One of the first accessories many RVers consider is a cellular booster, to help pull in cell phone signals for Internet connectivity when visiting remote places. That's what we talk about in the RV Podcast Interview of the Week. You'll meet Brett Beatty, the product manager for weboost, probably the leading company out there making cellular booster kits for RVers. Brett will tell us what a booster can and cannot do for you and he’ll share details on the company’s latest system aimed at the RV market.
Plus, lots of your questions and comments, RV News, RV tips and a great of the neaten path report from the Burketts.
But first my lifelong traveling companion and my bride, Jennifer.
WHAT MIKE AND JENNIFER ARE UP TO THIS WEEK
The fall RV Show season is officially underway. At the end of this podcast, tell you about all the RV shows around the country. It will be like this for a couple months ago and I hope you can attend one near you.
This week Hershey, PA hosts the annual event they call “America's Largest RV Show.” While it may or may not be the largest (a couple of other big shows claim to be larger), there is no doubt Hershey is HUGE. Mike and I will be there for several days. You might see us in different parts of the show Thursday and Friday as we work on various videos. If so, come say hello. We'll be posting lots of updates on and Facebook. And from 1-3PM Saturday, we'll be doing an official meet and greet at the Leisure Travel Vans display. So please come by and say hi.
With so many people shopping for an RV and visiting shows this time of year, I want to suggest you check out our 70-plus page RV Buying Secrets ebook. It offers a step-by-step guide to buying what for many is the second most expensive purchase they will ever make after buying a house.
In the book, we share our experience in how to negotiate the best price, what salesperson “upsells” you should say no to, how to get the best insurance price and coverage, the hidden costs of buying an RV and lots of additional tips and tools to save you time and money and get the right RV for you at the right price. We know it will really help you buy wisely, whether you're purchasing a new unit off the lot or at an RV show, ordering one direct from the manufacturer or buying a used RV from a dealer or private seller.
Before we turn to the news of the week, I have a great tip I want to pass along that came from one of our subscribers on our RV Lifestyle YouTube Channel. A subscriber named Lucille saw on one of our videos the paper towel starting to unwind on the roll behind is. A good way to prevent that from happening, Lucille says, is to use a push pin in the paper towels.
What a great tip Lucille! Thanks for sending that in! It was so simple yet practical that I in turn had to share it with our podcast audience. We’re Fellow Travelers in this RV Lifestyle and I love getting your tips! Keep them coming. A good way to do that is to phone them in on our Voicemail number… just call 586-372-6990. Again, that’s 586-372-6990.
RV LIFESTYLE NEWS OF THE WEEK
Olympic National Park conducting more search and rescues this year, triggering reminder for visitors to be prepared
Park rangers in Washington's Olympic National Park are trying to get a message out to visitors – if you come to visit, be sure you're prepared! Why the seemingly obvious message? This year there is a rise in search and rescues – 71 as of Labor Day, while typically there are 50 to 60 the entire year. The weather on the mountains often changes, so even if you are camping or just planning a short hike, be sure to bring navigational tools, sunscreen, warm clothes, food, water and first aid supplies. The story made me think of an interview we did some time back on hiking safety with a hiker from the West Coast. (To listen click here.) No matter how short your hike, the tips are a good reminder to be prepared.
Burt's Bees founder renovating ocean campground so it keeps wilderness feel
I am always interested hearing the thought process that goes into the development of new campgrounds. So that is why a story out of Maine caught my eye and I had to share. The founder of Burt's Bees purchased an abandoned campground on the ocean in Maine several years ago that she is slowly renovating. The campground sounds like one Jen and I would like to visit when it is is finished. Each spot is being designed to give the illusion you are the only one there, with careful attention to keeping the woods and ocean views and overall wilderness experience. A top architect is designing the whole thing, so hopefully it will be affordable when it eventually opens, but we love Maine, and this piece of land sounds beautiful.
Hiker falls to death at Yosemite National Park
A 29-year-old woman died last week after falling 500 feet to her death while climbing the Half Dome at Yosemite National Park. The hike requires a permit, and applicants enter a lottery to be one of 300 chosen to do the dangerous hike each day. The hike is a 14 to 16 mile round trip and it requires a cable climb at one point. The Arizona woman fell on the cable part of the hike, and was pronounced dead by park rangers who found her. The incident is under investigation.
