Motorhome Dual Tyre Inflation - My Portable Solution

Many people have experienced problems with motorhome tyre inflation caused generally by the higher inflation pressures required and also in my case by problems of access to tyre valves caused by twin rear wheel configurations. I wanted to solve this problem and I wanted my solution to allow me to inflate and check tyres independently no matter where I am so I needed to be "garage independent" and for my inflation solution to be based on a portable 12V compressor.

Some while ago I purchased a RING RAC900 compressor which allowed me to inflate car and motorhome tyres to the required pressures (it inflates up to 100psi) and it provided me with a screw-on valve connection which also allowed controlled tyre deflation if that was required, here are some photos of the original RING RAC900 equipment.

Fig 1

Fig 2
The RING RAC900 is well built and has performed well, it connects directly to the battery using crocodile clips rather than the cigarette lighter socket style connection, this is because the compressor has a maximum amperage of 23A which is higher than many cigarette style sockets are rated for.

The screw-on valve connection is Ok for many requirements but I wanted to be able to use a twin hold-on style connector so that I could access the valves on my motorhome twin rear wheels and also wanted to be able to use a Euro style valve connector rather than fiddling around having to screw a connector on and off all the time. I wanted to be able to just quickly and securely clip onto the valve or use a hold-on connector.

I approached Pneumatic Components Ltd (PCL) who are based in Sheffield with my problem and found them extremely helpful. Talking it through with them the best option, to also allow me to continue to use the existing screw connection if I wished to, was to cut the existing black hose (Fig 2) at it's mid point and form a mini-coupling joint at that point. Once that was done further mini couplings could be aded to allow me to attach a new twin hold-on connector, a Euro style tyre valve connector OR my original screw-on connector.

I ordered up the required parts for the job and they were impressively delivered the following morning. Below is a list of the parts I ordered, I already had a roll of PTFE tape but apart from that this is the list of things needed to adapt the RING RAC900 to increase it's flexibility in use.

JC9512 Jubilee® Hose Clips Size 000 - 9.5-12 mm 1 Box of 10, only 2 needed.

C08T73 Euro Style Tyre Valve Connector x1

CO1A03 Twin Hold-on Tyre Valve Connector x1

AC11CM Mini Coupling Socket G 1/4 Male Thread x2

AA11CF Mini Adaptor Plug G 1/4 Female Thread x1

HC1205 Male Hose Tail Adaptor R 3/16 for 4.75mm (3/16") bore hose x2

AC11CF Mini Coupling Socket G 1/4 Female Thread x1

Having cut the black hose in Fig 2 at it's mid point and installed the hose tail adaptors (sealing the joints with the PTFE tape), mini coupling socket and mini adaptor plug I then had the arrangement below which allows me to connect whichever configuration I want to the RING RAC900 via the mini adaptor plug now shown installed on the right:

Fig 3

It was a simple matter to fit the required mini coupling sockets to the Euro style connector and the Twin hold-on connector and lo and behold I then had three valve connection options for my RING RAC900. This allows me to check and inflate my car or motorhome tyres no matter where I am without having to look for a tyre dealer with equipment that can inflate to the required pressures. The options look like this:

Fig 4

Fig 5

I've had the chance to test this system out and it works perfectly and delivers exactly what I require. I very much appreciate the generous and helpful advice and expertise provided by Owen at PCL, if you feel that this arrangement would help you then all the components required and listed above can easily be ordered on line at the PCL Online Store. This setup, for me at least, makes the RING RAC900 far more flexible and useful and the PCL products are of an excellent build quality.

Simple Handwritten Note Indexing - Evernote

This may or may not be of interest but it’s a simple little technique I’ve been using in Evernote when I want to store something handwritten. If you make a lot of handwritten notes, a student maybe, this approach may be a useful tip if and when you need to find things in handwritten material. If you take a full page of notes it is surprising, if you actually check each word, how FEW of them are actually useful in terms of search, what is important is to be able to quickly, easily and accurately identify the words that DO matter and make sure they can be easily searched and retrieved in the future.

If you scan a page of handwritten text and save it as a PDF file the words within the page will NOT be recognised by Evernote, if you save the file as a JPEG file words WILL be recognised within the page by Evernote but if material is handwritten the accuracy of the search is very dependent on the handwriting. What needs to be done is for important keywords to be identified and made readable. This does not apply to typewritten documents that have been scanned as PDFs as the words in those will always be recognised and indexed by Evernote, this is just to deal with handwritten notes.

