We all have sparks, imaginations.
That’s how our minds, create creations.
For they can make, our wildest dreams come true.
Those magic sparks, in me and you.
A dream, can be a dream come true.
With just that spark, in me and you.
I have a personal blog that has been out on the web for a pretty long time now, since April 2004. It gets quite a bit of traffic for what it is, mostly my own random thoughts and pictures about what I experience in life.
People do comment on the posts. I had posted about bringing our new coach home on that blog and someone elected to send me this encouraging note:
Great! But what’s the main rational in general, and how does this make sense though compared to other possible options, particularly longer term?
The person was thoughtful enough to include a number of links to things like how to invest and live abroad. Links that have absolutely no interest or relevance to me personally.
But the phrase “how does this make sense though compared to other possible options” was what caught my attention.
The underlying assumption, how does this make sense, is really another way of saying to someone that it really doesn’t make sense at all especially when compared to other more sensible options.
I think back to a team member from my time when I worked for a large Canadian bank. This was about ten years ago. He was approaching retirement. He had a dream. His dream was to sail. He bought himself an older sailing vessel. He spent a couple of years getting it ready to go. He had to spend some time getting himself ready to go, including hip replacement.
Sailing is not for me. For Ted, though, this was his passion. If I remember correctly, he did not even have that much experience with sailing. He was determined. He wanted to retire early to pursue his dream, which he did. I was excited for him.
Here is a recent shot of Ted and Ronalie from March of this year.
Don’t they look awesome? Happy? Healthy?
Ten years have passed. And they have been travelling the world on a sailboat. Life is good for my former colleague. He followed his dream.
How does this make sense though compared to other possible options?
Follow your dreams. Naysayers will never understand them.
If you look carefully at the roofline of our coach, you will see a satellite dish antenna, roughly midway, peering out at the southern sky.
This is our Winegard Trav’ler SK-1000 automatic multi-satellite TV antenna.
This unit caused me a lot of grief. It works fine now but I will share my story in the hopes that if you have a similar problem, you can find an easier way to get it solved.
The problem was an EL Motor Home Failure. Let’s see how I got to that problem.
One of many tasks for the new motorhome was to connect the Bell Expressvu receiver to the audio visual system. That part was relatively straightforward. Connect the RG-6 coaxial cable to the rear of the receiver, connect the HDMI cable to the output of the receiver and the input of the coach’s system splitter — in my bay everything was clearly marked — and plug the unit into an available electrical outlet.
Great. Now for some satellite TV.
First, power up the Winegard unit. The power up sequence worked fine. I can hear the unit moving and automatically positioning itself to find the Bell satellites. From what I know about satellites, which is very little actually, Bell leases two of them: Nimiq 3 and Nimiq 6. Nimiq 3 is at 82 degrees west and carries the standard definition channels. Nimiq 6 is at 91.1 degrees west and carries the high definition channels.
The Winegard dish found both satellites and showed that it was locked on *82 and *91.
Or so I thought.
I turned everything on and the satellite received showed an Error 15 on the TV screen. Basically, the receiver was not seeing the satellite.
How can this be?
So I consulted the Winegard manual. With hindsight, this turned out to be a huge mistake. The manual had a significant omission, namely the type of antenna. More on that one in a moment.
Here is the page on how to configure the dish for Bell Expressvu:
Notice step 6: Press the Select button until the asterisk is next to “SM Mount,” and then press “ENTER.”
And notice step 8: Press “SELECT” until the asterisk is next to “SM ExpressVu.” Press the Enter button.
When I looked at my Winegard unit, it said “LG ExpressVu” and not “SM ExpressVu.”
Obviously the unit had not been configured for Bell TV. Or so I thought.
I followed all of the instructions and then I got to step 15: The TRAV’LER antenna will enter the search routine as part of its normal operation.
Only there was no normal operation. Instead I received a flashing EL MOTOR HOME FAILURE on my Winegard unit.
That cannot be good.
I went outside and I could see that the satellite dish was pointed straight up to the sky.
My first reaction? I must have broken the antenna. My second reaction? How do I get it stowed? After all, I cannot drive the coach with the antenna sticking straight up into the air.
Back into the coach I go. But nothing I do stows the antenna. All I get is a flashing EL MOTOR HOME FAILURE.
There is a troubleshooting section in the manual but it does not show an EL MOTOR HOME FAILURE error. It does show something close, an EL HOME FAILURE. Here is what you should do when you see that error:
Something is preventing the mount from raising as it attempted to find the HOME position. Look for obstructions if the unit has recently been manually raised or if the electronics have been replaced. The calibration may need to be reset. Contact Winegard Technical Support.
I sent them a note and a robot told me that support was closed until Monday. This was Saturday evening.
I am not a patient man. Time for more DIY damage.
I found out how to reset the antenna on the Internet. Follow these steps:
1. Press [POWER] and hold for 2 seconds to turn “ON” the TRAV’LER Interface Box. Wait until the Interface Box finishes “connecting to antenna”. The TRAV’LER may enter the “Search Routine” after 10 seconds this is normal (See NOTE Below).