Camper van concept vehicle unveiled in Dusseldorf amazing in its modern look, features
A story out last week on a concept van showcased at the Düsseldorf Caravan Salon made by the Erwin Hymer Group was so cool, we had to to share it with you. This van called the Vision Venture is built on a Mercedes chassis and has stairs to an upstairs level where the bed is kept. The lower level boasts a modern, modular look, with a mixture of grey felt, leather, and a variety of textures and colors. It reminded me of a small apartment with sofas, a table, a work station, a bathroom and shower, and much more. While many of the vans showed in Europe are not available in North America, the concepts found there often make their way to this side to the Atlantic, and in any case, or anyone who appreciates a Class B or Class B-plus, it is worth checking out.
Canada's Whistlers Campground at Jasper National Park to remain closed for 2020 season
Canada's Whistlers Campground in Jasper National Park will be closed all of the 2020 season because of renovations, Parks Canada announced last week. The popular campground was closed all of this season, too, and was expected to open next near but the work is taking longer than anticipated so it will be closed all of the 2020 season. Park officials are installing 17 combined new showers and bathrooms to the 800 site campground among other things.
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LISTENER QUESTIONS OF THE WEEK
QUESTION: Hey Mike, Jen and Bo. Just calling to say you guys doing a great job with your podcast and everything else that you guys do quick question for you. And it's pertaining to all RVs, but especially pop-ups seeing we're coming to the shoulder season of fall and then into winter time. What would be the best route to winterize the pop-up not in a garage. So if I was storing it outside, you know, I hear things about condensation if you're completely tarped up and then they of course sell all these different rving pop-up covers a car covers and so on and so forth. If you can just give me some information on an experience that you have and that would be great once again doing a great job.
ANSWER: Never use a tarp! You should cover your RV but not with the type of tarp you're thinking of. The traditional blue tarp may do more harm than good when used to cover your vehicle and here’s why. Traditional blue tarps are not breathable and can hold onto or trap moisture while your vehicle is stored. This moisture can leak into the RV or freeze and expand and can cause damage to your vehicle. Most people will also need to use bungees or ropes to secure the tarp to the vehicle. These ropes may shift and flap in the wind or rub against the RV body causing damage. The tarp itself may fray, shred, blow off, or shift, which can cause issues. Instead invest in an RV cover that protects your investment and help keep it from aging from the sun’s rays. The sun’s UV radiation can harm your RV by fading color, peeling paint, cracking components and more. Make sure your covering of choice will block out UV radiation, just because something blocks light does not mean that it blocks ultraviolet radiation. RV-specific covers are waterproof but still breathable. Millions of tiny pores are big enough to allow water vapor and moisture to evaporate off the RV body but too small for water droplets to penetrate. This means you don’t have to worry about condensation collecting below the covering and causing damage.
QUESTION: Okay, Mike and Jennifer. I have I'm kind of a weird question. It kind of occurred to me. Do you ever run your generator while your RV is on the road to keep the top the top Air Conditioner going or the electricity going in the rig while you're on the road? Have you ever done that? If people do that is that something is supposed to happen? Thanks.
ANSWER: Many RVers do and it is perfectly safe to run the RV generator while driving your RV. However, there are a couple of things you should know to make sure you don’t have any problems. If the generator is propane fueled then you will need to be aware of state or local laws which may prohibit the use of propane while driving. Certain jurisdictions may have rules against running propane on certain roads, bridges or tunnels. If the generator is gasoline-powered then you should be sure to fill up the gas tank before driving with the generator on. The generator uses the same gasoline from the same gas tank that the RV uses to fuel the engine. You probably won’t run out of gas while driving but the generator will automatically cut off if the fuel tank drops below 1/4 tank
QUESTION: Good morning, Mike and Jen. I'm a short time listener. So I may not have heard about this on the show. But you've mentioned being in Nashville in between Nashville and Natchez, Mississippi. There's a 440 Mile Road called the Natchez Trace that has free campgrounds along the way and near a company that makes travel trailers called Oliver and they look like a wonderful product. It might be an interesting idea for you to take the factory tour and do a little piece on the Oliver trailers deal. Anyway, we've enjoyed the ride down there several times and it's a 45 mile-an-hour limit almost no crossroads and a bunch of interesting stuff to see along the way. It is a National Park. The registration fee is a national park pass. Anyway, it might be an interesting route to take off.