What I do, as I am writing, if I write a word that I may want to search on later I place a small "x" next to it and a small "." at the side of the page for each word, it’s rare that there are more than 5-10 such words on each page, surprisingly few. So, when the page is complete and when it comes to scan and save a page of handwritten notes I scan the page as a JPEG and drop that into Evernote in the usual way, here is a sample I did when I was testing this, you can see the "x" "." marks.

Once that is in Evernote you just look at the lines with a dot or dots on and then find the words marked "x". Then type just those words onto a label or directly into Evernote. Doing this makes it CERTAIN that if any of those terms are searched for in the future that handwritten note will be pulled out. This means that you very quickly have the words that matter reliably searchable without having to type out everything and without the risk of handwritten notes being incorrectly searched because of the handwriting.

I’ve found it works really well and it really is amazing how few words you actually need to type out and using the "x" and "." method as you write means you don’t have to read the whole thing in order to quickly and easily find the important words to type out. You can find the words that matter in seconds and type them out just as quickly.

Instead of using the "x" and "." method one could always write the "important" words in red or something like that, if one could be bothered to swap pens! The important thing is that the words need to be quickly and easily visible so that they, and they alone, can be later typed in as keywords.

A further advantage of this approach, apart from it's speed and simplicity, is that the JPEG file sizes generated by this method are very small indeed, which is not the case with some of the page scanning systems I've tried.

Back To The Old Ways

Over the last few years I've started to become pretty sick and tired of a lot of the "modern" ways of doing things.

I just hate telephoning a company and almost invariably not getting through to a person but just having to select from endless lists before finally getting cut off just as I think I'm getting somewhere.

I'm sick and tired of finally contacting an organisation only to find that the person I get through to can't deal with things, being given a promise that someone will be in touch, only to find that I hear nothing and have to start again.

I've had enough of sending emails into the ether to hear nothing for ages and to have to go through the whole procedure again or even worse to have to make that telephone call.... Select option 6..... Sorry, there is nobody available to take your call...

So I decided, where I could, to change things and to write letters. Yes, I type something out, print it, sign it, put it in an envelope with a stamp on it, post it and forget it. I even do this if all I want is the right person to contact me, it shifts the effort from me to "The Company".

It's been great, I find that almost invariably the right person gets back to me or the problem is just resolved without further contact and I hear no more. Going back to the old ways has really been a help to me, maybe it's just the novelty value of people receiving a hand signed letter, who knows, but it's worth a try.

TomTom GO Camper - Speed Limits - Large Camper

I fairly recently bought one of these units as it appeared to offer many attractive features in particular the "Large Camper" specific features, WiFi updates and a potentially useful smartphone application.

I have now been using the unit for a while and one particular problem (apparent deficiency) troubles me and that concerns the fact that the unit DOES NOT provide vehicle specific speed limit and speed limit warning information. Basically the unit will tell you the speed limits and warn you of them as if you are driving an ordinary car, even though you may well be driving a motorhome governed by completely different speed limits.

I have tried to get to the bottom of this, assuming that such an obviously important feature MUST exist and that I was doing something wrong but following lengthy communication with TomTom support these are my findings.

I am sorry to say that my fears have now been confirmed by TomTom Support (Call Ref: 180616-000397).

I can confirm that if you enter your vehicle dimensions the TomTom GO Camper WILL NOT take these into account when displaying speed limits and providing speed warnings so if this is important to you you should avoid this unit. The Garmin equivalent units (770 LMT-D or 660 LMT-D) do offer this functionality.

So, driving along a UK single carriageway road the National Speed Limit for a car is 60mph and the National Speed Limit for a large camper is 50mph. If you are using the TomTom GO Camper with the "Large Camper" settings enabled the speed limit and warnings displayed will be as for a car, 60mph, even though the speed limit for your vehicle is 50mph.

You can therefore drive along breaking the speed limit for your vehicle and you will receive no warning or indication of this fact from this unit.

I have now taken the decision to return this unit and accept a full refund and it is in the post to TomTom HQ. I would find this data inaccuracy annoying on an ongoing basis and have decided to continue with my Garmin 660 LMT-D. Additionally, and for no apparent reason, the TomTom has randomly crashed during use and has needed to be restarted, this had also happened to at least one other user known to me and this is not acceptable.

