DIY Mechanic: Smart-trailer app
Levelling your van is just one of this clever system’s many functions, says Nigel Hutson
Van levelling is just one of its talents
TO are I because might MANY almost include my PEOPLE, a phone life-support myself is smartphones a in diary, that, machine. my world, camera, connection and and a that’s point-and-press with just the for outside starters. to and message I even use people! it to speak
that I also I monitor have gadgets or adjust in via our my van
phone Control – and such my as Phantom Alde’s Smart Tracker/ monitoring system (other systems
are available). However, one bit of technical
wizardry that caught my eye at a recent NEC show was on the
Roadpro stand (www.roadpro. co.uk), where they were
exhibiting the Smarttrailer system from Dutch
company E-trailer (www.
e-trailer.nl/en). After a demonstration by
co-founder Boy Trip,
I was very impressed. Basically, this is
a unit with numerous add-on modules
(and more are being developed) that will allow you to monitor things such as battery
level and caravan tyre pressures via Bluetooth on your phone,
while you are towing.
Future applications are also likely to include noseweight measurements and caravan brake
temperature monitoring. The thing that initially caught my eye, and one that’s part of the basic kit, is the E-level.
This enables you to monitor the levelling of your caravan
on your smartphone, while you’re
doing wind the it, rather jockey than wheel having a bit, to then and check go inside your the spirit caravan level. You could drive onto a levelling ramp and get the van level (side
to side) from the driving seat of your car, before you even open
the van to find said spirit level!
Currently, there are three packages available: the Starter Package, containing the main module (E-connect) and
the E-level; the Safety Package (Starter Package plus E-pressure caravan tyre
pressure monitoring system and E-switch, which warns
you of any open door or rooflight); and the Comfort Package (all of the above plus E-temperature, which
shows current temperature and humidity inside the
caravan, and E-volt battery monitoring system).
So what does installing the Smart-trailer system
and the various packages
involve? Not very much, to be honest – it really is simple and straightforward.
But before starting the job, do make sure that the 230V
mains supply and 12V battery are disconnected.
Most of what you’ll need is
included in the box. However, E-trailer recommends that the 12V
power supply to the E-connect unit has a 4A fuse installed, and unless you can isolate the power
supply when your caravan is in storage, you might want to fit a
switch so that you can turn the system off. The unit consumes
40-100ma, which would in time flatten your 12V battery.
You’ll also need a smartphone running Apple IOS 7.0 or higher,
or Android 4.4 or higher. With the E-connect unit, you get a 2m cable (for the power
feed) with a five-pin plug, screws to secure the unit, and a card
with a unique QR code. So the
extras and tools you’ll need are: n 4A in-line fuse and holder n Crimped spade terminals (male and female) and/or in-line crimped connector n Insulation tape n Double-sided numberplate mounting tape (if you don’t want to screw the unit to the caravan wall)
n Cable ties
n Wirecutters and strippers n Crimping tool
First, find a suitable location to
install the E-connect unit. It can
be placed in any orientation (you calibrate things once it’s been installed), but E-trailer suggests
mounting it as high and as far forward as possible.
I chose to mount the unit on the caravan wall behind a panel
at the nearside front corner. I removed the internal shelf and
the panel at the front end of the overhead locker, but rather than the supplied screws, I used double-sided tape to affix it. With the unit in position, the plug-in cable is attached. The plug pushes in and is secured
by a locking thumbwheel. At the other end, the red wire needs
to be connected to the positive
(+ve) fuse. lighting I power ‘piggy-backed’ cable feed which via was the into more in-line an LED than lights ‘piggy-back’ adequate and the spade E-connect, to feed terminals. both using the connected The black to wire the needs negative to be (-ve) cable. wrapped All with connections insulating were tape. then
Now Next, reconnect you need the to 12V download battery.
the but E-trailer do this within app to 10m your of phone, the E-connect unit after the power
has been connected to it.
When you open the app, you’ll need to register, then just follow
the on-screen instructions and
wait for your smartphone and the E-connect unit to connect
via Bluetooth. At this stage, you will need to ensure that your caravan is perfectly level in all directions, using the old spirit level method.
Once logged in to the app, you’ll see two pictograms, a +
(add) sign, and a pair of gears (settings). Click on settings and then ‘calibration’, and follow
the on-screen instructions.
Now scan the E-level QR code and you’ll see a spirit level icon
appear on the app home page.
Tap that and you’ll get a plan of the caravan – the ‘dot’ should
be right in the centre to indicate that it’s level. Enjoy playing!
Don’t miss part 2 of this article, in our November issue – Nigel explains how to install other packages available for the Smart-trailer system. It goes on sale from 4 October PC