Friday, September 5, 2014

The Wilson Sleek Cell Phone Reception Booster

Shortly before we left for our summer trip the middle of June this year I bought a Verizon 4G Wilson Sleek cell phone booster kit.  Wilson shipped it to me quickly and it was in perfect condition.  My plan was to hook it up to the built in cell phone antenna that came with my coach.  For the first 10 days of our trip there was no reason to try the Wilson as the cell phone reception we got was fine without it.

But soon after we arrived at our campground near Mt Rainier I discovered that the cell reception at the park was so poor that there was not any high speed data available.  And voice calls were not possible.  So I got out the Wilson kit and hooked it up.  The first snag was that there is more than one coax cable connector size and the one at the end of the cable in our motorhome did not match the one on the Wilson.  So I hooked it up with the included small antenna.

You need to have a cigaret lighter to power the Wilson Sleek or some other 12volt source.  So I plugged it in and put my Motorola Maxx in the cradle.  It promptly increased the signal and we got reasonably good data speed and good voice call quality.

After about 30 minutes I went over to pick up my phone and it was very warm.  It seems the Wilson generates quite a bit of heat.  With a phone sitting in the base cradle with no space between it and the base I was worried about ruining my phone.  So I tried moving one side of the phone a bit away from the base plate.  This significantly reduced the heat by allowing it to dissipate and the cell signal seemed to be the same as with all the phone right on the base plate.

During our trip we used the Wilson a couple of times and it worked well each time.  The heat on the phone does worry me.  In my opinion it likely will degrade the phone over time.  I still have not bought the adapter coax connector.  Radio Shack did not have them.  Wilson has them on their web site, but they are not cheap.

Monday, September 1, 2014

RV Things I Bought For This Summers Trip I Can Recommend or Not

This summer was a great trip.  We were gone 2 months and drove about 3,500 miles.  Before we left we added quite a few things that we wanted / needed to make the trip better.  So here is the scorecard of what worked and what did not.

1.  Garmin 760LMT

I have had Garmin's for a few years and this is my third one.  This has a large 7" screen and can be set for either car or RV mode.  The great thing about the RV mode is that it routes you on roads and underpasses that are appropriate to your rig size.  There are a few tricks to learn if you are used to older Garmin's to get the best out of this one, but overall I loved using it for travel this summer.

2.  Garmin BC 20 wireless back up camera

Adding this backup camera really made the Garmin 760 even more useful.  When I bought my Jeep a little over a year ago a backup camera did not come with it.  The Jeep Wrangler is tall and small low to the ground cars can hide from your sight when you back up.  I had that happen and had a very sight impact with a small Honda.  When that happened I wanted to drive more safely and so I had this in mind.  When I got the 760 Garmin as a gift then this was a no brainer.  On top of it being a good idea it was super simple to install on the Wrangler.  There is a youtube video showing how to do it.  I followed the instructions and it worked the first time I tried it.

This is not a cheap setup.  $550 for both.  To me that is a good value for what it does.  I like the Garmin's far better than any other GPS type system I have tried.  I do have a late model smartphone that uses the Google system for directions.  Sometimes the Google system is better, but it is just not reliable.  And it does not work if there is a break in cell coverage.  The Garmin is near 100% reliable. The Google phone might be 50% reliable.  If you are driving a big rig around you need something you can depend on.

3.  Aurelia Robust Nitrile powder free gloves.

I got these on Amazon for a little over 10 bucks for 100.  Highly recommended.  I have always used garden gloves.  This summer when CAT overfilled our oil after changing it and then we developed a small oil leak because CAT did not put on a part a year ago there was a lot of oil over the back of our rig, our car, hitch, bikes, and so on.  Even if it were not for the oil being over everything these gloves are super.  They are thin enough so you can do far more with them than garden gloves, but they are thick enough so my skin gets some protection.

4.  Sure Fit Deluxe Sofa Pet Throw

Our dog likes to be on the sofa.  Our sofa is covered with leather.  Plus we like it clean.  We have been using beach towels.  This is better.  Of course you have to tuck in all the edges so the dog does not get it all tangled up, but once you do that this is a great pet cover.

5.  High Quality Hoses.

I bought several things on line from the Water Filter Store which is in Temecula.  Everything I bought there, water softener, sediment filter, Watts pressure regulator, and extra filters was very good and delivered quickly.  However, a special mention has to go to the three hoses I bought from them.  They are just super.  The quality is first class+.  They don't kink and the brass hardware is heavy duty.  The heavy duty hardware is so much better than standard hoses there is just no comparison.  My set up when I camp now is water regulator on park faucet (the regulator I bought is adjustable and has a gauge on it to read pressure), connect to hose to get close to water compartment, then sediment filter, short hose, water softener, then to the rig water.  My rig has a built in canister filter also that removes chemicals and some bacteria.

With all this hooked up the water that comes out of the rig is vastly improved.  Bad taste is gone.  Water is soft so the dishes soap up easily.  In the shower you use a small fraction of the water.  In our rig washer the whites now come out white instead of grey.

I did buy several things that did not work out so well.  So here are my thumbs down awards.  

1.  Wilmar filter wrench

These did not work well and smell bad.  Stunk up our garage for a month.  If these were made correctly they would work fine, but the design and materials on these is lousy.

2.  Valterra Water Pressure Gauge

Mine worked maybe once and now the gauge never goes below 20 psi.  If we had not been on our trip I would have returned it.  I bought a Watts unit which is much better quality and it works fine.

3.  The sewer treatment I bought at Quartsite two years ago.  I bought a case because it was so cheap. It was so cheap because it did not work.