but with limited cabinet and countertop space, I just wasn’t happy with my options.  I had been looking at wooden cabinets that hang on the wall because I have one wall in the bathroom that I could use but Tex kept telling me everything I found was too heavy. 

I finally decided to use my 31 brand jewelry bag and hang it up on a Command Hook. 

I had been using the jewelry bag but was keeping it closed and in a drawer.  Even though it isn’t as aesthetically pleasing as a wooden cabinet would be, it is super easy to take down when we hit the road.  However, I have found that I don’t even have to take it down.  It is super light and it doesn’t cause any problems while we are driving.

I have also been complaining about our bathroom mirror since we started living in the RV full time.  It is a great mirror but my eyesight is not what is used to be and I was wanted a magnification mirror.  I have been searching for one that can be hung on the wall and is on a swing arm but everywhere I looked on-line, they were all super heavy.

One day we were in Home Depot and just happened upon a display of the exact mirror I have been wanting and it was very light.  It was perfect!  We bought it and Tex installed it on the wall to the left of the bathroom sink. 

These two simple solutions to two nagging problems have been perfect and I am very happy with them both!

I guess that is all that is happening around here right now.   Hope everyone has a great day!

Until next time!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Not again!!

Howdy again folks!

Another post about our crazy RV adventures this past week!

To give a bit of history, last Wednesday we had to buy two new engine starting batteries because one of ours blew up and the other one was dead.

The very next day we ordered new blinds throughout the RV, which was another big expense but what I didn’t mention in my last post was what happened when we tried to leave Dave and LJ’s after ordering the blinds.

We came out to the RV and began to close the slides back in so we could go back to the RV Park for the night and then drive back to Seattle on Friday.  I mentioned to Tex that the bedroom slide was really slow.  I got it closed and walked into the kitchen and found that the refrigerator was not on.  We both looked at the inverter and our hearts sank!  For the second day in a row, we were having battery issues, this time with the house batteries that power everything inside.

Our brand new inverter was showing a fault light and showing that our batteries were at 9.8 volts when they should be at 12.5 volts.  We immediately knew that our house batteries were dead.  They were 4 years old and it was just horrible timing and a horrible coincidence that they died the day after our starting batteries died.

We started the engine and the fridge immediately came on and we continued the few miles back to the RV Park for the night.  We were plugged into shore power so there was no hurry to buy batteries until we got back to Seattle.

On Saturday, we went and purchased 4 new Interstate deep cycle batteries and Tex was able to install them easily.  

In 2 years when we are ready to start traveling full time, we are going install solar and will purchase new AGM batteries and have them reconfigured so we can get 6 in our battery compartment instead of 4.  That will give us more power for longer period of time and will allow us not to be so dependent on RV parks when we are traveling.

So, in a span of 3 days, we had to buy 2 new starting batteries, 4 new house batteries and we purchased new blinds throughout the coach.  What a crazy, very expensive week! 

We hope we don’t have to repeat last week any time soon! 

I still have a few posts I need to do on some upgrades we have done within the past 6 months so be looking for those soon.

Until next time!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

New Blinds!!


So, in my last post, I mentioned that the reason for our trip to Woodland was to get a quote for new blinds for the RV.  I thought I would tell you a bit more about our blind situation.

In our RV, we have the accordion style day/night shades that pull down or push up.  They are original to our coach, which is a 2006 Newmar Ventana.  They are extremely hard to pull down and push up and it takes me both hands to move them.  I literally have to climb up on the sofa or on the dinette in order to get under the blinds so I have enough strength to maneuver them. 

In addition, the string that holds them together and allows them to move up and down break on a regular basis.  If we adjust the tension so they are easier to move, then the string breaks as well.  We have restrung one set a few times.

These blinds, while they say are “day/night” shades, really do not block the light at all during the day.  When the sun comes up every morning, it shines in like there is not even a shade in place.  This, in turns, means the dogs think it is time to rise and shine at 6 am! 

Day/Night shades.
You can see how the night portion still lets in a lot of light

Also, since they really don’t block the light, the sun heats up the RV when it is hot outside.  We bought an aftermarket RV screen that is made to block the sun and still see out and used suction cups to attach to the inside of the cockpit window.  While this does work, it is an extra step each time we change locations and it does not help the situation in the other windows.

In the cockpit, driver and passenger windows, we have the accordion shades that are on a track and it pulls around and covers all 3 areas.  There is no day/night shade, just one shade.  You cannot see through it and it does not block the light or sun and it is quite useless.  They are extremely hard to fold back into place as you pull the rope to close them each morning.  I fight with these blinds every morning and every evening.


Dealing with these blinds wasn’t a big deal when we only took short trips in the RV but now that we live in it, these blinds have slowly become a very real issue for me. 

We have been talking about buying new shades for a year.  We have been researching MCD Innovation Shades, which are a very popular choice for lots of RVers.  They are probably the most well known company for RV shades.  They make aftermarket shades as well as shades for new RVs.

However, the more we researched the company and talked to customers and dealers, we kept hearing the same theme.  Everyone stated that the blind quality and their customer service were going downhill.   People were having issues with the blinds breaking after installation and dealers were having trouble dealing with the company on warranty work. 

This lack of quality and customer service made us start looking at other options.  We found a company called AutoMotion Shade.  They look exactly like MCD Shades and the cost is almost exactly the same.  Newmar has even started using this company on some of their new motorhomes.

About the same time that we started researching AutoMotion Shade, we started hearing from other guests in our RV Park about a company near Portland that rehabs RV interiors.  In fact, several different guests in our RV Park in Issaquah were headed to Woodland to go to this place to get new furniture, carpet and blinds installed.

This piqued our interest so we did a little more research.  Wouldn’t you know it!  Dave and LJ’s RV Interior Design is a dealer and installer of AutoMotion Shades!!

This was a sign!  We had planned to wait until next year to get new blinds since we just spent several thousand dollars on a new refrigerator and inverter, but I called Dave and LJ’s anyway and they said to come in at anytime.  No appointment was necessary to get the blinds measured and to get a quote. So, long story, but that is why we decided on a whim to go to Woodland!

And, once you get a quote and you get to see how amazing the blinds are and how they block the light, it is impossible to say no. So, even though we had not planned to buy them so soon, we went ahead and ordered the blinds. 

The company custom makes them to fit each of our windows and they will be shipped to the dealer in about 4 weeks.  We will then go back down to Woodland for them to install them, which they say will only take one day.  They do have to take down the box that holds the TV in place in the cockpit so they can cut about an inch off so the blinds can be pulled down unobstructed but even with that mod, they said they could be done in one day.

Can’t tell you how excited I am!  Tex was less than thrilled with the expense but he loves the blinds!

After we ordered the blinds, we had another crazy thing happen to the RV so I will post about that in my next post!  You really won’t believe it!

Until next time!