HWH – Active Air System Failure & Repair

My coach was taken into the dealer for warranty repairs of a few small items on Tuesday April 23. Friday I went to pickup the coach as it was supposed to be fixed. When the tech drove it around front, the buzzer for jack down was sounding, and the coach air bag on front left was empty.

No problem I thought, just hit reset. I did this, air went into all the bags normally, and all was well. I hooked up the toad, and left the dealership. I was ½ mile down the road, and alarms went off again, saying that my right front air bag was empty, but the coach felt like the front left was empty. I pulled into a parking lot, and sure enough, the front right was FULL, and front Left was empty.

There is a screen on the HWH that shows the pressure of each air bag. It was reading 0 for the Front Right, and 15 for front Left.

So now I was wishing that I had actually printed the manual and read it at least once, because I did not know what to do. The coach was in a twist, and I did not want to continue driving like this. I dumped all the air, and called HWH customer service.

The operator took a message, and I was told to expect a return phone call that day. I wasn’t sure how long that would take, so I kept doing the same thing over (definition of insanity right) EXPECTING a different result. I tried power resets, I looked for loose wires. I assumed the dealer must have done something like a slow power drain to 10v or disconnected a cable.
After about 30 minutes, I got a phone call from Joe @ HWH. Described the problem, and he had me go through a series of tests to verify that the system was acting normal. One of this was to air level the coach. I did this, and the coach did level properly. I could also manually add air to the system and bring it up to normal ride height, but as soon as I started driving, it went out of sync again.

Then Joe told me to do something that I already knew, but just wasn’t thinking of…hit the STOP button once the coach is at the proper ride height. Very simple, all done on the inside of the coach. Magically the coach was drivable!
Joe left me in a drivable position, and hung up to discuss the plan of action with the powers that be. I decided to return the coach to the dealer, as there was still a problem with the dash air, and slide.

Monday morning Joe called and said that they believe that a sensor on the air manifold had gone bad. He agreed to overnight it to me, and to pay for a truck service center to remove and install. I informed him that the coach was left at the dealership, and that I wanted to do the repair myself. I had pictures of the air manifold that I took while the system was being installed, and the location was such that if I slid the generator out, it was easy to get to. Joe agreed.

So today, about 30 minutes worth of work, and the new part fixed the problem. A very simple sensor failure, that according to Joe, only 1 other has ever failed. They have requested the part back to inspect it for cause of failure.
I am very confident in the redundancy built into the HWH Active Air system, and now that I have a copy of the manual printed and in the coach, hopefully I won’t forget how simple it is to deactivate and manually air the bags to proper ride height.

HWH Active Air – First 30 Days

I got to put some real mileage on the coach. I did the drive home from Nappanee, IN to Fort Worth, TX by myself, and really got to enjoy the handling of the coach. With Comfort Steer, and Active Air, there was absolutely no stress passing semi’s or with wind.

The real beauty of the air leveling was when I got to pull into a parking spot where I could run out a slide. The air level was fast, I ran out the full wall slide, and slept for a few hours. Put it back in, and on my way. I know others have leveled with Hydraulic in Wal-Mart’s and Rest stops. The real problem is that in the summer heat, the jacks will sink into the asphalt, and cause damage to the parking lot. In addition, it could cause damage to the coach as it slips into the hole, and causes movement.

My wife drove the coach to Branson while I played with the electronics, and enjoyed being a passenger. She was amazed at how well it drove. After a while she wanted to know how much was because of the “active air” and how much the comfort steer. I had her hit the “stop” button on the active air, and immediately she could tell a difference in the wind. It was blowing a steady 20-25MPH, and for the first time she white knuckled the steering wheel and demanded I turn the system back on.

The reality of what was taking place is the coach was still driving in a straight line, but now the leaning of the house was occurring because of the wind, and you could feel the pressure. Hit the “reset” button and 20 seconds later the active air was taking over, and immediately the stress was gone.

I think that is a demo that should be on a commercial somehow. Sold me yet again!

