Tag Archives: upgrades

2018 – Project: Wide Angle Lens for hitching the 5th Wheel

I know that there are nifty bed mount cameras for this, but I was looking for a low tech solution and found one that I am sharing with you.

The challenge is backing the pickup up to hitch the 5th wheel. In our setup, the only way to see out to back window down to the hitch is to prop yourself up at a strange angle in the seat, twisting around while keeping your foot on the fuel peddle, ready to switch to the brake. My neck and back don’t work very well for that kind of Jujutsu move anymore so I looked around for a cheap alternative.

My solution was a wide angle lens that sticks to the back window of the truck. The lens “bends the light” letting me look through the rear-view mirror and see the hitch. To help things out, I put some fluorescent tape on both the edge of the hitch and the front of the hitch.

Once I put the wide angle lens on the window and tried it out, I took scissors and cut it in half, using only the bottom half on the window. That kept the lens low enough that I can look through the rear view mirror when driving without the camper and not see much of the lens at all.

This setup has been surprisingly helpful. I line things up without turning around at all, just looking in the mirror as I back up to the 5th wheel. Admittedly, there’s a bit of a learning curve, but this set up works well, especially when you consider the low cost.

See individual photos with captions.

2018 – Shortstop – Santa Fe Safari Campground – Chanute, KS

We’ve spent a couple of nights at Santa Fe Safari Campground in Chanute, KS as we prepare to drop our 5th wheel off for service at NuWa. These are the folks who made the camper and we are looking forward to having a couple of things repaired on it. Just a few minutes from the manufacturer’s service department is this nice city campground. My guess is that over half the RVers who come to this city campground are here because of NuWa service and sales. No one can argue with the price: free for the first two nights, then just $10 a night after that. The campsites are basically parking lot sites with 30/50 amp electric and water. There is a dump station on site.

This city campground even offers free WiFi! There are two sections. The east side is closest to S. Santa Fe Ave. and has all pull through sites and has the good WiFi signal. The west side sites are all back in and are close to restrooms (not well kept) and beyond the range of the WiFi. However, the sites are a bit wider and longer. They are also close to the dump station. We spent one night in the eastern section and then moved to a back in spot so we could stay hooked up and be ready to report in to the service center early the next morning.

Some of the pull through sights are are just barely wide enough for two RVs. People who are trading RV’s park the two rigs “face to face” so they can more easily move their belongings to their new digs. This is perhaps the only time you’ll ever see a RVer happy to have another rig parked very close by!

While Chanute isn’t exactly a tourist destination, this is a great small town campground for a great price.

See individual photos with notes here.

2018 – Project: Dish Tripod

I’ve written about my satellite TV setup before, mostly in reference to the Winegard Carryout I used for a few years. You can read those posts here:

As I mentioned in the later reviews, I finally decided I was happier using a regular dish rather than the Carryout.  The reasons are in the final review so I won’t rehash them in this post.  All this to say that for the past few years I’ve used the home style dish and intend to keep on using it.

One of the weak links in this setup, though, was my tripod.  I inherited a small very basic one that is rather flimsy.  If the ground is unlevel, I put something under one leg to attempt to level it.  I also stake it out with guy wires to hold it steady in the wind.  It works but is far from an elegant solution.

I looked at the TV4RV tripod for some time.  However, it is pricy and I had a hard time pulling the trigger on it.  Finally, though, I went for it and I’m glad I did.

The tripod is actually a modified surveyor’s tripod; each leg can be adjusted independently.  A compass is supplied that fits right into the top of the tripod, and you are supposed to aim the direction before you ever mount the dish onto the tripod. One key is getting it perfectly level, something that is easy enough to do using a simple bubble level and the individually adjustable legs. The other key is getting it tall enough to “look over” any trees, etc. that are in the line of sight to the satellites. In some locations the sky is clear and I just leave it low to the ground. In a few places, though, I need all the height I could get.

Generally, the whole setup is less than 15 minutes. I describe the process here.

You can anchor the tripod using a screw in doggie stake or, if the ground is rocky I just use a five gallon bucket of water. I think this is the Cadillac of portable dish tripods, and in spite of the cost, it’s a good investment for those of us who need to set up a home-style dish on a regular basis.