2. Press [ENTER] and hold for 2 seconds or until the unit displays “Enter User Menu”. Press [SELECT] to move the asterisk to “Yes”. Press [ENTER].
3. Press [SELECT] to move the asterisk to INSTALLATION.
4. Press [ENTER]. You will be asked to provide a code to enter the Installation Menu.
5. Press [ENTER] 4 times to enter code 0000.
6. Press [SELECT] to move “ * ” to “Calibrate EL”.
7. Press [ENTER].
8. Press [SELECT] to move “ * ” to YES.
9. Press [ENTER] to start the elevation calibration procedure. The LCD should now display “Calibrate EL In Progress …”.
10. After a few moments the IDU LCD will display “On EL Hard Stop?-Yes*No”. Visually examine the antenna to verify that the antenna is against the Hard Stop. The antenna will be pointing as far up as it can go, this is the Hard Stop.
11. Press [SELECT] once to move asterisk to “Yes” if antenna is on the Hard Stop.
12. Press [ENTER] and the LCD will display “Calibrate EL Success”.
13. You may now stow the antenna.
Only these steps did not work for me. Why?
It goes back to LG ExpressVu and SM ExpressVu. It turns out that they are two different antennas. One is “Low Ground” and the other is “Surface Mount” or something like that. Through some additional research on the web, I found a dealer installation pdf and it talked about the two differences. My antenna was, in fact, an LG ExpressVu. Because I had reconfigured it to be an SM Mount, exactly as the manual directed, it was unable to stow. It remained stuck in the fully upright position, pointing straight up into the sky.
I had to go back into the installation menu to change the antenna type back to LG ExpressVu. I followed all of the steps and at step 6 I selected “LG Mount”. And to do that operation required a passcode. I used the one in the manual: “0022”.
More searching on the Internet. I finally found the passcode to change the antenna type buried deep in the web somewhere: 2112.
Once I changed the antenna type I followed the rest of the protocol making sure I used LG ExpressVu. I was able to successfully calibrate the system and get the antenna safely stowed.
I powered it up, connected to the antenna, and the Winegard unit could see *81 and *92 again.
The Bell receiver? No joy. Why was I not getting any satellite signal to the receiver?
And then it hit me. The switch.
I had taken one of our Bell ExpressVu receivers from the house. I have an SW44 switch in the house. I remembered reading somewhere that the receivers are sensitive to the type of switch.
I went into System Setup and then the diagnostic section of the receiver’s menu system and selected “Test Switch”. After about ten minutes or so it automatically found the new switch from the Winegard unit and voila, satellite TV.
Technology really should not be this hard.
Lorraine took this shot as I was bringing our coach, the Castaway, up our driveway.
We live in the country. We have 7 acres. We have a long, twisty gravel road that runs about 1,000 feet. Our house is on a hill surrounded by a forest.
Getting the coach up to the house was the second most challenging part of the drive. The first most challenging part of the drive was leaving the dealership.
Of course, I decided that it would be a great idea to take my first drive with our new motorhome through the busiest highways in all of Canada: the 400 highway and the 401 highway in Toronto.
Outwardly, I believe I looked calm.
Inwardly I was terrified. For the first hour or so. Then I became captivated with the driving experience. This is one amazing coach. Wonderful feel on the road. The 450 hp Cummins diesel provides all the power necessary to climb hills. The three stage engine brake helps to slow the coach without excessive wheel braking.
Once we had cleared the Greater Toronto Area, I was able to set the cruise control and enjoy the driving experience.
I loved it.
Lorraine took a few videos to capture our first ride in our new motorhome.
Still so much to do before we head out on the road but this is a major milestone for us. We have the Castaway.
Our 2016 Newmar Dutch Star 4002 had arrived to the dealer end of April. We were able to take delivery this weekend.
They say that you can only prove the delivery with photos so we have a few to share with you. First up is a shot of the interior layout of the main living area.
Jamie was our service technician. He was very professional and very thorough. He explained all of the systems on our coach. Mind you, I had done so much reading and research that things were not quite as overwhelming as I had originally feared. Hey, I know this stuff!
Here he is installing our licence plates for the coach. We are now ready for the road.
Our stateroom includes a king-size bed.
The Dutch Star 4002 is a bath and a half design. This is the rear bath which includes a stacked washer/dryer, shower, and safe.
The entrance to the rear bath as seen from the bedroom.
Our dining area. Perfect for two although the table does extend and we have a couple of extra chairs.
The galley includes a Whirlpool residential fridge, a Whirlpool convection microwave, a Kenyon countertop stove and a dishwasher.
The captain’s chair. Although the initial reaction to all of the buttons and dials was a bit alarming, the driving experience of our coach was amazing.
Here is the coach with the awnings extended.
A couple of exterior shots as we made our way back home. This was at a service centre midway between the dealer and our house.
I’ll share more about the first drive in the coach tomorrow.
We made it home safe and sound in our new coach. Lots to share about our experience over the past few days now that we are back and connected to the Internet again. More to come once I have had a chance to catch up on some sleep.
So excited to have our new home.
We are heading out tomorrow to pick up our new coach. We will be at the Hitch House for two days. I expect that the process will be a touch overwhelming.
