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Old 01-24-2012, 12:28 AM   #1
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DirecLink Brake controller...

...As I mentioned on another thread, I had ordered a DirecLink controller that uses the TV's OBDII port for trailer braking input...

Well, got the DirecLink unit today...

It comes packed in a plastic display pack, bubble wrapped from DL in a large carton to avoid damage, with the proper FORD brake controller harness loose...

Straight forward install - plug in lead to the OBDII socket, plug in the brake controller harness to the Ford brake controller plug under the dash, plug in the lead to the hand-held controller...plug all three leads into the DL's main module - DONE! find a place to nylon tie (included) the module under the dash and secure the harness'...mount controller on dash to finish...

Fire up the engine, tap the brake pedal and the unit initializes the system within a few seconds...

There are three main screens -
1. Brake Scale - allows you to adjust overall braking effort
2. Low Speed Brake - for adjusting brake effort below 30 MPH
3. Trans Temp - interesting to watch transmission fluid temp rise as you drive...

There are other sub menu control options -
1. Trair Size - Med or Lrg - trailer over 10,000 lbs should use 'Lrg' setting, as it offers a larger range of Brake Scale - Med offers 20 increments of 'scale', Lrg offers 40 increments of 'scale'...
2. Brake Level w/Stopped - you can set brake level from 5% to 30% when stopped - allows for trailer brakes while stopped on slopes or boat ramps, etc..
3. Max Brake Limit - allows setting of maximum braking level just prior to trailer tire lock-up...If you notice skid at a particular % number (say 75% - on the screen) you can set Max Brake Limit % to a lower number (say 70%) - all other braking functions remain the same, and the manual application trigger will still provide 100% braking effort...
4. Ctrlr Reset - reset all functions to original factory settings...

Other display only options - Nos. 3 & 4 on one screen; Nos 5,6 & 7 on one screen; 8,9,& 10 on one screen...
1. Scrn Bright - screen brightness...
2. Scrn Sound - key 'beep' on or off...

3. VBat - TV's battery voltage
4. BrkLight Volt - Voltage of the 'Red' wire in the harness - brake light wire...

5. CTmp - Temp of the Control Module circuit board in degrees F
6. CAmp - indicated amperage of output of the controller to the 'Blue' wire during normal braking or running the manual override...
7. CVlt - displays the voltage of the 'Blue' wire..as in 6. above.

8. MPH - displays when TV in motion
9. KPH - Kilo's per hr when TV in motion
10 RPM - show engine rev's when stopped - when moving rev's disappear, showing only MPH & KPH values...

There are several other 'Fault' codes for low voltage, open or shorted circuits in the vehicle/trailer brake harness aft of the controller...

The coiled cord to the controller does offer some flexibility for mounting on the TV dash - they give you two 3-M molding taped mounting 'hooks'...it's still somewhat challenging to find a place where you can get at the manual 'trigger' easily, and still view the screen (which has large plain font for easy reading)...I found a the perfect spot, then discovered the shift lever blocked the center of the screen when engaged in 'Drive'!!!

I have noticed that I get a changing % figure when applying pressure to the brake pedal (vehicle stopped) - corresponding to effort - which indicates the DL is using input from a pressure sensor in the TV's brake system (I know there are two sensors on our TV's master cylinder)...

Interestingly - when moving, this % effort figure rises as you apply the brakes, and as you come to a stop with same pressure applied, the % figure drops off - probably to the Brake Level w/Stopped figure set in the system...

I won't have time to hook up and dial in the system with our AS in tow for a few days...will report back then...
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Old 01-24-2012, 07:04 AM   #2
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I am assuming that the vehicle has some sort of sensor for determining brake pedal position? Otherwise how is this better than using the OEM brake controller port?

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Old 01-24-2012, 07:47 PM   #3
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Perry...
The 'OEM brake controller port' has 4 wires:
1- ground
2- wire to trailer brakes
3- wire to stop light circuit,
4- TV battery POS

The brake controller connected to these wires can then 'modulate' the output to the BLUE wire (trailer brakes) to operate the trailer brakes as needed...how the current and voltage are applied, and at what intensity and at what time in relation to the TV's speed, etc, is the crux of the matter!

The additional input provided by the TV's OBDII data port would appear to offer an improved way to control our AS's electric brakes, when compared with the older Voyager controller...time will tell...
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Old 02-07-2012, 07:20 PM   #4
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I see that Airstream is now offering the DirecLink controller from their Store...

https://store.airstream.com/product_...roducts_id=625
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Old 02-07-2012, 07:28 PM   #5
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OK, I confess, I'm and early adopter --- a marketer's dream. So, I did some research on this (including a couple of folks who've used this on their SOB). It would seem that this device offers some significant advantages besides potentiometers and decelerators as a means of braking. I'm going to install this and try it out. I will (however), keep my Tekonsha P3 on standby. Like Mexray, will post results/impressions. Expect some of this will be subjective. I did find it interesting that today's email from Airstream offered a huge $40 buck on service if I bought this from JC. This probably doesn't count as a product endorsement, but it ain't negative either!
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Old 02-07-2012, 07:57 PM   #6
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The negative to this controller (which I otherwise desire) is the lack of a direct reading of the brake pressure as with the MAXBRAKE or earlier SMARTBRAKE (and the several decade standard KELSEY-HAYES controller) in favor of some computations; a sort of after-the-fact way versus the more preferable "reading" of the drivers foot, so to speak, as hydraulic brake pressures rise.

I desire the unit as I assume that the TT anti-lock system module compatibility with the TV will give some superior performance. Anti-lock trumps what we have now, on the one hand, but on the other we have taken away a distinct advantage.

