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Old 02-26-2009, 09:18 PM   #71
2 Rivet Member
Commercial Member
Brookfield , Wisconsin
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 68
Questions update

He's back! To all whom were so kind as to give their comments, both pro and con, relative to the optional future accessories for your trailers. I have completed all the "hard stuff" for some of the devices you guys requested. I have electronic hardware designs, running prototypes, software and so forth. I know estimated manufactured costs based upon volumes and so on. Pretty much your basic product development stuff. I did create the hardware so that every output is fused, as requested, which to you guys cost you about $1.50 cents per output (not cheap). Depending upon application, we even monitor the current flow to tell you "where" you have a short and in most cases can tell you where it is, probably before blowing a fuse, which questions their need. However, just in case, to give peace of mind they are there.

Since some of the applications could require running motors forwards or backwards we provide two types of outputs, some that apply power when turned on (typical in the US), and some the pull to ground when turned on (typical outside US). Some applications do not require both output types. Assuming cost and reliability are improved using the "pull to ground" approach, would you guys care? This means that if you wired up some solenoids, one side that would traditionally be connected to ground would be connected to the battery. The other side would be connected to the controller, where the output would normally be open (off). To turn it on, it pulls the connected wire to ground, turning on the solenoid. This is the "inverse" of what you guys are used to seeing, voltage on wire when off, ground when on. Again, do you care?

Relative to a trailer leveling there are a minimum of two options; A device that would display to you when trailer is level, out of level, and how much out of level without any automatic lifting electronics. This can't shut down your trailer, just tells you how much to shim one side or the other, if you need to do so. That was one customer request. This is relatively cheap system since it is only electronics. If you have to lift one side, it tells you how many inches to add below tires. Same as you do today, just eliminates the guess work. Those whom still want to use a bubble level wouldn't buy such a product.

Relative to "assited leveling", push a button and trailer levels itself if enough range is available in lifting devices. If insufficient lift, tells you where to "add blocks". Electronics is flexible enough to run motors for lead screws (there is a patent) in forward and reverse, hydraulics with a pump and solenoids, air bags with pump and solenoids. System really does not care lifting approach used, just need to tell system which approach you would like to use and wire it accordingly. Don't know if anyone will want to sell lifing systems, time will tell.

For those of you whom wanted "volume" of tanks I have a bit more to work on one type of sensor. I decided one unit which retrofits ALL fluid level systems for your tanks is best. This system uses "same display" device as the leveling system, and same as used for some yet to be announced devices from one of my customers. This device eliminates all those crude LED systems you currently use. I guess if all those existing tank volume systems were so reliable, would have not been a market for this volume/tank level system. From what I was able to determine, looks like airstream is on their third tank level system and sounds like that one is working out very well. Hopefully I can solve this problem for you guys.

Some of my research uncovered some other issues that sounds like there are a few more "unreliable devices" out there, and unreliable by design by what I have determined. Hopefully we can eliminate some of your nuisance problems with some of these exisiting elelctronics you guys have to put up with, making them as reliable as the "core trailers" themselves.

By the way, that is a "unique suspension system" you guys have on your trailers.

Any other things you guys want to vent about are welcome.

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Old 01-07-2012, 10:15 AM   #72
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Brookfield , Wisconsin
Join Date: Dec 2011
Posts: 9
Tank Calibration Proposal

In interest of "full disclosre" C5Don is now returning as a "vendor" as RTOS_1_LLC. I have tried very hard not to violate any forum rules but am providing the results of your comments.

I would like to thank everyone for their comments on tank gauging in this thread as well as others. It clearly helped us to identify the "requirements" of a tank gauging system based upon existing solutions; from simple probes to the various sensor technologies. Although I initially made these posts back in 2008 (how time flies) I believe we have resolved almost every "issue" we could find.

Again, to make "full disclosure" I am a product vendor whom used this forum, as well as others, to perform market research. It is true "everyone" could view my questions, your comments and so forth, which was highly discouraged by some of my corporate marketing friends, but since we are nearing production and a "small business" I am posting some final functional decisions that are the final result of "your comments" for your review and "re-comment". So please "lock and load" and provide your sometimes brutal comments. Rather than make this a "very long" post, I will keep it to "requirement" and "implementation decisions". Hopefully we didn't fail in our assessments.