There will be lots of paperwork and lots of information to process. The technician will be spending quite a bit of time with us to go through the operations of the coach. We will be living in the coach for a few days before we bring our motorhome, the Castaway, home. And we have to complete a thorough inspection of the coach.
Their checklist is very comprehensive and it will help us identify any initial delivery issues with the coach.
Lorraine and I are also planning an initial trip with the coach later this summer to shake it down and to see if there are any other issues that need to be addressed.
We are quite realistic about what to expect: there will be issues. This was true when we bought our first home. This was true when we built our first home. This will be true with our new coach.
We went with the Hitch House and Newmar because both companies have great reputations for customer service. Although it is a couple of hours drive to the Hitch House, I am hoping that we can capture all of the initial issues with the coach, review it with them beforehand and bring the coach out to get them addressed all at one time as opposed to making several trips back and forth.
We will report on our initial experiences over the next few days.
Should be fun.
We have some learning ahead of us with the new coach. The electrical system is the one that will likely take the most effort on our part. We don’t know how to use electricity on a coach.
Well, I mean we know how to turn things on and plug things in. We just don’t know how all of the various systems work together.
Our coach will have three separate electrical systems: 12-volt automotive DC, 12-volt DC coach and 120-volt AC coach. Power will be generated from multiple sources including the on-board generator, shore, batteries and eventually solar. We will have an inverter, an automatic transfer switch, an automatic generator start on low battery, a surge protector and an energy management system.
In short, if you will pardon the pun, we will have a complex electrical system to manage.
There are several resources that I found very helpful in terms of learning more about the electrical system of an RV.
The first one is from RVTechMag.com.
I’ve created this tutorial to help explain some of the basics of electricity as related to RVs. It’s certainly not going to turn every RVer into an electrical engineer or service tech but it may help many of us to better understand the basics of electricity and how it relates to RVs in general. I’ve organized and categorized topics so that they begin with raw basics and build from there. That way you can either start at the beginning or skip the stuff that you know and go right to your area of interest. You can use this as a study course if you wish or simply a reference source to refer to as needed.
The second is from RV-Dreams.com.
I was thinking about what I should cover in a “Basic RV Electrical” section. Then it dawned on me that I would want it to be really, really basic. I asked myself this question: What is the absolute minimum I need to know about my electrical system…
Gone With The Wynns offers a lot of great video tutorials on solar.
Solar power is our main source of electricity on the road and we’ve learned way more about it than we ever wanted to! From our current and past RV Solar Systems to simple explanations on what it is and how it all works, we try to keep things as simple as possible with these complex RV electrical systems. Click on any of the posts below for more information on solar, inverters, chargers and portable power.
And finally the RV Geeks offer a variety of video tutorials on electricity for RVs.
Behind my mask, when I took my driving tests for my D Class and my Z endorsement, was pure fear. I did not expect to experience such stress. I did not expect to experience driving test nerves.
The mask I normally wear is a mask of confidence. It is a mask that says: I am okay and I have it all under control.
My first driver’s licence was issued when I was 16 years old. In those days, if you completed a driver’s education course, all that was required at the examination centre was successful completion of a short multiple choice exam. Within ten or fifteen minutes, I had my driver’s licence. No fear. No stress.
Totally different experience when I took the DZ tests.
What would happen if I did not pass the DZ tests? We would not be able to bring the coach home as we had originally planned. And because Lorraine was delayed in taking her DZ courses, my DZ licence was on the critical path. No one else in our family would be able to pick up the coach from the dealer.
I did not want to let Lorraine down.
Failing something can be hard to take. Failing something can be embarrassing.
There were fifteen people in my class and every person was stressed out over the written and practical tests.
Why was everyone so nervous? What consequences did we face?
It then became clear to me: being nervous in these situations is actually pretty normal. The thing to watch out for?
Fear of failure often leads to failure!
It is so important to shift the nerves and anxiety into positive energy.
I told myself that I can absolutely do this. I told myself that I can ace these tests and, as it turned out, I did. Out of 160 test items over four different exams, I missed only 2 questions.
I used 4-7-8 breathing to ease my nerves and anxiety:
- Slowly breath in through the nose for 4 seconds
- Hold the breath for a count of 7
- Slowly exhale for a count of 8
Repeat this process a few times and suddenly the nerves and anxiety levels calm down.
I did not treat the driving test as a test. I told myself that I was going for a drive. I have been driving for over forty years now. I know how to drive. Sure, I don’t often drive 4o-foot vehicles weighing over 30,000 lbs, but I know how to drive.
When I started the drive, I knew I had it. I knew that I could show the examiner that I could safely operate this class of vehicle.
“Congratulations!” he said at the end of the test. “You aced it.”
Lorraine took her Z endorsement training last week. And she had her tests on Friday. She was also nervous and anxious. She also aced the tests. Learning to control our nerves and our anxieties is part of life. Getting our commercial driver’s licences for our motorhome was a milestone in getting ready for our new adventures.
That was another important part of the process for us: keep ourselves focused on the goal. This was simply just another step in the process.
We get to drive the coach home this coming Saturday.