ANSWER: We love the Natchez Trace Parkway. Here’s a link – https://www.natcheztracetravel.com. And Oliver Trailers are made in Hohenwald, TN. The Oliver is perhaps the highest quality travel trailer made today, with double-shelled fiberglass and composite hull to last a lifetime. That’s their official motto, a “Camping Trailer for Life.” Their website is https://olivertraveltrailers.com and Hohenwald is in Lewis County and it is named for Meriwether Lewis, who died in very suspicious circumstances along the Natchez Trace at Grinder’s Mill…not far from the trailer factory.
Do you have a question you’d like us to answer, or a comment on the things we’re discussing. If so, we invite you to leave us that question or comment on the special voicemail number we have for the podcast – it’s 586-372-6990. If you are driving and can’t write it down right now, just go to the RV Lifestyle travel blog at rvlifestyle.com and scroll down the page. You’ll see that number prominently posted on the blog.
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RV INTERVIEW OF THE WEEK
Time now for our interview of the week segment. This week, our special guest is Brett Beatty, the product manager for weboost, the leading electronics company specializing in cell booster kits for the RV market. The company just came out with a brand new model, the Drive X RV, which is made for all types of RVs. We discuss that and more this week with Brett, including an easy to understand explanation of just how cell boosters work in the RV.
Mike Wendland: Well. Brett, thank you so much for making some time for us today and congratulations on this new cell phone signal booster, the Drive X RV. I'm looking forward to installing it on our RV as I have most of your other products. You guys seem to be the de facto standard these days when it comes to cell phone boosters, so you're doing something right out there.
Brett Beatty: Well, thank you for saying that and they started me on the show and yeah, we've been doing cell phone boosters for 20 years now and learned a lot of things as we've been doing it and pushed a lot to even develop this technology. So we always are trying to make things better and better. And this new OTR or this new RV product is just another product that we've continued to improve cell phone signal boosting in RV's.
Mike Wendland: Now this one is designed for all RV motor home classes and of course it would work with towables and travel trailers. So that's pretty good. Tell us a little bit about this one. It costs suggested retail I see is 499, which is a pretty steep investment, but what does this cell phone booster do and how does it do it maybe a little better than previous models that have been out there?
Brett Beatty: For sure. Yeah, so the biggest change we made to this version of the product is actually in the outside antenna. One of the things with our systems is you have an outside antenna you put on the outside of your vehicle. It picks up the signal from the towers, delivers it to the booster and then there's inside antenna that rebroadcasts that signal throughout the inside of the vehicle and getting these antennas in the right position ends up having a really big impact on the performance that the system actually can be able to create. For instance, if you have it low and that you have like your AC unit on your RV in the way, it can block some of the signal depending on where the tower's located or any sort of thing that's on top of the roof as well as the two antennas need to have a certain amount of separation for best performance.
Brett Beatty: So what we wanted to do is make the antenna a lot easier to mount, a lot more universal and a lot more modular so it can be mounted in different configurations. So we updated the antenna, it looks familiar. We have another version of this antenna that's meant for long haul trucks. But we made a new version of it that's made specifically for RVs. And a lot of it is just to give people flexibility to mount it at the right height on top of their RVs. So one, they're clearing the obstructions that are on top of their vehicles, so they have a clear path to pick up signals from all directions. And two, there's height limits on RVs and so it gives you the flexibility to get it low enough that you're under the height limits but high enough that you're picking up signal from all areas.
Brett Beatty: And the way that we mount this typically is through like a ladder amount. So the the outside antenna will hook to a ladder and the old version really had one way it could hook the top of your ladder. The new version, you can add mast extensions to get different height and you can mount it either on your ladder. And the other cool thing is that it's compatible with all CB antenna mounts. So there's about a thousand variations of those out there that you can find and it opens up a ton of other options for mounting it anywhere on the vehicle. So it really just makes the whole thing a lot easier to have a really clean final set up that's going to give you the best performance as a system.
Mike Wendland: Now, one of the complaints that a lot of our viewers have had about cell phone booster antennas is that RVs roofs are fairly tall, 10 feet is not unusual and these antennas do get banged around a little bit by trees and branches. And I wonder how you guys have figured that out because you know that it's going to happen and I've seen some pretty damaged cell phone booster antennas and I wonder how this one will hold out.
