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Nuke-E

Project Ideas for ECR

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OK, so the ECR isn't that far away, and I'm starting to put together the project seminar that's going to happen on Wednesday afternoon. I figured I should ask the group what has the most interest--I'll throw a few ideas out there, but if anyone else has suggestions, let me know. Things to keep in mind:

  • We need to be able to finish the project in time to clean up before the pot luck that evening (preferably sooner than that--I need to cook too!). If it's an electronics project, getting to a working breadboard setup is probably OK.
  • The cost of components would ideally be pretty small
  • Project should have broad appeal, and should be within the realm of skills that the average rally attendee might have
  • The seminar will be in the pavilion, so ideally the project would be mostly built without truck/RV present.
  • Ideally, the new stuff taught during the seminar is useful for other projects

Here's my list of possible projects so far:

  1. Battery monitor, and high/low voltage disconnect. Main components: Particle microcontroller ($20), either transistor and relay or 4-relay board ($30)
  2. Holding tank level monitoring/fill system using pressure sensors. Main components: Particle microcontroller ($20), 5-psi pressure sensor ($30 each, one needed per tank). Relay needed for fill control.
  3. Smart headlight upgrade
  4. Hot water recirculation/freeze protection system. Main components: Particle microcontroller ($20), transistor and relay, optionally a temperature sensor.
  5. Non-contact AC current monitor. Main components: Particle microcontroller ($20), inductive current sensor (<$20, two needed on 50A hookups).
  6. DVR and vehicle telemetry monitor. Main components: Raspberry Pi 2 ($50), camera (<$20), bluetooth OBD-II dongle ($15)

The projects with the Particle microcontroller would have some neat potential--that little chip can be programmed and interfaced with electronically, and it has 8 digital and 8 analog I/O ports. It ships with a small breadboard, so getting started would be pretty easy. They'd also mean that anyone putting together one of those projects could pretty easily migrate to a different one with not much more than a change in software.

 

Consider this list just a starting point. I'm going to take a look at my to-do list and see if there's anything else that jumps out, but feel free to add to the list. I'd like to get as much feedback as possible, sooner rather than later--some of the components I can order for the group and get a discount, and I'd like to have everything in-hand and organized well ahead of the rally.

Edited by Nuke-E

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Let's see how bout the "bedlight wiring harness project"! Oh, wait, I did that last year at the rally before you developed the plug-n-play harness with Milo supervising from a camping chair :). On a serious note, I would like to maybe have some type of monitor that shows ongoing AC voltages in the trailer since my surge is portable and connected at the pedestal. Maybe that's what your #5 is alluding to.

 

BTW, David, if you need to change the time to earlier that can be accomplished. Was just trying to not coincide with Gregg's talk to the ladies, but we could always move up some if you feel it necessary.

Edited by SuiteSuccess

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Carl,

 

In #5, I was just referring to a current monitor, but it wouldn't be that difficult to also measure voltage. Voltage is a little more difficult, as you actually have to bring AC power to the circuit you're building, where current is a non-contact sensor that just loops around a current-carrying wire.

 

Of course, with both of those measurements, you'd have all the hardware needed to log power consumption, calculate noise metrics, frequency, power factor, etc.

 

Perhaps I should ask what you've done to your truck lately, and we'll add whatever that is to the list! ;-)

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I'd also go for #1, Battery Monitor or #5, non-contact AC current monitor. More information on your Lithium battery project would be appreciated too!

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More information on your Lithium battery project would be appreciated too!

Don't worry--there's a separate presentation just for that! And for the record, it's a Particle controller handling battery charging/protection.

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Sounds like fun and reminds me of old times with Heathkits. I'm with Al, count me in on any project you decide to present. Preference would be the tank level monitoring.

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It's all wonderland to me! A monitor on the LPG tank would be cool....