Another Airline Rip-Off

It's the little sneaky things that annoy me when prices go up, much more than the bigger obvious things.

We've always quite enjoyed flying with Jet2 to Mallorca and have had no major problems. On our early outward flight instead of messing about with breakfast we have generally enjoyed a toasted ham and cheese sandwich which used to come with a "free" packet of crisps.

In the last 12 months things have changed in terms of pricing, here are the details:

In April 2017 a toasted ham and cheese sandwich was £3.95p and a "free" packet of crisps was also provided with it so the total cost was £3.95p.

In April 2018 a toasted ham and cheese sandwich on the same route will cost £4.20p and a packet of crisps will no longer be included, it will be available for an additional charge of 30p so the total cost would be £4.50p.

It doesn't take a genius to work out that for the same snack meal this represents an increase in the cost of almost 14% at a time when the current general inflation rate is below 3%.

Thanks for that Jet2, sadly all this does is annoy people and encourage them to not buy things on the plane. The answer is of course simple, if you feel you are being ripped off simply take a snack meal with you which is allowed as long as you are not taking liquids.

Santander UK PLC - Two Factor Authentication Policy

I think pretty much everyone is agreed that implementing two factor authentication on important online accounts currently represents the "Gold Standard" in terms of security for the average consumer. There can be few accounts as important to protect as our online banking accounts with password managers, email accounts and others very close behind indeed in terms of security requirements.

With this in mind it has always seemed odd to me that I can log in to a Santander account with no second factor being checked, therefore if someone did obtain my login credentials they would be able to access my financial information and I would be none the wiser. I do not believe this to be an optimal arrangement in terms of security, for such a sensitive system,

Being curious I wrote to Santander outlining my concerns and asking for an explanation why two factor authentication has not been implemented, others may be interested in their position, which is as follows:

Thank you for your letter dated 6th January 2018.
I understand you would like to know why Santander do not use two factor authentication for the initial log-in step for our online banking service.
Unfortunately, I am only able to advise that this is a business decision made by Santander, and that it will not be possible for me to provide an explanation of how this decision was reached.
I can confirm that Santander do take online and mobile banking security very seriously, and that we are constantly looking for ways to improve our security for customers, however they choose to bank with us.
I have raised a suggestion form detailing the concerns given in your letter, which will be reviewed by our feedback team. Our customer suggestions are recorded and are taken into account in future reviews our our policies and processes.
If you'd like to discuss any of the above points, please call me on 0151 2548618.
Thank you for raising your concerns with us, they will help us to improve and meet our aim to deliver the highest level of customer service.

In summary, no, we don't use two factor authentication and we are not going to tell you why that decision was made, but we are happy to look after your money for you.

Only a matter of time before 2FA is implemented but the Santander systems I believe are less secure in the meantime without it.

Damned Banks

At one time I thought banks were Ok, if you had a bit of money saved up they would give you a half decent payback in interest, they kept your money "safe" and they provided free banking services if you remained in credit. On top of this they would, if you were good, lend you some money for a large purchase or even let you overdraw your account a bit if you didn't go too mad.

