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Discover why so many people love VMSpc
From tools to maximize and track fuel economy to custom gauges and data logging, VMSpc offers the most convenient way to put more power in your hands. Whether you’re replacing an analog gauge or supplementing your dash, you’ll love the flexibility that VMSpc offers.
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SilverLeaf offers aftermarket solutions to modernize your coach
Got a coach that’s built to last but the technology is stuck in the past? Find out how SilverLeaf can help you get the most out of your RV, truck, or boat with the latest monitoring and control system technology.
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Country Coach Conversions
Our history with Country Coach goes all the way back to 2000 with the SilverLeaf VMSII. The next year, the RVIA established RV-C, the data transmission protocol that is now an RV industry standard. Over the next few years, Country coach added more SilverLeaf components to their coaches, but retained the old data transmission protocol, J1708, through 2006 (except for the Affinity). Finally, in 2007, they switched to RV-C.
If all of the components on your Country Coach lasted forever, none of this would be noteworthy. Unfortunately, as one of our techs likes to put it, “puppies die.” Your inverter has a finite service life. If your Country Coach was made prior to that 2006/2007 dividing line, replacing that inverter can be a particularly prickly predicament (say that 3 times fast). You can’t just put an RV-C inverter in a J1708 coach. It won’t be able to communicate with the coach. So just find a J1708 inverter, right? Sure, if you can find one. Chances are, you won’t – not unless you happen to stumble across the one tech in Tumbleweed Gulch who just happens to have one on the shelf marked, “In Case of Apocalypse.” No, one way or another, you’re going to have to install a late model inverter, which means a few changes and upgrades elsewhere in your coach are going to be necessary.
The good news is that these changes are not terribly invasive. Aside from replacing two J1708 SilverLeaf modules with a single RV-C module, your control panels will need a software update, and a minor change to the wiring will be made. We have detailed documentation available to your technician, so this conversion should be a snap.
Once your Country Coach has been brought up-to-date with RV-C components, you may want to think about additional upgrades, like a newer SilverLeaf control panel. Have a look at our VMS and HMS products under the Products tab.
Help! My SilverLeaf screen is dead!
A dark screen can be a bit puzzling and scary to an owner. Without the SilverLeaf touch panel, many systems on the coach are difficult or impossible to access. Fortunately, this problem is typically pretty easily solved using a couple of spare automotive fuses.
Newmar coaches utilize a module called an LVDFET to prevent brownout conditions. Actually, there are two of these installed. Essentially, the power for most SilverLeaf equipment passes through one of these LVDFET modules and then passes on to the SilverLeaf devices. If the LVDFET module sees that the voltage is getting too low, it cuts power completely to the devices downstream. Occasionally, these LVDFET modules fail, and power is lost. Thus, your touch panel goes dark. The permanent solution is to replace the LVDFET. But if you’re on the road or camping and the nearest Newmar service center is more than a short drive away, immediately replacing it is not an option. So, how do you get power back in the meantime? Actually, it’s pretty simple. Better yet, you probably already have the parts needed to complete the task.
First, lets look at the difference between the two LVDFET boards. A smaller one, which has only one power protection circuit, is located in the same general area as the SilverLeaf TM-102. In Newmar long buses, this will be in the shore cord compartment. If you’re driving a New Aire, you’ll need to locate the electrical wall in the basement. This is the same wall where the house battery disconnect solenoid is mounted. This smaller LVDFET board only supplies power to the TM-102. In the event that this module loses power, there is a similar workaround for that, but for this article we’ll focus on the larger LVDFET board.
This larger board has two separate power protection circuits – one for the front of the coach and one for the rear. It is possible for only one circuit to fail. In this case, one of your touch panels would still be powered (assuming you have two panels in your coach). In Newmar long buses, this board will be located in passenger-side bay four between the frame rails. If you see a SilverLeaf TM-250 Load Manager or TM-229 Floor Heat Controller, you’re in the right area.
The LVDFET board has two power wires coming in and two going out – one to the front of the coach and one to the rear. All of the wires are terminated with spade connectors, which happen to be about the same size as the blade contacts on a standard automotive fuse. Because of this, we can simply connect an input wire to an output wire through the fuse!
Just pull the wires off of the LVDFET board and slide the female spade connector onto the blade contact of the fuse. The diagram to the right should make this procedure pretty clear.
The size of the fuse isn’t critical. These boards are not designed to prevent over-current conditions.
They are designed to prevent low-voltage conditions. So, if all you have in your toolbox is a twenty amp fuse, that will do just fine.
Once you’ve connected the wires as shown, you should have power back to your SilverLeaf equipment and be back on your feet. If not, give us a call. We’d be glad to help!
– Tim Krause
Running VMSpc On A Surface Pro
The folks at Motorhead Garage did a segment on our VMSpc product recently – you may have seen it on the Velocity Network. For that video we installed VMSpc on a Surface Pro. I thought the results were excellent, and I ended up making the Surface my personal machine. Installation was easy using the newly Signed Drivers. I found a lot to like with the Surface Pro. The screen was sharp and bright – especially if you keep it plugged in so it doesn’t try to save power. The form factor is different from the other pads – it’s taller or longer, depending on how you look at it. I made some custom screens, but I found that it was easier to do this using the touchpad than by trying to use the touchscreen, even with the stylus. There is also a little glitch in Win8 where if you turn the unit so the screen switches portrait/landscape mode, and then back again, it doesn’t restore the window to the full screen size. But I expect that Microsoft will fix that glitch.
Overall, I really like the Surface Pro. I own an iPad and two different Android pads, and the Surface is easily superior to them all. The only advantage the iPad has is battery life, but the Surface is faster and runs all the software I need to run. I also prefer the Surface form factor. What really surprises me – I generally dislike Microsoft products and I heard a lot of Win8-bashing before I bought this machine – is that I find it easier to use than the iPad. I still make a lot of use of my Netbook – mainly because it has the best keyboard. I also use an Android pad a bit, since it has by far the best battery life. Occasionally, I bring along my full-sized laptop, but only if I know I am going to need it for some serious work. But the Surface Pro is now my main road machine, and I have hardly touched the iPad in a month.