REQMT 1) System must work reliably.

Per your comments we created the following detailed requirements;

REQMT 1a) Keep all electrical connections away from liquids and weather to eliminate the possibility of corrosion.
REQMT 1b) Since toilet paper and black water "stuff" and grease in gray water tank can "clog sensor" ideally provide self cleaning or simple cleaning to remove clogging material.
REQMT 1c) System calibration should not change through time.
REQMT 1d) System calibration, when performed should be simple.
REQMT 1e) IF re-calibration required through time ideally don't require refilling tank to full with water. (Not a hard requirements, but would be nice based on the "stand pipe" comments elsewhere in the forum.

Solution 1a) We utilized a "bubble tube" technology commonly used in sewage treatment plants. You have probably seen the "theory of operation" in a acquarium bubbler where an air pump feeds air into the fish tank and you see the bubble adding air to the water. For a tank gauge you do not need constant air flow, but need to pump a "little air" into a tube at the bottom of the tank or tank discharge pipe to evacuate any fluids. The compressed air in the bubble tube is then the same hydrostatic pressure as the end of the bubble tube in the fluid. This bubble tube is flexibly PVC tubing connected to a small nipple threaded into the discharge pipe or tank, similar to existing probes or pressure sensors. Then pressure sensors are then located in an electronic control module at the other end of the bubble tube, where the control module is located higher than the highest liquid level. Since water can not flow up hill, it never reaches the electronics or even the sensor. Although the "sensor technology" is the same as you used and can be subjected to fluids, we "don't want" to plug the sensor or have chemical eventually fail the sensor should the silicon like isolation material in the sensor get damages through time. In effect, only air touches the sensor. Thus no electrical connection corrosion.

1b) To achieve self cleaning the air pump, when running, will "blow out" most clogs that are caused by "hydrostatic pressure" since the pump is capable of 7psi and the hydrostatic pressure forcing materials into bubble tube is 1psi for every 2.31 feet in liquid height. Thus 7PSI will clear common clogs. The maximum pressure the sensor can withstand, without damage is just over 7psi, thus unit will not damage itself in the case a clog exists. If totally clogged access control module, wherever it is conveniently located, remove the bubble tube at the control module, give the bubble tube to the tank a short blast of say 20 PSI into the tube and your clog will be cleared. Push bubble tube back onto control module and you are good to go. Just do NOT apply compressor air pressure into control module or you could damage the sensor and have to return control module for repair. If you are an electrical engineer or technician you could replace a sensor yourself, but just don't blast it and you should never damage it.

1c) Since sensor is not getting "coated through time" you should never have to reset "empty" and "full" settings unless you "blast sensor" with air pressure.

1d/e) If you have to set empty and full you merely go to the respective calibration screen on the display module, and with the bubble tube disconnected from the control module set the Empty value to the current Reading value shown on the display and that sets the empty setting. This should never be necessary, but if it is, that is how you do it. To sent the Full value you have a couple of alternatives. In general you merely go to the "Tank Calibration" screen and enter the Maximum Height of tank, in tenths of an inch, and you are done. However, in interest of full disclosure, if somehow you accidentally blasted the sensor and assuming sensor still works, you may have to change the "Full" value read from the sensor. You can use a "stand pipe" similar to other units, or take a short length of "bubble tubing" into a plugged pipe of any diameter filled with water to the maximum height of your tank. The Sensor Full screen will be displaying the current sensor reading; say it say 3022 and it will show your current "Full" setting, say it says 3956. Just change the "Full" value to the vaue displayed at the applied water level of 3022 and calibation is done. Just remove the temporary bubble tube from control module and install the bubble tube going to tank. You could also fill your tank with water without having to remove any bubble tubes, and sett the Full value to the current Reading value.

Please provide your comments as we REALLY want to make certain we haven't missed something. Other posts will discuss other requirements and the resulting solutions. I know many on this forum want to know "how stuff works" primarily to assess if they "think it will work". Thus I will disclose a LOT relative to many of your questions. If I can't, or think it's a bad idea to provide an answer to a question, I will say so. So again, let me have it. I can take it.