Things are different now and I've come to dislike banks with a passion, they seem to me to be greedy self-serving organisations who want to milk their customers purely for their own benefit and profit.
I went to the bank the other day to withdraw some cash, not a vast sum, I was doing this because I have decided to change some of my arrangements. I approached the counter in the normal way and surprise surprise when I asked to make the withdrawal I was asked what the money was for. Yes, I'd heard of this but not actually experienced it, I was being asked what I wanted to withdraw MY money for.
I understand that with all the problems of crime, money laundering, fraud, etc. etc. these days vulnerable people need to be protected but to be honest being asked what I wanted the money for when I was withdrawing it from my own account didn't sit very well with me, it wasn't as if I was asking for a loan. I was tempted to say that the money was for drink, gambling, and prostitutes but decided against that but I did offer the following explanation.
I politely said that the money was for my own use and that I did not know at the present time what it was going to be spent on, but that I wanted it under my control rather than under the control of the bank. I pointed out that the money in the bank was not paying me any kind of reasonable interest but at the same time the bank was making money, using my money, by lending it to other people and charging them interest and that I didn't think that was very fair.
I explained that the bank was making a profit by having my money and that I thought it would be better if I just had the money rather than having to ask them to give it to me and to have to explain why I wanted it. I then also explained that personal data was valuable and that the bank was tracking my spending, through the use of a debit and credit card, and was giving me nothing in return for this, in fact, it was charging me to bank with them! I suggested that also didn't seem like a very good deal from the customer's point of view.
Anyway, I departed with the money I had requested without telling the bank what it was for and I have decided to make some changes as I am sick of being tracked, controlled, and being asked to justify myself. I will use a credit card only when it benefits me and not just for convenience and I am going to stop using a debit card unless it is to avoid paying a credit card fee when making an online purchase. This will mean only using a credit card for some online transactions and some large purchases where there is a potential risk of a company going into liquidation or where I want the security of insurance immediately following a purchase.
For the vast majority of my spending, I intend to withdraw cash maybe once a week or as required and just use that for my general shopping and day to day spending, thus avoiding my spending habits being tracked by the bank with no benefit to me whatsoever. I just don't see why I should accept this invasion of my privacy any longer in return for nothing. On top of the privacy benefits studies show that people are less likely to make impulsive purchases and more likely to limit their spending when they use cash, parting with cold hard cash is just that bit more difficult!
If I needed any more reasons to use cash the risk of card data being stolen by crooks using NFC wireless communication whilst out and about is only going to get worse. I'd rather lose a few pounds in notes than have all the hassle associated with identify theft.
I also have in mind that it's not just spending that is being tracked it's also, as a result of card spending, one's location that is being tracked and there is more than enough of that going on without me voluntarily adding to it.

QR Codes For The Common Man

I'm ashamed to say that I have never really given these little spotty things a great deal of thought or really considered how I might be able to use them in my own life to organise and retrieve material, particularly material stored in the depths of my Evernote account. As I started to explore their potential more deeply it very quickly became apparent that I have been missing not just a trick but many tricks in terms of what I could use these codes for and how they might become part of my everyday life.

A QR Code (the QR stands for "Quick Response") is a mobile phone readable barcode that's been around for quite a while and has popped up in all sorts of locations though many people make little use of them and they are often ignored. These codes can be used to provide pretty much instantaneous access to all sorts of things, below is a list which is by no means exhaustive:

Website URL, YouTube Video, Image File, PDF File, Google Maps Location, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, FourSquare, App Store Download, iTunes Link, Dropbox, Plain Text, Telephone Number, Skype Call, SMS Message, Email Address, Email Message, Contact Details, Digital Business Card, Attendance Tracking, Event (VCALENDAR), Wifi Login, Paypal, Buy Now Link, Bitcoin.

It turns out all I need to make use of them is access to a suitable website which will allow me to generate QR Codes, such as I then needed some way of printing out the generated QR Codes if I want to use them in printed form though they can of course be distributed electronically, and then a phone application to read these codes. The code reader I've been using on an iPhone is QR Scanner by MixerBox Inc which is very quick and convenient and available for the iPhone in the App Store.

Any printer can be used but I think the Dymo LabelWriter 450 Turbo is an excellent choice if you are going to be doing a lot of this kind of thing. The QR Scanner application I mentioned has the advantage of happily reading "text only" QR codes without the need for an Internet connection of any kind, this is not true of all QR Code scanners. This means that "text only" QR Codes can be deployed in remote areas or areas without coverage such as subways if required, they will still work. I find the and QR Scanner combination to be excellent.

My initial plan, having done some reading, is to make various digital versions of manuals available immediately where they are needed, that is at the device itself. I have all the manuals for household items available digitally in Evernote so part of the work is already done. The next steps are as as follows:

  1. Go to the relevant digital manual note in the Evernote application and select the "Copy Note Link" option in the "Note" menu, copy the link to the clipboard.
  2. Go to the QRStuff website (above) and paste in the note link, this will generate a QR Code.
  3. Download the QR Code and print it out onto an adhesive label, or paper.
  4. Attach the QR Code to the device to which the manual relates.

Then the magic can begin. When I need to access the manual I will have the device in hand and I can simply scan the QR Code with my iPhone or iPad and the digital version of the manual will immediately be retrieved for reference, no searching, no messing about in dusty files, no problem. It really does work like a charm.

Here's just a simple example. Need to refer to the instructions for that old battery charger you bought seven years ago and you've forgotten what that little light means? Look on the back of the unit for the QR Code you put there linking you to the scanned copy of the manual in your Evernote account and almost instantaneously there is the manual on your phone or tablet, just where and when you need it. No searching, no swearing about the fact that you cannot find it in an analogue filing system, try it!