Brett Beatty: Yeah, for sure. That's actually something we thought a lot about when we were doing this project. The one that comes up a lot that we hear about is someone's just backing up, trying to get their RV under a tree for shade and end up knocking their antenna off. The big thing that's different about this kit is the comes with a spring. It's optional, so you can use it in the kit if you want to. I think most people probably would. And that gives you some flexibility to where if you're backing it up or you're driving through the brush somewhere and it hits a branch, it's going to not just break the antenna raydome, it will bend it back. But also this new antenna is very rugged. We test these things very thoroughly and use shock and vibe testing to make sure that they're able to withstand being outdoors, being in rough roads, all these different areas. So it's a really durable antenna and then you compound that with having this spring that gives it some flexibility and it makes it a lot more protected than our past antennas from branches and things like that.
Brett Beatty: That being said, if you're going like 80 down the freeway and you hit a underpass, something, [crosstalk 00:05:03] not helping you there.
Mike Wendland: that's not going to be good at all, that's not going to happen obviously I don't think. Tree limbs, yeah, you will run into those.
Mike Wendland: Now here's a question I have since you mentioned CD antenna mounts. A lot of our viewers do have a CB antenna and they mount it in close to the same place. So on a ladder over on the say there's a two sides of a ladder that you grabbed to pull up. You mount this on one side. Can another antenna be within a couple feet of it and a CB type antenna or would that cause an interference or would it be able to work just fine?
Brett Beatty: So a basic rule of thumb, we always say with our antennas is to keep it at least 12 inches away from everything else, having an antenna close to it on a ladder, I don't anticipate would be a big impact. With everything, with all these antennas, they kind of, they direct. So if there's a metal something on the other side that might push the signal a little bit the other way. But I think if you had enough separation that you had, I'm guessing the ladder's probably, 14, 12, 14 inches away, you should be okay.
Mike Wendland: Yeah, I'll put a picture with the show notes for this podcast underneath the interview of the week part where we're talking with you and we'll show people how they're mounting. And I'll be of course doing a video as we put ours in and show it from there. The big question that a lot of people talk about is cell phone technology is always changing. We have what we started off the few years ago with 3G then 4G LTE and now in some cities and some carriers it's 5G. Will this work on all of those different cell phone protocols?
Brett Beatty: So 5G is, there's all sorts of frequencies and bandwidth that are still kind of being explored there. With all of our technology, all these carriers, they own specific sections of spectrum, which is where they put their bands that they use. And those are the bandwidths that they own. And those, a lot of them that used to be through 2G became 3G, became 4G. And so as we make the transition to 5g, a lot of the same bands are going to be utilized, so all of our boosters are currently, they support all the major networks and all the bands that they are currently using. As 5G continues to roll out, there may be additional bands, but a lot of the same spectrum is going to be used, especially for what you're going to be using in the RV world where you're going to be more out in rural areas. 5G is still a long ways away before they have it all in cities and things like that outside of the cities.
Mike Wendland: Yeah, but it is basically the same spectrum. So this would work. What about carriers, it's not carrier specific. All the major carriers, this cell phone booster will pull in their signals, right?
Brett Beatty: For sure. Yep, it will.
Mike Wendland: Now there's been all sorts of interesting things about the way antennas work and the way cell phone boosters work. Give us an idea of kind of an entry level description of just what a cell phone booster does. And let me preface that by telling everybody that if there is no cell phone signal, there's nothing to boost.
Brett Beatty: For sure.
Mike Wendland: So that aside, that there's some kind of a signal out there, how does this go? How do are we to know how effective it is. I know in the packaging it says up to 32 times boost. What? What does that mean? How does it work?
Brett Beatty: Yeah, so what our boosters do is, I did a rudimentary explanation a little bit earlier, but it has an outside antenna that's designed, it picks up the signal from the tower and it's a lot more powerful than the antenna inside your phone, which is a good thing. And what that does is it has a cable that goes down to an amplifier, which will, it actually separates all the bands, amplifies them up. Then it puts them back together and rebroadcasts that signal throughout the vehicle. And so that will increase the signal strength a lot. It'll give you more signal throughout the vehicle. Just as a reference point, decibels is what we would call when we're boosting the signal and it will amplify it up to 50 decibels, the booster will. Every three decibels that it is amplified is twice the power that you had before. So really it can amplify your signal to be a lot more powerful. What that means for you is usually when you're getting into an area where you have no signal, usually you would be able to pick up signals from quite a bit further with one of our systems. But eventually if you get into an area with no signal, then it won't work at that point because there is nothing to boost.
Mike Wendland: It is a booster. There means there has to be something to boost. A lot of people are using, of course, cell phones and I think most are familiar with how a booster works with the cell phone, but what about a jet pack?
