Calgary Amateur Radio Association
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Solar System for Comm Trailer
Since this is the blog central for the Communications Trailer, I will add a link here to the photos I shared last fall on the newly installed solar system. This trickle charge system was implemented to protect the three Trojan 12 Volt Group 31 AGM 100 Ah (each) batteries in the trailer, connected in parallel. I have been monitoring the state of charge of the batteries over the winter, and can happily report that the batteries have been at a steady 13.9 volts ever since! :-) Success!
Spring 2018 Upgrades for CARA Communications Trailer
Over the last while, a large number of suggestions have come forth asking for improvements on bugginess, functionality, safety, and ease of use of the Comm Trailer. This includes making the trailer user friendly and functional in cold Canadian winters. I am making up a task plan and budget for submission to the Exec Committee. Most of these involve minimal expense, so I am hoping these can be accomplished before Field Day this year. Stay tuned ...
Keep your suggestion coming in!
Technical Reference Manual Updates
I shall update the Communications Trailer's Technical Reference Manual soon with the updates outlined below ...
On the CARA web site, look under the ‘Operating’ pull down menu. You'll see the listing "Communications Trailer."
Trailer User Orientation
It is the intent to bring users of the CARA Communications Trailer up to speed with its features and functions as fast and as intuitively as possible. To that end, I have posted Notices throughout the trailer, including one on the exterior, on things users need to know about effectively, safely, and expeditiously utilizing it. Please see the following folder:
Cargo Net Installed
A neat and tidy, and very user friendly, cargo hold-down net has been installed in the Communications Trailer. Gone are the spider web of bungees and ropes that attempted to hold bins and boxes in place on the trailer floor. Just assemble the cargo in the centre of the floor, cinch in the four corners of the net, and you are ready to go.
Please see the following folder for images and documentation for the cargo net system:
Electric Brakes for Comm Trailer
The Communications Trailer has now been upgraded to have electric brakes as per the Government of Alberta's regulation for any trailer over 2000 lbs. towed by a private vehicle. The trailer weight is now approaching its GVWR max of 2900 lbs. Last checked, it was at around 2700 lbs.
It is unlawful, and a liability to the Club, to be towing this trailer without a properly functioning electric brake system.
Many thanks to VE6QAS Ameer for using his 4WD truck to get the trailer out of and back into the snowy/icy storage yard. Much appreciated, Ameer !
This requires an electronic brake controller to be operated by the operator of the vehicle. The high tech electronic brake controller that was selected for our trailer is one which, rather than be mounted permanently in a tow vehicle, it is mounted on the hitch of the trailer. The "grabbiness" of the electric brakes system, and also the manual trailer brake, are controlled by a portable, in-vehicle, hand-operated, remote control RF console, that is powered through the 12 volt cigarette-lighter-style power port in the tow vehicle's dashboard. This RF controller in the vehicle communicates wirelessly with the hitch mounted controller, and they are connected through a manual "pairing" sequence, similar to BlueTooth.
The controller chosen for this is the Tekonsha Prodigy RF Electronic Brake Control.
No one who tows this trailer was to be expected to go out and buy an electronic brake controller for this trailer. That's why this model was selected. If you have an electronic brake controller already in your vehicle, the Prodigy system will ignore it and function independently.
There is a user manual for the wireless RF remote controller slipped into the back of the hand console.
The RF in-vehicle controller is stored in the trailer, at the the front, in the BedNet bag hanging at the top of the ceiling.
Also included in the brake controller package is a breakaway switch, which will activate the trailer brakes in the event that the trailer becomes unhitched from the vehicle. This cable must be attached to the tow vehicle bumper while the trailer is being towed. The breakaway switch is powered by the AGM batteries inside the trailer. NEVER use the breakaway switch as a parking brake. Doing so will result in burning out of the magnet coils in the wheel brakes of the trailer. It is for emergency use only.
The electrical connector on the trailer has been changed from the "flat four" plug to the "RV-style 7 pin" connector. This system requires that the tow vehicle has a 12 Volt power wire running from the tow vehicle's battery to Pin 4 of the 7 pin connector. This power wire is what powers the electric brakes of the trailer. DO NOT simply use an adapter that connects a "flat-four" tow vehicle connection to the 7 Pin plug on the trailer - there will be no brakes !!.
Tow vehicles are required to have a Class II - 3500 lb hitch, along with enough vehicle weight, power, and sturdy suspension to tow a 3000 lb trailer.
Awesome job Peter, we could use this as a model for other areas of the club, keep up the great work.
Technical Reference Manual now Live !
Greetings, all. I'm starting a new General Forum blog topic on the Communications Trailer.
The first posting I have on this is to announce that the first draft of the Technical Reference Manual for the trailer is now live on the CARA web site !
This document is intended to be a one-stop information source for users of CARA's Communications Trailer. It contains user manuals, procedures, and images for the various components of the radio system within, and of the trailer itself. It has been made available on line so that new users of the comm trailer can learn much about it before arriving at it. All users, experienced or first-timers, will appreciate the depth of info contained within, assisting them to capably operate the systems on board.
This is an Adobe Acrobat (Version X) document. The Table of Contents is in the Bookmarks sidebar of the Acrobat file.
This manual is intended to be accessed live, on-line, with laptop, smart phone, tablet, etc.. If users expect to be viewing the Manual in dark areas with no LAN, cellular data, or Wi-Fi, please download the Manual unto your device. Check back frequently on-line to make sure you have the latest version.
This manual is a living document and will be continuously updated as required. Please forward all suggestions for updates to VA6RPL 'Peter LaGrandeur' at VA6RPL@techworld.ca .