QR Codes can also be used for home archiving purposes, coupled with Evernote this will make a brilliant bi-directional storage and retrieval system. I have a number of storage boxes up in the loft and what I'll do as a one-off task is create an Evernote note of the contents of each one, the first note will be called something like "Storage 01". The same process as above will then be used to generate a QR Code which will be attached to the top of the storage box.

Using this arrangement, if I want to know the contents of a box I simply scan the QR Code and the list pops up, it's that simple. However, another "reverse" use of the system is to search Evernote for a particular item, say "Glassware" and this will find that text and the note header will say something like "Storage 03" and you then immediately know which box to look in for the glassware.

The above are very simple examples but the options are endless. All the books on a section of shelving for example could be listed in an Evernote note and that section of shelving labelled with a QR Code which would make retrieval quick and simple rather than scouring shelves for a particular volume.

Are you going out? Don't want to forget important things when you leave the house briefly or for a longer holiday? Are you likely to forget to check the gas ring? Are the lights all off? Is the water turned off?

Simple solution, produce a "Must Not Forget" list in Evernote, get the note link and generate a QR Code. Print out the QR Code and put it on the inside of the front door, as you leave scan it and your "Must Not Forget" list will instantly appear, check it quickly and away you go, confident that nothing important has been left behind or forgotten. As times change simply update the note in Evernote and the new version will pop up when you scan the same QR Code. So, simply posting the QR Code below on the back of the front door and scanning it before you set off out will remind you of those "Do Not Forget" items, whatever they may be, try it!

A similar arrangement can also be applied to packing for a holiday. My plan is to use an existing general packing list which I already have stored in Evernote and I will produce a QR Code label using the link to that note, this QR Code will then be attached to my suitcase which will mean that when I come to pack for a trip I simply scan the QR Code and bingo, there is my packing list exactly where I want it, in my hand. A potential added benefit of this is that if luggage goes missing simply scanning a second identical QR Code attached to travel documents, or referencing the note, will provide an immediate list of suitcase contents for insurance purposes.

Dread that moment of blind panic when you are stuck by the roadside, you can make it more bearable if you have all the information you require. Create a note in Evernote containing the information you might quickly require such as insurance company telephone number and policy details, your vehicle registration number (easy to get wrong in a panic!) and vehicle make and model and of course the emergency phone number of a rescue company. You might want to also include instructions about retrieving your exact location from a SatNav as this can be fiddly with some models and it's far easier if instructions are to hand. For more general use things like tyre pressures can be included in the note to save looking them up on door panels or in manuals.

Once the emergency note is generated create your QR Code as above and attach it to the dashboard and when that horrible moment arrives fire up the QR Scanner on your phone and there is everything you need, immediately to hand.

The possibilities are endless, but you do need to remember your phone or tablet!

Q Field-Boden. December 2017.

The Decluttering Continues

Down to a single storage box with suspension files, easy to store and move if need be. End result of a lot of document scanning (stored in Evernote) and a lot of shredding of other material.

Now easy to find manuals is they are needed and everything available in one place. All legal documents retained but digital copies also stored in Evernote should the worst happen.

Recommended, much better for one's state of mind than a load of clutter.

The Cycling Network - Convenient?

Here are a couple of examples of why I find the provision of local cycle tracks to be inconvenient and unattractive to use.
On the map below there are three marked points, A, B and C. The most direct route is a gently sloping road which has a good surface and this route runs from A to B. Section A to C is a potholed track which does not have a proper surface at all, section B to C is a very steep hill on a narrow lane.
Arriving by bike at either point B or point A the marked "cycle route" is shown to be along route B->C->A or A->C->B depending upon your direction of approach.
No doubt someone thinks this is "safer" - I think it's just directing cyclists along a far longer route, all of which is either very steep or completely unsurfaced and terribly potholed.

If I wish to use the cycle route between Hipsburn and Warkworth when cycling from Alnwick I will arrive at point A on this map. If I ride along the road from point A to point D I will almost certainly be abused by or hooted at by motorists who will normally yell something like "get off the ****ing road" or "use the ****ing cycle track".
The problem is that to join the cycle track I have to cycle from A to B, B to C and then C to D where it then follows the line of the A1068, there is no cycle track between A and D.
Am I being ungrateful in thinking that having to ride along three sides of a square, including going down a hill and then back up it, isn't a very attractive proposition?