RV Ladders


I need a different ladder.

For when we travel.

The coach is tall and I need a ladder that can get me on the roof as well as allow me to get to the upper areas of the coach, like the windshield. And this ladder needs to fold up into a compact form so that we can carry it in the basement of the coach.

If you take a look at this video, you can see the type of ladder I do not want. That looks like one dangerous way to get on the roof of a Newmar Dutch Star (same model of coach as our Castaway). You can watch the entire video if you wish as it does have some interesting perspectives on risk management and staying healthy. I’ve pointed the video to start at where he gets up on the roof.

At my age, I need a less risky path. The choice of ladder for me will be a telescoping ladder like this one from Werner:



This ladder is available from Home Depot here in Canada for under $200. A similar design, Little Giant Ladder, is also available in Canada at an outrageous price. In the States, it sells for about $250USD. In Canada they want over $500 CAD for the ladder. Ouch.

The Werner can function as a step ladder, up to 9 feet, and it can function as an extension ladder up to 19 feet, more than enough to safely get on the roof of the coach.

I’ll also be able to clean the windshield.

I love a clean windshield.

Garmin RV 760LMT First Impressions


I ordered the Garmin RV 760LMT from Amazon last Friday. It arrived earlier this week. I have had a chance to work with it for a few days, enough to form a first impression in case you are thinking about buying this unit.

What’s in the box?

Open the box and you will find a GPS unit, a docking station, a windshield mount, a 12V car adapter and a very short USB cable. If you want the detailed manual, you have to jump online. You can download a pdf of the manual from the Garmin site here.

What did I like?

That 7-inch colour monitor! Very nice indeed.

I also liked BaseCamp.

We have used a number of Garmin GPS units over the years so the interface itself is very familiar although the integration with their desktop software, BaseCamp, is a new experience for me. Here is a sample screenshot of BaseCamp:


BaseCamp is software that you run on your computer. It is free and you can download it from the Garmin site here. To use it, you really do need to pair it with a Garmin device.

Like any new software, BaseCamp does have a learning curve. I found that it took me several tries to plan a trip with two stopovers. But, once I gained a bit of mastery over the software, it was very easy to plan and export a trip back into the GPS. Under Garmin’s main menu is an icon for Apps. And under Apps is an icon for Trip Planner. There it was. My trip to Petosky Motorcoach Resort. All ready to go.

I liked Garmin Express, another software app that runs on your computer. Garmin Express manages the firmware and map updates for the GPS. The updates are free for the life of the device. Free updates? I liked that as well.

You can tell that the unit has been designed for the RV community. It has an extensive database of over 20,000 RV parks and service locations coupled with information about campground amenities.  It also allows you to enter the profile of your RV to identify any related restrictions.

What didn’t I like?

Two different USB connectors. A mini USB connector to the main unit and a standard USB connector on the small docking unit that connects to the back of the device.

Mounting. Garmin only provides a suction cup mount. I was able to make mine work by attaching the mount to the Driver’s side window just in front of my line of sight to the Driver’s side mirror. I was able to get enough of a pivot to provide a good view of the monitor. But the mount is fussy. Very easy to pivot just a bit too far and the unit literally drops out of the mount.

Overall First Impressions?

Very positive. I am glad we bought it. I’ll have better insight into the unit once we have completed our trip to the Petosky Motorcoach Resort in a couple of weeks.

Audio Video Tech Stuff


My home studio. That is one part of our transition to retirement that I will miss. Lots of high tech goodness in that part of the house.

I will have some recording gear with me when we go out on the road full-time with the Castaway and it will be far more modest than my current studio. Although, I think I will still be able to get some good sound even with the limited space and gear. However, that is a different topic for another time.

Today is about how we are approaching the Audio Video technology in our coach.

The current equipment in the coach is okay. In the forward section of the coach:

  • Entry-level Sony STR-DH550 AV Receiver
  • Bell Expressvu 6131 HD Satellite Receiver
  • Entry-level Sony Blu-Ray Player
  • Winegard Satellite Antenna Control
  • Winegard Digital TV Antenna Control
  • Two 120mm Cooling Fans in the Forward Cabinet
  • Two as yet unidentified boxes routing the HDMI satellite feed
  • Two Sony LED TVs

In the back section of the coach:

  • One Sony LED TV
  • One Entry-level Sony Blu-Ray Player

We are adding a few things to make the place a bit more geek-friendly.

I had Newmar pre-wire an Ethernet Cat 6 Cable between the forward AV cabinet and the back AV cabinet. For some reason, this caused our dealer to ponder such a custom request. Why would we need an Ethernet cable? Isn’t everything wireless today?

Well, yes and no. Read on.

We will set up a wired and wireless local area network in the coach to allow media streaming to all of our devices and screens. We expect to carry at least two iPhones, three iPads and a laptop. And we want to be able to throw things up to any of our TV screens. We will have a fair amount of technology in the coach.

We will install an Apple Airport Extreme in the back AV cabinet. It will be connected by Ethernet to a Synology DS416play NAS. It will also be connected by Ethernet to Apple TVs in the forward and back AV cabinets.

The NAS will run an iTunes server for all of our music and video content. This will allow us to stream media over the wire to the Apple TVs and, by extension, video content will go out to the TV screens. Wired lines still provide the best performance particularly when streaming high definition video content.

I have already configured our Harmony Elite remote along with the Harmony Hub to simplify the operation in the forward section of the coach. I will configure our older Harmony touch remote to operate the technology in the back section of the coach.

The NAS will hold basically all of our data, documents and media content, so it will be the overall digital workhorse for our coach.

I expect to have most of the technology in and running over the next couple of weeks. I will do a video walkthrough to show you how it all worked out.

Garmin RV 760LMT


The above image is from the Garmin RV 760LMT product page here.

I ordered this unit today so that we have an RV specific GPS before our next major trip with the Castaway.

The Castaway is equipped with an onboard GPS, part of Clarion’s NX405 in-dash system. I found the Clarion’s GPS frustrating to use. The NX405 is a capable head unit and the GPS software is powered by TomTom however using the touch panel for programming basic trips was a very poor experience.

We would like an RV specific GPS to help us plan our trips and stay away from things like low bridges and restricted roads. Preferably a unit that allows us to plan the trip in advance on a laptop.

The Garmin RV 760LMT looks like it will meet our needs. It features software, Garmin BaseCamp, that can be downloaded to a Mac or PC. The software pairs with the GPS and should allow us to do all of our detailed planning on our Mac and then download the plan back into our GPS.

I will provide a more comprehensive review once the unit arrives and we have had a chance to test it out.