Friday, December 30, 2016

Why I Like My Fuse Instead of an A

This summer I had the opportunity to use a large class A motorhome for about 36 hours.   It was an amateur radio event (Field Day) and the local Camping World (Camping World of Tallahassee)  was very generous .  They donated the use of 3 large motorhomes for the event.  They were really nice and I appreciate their support.

For those that don't know Field Day is the one weekend a year where a large number of ham radio operators take their equipment into the field and operate like there was a disaster. Some people do it from their house.  Some groups do it from their local emergency center.   Some clubs, like ours, go all of the way and operate in the field disconnected from everything.   Living in Florida this is good practice for a hurricane.

This gave me an opportunity to compare the Fuse to a 37 foot long Gulf Stream class A.   It definitely was a different beast from the Fuse. Some positives and some negatives.

On the positive side, the large class A was very quiet with the generator and air conditioning running.   The generator was 20 feet away  (as far away as the Fuse is long) from the living space and could hardly be heard.  The A/C was ducted and had almost no noise.  There was space in the living room for 8-10 people to sit comfortably with a couch, dinette, recliner and captains chairs.  It had huge amounts of storage space under the coach.   You easily could full time in something this large with 4 seasons of clothing and still have extra space. Multiple slides and a huge amount of floor space throughout made this feel like a palace.

On the negative side, it was huge.  The experienced driver from Camping World had no problem getting it in to place.  I would have dinged, bent and mutilated the unit multiple times.  It may have been why the unit was traded in since there was some damage to the rear of the unit.  Per the driver it got 5-7mpg and had a 70 gallon fuel tank.

In this unit, travel would have to be planned out and routes mapped in advance. You would definitely have to tow a car if you were traveling.  We like to be spontaneous and this would not with our style of travel.

For me I still would take the Fuse over the large class A.   It reminded me of why I wanted something small. I do want to be able to just pick up and go.  The Fuse is very efficient with its use of space.  You don't get extra space like in the class A, but we do have all the space we need.

Our style of traveling means we want to see things and change our plans as the mood strikes us.   So we wanted something small to make it more convenient.  Not something that creates its own series of issues.  People having different tastes and needs is why they make so many different sizes of motorhomes.

Someone asked if I would do Field Day in the Fuse?  I would if I had access to external electricity.   The Fuse only can run the generator for a maximum of 20 hours and I would need 36.  That would be a problem.  We were demonstrating radio operations to 4-6 people at a time plus the two operators.  The Fuse is really only big enough to hold 3-4 people max. We needed the large amounts of space the class A has.

Sometimes you want the small economical car, sometimes you want a sports car, and sometimes you need a pickup truck.  This is why we have different options.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

WiFi at Ft. Wilderness

I have been interested in using WiFi in the Fuse.  Mostly as a way to do streaming video and to make our Fuse as tech friendly as possible.   I also want to do everything we can not to go over our data plan with Verizon on our cell phones.

So I decided to take some notes while I was at Ft. Wilderness on how the WiFi there works.  I figured that they are probably one of the top parks, so they should have top notch WiFi.  And they do.

Disney Ft. Wilderness WiFiDisney Ft. Wilderness WiFi

I walked around our loop looking for the WiFi Access Points (APs).  Disney did a good job of hiding them.  They painted them brown and mounted them on top of wooden poles designed to blend in with the wooded area.  Unless you are looking, you miss them.

Disney Ft. Wilderness WiFi

There were several of these poles on our loop (1600).  I suspect that there are also some discretely placed in the bath houses and other structures. I never saw them, but the WiFi seemed pretty strong around the buildings.

The WiFi supported 802.11abgn.   That means that both 2.4 and 5ghz radios that are present on most modern devices worked.   My laptop seemed to want to use the 5ghz space, so I think they are using a feature called band steering. This is good since the 5ghz space has much less interference than 2.4.  But the 2.4ghz frequencies also worked well.

As far as speeds,  I used Speedtest on my iPhone and I was getting 10mbps down and 2mpbs up according to the app.  Very usable.  I was able to stream videos, watch Amazon Prime Videos on the Roku and pretty much everything else.

But there was a small problem.  There were dead spots in the Fuse where the iPhone would not work.   The Laptop worked everywhere.

If I moved a foot to two to either side, the iPhone would work fine.   In doing some testing it seems there are several items that were attenuating the signal creating a radio shadow.    The front TV and its mount is one,  the Microwave was another,  the metallic sun shade we use in the front window was a third.  This all made sense once I thought about it.

I don't think it impacted the laptop since the laptop has a much bigger antenna.  At no point did I not have full bars on the iPhone.  It always looked good.