HWH Active Air – First impressions

The install started at 7:00am on Wednesday in Davenport, IA at Interstate power. There the Allison transmission needed to be coded to send a signal when road speed hit approx 8 MPH. This signal is used by the new computer HWH installs. This process took all of 10 minutes, and I made the short drive to HWH headquarters in Moscow, IA.

My plan was to get the Air leveling system, which allows leveling the coach using either Air or Hydraulic, one or the other, not both. Air leveling has a lot of draw to me, allowing the leveling of the coach on softer grounds without the worry of digging in.
The installation was to take 2 days, so I planned on staying in the coach. They put the coach in their heated garage, on a 5 ft. platform. I had electric, and could open the slides. Perfect setup. They gave me a set of keys so that I could come and go, and offered to let me act like I owned the place. I cannot say enough good things about the company.

I left to do some shopping, letting them work. About an hour after I left, I got a phone call from Paul, the owner of HWH. He asked if I had ever heard of Active Air, which I had, and if I would consider upgrading to that. After answering a few questions, and getting more information about what the system does, I agreed. This meant that the install was going to take 5 days, but in the end I was going to have a very advanced system.
The final result is truly amazing. On the test drive, I decided to see if this 43 foot motorhome could handle the 25MPH corner @ 25MPh, vs. the normal 15. The answer is YES…There was NO LEANING, and no loss of weight distribution.

This next part will cause HWH some problems unless I make it very clear – THIS IS NOT ENDORSED NOR RECOMMENDED BY HWH. THIS IS SOMETHING I DID ON MY OWN FREE WILL. Hopefully that clears up the legal issues.

I took the same corner at 45MPH. Crazy? Yes! Stupid, Yes! I don’t recommend this as an option to drive a motorhome like I drive my BMW, but let me tell you…the coach handled it. What did not was my Residential refrigerator, because I forgot to lock the doors! Lucky for me, HWH’s Engineer, Mitch, was in the coach, and was able to pick up the mayo & butter, so I could try some quick lane shifts. I did a simulated emergency lane change…AND IT WAS SO MUCH FUN…I was giggling.

I don’t think I will ever drive this that way, but there are other things that are of big benefit, and the company actually mentions these on the website.
Sharp turns, the coach doesn’t rock. Going down the highway with a big side wind, the coach doesn’t rock or lean.

In fact, with comfort steer, Active Air, and a Tag axle, I drove 200 miles in a 30MPH wind gusts, and never knew it. My first sign of wind was when I stopped at a Pilot to get fuel. When I opened the door, it almost came off its hinges, the wind was so strong! Up to that point I did not know that there was wind!
Leveling the coach is so easy with the Air level system. I chose to use Air the first night, because the temps were below 18F, and the jacks would be very slow to retract in the morning. Also, they had accumulated a lot of ice. Another good reason to have the air option.

I will post more after I have had some time with the system. Please feel free to post comments or ask questions.

2013 Newmar Dutch Star Multimedia Setup

I am going to describe my media setup. I had this system working in my previous RV (2008 Fleetwood Discovery 40x), but was not as robust as I am describing. The features streaming features where all available, but the source selection was not. Since the Fleetwood was a RF signal, I was limited in how I could wire it. I setup a dedicated media server that ran off the middle television, and did the wireless streaming. Now that I have my 2013 Newmar Dutchstar, there is a lot of improvement. Below I am describing the features, and the planned wiring. The technology works as I describe, and for the most part is working already. What I have not done is the complete re-wiring of the AV Media cabinet. I will continue to update this as I make progress and changes.

Attached is a PDF showing the wiring diagram, and layout of the AV cabinet. I will continue to update this and make revisions as I am doing the work.

