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Old 09-11-2015, 11:16 AM   #1
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Best device (not list) for tracking DO-DONE travel-related tasks?

I am looking for ideas on an interactive tool, an ergonomic device that leverages a mechanical, tactile, or visual cueing advantage over the typical paper checklists that are used by RVers to track the travel-related tasks that they need to execute pre- and post-departure.

I am not looking for a task list – there are already 10 million suggested RV checklists on the internet. If those lists were really effective at preventing forgetfulness, RV and trailer owners would not have proposed all 10 million of them. They would have reached a point of diminishing returns somewhere around 2 million.

I have attached a pic of a prototype device that I produced. Rather than a passive checklist that I simply glance at and hope that I can read through without getting distracted, this involves a series of instructions short-handed onto magnetic pieces which are actively moved around the white board per our prevailing Interstate configuration. Those tasks that have not been completed immediately jump out at me because of their position on the board. It’s also a two-tier prototype in that less common, less critical to-do’s can be written in dry-erase on the bottom portion, thus not obscuring the most essential items.

My hobby is inventing things, and so this prototype was a fun little project for me. But I also think that this is an important topic in a more objective sense. As recent threads have suggested, if you get fatigued and forgetful during your travel process such that you screw up the execution of your own Interstate punch list, you could accidentally ruin $800 worth of coach batteries. That makes the underlying ergonomic challenges worthy of deeper assessment. To my way of thinking, anyway. Protag reasoned on a previous checklist-related thread that memory is a “use it or lose it” proposition and thus it should be used for punch-listing, but it’s clear to me that memory alone doesn’t work well for everyone. Multiple failure pathways are associated with that approach, especially when there are multiple people independently affecting the configuration of an Interstate, as my husband and I have discovered to our occasional dismay and frustration.

Here are the instructions on the making of this prototype, plus an explanation of some interesting historical product precedents and dead-end ideas that I discarded along the way.

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Old 09-11-2015, 11:37 AM   #2
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You're looking for something like the "Remove Before Flight" tags on airplanes for things like rudder locks and pitot tube covers. It's also similar to the "lock-out/tag-out" procedures used by electricians to make sure they don't get electrocuted by some fool turning on the power while they're working on a circuit.

Get yourself a key box, and mount it somewhere convenient. Then get a bunch of key tags and key rings. Label each key tag for a task to be performed, such as "Shore Power" or "Stabilizer Jacks" or whatever. Mark the hooks in the key box to match the key tags.

Every time you deploy something, whether it's a water hose or your awning, you remove the appropriately-labeled key tag from the box and you attach it to the item in question.

Then as you put away an item, you remove the key tag from the item and put it on the correct hook in the key box.

Then whenever you're ready to leave the campground, check the key box, and if there's a tag that hasn't been put back yet, you not only know that you've forgotten something, but also you know exactly what it is you forgot because you have a labeled empty hook in the key box.

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Old 09-11-2015, 12:24 PM   #3

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never forgotten

I realize this thread is for Interstates. Perhaps traveling in an Interstate is different than an old trailer, but so far, the tags mentioned by Protagonist work flawlessly with my memory and habit.

There are thousands of colorful, nicely embroidered, riveted, ringed and bound, remove/insert/before/after/whatever and etc... tags on eBay for a dollar.

I employ ten of them, some red some blue.
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Old 09-13-2015, 06:57 AM   #4
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Thanks - I might apply that idea for a few of the most critical items, especially the coach battery.

My husband and I have a rule that makes perfect sense on its face but it hasn't manifested as foolproof in practice. The rule is that the last person who touches the Interstate is responsible for leaving it in a condition suitable for its circumstances. But that only works as one is aware of Johari-style blind spots, which by definition are difficult to impossible to remain aware of.

An example. Two weeks ago, I was getting ready to return the Interstate to its garage, so I had already commenced part of my pre-flight checklist, which includes leaving the coach battery on so that it is maintained properly once the garage power is hooked back up.

Well, my husband came behind me, saw the coach battery switch on for no reason that was apparent to him, and so he turned it off.

Now, it's supposed to be my job as Interstate deliverer to re-check what I've already checked, but this type of scenario is entirely non-intuitive. I'm not thinking that I have to re-check a second time what I know I have already checked a first time.

Fortunately, I happened to catch it - that time. But just like that, we almost ruined yet another $400 Lifeline. I would have plugged it in thinking it was able to receive charge when it was not, and it would have run down from there over the next few weeks. We realized in that instance that we need another method to help avoid human factors foul-ups.

The other scenario in which I find myself making potentially costly mistakes is when we have guests, which is a rare occasion because the demands of our still-working lifestyle don't allow us to use the Interstate very much - and guests are even rarer. I tend to be so happy to see the guests that I'm distracted on the rest. Driving is not a challenge in that scenario, but everything else is.
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Old 09-13-2015, 11:36 AM   #5
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Great Ideas!