So I think the problem was me sending, not me hearing.   WiFi has to work bi-directionally or you are stuck.  I believe that radio shadows were stopping the Disney WiFi APs from hearing my iPhone.

Not to worry,  I have been working on a solution to this.    I extended the WiFi inside and outside of the Fuse.   A subject for another post or two in the near future.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

A Better Holding Tank Treatment ?

Happy Campers and Calgon tank treatment

I have been looking for the best holding tank treatment for the Fuse.  We have had a couple of times where the holding tanks have had an Obtuse Aromatic Aroma (stink).  This has been my fault and I take the blame for my laziness.

Take my advise.  When you have an opportunity to dump the tanks, take it.  I have had several occasions where I thought I would be back out in the Fuse the next weekend and got lazy and did not dump.  Well, the next weekend turned into several weeks sitting in the hot Florida sun and the tanks got a bit ripe.

One ting to remember with all the methods.  They need some water in the tank to work.  The consensus is to add a couple (2-4) gallons of water to each tank when you dump.  This keeps everything wet, does not allow seals to dry out and keeps things moving around so you don't get a  poo mountain building up under the toilet.

When we purchased the Fuse it came with a bottle of Aqua-Kem.  I never used it since it is mostly formaldehyde.  I was told it was bad for the environment and some places won't let you dump if your treatment is formaldehyde.  So I avoided it even though it gets really good reviews.

Walex Porta-Pak

The first thing I used was Walex Porta-Pak.  I purchased a small bag at the dealer.   It was Amazon's best seller and got good reviews, so why not.   It does have a pretty strong deodorizer smell.   The real problem was when I left it for several weeks the poo smell was strong.  I was not sure if it was actually breaking down the black stuff or just covering up the smell.  But if I dumped regularly, I had no problems.

Walex Bio-Pak

I read that Walex had a different product called Bio-Pak.  It was touted to digest the waste faster than the Porta-Pak.  I can't say they did or didn't, but the Bio-Pak did not help with smells after a time any better than the Porta-Pak.   Again, if I had dumped regularly, it worked fine as well.

The last thing I have tried, and it seems to be working better than anything else, is a combination of two products.

Happy Campers Tank Treatment

The first half of the solution is Happy Campers Organic Tank treatment.  It gets great reviews and those folks using it swear by it.  It seems to just take care of the smell.  It does not cover it up, it just goes away.  Though the temperatures have not been as high lately as in the summer, so far so good,  even leaving waste in the tank for two weeks.  And the best part is we don't have the strong chemical smell, we just have zero smell.

Happy Campers Tank Treatment

It is a powder.  It comes with a scoop.  You add a scoop of the powder to a toilet full (ok I only filled it half way) of water and flush.  I flushed again to make sure it all went into the tank and I was done.  No easier or harder than the others.   Only downside is its availability on Amazon goes and comes.


The second half of the solution is  Calgon Water Softener .  A part of something called the GEO method.  I added a capful of the liquid Calgon to the tank.  There seems to be some confusion as to what it does.  Some say it makes the tank slick so the poo does not stick. Others say it helps the water in the tank penetrate the poo better.  I am not sure what to believe, but it does add a slightly pleasant smell and it does not hurt anything.

Another fairly easy thing to add.  I put a capful down in the toilet and flushed.  Driving around will slosh it around and make sure it gets everywhere.

I also added the same to the gray tank.  Both Happy Campers and Calgon.  Though I don't think I had any smells from the gray tank,  I was not sure.  As I was doing the research I read that some people searched for smells they thought were from the black tank that actually were coming from the gray tank.  The food waste from washing the dishes as it decomposes can be rather strong giving the black tank a run for its money.

After using this last approach, no smells.  I am going to continue this unless is stops working.   Oh, and I will take every opportunity to dump.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

TV Rattle

For a while I have heard a rattle from the rear.  Metal on metal and I had figured it was from the kitchen or bathroom blinds.  Well on or last trip to Disney,  Sonya drove and I got some time to search for rattles.  This one was the loudest.

Fuse TV mount

It was actually not coming from the kitchen blinds. I was concerned it might be from undressed cables since I had been behind the TV multiple times with headphones, the iPhone connection, and streaming sticks.  But it was not from that either.

It was coming from the TV.  More specifically the TV mount.

At the top of the mount,  a metal bracket on the TV slips over the mount on the wall.  There are some screws to hold it tight at the bottom of the mount but it just slides over at the top.

The problem seems to be the screws at the bottom of the TV are too long and not holding everything tight.  There is some play.  So when there is a bump there is metal on metal contact at the top making a rattle.