Features:

  1. Wireless Network available at all times. A single wifi & wired network will provide access via any source including AT&T, Verizon, local wifi. This network connection will be used by all tablets, phones, laptops, media streaming devices, and television(s).
  2. Ability to have entire DVD/Blue ray library available on the road to all TV’s, iPads, iPhones, Android devices. I have 4 kids, and a wife. Kids ages are 2, 5, 12, and 15. All of them have different TV they want to watch. At the home our network PVR has 64TB of storage, so I allocate 250GB per child that will export to the RV system. The older kids can choose their shows, and have it automatically sync unwatched shows to the RV. The younger kids don’t care if they watch the same shows over and over, so we choose their favorites, and have it fill up. The wife and I watch different shows too, so we get 500GB each, and then the final 1TB is assorted DVD’s, and music that we all like.
  3. Ability to stream audio to any TV/device
  4. Ability to stream internet to any TV/device

To accomplish the above, the software is key. At home I use a combination of SageTV (no longer available) and PlexApp. I am starting the move away from SageTV towards XBMC and NextPVR. All of these systems allow recording over the air, and from DirecTV. My home based system records 6 channels OTA, and 6 channels DirecTV simultaneous, and can be viewed anywhere. The family is spoiled by this ability, and on the road, wanted a similar experience.
In order to record OTA and DirecTV, it requires a lot more horsepower, and room for equipment. I don’t want the power drain, heat, nor do I want to give up the space. So I am doing the next best thing. The system in the RV will synchronize when the RV is in the Garage. I have two methods for doing this:

  1. WiFi – the default method that is always running. When the coach is in the garage, it will get access to a dedicated WiFi for the sole purpose of video synch. This takes a long time – 72 hours or so for 3 TB of data, but since it is just updating, this is not a big deal.
  2. When time is pressing, I remove the hard drive from the base, and connect it directly to my home based media server via eSata. This will synchronize in about 3 hours.

Product List
Option GlobeSurfer III+
This is used to provide Wifi Access to the coach using cellular. This uses AT&T GSM, and provides unlimited client connections, as well as the option to attach to another wireless signal (ie: park internet) and toggle between. This is a very advanced router. I chose this because I have a grandfathered Unlimited AT&T Sim. With this device I can also use my Verizon air card, plug it in via the USB ports, and use that internet connection. I can set a limit for the amount of bandwidth to use on the Verizon signal, and also limit which devices get to this source of internet. My laptop, iPad, and iPhone will always have data available, no restrictions. My wife will have the same, but the kids will lose connection to the internet if we fail over to Verizon, as will all of the PC, TV devices. This is because I do not have unlimited. When at a campground, the wifi will connect to the campground wifi, and repeat the signal over my network. It will use this connection to load-balance with the AT&T.
Price: 277.99
Link: Amazon.com: Option GlobeSurfer III+ GSM/HSPA Router – 3G+ Wireless Gateway for Voice, Broadband Data, and Wi-Fi – White: Computers & Accessories

Netgear XAVB5004 Powerline Network Adapter
This device will connect all of the components in the front AV cabinet to the Local Area Network and the internet. Internet comes from the GlobeSurfer. Since some of the devices that need the network connection exist in the bedroom and wall slide, this one device will bridge those using powerline adapters. Using this component a single power connection is required, and it is not a wall wart!
Price: $129.48
Link: Amazon.com: Netgear XAVB5004 Powerline Network Adapter: Electronics

Netgear XAVB5101 Powerline Nano500
This will provide an Ethernet connection to your device by using the power system. You will need one of these for any location that you want a network jack. Since I intend to stream high def media to my rear, I am choosing not to use Wifi. On the 2013 DSDP, the Sony TV with the Televator has an Ethernet jack, with software that allows the TV to directly connect to Netflix, and other features. This is a great option, and works from the Sony remote, so I chose to add an Ethernet connection to this TV as well. The power adapter above (XAVB5004) includes one of these, so this set may not be necessary. With what I have purchased, I will end up with an extra Ethernet connection, which I plan to put in the bedroom area for the laptop to do high speed transfer to the media PC Storage server. Great for updating!
Price: $72.00
Link: Amazon.com: Netgear XAVB5101 Powerline Nano500 Set(XAVB5101): Electronics

Computer System
The computer is a Booksize barebones system. I had to add the storage and memory to it.
The specs are not stellar, but are adequate for the purpose I have. AMD E-350 APU (1.6GHz, dual core), AMD Radeon HD 6310, Ethernet, Wireless, USB 3.0, USB 2.0, HDMI Output. The keyboard is one that has a trackpad built in like a laptop computer, and is wireless. I love this, but it may not be for everyone.
Dimensions: 7.48″ x 5.31″ x 0.98″
Power: 65W, 19V, 3.42A
Purchased Parts from NewEgg.
Newegg.com – Computer Parts, Laptops, Electronics, and More!