Brett Beatty: A jet pack, it absolutely would boost. So if you have, what a lot of people will do is they'll have that inside antenna and they'll put a jet pack right by it in the vehicle and that jet pack will, it's just connected to cell phone network, just like your phone, it'll amplify the signal of that and make it more powerful as a broadcast throughout your cabin of your RV. So that's a really common way of using our products.
Mike Wendland: Okay. And it will work with 110 volts or you can use 12 volts as well as a power source as I understand that, right, so it makes it very convenient. I'm glad to get a chance to try this new Drive X in our RV and we'll be doing a video on that.
Mike Wendland: Meantime, Brett, thank you so much. We'll put a link to it and the whole weBoost line and keep building these things because we RVer's do need our connectivity.
Brett Beatty: Well thanks so much for having me on the show and I look forward to seeing how your installation goes.
Mike Wendland: All right, we'll be letting you know. Thank you so much.
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OFF THE BEATEN PATH REPORT
By Tom and Patti Burkett
In 1932, George Washington Carver was invited to speak to the United States Congress, which at the time was considering a tariff on imported peanuts. Members expected a backwards Southern farmer and made watermelon jokes. Instead, they got a respected college professor and scientist with hundreds of public appearances to his credit. We sill think of Carver as the peanut man but, in fact, he was much more, as we learned at th George Washington Carver Memorial in Diamond, Missouri. In western Missouri, a few miles east of Interstate 49, the memorial includes a working replica of his laboratory at Tuskegee Institute and a replica of the log cabin in which he was born just before the start of the Civil War. It’s surrounded by the fields in which he grew up, first a slave, and then an adopted child of the Carver family.
When he was growing up he secretly collected wild plants, which he transplanted into a secret garden, where he nurtured and sketched them. He wrangled a place at Simpson College as an art student, where he did laundry to make ends meet. Of those days, he said, “I lived on prayer and beef suet and corn meal, quite often being without the suet and meal.” He went on to study botany at Iowa State University, where he was the first black student and, later, the first black faculty member.
Booker T. Washington invited Carver to head the Department of Agriculture at Tuskegee Institute in 1896, and he taught there for the next 47 years. He focused his work on ways to restore soils depleted by many years of growing cotton. His use of crop rotation—alternating cotton with crops like peanuts, soybeans, and cowpeas—helped many farmers survive the lean years following the Civil War. In 1920, he spoke at the 1920 convention of the United Peanut Associations and exhibited 145 peanut products. Segregation was in full force when Carver was invited to address the House Ways and Means Committee in 1922, but his compelling and articulate testimony assured the protection US peanut growers were looking for against Chinese imports.
At the visitor center, you get the opportunity to walk through the life of this interesting man. The visitor center film can also be seen online. You’ll get to look at many artifacts from Carver’s life, including some of his renowned herbarium specimens and a variety of the products he developed. Excerpts and discussion from his work in plant breeding provide an insight into the attitudes of his time, including the fact that plant hybridizations was discouraged by some religious leaders because it interfered with God’s plan for the Earth.
The grounds of the museum are delightful to walk, so long as the temperature is moderate, and there’s a nice big, shady picnic area in the parking area. Nearby you can visit the World’s Largest Small Appliance Museum and the Precious Moments Chapel. And don’t miss the Kan-O -Tex service station in Galena, Kansas. This is rich territory for exploration, so allow some time in your schedule to meander along the back roads and see what else you might find out here, off the beaten path.
Our friends Tom and Patti Burkett are leading an off the beaten path tour of Pennsylvania Oct. 7- 12. They have a few spots left. Details can be found at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/off-the-beaten-path-pennsylvania-tickets-60666851185.
RV CALENDAR OF EVENTS
- September 11-15, Hershey- America's Largest RV Show, Giant Center, Hershey, PA. Jennifer and I will be there! We’ll be doing a live YouTube broadcast from the Hershey show on Saturday September 14. We’ll be doing a meet and greet from 1-3PM at the Leisure Travel Vans display at the show. Again, that’s Saturday Sept. 14.
- September 12-14, Great American RV Show Colorado Springs, Norris Penrose Events Center, Colorado Springs, CO
- September 12-15, Maryland RV Super Sale, Maryland State Fairgrounds, Timonium, MD
- September 12-15, Portland Fall RV & Van Show, Portland Expo Center, Portland, OR
- September 12-15, Southwest RV Supershow, Dallas Market Hall, Dallas, TX
- September 13-15, Georgia RV & Camper Show, Cobb Galleria Centre, Atlanta, GA