 

That's an easy one to add to the tank monitor. The ones on a permanently-mounted tank are just a variable resistor like what's in a car's gas tank. Now for portable tanks, it'd be a little more difficult.

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Hi David,

 

What ever ideas you come up with, I'm in. It will be a nice learning experience.

 

Al

 

I did some thinking and I would vote for # 2 Tank level monitoring / fill system. It would be nice to know how much fuel I do have in the truck. Right now I use a story stick. This is what I call it.That would be my first choice. But any system or project would work for me. I need to learn more about electronics.

 

Al

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Al,

 

I just edited the original post to clarify--that project would be to monitor fresh and waste water levels. Though the approach would probably work fine for fuel, you'd probably need a little "smoothing" in the readings coming back for it to be useful in motion.

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It's all wonderland to me! A monitor on the LPG tank would be cool....

I picked up a dual remote tank reading kit at the Tampa RV show. A couple of magnetic sensors on the bottom of the tanks, programmed to an LED readout in the trailer. The name of it escapes me but when I return next week, I can send you the info. It seems to work fine.

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Al,

 

I just edited the original post to clarify--that project would be to monitor fresh and waste water levels. Though the approach would probably work fine for fuel, you'd probably need a little "smoothing" in the readings coming back for it to be useful in motion.

 

David,

 

That still sounds like a good project for the trailer. It would be a nice idea to know the levels of the tanks.

 

Al

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For those who aren't sure, go thru a full DOT air brake test, like for a full CDL. Take maybe 20 mins.

I remember the one you did for us at Myrtle Beach, my first ECR. Very informative. I have a DOT brake test written out in my truck notebook and perform like you advised.

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For those who aren't sure, go thru a full DOT air brake test, like for a full CDL. Take maybe 20 mins.

 

I know that this would be a big help for me. I have seen video, but nothing like seeing it in person.

 

Al

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David, is this the device you plan on using?

It is. I've found them pretty easy to work with--the built-in Wi-Fi capability and their software allows for wireless programming. The biggest challenge I see at this point is the process of "claiming" new devices--if everyone were to do it at the same time, I think we're destined to have mix-ups where person A controls person B's board. My plan at this point is to hand them out with instructions for that part of the process at registration, which gives everyone a few days.

 

Any ideas to add to the list? Or comments on what's already there?

Edited by Nuke-E

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Any way to come up with a device that can monitor your individual electric trailer brakes?

 

We seem to have an issue that every couple of years we are finding that our brake magnets are breaking off inside our drums and it does not show up in brake controller until it seems like we have lost most of them. Usually we discover the issue if one of us is walking next to the trailer when i am moving it and we hear them banging around in the drum or I discover it when I have the trailer jacked up to rotate tires or replace a flat. I would feel safer knowing that the brake magnets are still there with out having to jack up each side of the trailer and test the brakes.There have been times when I have pulled the drum and there is no magnet left, don't know where it went as there are no openings larger enough for it to escape so it must just disintegrate. We put new drums late last year on the ones that have been consistently breaking hoping to fix the issue but having a way of checking them would be a peace of mind.

 

Dave

Edited by Star Dreamer

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Dave,

 

I've had a brake controller/monitor project on the back burner for a while now. Ideally, you'd drive each puck separately with its own MOSFET, and monitor the current on each circuit. In the simplest case, an LED grounded through the magnet would show continuity (though that wouldn't necessarily show good continuity). I've been kicking around the idea of a simple brake controller that would use the brake circuit on the 7-pin plug to send just a signal to a controller mounted on the RV, and power the brakes from the house batteries. Have a dummy load that could be switched on on the trailer to fake out a regular controller when needed, but have the ability to receive some basic diagnostics in the cab.