Part Numbers:
PC – N82E16856119072 Price: 164.99
64GB SSD – N82E16820227810 Price: 79.99
4GB Ram – N82E16820231265 Price: 29.99
3TB External USB3 Hard drive – N82E16822178110 Price: 139.99
Wireless Keyboard Mouse Combo – N82E16823126264 Price: 34.99
Windows 7 Home Edition (I already had this)
Additional Software Installed:
XBMC – FREE – XBMC
Playon Server – $44.99 Lifetime PlayOn lets you watch movies, shows, live sports and more from over 35 channels like Hulu, Netflix, Comedy Central, PBS on your TV with your Wii, PS3, Roku, Xbox, and more. | PlayOn
Plex Media Server – FREE – but I paid for the ability to work with Andiod/iPhone – $79 lifetime. Plex – A Complete Media Solution
Homeseer v2 – $219.95 Home Automation Control Software

AV Receiver
The Sony STRDH520 that came in my 2013 DSDP is a great low end HDMI unit, but I had 2 problems with it. #1 – it was too tall, as I had lots of plans for stuff in here. #2 – It was better than the unit in my s&b bedroom. So I was looking for a replacement. What I want from an AV receiver is the ability to listen to the audio from *any* source I throw at it, but not require it to be on. Nothing like driving the coach while the family is watching the TV, and a police siren or other noise plays in the “surround” speakers which happen to be directly overhead. Gets me every time, and the noise also interferes with my front stereo. I looked all over for a receiver that would handle this, and found only one.

Sherwood R-904N Internet A/V Streaming Receiver

If you read the reviews on this, all of the problems with this unit focus on the fact that it is a terrible internet streaming receiver. I do not plan on using this feature, as the PC I am putting in place will handle all streaming media needs. There are even instructions to completely remove the module and make it the equivalent of the R-904, which is only available in 220V NON-US models.
The big advantage is this is a 7.1 receiver, 2 zone, and is only 2.8 inches high! This saves me almost 4 inches where I really need the savings. I do not plan on using the 2 Zone feature, but do have an idea on how it might work if I were to use it. For now this will solely be used for streaming the 7.1 sound when watching a movie while we are parked.
Link: Walmart Purchase the Sherwood NetBoxx A/V Internet Streaming Receiver, R-904NW, for less at Walmart.com. Save money. Live better.
Price: $259.00

4×4 Matrix Switch
The true beauty of a matrix switch is you can choose any of 4 input devices and output to any of the 4 outputs. So if you have 3 TV’s as I do, you can have the outdoor TV connected to the WII, the Televator connected to the Computer for web surfing, and the Kitchen TV playing a DVD movie.
The downside is that it does require a selection of source per device. So switching from DVD to DirectTV requires going to the Matrix switch and choosing “output TV” and “Input Source”. Not a big deal for me, but not exactly user friendly for those that just hit a source button and have 2 devices to choose from. The matrix switch I selected has a serial control interface, and I am running homeseer automation software. I am using Bluetooth events to trigger source selection, on a custom application that I wrote. This is an extension of what I have running at my Stick & Brick. Other options are to create a simple web interface to choose your macro setups. Otherwise, the unit includes a remote control, and is easy to setup. With the way that I wired it, you can still have 2 options available to you at all times, using HDMI 2 via the stereo for a source, and HDMI 1 to be the alternate selected source.
Link: For only $145.80 each when QTY 50+ purchased – 4X4 True Matrix HDMI® Powered Switch w/ Remote (Rev. 3.0)
Price: $156.60

Roku 3
This media player will be located in the rear bedroom, and can stream any of the content from the Media PC. This includes all my movies, recorded TV, audio, as well as Netflix, and other online content.
As a bonus, the audio can be played through the remote control, so when my wife is sleeping, I can still listen to my shows.
Link: Amazon.com: Roku 3 Streaming Player: Electronics
Price: 99.99

 

Attachments:

dsdp-av cabinet-rev-03152013