DIY Me­chanic: Smart-trailer app

Lev­el­ling your van is just one of this clever sys­tem’s many func­tions, says Nigel Hut­son

Practical Caravan - - Contents -

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 Screw­drivers

n Wire­cut­ters and strip­pers n Crimp­ing tool

n Smartphone

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

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