 

Shorter term, I could see putting together a test plug that let you measure continuity on each magnet with a meter, and maybe put together a small board that tests all of the brakes individually at once. I'm curious--do any of the electrically-braked trailers out there fuse the wheel circuits individually? I would think that if wires breaking off are a concern, that a solid stop could trip a breaker which (even if self-resetting) would be intermittently disabling all of the brakes. Like a lot of other RV systems, I feel like electric drum brakes are still kind of in the stone age. Non-sealed ring terminals inches from the pavement are what's counted on for stopping? Hmmm....

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David

The MaxBrake controller has a built in function,when connected to the trailer use manual slide control to full and it gives you an amp draw reading. The magnets on my car trailer would draw about 3 amps each so on that trailer if I got a reading of 18 or a little better all was good. 15 meant I had lost one brake etc. So a clamp on amp meter and a way to apply full power to the brakes (brake away switch) is all you need. I am sure you can come up with a prettier solution.

 

Nigel

Edited by Nigel

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Dave,

 

I've had a brake controller/monitor project on the back burner for a while now. Ideally, you'd drive each puck separately with its own MOSFET, and monitor the current on each circuit. In the simplest case, an LED grounded through the magnet would show continuity (though that wouldn't necessarily show good continuity). I've been kicking around the idea of a simple brake controller that would use the brake circuit on the 7-pin plug to send just a signal to a controller mounted on the RV, and power the brakes from the house batteries. Have a dummy load that could be switched on on the trailer to fake out a regular controller when needed, but have the ability to receive some basic diagnostics in the cab.

 

Shorter term, I could see putting together a test plug that let you measure continuity on each magnet with a meter, and maybe put together a small board that tests all of the brakes individually at once. I'm curious--do any of the electrically-braked trailers out there fuse the wheel circuits individually? I would think that if wires breaking off are a concern, that a solid stop could trip a breaker which (even if self-resetting) would be intermittently disabling all of the brakes. Like a lot of other RV systems, I feel like electric drum brakes are still kind of in the stone age. Non-sealed ring terminals inches from the pavement are what's counted on for stopping? Hmmm....

 

On our trailer, there is a one wire coming from the breakaway switch down one side of the trailer and then at the first axle it splits and goes to the brake on each side on the first axle. Then it daisy chains to the next two axles. There are not any fuses in the lines underneath the trailer and I do not remember what is in the line to and from the breakaway switch up in the gooseneck area.

 

Also each brake has a separate ground wire going to the frame near the axle at each wheel location.

 

One thought I had was putting an indicator light in the ground wire circuit and mounting the lights (3 on each side) on the front side of the trailer so that they can be seen in the rear view mirror. the lights would come on with the application of the brakes and if one did not work, that would mean that magnet was not working anymore in theory.

 

David

The MaxBrake controller has a built in function,when connected to the trailer use manual slide control to full and it gives you an amp draw reading. The magnets on my car trailer would draw about 3 amps each so on that trailer if I got a reading of 18 or a little better all was good. 15 meant I had lost one brake etc. So a clamp on amp meter and a way to apply full power to the brakes (brake away switch) is all you need. I am sure you can come up with a prettier solution.

 

Nigel

 

Nigel, Looks like according to the Resource Guide, Max Brake is no longer in business, However you idea of a amp meter may work, but I will need help to make it look pretty.

 

Dave

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It is. I've found them pretty easy to work with--the built-in Wi-Fi capability and their software allows for wireless programming. The biggest challenge I see at this point is the process of "claiming" new devices--if everyone were to do it at the same time, I think we're destined to have mix-ups where person A controls person B's board. My plan at this point is to hand them out with instructions for that part of the process at registration, which gives everyone a few days.

 

Any ideas to add to the list? Or comments on what's already there?

I wish there was some way we could be at the ECR this year. You have several neat ideas that are similar to ones I have scratched up on Firehouse Sub's napkins and junk mail envelopes but never got around to breadboarding. I would love to see how you are implementing any of them. IMHO you could flip a coin to select any one project you have in mind and it would be a winner. Perhaps ???? after all is said and done you might want to present a couple for the Resource Guide.

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