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Old 01-08-2012, 04:24 PM   #73
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Random thoughts

Originally Posted by Jim & Susan View Post
Others have said and will say it better than I, but here’s my 2 cents......

......Maybe there’s a market for the truly high-end RV market, but most of us here are not part of that market.

1a. Have you talked to Boeing or Airbus Industries? They may have a practical application for your engineering

1b. Airstreams, while having a reputation for being expensive (when bought new these days) are still not really high-end compared to the entire market.

1c. I prefer to have things simple, not over-complicated (obvious).

2a. It's a poop tank. Pick up the lid and see if it's full.

2b. I really appreciate your engineering efforts and the intellectual exercise. But it's just too much for a camper.

2c. I hope you're on the up-n-up. Otherwise, this has been a really good joke for somebody.

Again, just my 2 cents.


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Old 01-08-2012, 06:34 PM   #74

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Zanadude Nebula , Milky Way
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Originally Posted by Jim & Susan View Post
1a. Have you talked to Boeing or Airbus Industries? They may have a practical application for your engineering

1b. Airstreams, while having a reputation for being expensive (when bought new these days) are still not really high-end compared to the entire market.

1c. I prefer to have things simple, not over-complicated (obvious).

2a. It's a poop tank. Pick up the lid and see if it's full.

2b. I really appreciate your engineering efforts and the intellectual exercise. But it's just too much for a camper.

2c. I hope you're on the up-n-up. Otherwise, this has been a really good joke for somebody.

Again, just my 2 cents.

Well said Jim...

KISS...keep it stupid simple.

Never had a problem with any of the monitors, flush all regularly,(baking soda in the black) after every trip. Garden hose down the toytoy, spray full blast.

All we ever really wanted from the Mothership was a much better application of a very straightforward quality control program. Too much to ask I guess.

We were young and knew we're old and everyone else knows everything.

"It is more wiser to ponder all things with diligent suspicion, than follow with blind assumption."

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Old 01-08-2012, 06:42 PM   #75
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Seems like an elaborate solution for a relatively simple problem. Or as I am fond of saying "a solution in search of a problem to solve".
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Old 01-09-2012, 02:25 PM   #76
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Brookfield , Wisconsin
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For those whom are happy with their current system operation that's great. If you do searches here and other RV sites for "level sensor" and "tank level" and such you will find that there is a segment of the market that does consider the problems they are having as needing a solution. Things like corroded connectors, failed sensors, periodic recalibration to name the top three. Solutions for the existing problems are what the system is targetted at correcting. It's like what I tell my kids, my phone works just fine. Why would I need an iPhone? We had a commercial on TV around here a few years ago that said; "I don't want to change the world, I just want to change your oil". I'm just trying to fix a know problem once and for all, nothing more, nothing less.

When you see future features added to the system I am thinking some of these features will be of interest to many of you whom don't currently have a tank level problem. In the future you will just download some software to the existing hardware we will be able to provide functionality where some of you may have separate (expensive) products installed in your RV to provide some of these functions. They will be kind of like "cruise command" and "heated seats" in my car. Didn't need them, really never wanted them, but once I had them I now can't do without them.

Hopefully I will be able to do some posts tonight to provide an "end user" perspecitive versus a technical one. As additionaly features are added for a very low additional cost, I may start to sway even some of the greatest KISS advocates. That ball is in my court.

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Old 02-02-2012, 06:40 PM   #77
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1962 19' Globetrotter
Winchester , Ontario
Join Date: Jul 2011
Posts: 251
Verrrrry Interrresting

This is a fascinating thread, I think a leveling indicator in the TV would be lovely. My hubby says that it should be wireless, makes sense. The Prodigy brake controller has a auto leveler in it, could it somehow be piggybacked?
Anyway, as I was reading this song was going through my head. Yeah! This is what I want, to bounce the graviton particle beams off the main deflector dish!! Thought you guys would get a chuckle, it only faintly applies-sort of. Warning, a few naughty words, so don't open if you are sensitive or the grandkids are nearby.


TV: 2007 Jeep GC Laredo diesel
Toy: 1995 Jeep YJ
Experience is what you get from not having it when you needed it.
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