Were it not for the anti-lock I wonder how much this controller differs, from, say, a P3. Any thoughts on this Mexray, Bab (or others)?

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Old 02-12-2012, 05:00 PM   #7
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Mine arrived last week (I was gone), but I had a chance to install it. VERY easy. The wiring from my car into the Tekonsha P3 just snapped right into the control unit, plugged into the OBD II -- very good instructions, and fired it up. Recognized my vehicle pronto, and I went through the set-up. Haven't towed yet, but will report back. Early indications are no hassle.
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Old 03-03-2012, 06:53 PM   #8
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OK, I towed Silver Leaf today with the DirecLink -- first time since I'd installed it. VERY IMPRESSED. I'd read through the manual carefully to try and figure out the best "first setup" -- realizing there'll be some tweaking required. It seems to synchronize really well with the TV. Major finding: the manual control switch is a LOT more sensitive than the Tekonsha P3. Just a slight touch and you feel the trailer brakes at work. I really like the graphic display and I was able to place the controller in a perfect ergonomic location.
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Old 03-20-2012, 04:18 PM   #9
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I purchased the DirecLink from the dealer where I got my 2011 19ft flying cloud. They technician plugged it in and it calibrated for my 2011 toyota tacoma truck and trailer! Towed and braking was amazing! Traveled over 200 miles back home
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Old 03-20-2012, 06:30 PM   #10
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Headed out on a 700 mile trip on Friday. I'll post how the DirecLink works on my first long trip. From what I observed on the first short haul, I'm expecting that I'll enjoy it. Just seems like it's almost too easy...
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Old 03-20-2012, 06:34 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BAB View Post
Headed out on a 700 mile trip on Friday. I'll post how the DirecLink works on my first long trip. From what I observed on the first short haul, I'm expecting that I'll enjoy it. Just seems like it's almost too easy...
Besides the P3 Tekonsha (and A/S) trailer, what else does the memory bank hold as comparison (to this new set up)? Any proportional controllers (MAXBRAKE, SMARBRAKE or the older JORDAN)? KELSEY-HAYES from the days of yore?

And what features does the TV have which enhance downhill speed control?

Thanks

(and have a nice time)

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Old 03-22-2012, 01:31 AM   #12
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I finally got around to 'road testing' and calibrating our rig after installing the DirecLink over two months ago!...

As mentioned elsewhere, I had to redo the brakes before hitting the road for a test...

With new brakes adjusted, new hub seals, and wheel bearings packed, I headed out of the driveway to find that the initial testing went very well...

The DirecLink's factory setting for the main operation (high speed) of the trailer brakes is set at a '3' - (DL uses brake pressure input from the TV's sensors) you can increase this setting for more braking effort up to a setting of '20', for 'Med' trailers - they also allow you to change this 'scale' for 'Large' trailers to a scale of 0-40, which allows for greater braking balance and increased effort....

They suggest first calibrating at a road speed of 25 mph...this went OK, and I found I had to increase the number to '15' for what felt right...

Next you're supposed to do some stop tests at 50 mph...I did several, then stopped to read the trailer brake drums with a temp gun - they were all fairly even, but not nearly up the the temps of the TV's disc brakes - indicating more effort needed from the trailer brakes...

I then upped the setting to '20', tested again, stopped again to see the temps come up in the trailer brakes - However, at this setting, the low speed stopping felt too harsh...

DirecLink allows you to reduce/increase the low speed effort for speeds below 30 mph (DL reads your speed directly from the TV's computer)...the default setting is '0', meaning no change from the high speed setting - I reset the low speed setting to '-2' and immediately noticed the reduction in low speed effort...

Another great feature of the DirecLink, is that you can change the high speed brake effort setting during normal operation by touching the 'up' or 'down' buttons if you should encounter differing road conditions - wet/icy roadway, gravel/dirt surface, etc - this change is made without any 'menu' changes in the unit - you just touch the buttons - quick and easy - can be done by 'feel' as you get familiar with the controller...

Another feature allows you to alter the Manual Control setting to attenuate it's top end so you won't skid the tires...In other words, on a normal, dry, maximum traction paved roadbed, you can test using the Manual Control, watching the % effort shown on the screen, till you just begin to skid the tires, then set the top end to go no higher than that setting - Obviously, you could skid on lower traction roadways, so careful operation of the Manual Control is warranted...

There are several other items that you can monitor with the DirecLink if you wish; Voltage to the brakes during operation, Amperage to the brakes, TV system voltage (handy for questionable alternator behavior), MPH, KPH, and RPMs of the tow vehicle when stopped, among some - keep in mind these readings are actual digital numbers - not some vague position of a needle on a dash gauge!

I monitored transmission temps as well, and during today's 70 degree temps, I was running right around 150 w/o the AS, and about 180 hooked up, on level ground with limited running at 50 mph...I'm interested to see what the temps get up to while running up some hills next week as we head over to the coast for a few days...

All-in-all, I'm very pleased with the operation of the DirecLink, it's easy installation, operational flexibility, and resulting smooth function of the trailer brakes...

Actual 'trip' comments to follow in early April...
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Old 03-22-2012, 02:19 AM   #13
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Quote:
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With new brakes adjusted, new hub seals, and wheel bearings packed, I headed out of the driveway to find that the initial testing went very well...

Hi, Ray; I think you will find your final setting after all of the new brakes have seated in. I know after having all of my drums machined, I was eventually able to turn down my brake controller a bit.
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Old 03-22-2012, 12:38 PM   #14
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Thanks, Ray!!
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