Q-Tip Fix

So how could I get some of the play out without replacing the screws?   How about a Q-Tip in the joint to take up the play and keep the metal hitting metal from happening.   Easy to try.  So I put a Q-Tip in the joint.  Voila - No more rattle.  We will see how well it holds up, but a pretty easy fix.   If it holds,  I will cut the Q-Tip flush and call it a day.

Monday, December 19, 2016

A-Tisket, A-Tasket an E-Bike Basket

We have been loving our  e-JOE Epik SE Electric Bike. It runs great and is probably more powerful than we need.  It is working out great and comes with us whenever we go on a trip.  It fits really nice on the back of the Fuse.

e-Joe Epik Basket

One thing we did need is a good way to carry things back to the camp site from a store or restaurant.  When riding any bike you need to make sure you are doing it safely and without distractions.  Carrying stuff can be distracting if you are worrying about stuff falling out.

e-Joe Epik Basket

The E-Joe does have a rear carrier but it needed something to carry things in.  We thought about getting the college student favorite, a milk crate to put back there, but to be honest that would look a little tacky and not quite our style.

e-Joe Epik Basket

Well Sonya found what we needed.  A removable basket for the front of the E-Joe.   She purchased a
Ohuhu Rust-Proof Quick Release Basket .

The installation was super simple.  There is a holder that connects to the Bike and the basket.  The holder has foam covered hooks that go over the handlebars.  The bottom of the holder is velcroed to the stem of the handlebars.  Just that simple.   The basket is connected to the holder with some hooks on the bottom of the basket.  the basket handles fit into a set of holes on the top of the support so that when the handles are down it locks the basket in place and when the handles are up you can remove the basket.   Sounds complicated, but trust me, it is not.

e-Joe Epik Basket

To put the basket on or take it off you just lift the handles up and tilt the basket forward.  Then it will come off the holder.  You put the basket back by just doing the opposite.   Since the basket comes off you can take it with you to carry things while shopping.

e-Joe Epik Baskete-Joe Epik Basket

But the bigger question is how much will it hold.  At Ft. Wilderness it was plenty big to hold 4 big bounty breakfasts from P&Js takeout.  To give some more perspective, it will hold a takeout bag and 2 large Ice Dream cups from Chick-Fil-A with a little room to spare. 

Saturday, December 17, 2016

A Small Panic Attack

Well there I was, getting ready to leave Ft Wilderness.  Breaking camp I had a small panic attack.  We got everything disconnected,  put the slide in,  put the awning in,  dumped the tanks and were about ready to go and we had a major problem.   No DC power in the coach!

No lights.  No water pump.  No nothing.   Noooooo.

A feeling of dread came over me.  What had I broken, what had broken on its own?  Panic set in for a few moments.  Would we be able to get home?

So I started off small.  Would the Fuse crank up?  It did.  So we would at least get home.

Winnebago Fuse Circuit Breakers

Then I looked at the circuit breakers and the fuses.  They all looked good, but still no power.

Well when all else fails, get out the manual as they say.  So, I did.   This was super serious if I was going to break out the manual.

Winnebago Fuse Manual

I quickly looked up D.C. Power.  Well "Electrical System, DC" to be specific and it sent me it page 6-6.

What was on page 6-6 & 6-7 ?  A note on the house battery disconnect.

Winnebago Fuse Coach Battery Disconnect

Guess what?   It was off.  We must have turned it off when we were putting in or out the awning.  Turned it back on and everything was right with the world, or at least our little piece of it.

So off we went.  Back home to Tallahassee.  Only a few more grey hairs added (or in my case, hairs lost)

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Ft. Wilderness Trip - December 2016

Winnebago Fuse at Disney

We just got back from a trip to Disney World and stayed in the Fuse at Ft. Wilderness.  Both kids came with us and since the Fuse only sleeps 3, we brought a tent with us for our son.     We had a great time.

Driving Winnebago Fuse

One of our goals for this trip was to have Sonya become more comfortable driving and setting up camp.  She is going down with our daughter and a friend in February for a girls weekend in the Fuse and needed the experience.   So she drove most of the way down.  I handed the RV over to her once we got out of Tallahassee.

She drove and I sat in the back trying not to be a pest.  I did get some stuff done while going down.  It was the first time I spent any real effort trying to track down some rattles.  I found and corrected several as we were driving down.  (Sonya's note:  Don usually comments that it is unsafe for folks to be moving around in the back of the coach when driving down the road, but he is a bad passenger and couldn't sit still.  At least, he wasn't micro-managing my driving.)
Winnebago Fuse Ocala Rest Stop

We left Tallahassee Friday morning and got to Disney mid-afternoon.   We stopped at the rest area just south of Ocala and ate lunch.  Going down the Fuse got 14.3mpg.  Not too bad but it had 50 in-town miles on this tank from the past several weeks.