We just bought an AS Classic 1998 model in very good condition and have been readying it and ourselves for our maiden voyage. I've been trying to come up with a checklist that we would utilize since neither of us is a checklist person. I like both suggestions here and think a little of both would work well for us. Hubs is a key guy and I'm a magnetic board gal so we will both be happy. Thanks for all the helpful suggestions on this site. Wish us luck. We're true newbies to this world.
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Old 09-13-2015, 12:25 PM   #6
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I like the idea. As a newbie however, I don't think I know all the the things that should be on my checklist, and to what extent they would be different. Would the device have all the possible tasks built in?
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Old 09-13-2015, 12:44 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by aramirez626 View Post
I like the idea. As a newbie however, I don't think I know all the the things that should be on my checklist, and to what extent they would be different. Would the device have all the possible tasks built in?
No. Every Airstreamer will have a different list of tasks. It's not only based on what rig you have and how it's equipped, but how you stock it and what kind of camping you do. Whether you use a checklist, magnetic board, or tag system, you have to start with the basics and customize it to fit your particular situation.

Also, different people need different levels of detail in their lists. You might need a checklist item "awning." Or you might need to break that down into step-by-step procedures for deploying and putting away the awning, having a whole checklist just for the awning. Checklists are not one-size-fits-all.

I suggest you start with your owner's manuals, and make up your list of tasks based on them. Not only does that tell you what the basics are so you can develop your own list, but it gives you an incentive to actually read the manuals instead of shoving them in a drawer and forgetting about them the way some people do.

My first-ever camping trip, where I taught myself the Airstream's systems, I alternated between hiking and reading owner's manuals. By the time the trip was over, I'd read every manual in the packet, cover to cover. Very dry reading, but it had to be done.
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Old 09-13-2015, 01:08 PM   #8
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How about isolating critical items vs. normal items that would cause harm, especially for those of us not doing a daily or weekly trip.
A final walk around to check under and around wheels, all connections on toad in place, storage bays closed.
My ignition key on raising antenna is stored on tv crank arm.
Galley vent door lock reminder on electric shore cord.
Some things have idiot lights and alarms to show they are deployed.
Hydraulic jacks, Water pump for house water
Some items don't so Protags ring might work for a few more
Cap on black water after dumping, requires a reminder, maybe moving it's attachment point, nice that it is connected but not visible when leaving dump station.
I find automaticly connecting reminders to tasks is better than a list, having a specific place to look for reminders at the driver seat is a good idea I will use, instead of the copilot, who is busy with her own items to check
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Old 09-13-2015, 02:13 PM   #9
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I've been working a check list ever since I got my Airstream, and it basically changes at least every other time I go out! When I tried not using a check list, I'd wake up in the middle of the night telling myself not to forget something. Of course, when I was rushing around to leave, I'd forget it!

So here's my system: I keep an "optimized" check list in Evernote. As long as I'm near a connected device, I can update it. The night before the trip, I print it out and start crossing off stuff as I get it done. Once it's crossed out, I forget about it. Someone wants to help? They can take a task from list, rather than walking up to you with something and asking where it goes. Completely disrupting your train of thought! This is a very relaxing way to prep!

Evernote is also a good way to log trips, as I do a lot of kayaking with the camping. All of the info that I researched to do the trip is saved there, ready for the next time out.

For those repair/upgrade/installs that come up, I use Gtasks on my Android phone, a task list that syncs to Tasks in Gmail. Every time I look at my email at home, that pesky undone thing is glaring right at me!
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Old 09-13-2015, 03:01 PM   #10
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This is a good candidate for a smart phone ap. There could be a master list of tasks in a library, the option for a user to choose which ones apply as they build a customized checklist for their needs, a capability to add tasks a user wanted that were not in the library, a "start checklist" function that opened the list and allowed items to be marked as complete, a "finish checklist" function that closed out the process and saved to a library with date/time stamp, etc.

That said, I wouldn't probably use an ap like that. Having been trained and licensed as a private pilot (the low end of flying in simple, single engine planes not commercial or military flying) I was taught that checklists are best used as support for ingrained knowledge, repetition and routine. I prep my AS the way I prepped an airplane. I have a pattern I walk and a series of items I check in the same order evey time (pilots call it a "walk around"). The list is long but repetition makes it go fast (I check 10 or 12 items on the trailer/truck connection alone... no way I'd stand with my phone in my hand and check off each one... and an ap that said "check truck/trailer connection would not be helpful).

Maybe that's just me, but for anyone who wanted to automate the process, I think a smart phone ap is the way to go.
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Old 09-13-2015, 08:20 PM   #11
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Take a look at "Checklist+" for the iPhone. It will do everything being talked about here.

- - Mike
2013 Lounge EXT on 2012 Sprinter
- - Mike
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Old 09-14-2015, 05:51 AM   #12
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We have always just kept a written list on the kitchen counter, crossing things off as they are completed.

🏡 🚐 Cherish and appreciate those you love. This moment could be your last.🌹🐚❤️
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Old 09-14-2015, 06:33 AM   #13
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I use Trello, which is based off the kanban paradigm for my business, seems like it could be used in this application.

Personally, I don't use any list of any kind for the Airstream unless it is a major trip. Seems too much like work if I do that.
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Old 09-14-2015, 08:33 AM   #14
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GammaDog has our method, but we use one further refinement. In the airline world, a checklist is often used after a "flow pattern" has been accomplished. Do the walk-around, interior security check, etc. and then pick up the checklist and read each item and mentally (or verbally in an airline cockpit) confirm that it was done during the "flow" phase. That way it's a check list rather than a do list.

Do not tolerate interruptions. If you are interrupted, start over. Checklist discipline is tough enough for human beings without distractions.

Tailor your checklist so it follows a logical walk-around sequence. The items on the list should be in the same order you will encounter them while walking around your rig.

Oh, yeah. DH and I are both retired airline simulator instructors. We used to teach this stuff.

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