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Camper Tech

Technology For Truck Campers

A TCM reader who prefers to be anonymous sent in this report from CES full of products that could revolutionize truck camping, or at least keep your iPhone dry.

Consumer Electronics Show and Truck Campers

Somehow it seems appropriate that a magazine developed, produced, and consumed entirely on electronic devices would have a report on new technology toys from the annual Consumer Electronics Show.  Even better, this report comes from one of our long time readers who happens to be both a truck camping enthusiast, and a geek for gadgets.  We can relate.

How this article happened is almost as interesting as the article itself.  We received an email from a TCM reader asking if we would like a report on gadgets at CES that related to truck campers.  The only catch was that we couldn’t use this person’s name.  A top secret truck camping gadget geek reporter?  We love it!

 

Cerberus

Cerberus is a satellite communicator that couples to your smartphone and allows two way text messaging via satellite.  Cerberus also allows you to track your hike and send out emergency calls with coordinates.  Even better, Cerberus allows two way communication with the rescuers so they know what to expect and what to bring.  Family can also track your trip online.

Perhaps what’s most interesting about Cerberus is that you will be able rent the device.  The representatives at CES said the rental would be $64.95 for two weeks from REI and at least one other national retailer starting in November.

DeLorme inReach

The DeLorme inReach Communicator is a similar product to the Cerberus above except  that the DeLorme unit works for those of us who still use dumb phones.  The DeLorme inReach can also couple to the DeLorme PN-60w handheld GPS.

One feature that appears unique to the DeLorme is message confirmation.  As it was explained to me at CES, you’ll know when the search party is on the way.  An interesting tidbit from the inReach brochure is that only 10% of the Earth has cell phone coverage.  Of course something like 73% of the Earth is water so maybe that’s not such an impressive statistic.  Since truck campers can “Go Anywhere” it’s good to know that there are communications options far from any cell tower.

Goal Zero

Goal Zero has a variety of interesting solar products.  The largest is the Yeti 1250 Solar Generator Kit.  It’s about the size of the large (but not extra large) cooler that you might find at Wal Mart.  It has a 12v cigarette outlet, a 5v USB outlet, three 120v three prong outlets, and several other outlet types.  The Yeti 1250 Solar Generator Kit will fully charge in 16-20 hours from AC and 20-22 hours from solar.  The Yeti 1250 Solar Generator Kit contains a 1250 watt hour battery (100 amp hour) and uses a 1500 watt pure sine-wave inverter and a 20 amp MPPT charge controller.  The MSRP for the Yeti 1250 Solar Generator Kit is $1999.

Currently the Yeti 1250 Solar Generator Kit is being used in third world countries where there is no electricity, until now.  It strikes me that this might be a great product for an area where generator use is prohibited, or somewhere like Baja, or anywhere there’s little or no access to shore power.

Unfortunately, the Yeti 1250 Solar Generator Kit is not on the Goal Zero website, but the company understands the RV market and seems to understand truck campers as well.  They also have a variety of other solar products to charge phones and laptops.

XS Power Batteries

XS Power Batteries is an AGM battery manufacturer.  They manufacture almost every component in-house here in the United States.  Their XP3000 battery is targeted at the RV market.  The XP3000 battery is 73 pounds and offers 3000 max amps, 240 min reserve capacity (RC), and 120 amp hours (AH).  It’s a powerhouse.

The most interesting thing I experienced at the XS Power Batteries booth were three Ford employees asking very in depth questions about AGM batteries.  I spoke with one Ford employee who said with the large growth in auto electronics and hybrid vehicles, lead acid battery capacities are being stretched thin.  Lead acid batteries are having an increasingly hard time keeping up with the dramatically higher electric loads that they are being asked to do including power seats, electric power steering, electronic modules, and more.  Ford is also looking to save weight with their batteries.

HZO

HZO’s WaterBlock waterproofing technology is applied to electronics at the time of manufacturing.  From their website, “It is a chemical vapor deposition that blankets vital electronic circuitry with a nano-thin film containing highly effective, water repelling properties”.  In other words, if you have an iPhone treated with HZO’s WaterBlock, it becomes waterproof.

The implications this has for the camping and outdoor marketplace are obvious, but they’re focused where the money is for now; consumer electronics.  But just imagine coating our entire truck camper exteriors in WaterBlock.  Waterproof truck campers?  It may be a reality in the near future.

IvySkin

IvySkin makes several smartphone cases that are waterproof and shock resistant.  For those who carry phones when camping, IvySkin may be of interest.  There are also plenty of competitors making waterproof and shock resistant smartphone cases such as lifeproof.com.

iTwin

For those who work from the road or need to access files at home from time to time, iTwin seems like a useful product.  It’s a pair of secure 256 bit encrypted USB sticks.  Only its mate can access the other.  You plug one in at home and copy your files to the USB stick.  iTwin claims that most people can fit all of their files on one stick.  Should you then need access to the files, you plug in the other USB and you can access them provided both computers have web access.

Sure you could just store your files in the cloud, but I’m not at all convinced of the security of your files in the cloud, particularly financial documents that full timers might need to access on the road.  On top of that, these tech companies come and go and what happens to your files when the free cloud storage provider gets sold or goes bankrupt?  For that reason iTwin looks like an interesting solution.

Tagg – The Pet Tracker

Tagg has an interesting product that allows pet owners to track their pets with a lightweight, waterproof GPS tracker that attaches to a collar.  You can even see where your pet is and receive notification should your pet wander off.  For truck camper owners with pets, this would be added peace of mind while traveling.  They even work with cats, so look out Harley!

HugesNet

There seems to be a lot happening with satellite internet.  HughesNet will roll out their Generation IV service in July.  It will allow up to 12mb/s transfer speeds for users on the far west coast and basically east of the Mississippi River.   It’s been awhile since I looked at satellite internet pricing, but it seems to be falling quite a bit.

Dish Network: Tailgator

The Tailgater is an interesting portable satellite receiver that’s about the size of a small Weber grill.  The big trick for the Tailgator is that you don’t have to align it.  The dish moves via robotics inside the unit to automatically align itself to the satellites.  Tailgator is also set to be less expensive than its competitors including Wineguard and SeaKing.  I’m not sure what value it is to TCM readers, but it’s still cool.

ces2012-cesrefrigerator

For your amusement, I included pictures of the Jelly Bean refrigerator and the world’s largest mosquito.  I think the truck camper manufacturers need to start publishing refrigerator capacity in Jelly Bellies instead of cubic feet.

ces2012-mosquito

The mosquito is promoting an organization that takes donations to buy mosquito nets for people in third world countries to fight malaria.

Thank you to our anonymous Truck Camper Magazine reader for sending in this report.  Per your excellent recommendation, from now on we will be reporting all truck camper refrigerators in JBPSF (Jelly Beans Per Square Foot).

 

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