We did find out that the low fuel light does work and had to fill up once we got to Disney.    Believe it or not, the fuel prices at the gas stations at Disney are pretty good.  Our Fuse likes their diesel as it seems to get better milage than with the Murphy Diesel that I normally use.

Winnebago Fuse at Ft. Wilderness

We got down and set up camp.  We had a Full Hookup site, the lowest tier of motorhome spots at the Fort.  Anywhere else it would be a super premium site.  1636 was a great site.  It was half way between and fairly close to two bath houses.  Pretty close to the entry/exit of our loop.   And being Christmas, it was 2 spots down from the one of the biggest Christmas displays in the Fort.  That puts you in the Holiday mood.

Sonya set up the site.  I tried to stay out of they way.  I failed, but she did great.

Disney ChristmasDisney Christmas

Disney ChristmasDisney ChristmasDisney Christmas

Disney ChristmasDisney ChristmasDisney Christmas

Disney ChristmasFt. Wilderness Christmas

We spent this trip looking at holiday decorations.  We talked about the ones at Ft. Wilderness in an earlier post, but we also spent time looking at the decorations in the hotels and parks.  Disney does Christmas great and we highly recommend going sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas to see it.  The best time is between 12/1 and 12/15 to avoid most of the crowds.  There were plenty of spots during the weekdays.  The Fort was full on Friday and Saturday night.

Hoop-De-Coo ReviewHoop-De-Doo Review

We did the Hoop-De-Doo Review dinner show, the Family Christmas present from our daughter.  I got picked on by Claire and we had a blast.  Sonya said it helps to be old, balding and sitting in the center if you want to be singled out.

Pace Family ChristmasDisney World Contemporary Hotel at night

Sonya took down the camp with one exception.  She did not want to dump the tanks and made that my job.  She said she was going to supervise my daughter doing it in in February so it was realistic practice. (Sonya's note:  I've told the young ladies I'd take care of accommodations but they had to take care of dumping the tanks, I don't care how they just have to get it done.  So if you are at Fort Wilderness in  February watch out for two innocent looking young ladies...)

Coming home we got 14.7mpg.   Overall we had a great trip.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

What have I used the most this trip ? The broom.

I keep thinking about what I use and don't use when we are out in the Fuse.  On this trip to Ft. Wilderness the thing I have used most has been the broom.

I have a  Carrand 67613 Expandable Outdoor Broom and we keep it in the bathroom closet.  I talked about it "A tale of Two Brooms".  On this trip I have wound up using it twice a day.   In addition to the beagle fur that has been shed, we seem to be tracking in sand, dirt and leaf matter.

Now it might be our Son is camped out in a tent behind the Fuse.  The Daughter is sleeping on the fold out couch.  Or it might just be we are having a bunch of fun since the weather is cooperating and we keep going in and out.

Either way the broom seems to be the most used accessory this trip.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Christmas Time at Ft. Wilderness

Christmas at Ft. Wilderness

Christmas at Ft. WildernessPioneer Hall at Christmas

If you have the chance, you should experience the Christmas holidays at Disney World.  Disney goes all out for the holidays and the Fort Wilderness is no exception.

Christmas at Ft. WildernessChristmas at Ft. Wilderness

Christmas at Ft. WildernessChristmas at Ft. Wilderness

Everyone at the Fort gets involved especially the campers.   The displays people put out at their campsites are amazing.  The closer you get to the actual date, the more decorations come out.

Christmas at Ft. WildernessChristmas at Ft. Wilderness

Christmas at Ft. WildernessChristmas at Ft. Wilderness

There are lights, music, displays.   Some of them rival any commercial setup you would see in your home town or on television.  They are even more amazing if your remember that the campers have to keep their displays in the confines of their campsites.

Pace Christmas

The majority of what you see are inflatables.  We have even gotten into the Christmas spirit.  There are are 3 inflatables at our campsite including "Hula Santa".

Fuse Christmas

We even have our Fuse in the act  as part of our display.  Sonya and our daughter made a Mickey wreath.  Lights and all and we have it mounted in the front window.

Christmas at Ft. WildernessChristmas at Ft. Wilderness

Campsites are not all that are decorated.  Many people decorate their golf carts as well.  If you are here on Christmas Day (the lucky few) there is even a golf cart parade on Christmas Day.  Disney sponsors a contest for the best decorated campsite on Christmas Eve and the best decorated golf cart in the parade with the winners announced at an awards ceremony on Christmas Day.