Another Fine Mess I've Gotten Me Into

Discussion in 'First Time & New Camper Owners' started by JOHN M TRINDLE, Dec 21, 2019.

  1. neighbormike

    neighbormike Well-Known Member

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    That bar looks like an add-on from a p.o. Some basics to keep in mind: Battery connection is black = positive, white = negative. Your converter probably has a 12v setting. Your flip-up sink probably has a safety switch for furnace (if equipped) and ceiling lights - those switches are prone to failure. Disregard if this has been covered already [:)C]
     
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  2. JOHN M TRINDLE

    JOHN M TRINDLE Member

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    Thanks for the tip about the sink switch! I am using the converter with a 15A adapter to house power and my overhead light and "patio" light both work in that mode. When I unplug from house power and turn the converter from "conv" to "batt" I expected the three lights to work the same way off the battery, but no joy. Based on that I don't think I have a sink switch. I'll look again tomorrow.
     
  3. mpking

    mpking Well-Known Member

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    So that is standard adaptor (We call them Pigtails) (Example: https://www.amazon.com/RV-Pigtails-40025-Starcraft-Pigtail/dp/B007NWW8ZI)

    However, every manufacturer pins them out different.

    Missing pins would be par for the course. One side has 7, one side has 8. That's one missing pin. One of the 7 pin is Reverse lights, which most campers don't have, so that would probably be the 2nd missing pin.

    The camper shares a common ground, so while it is unusual for the batter to run to the connector, it's not *wrong*.

    Typically, the Battery has a 10 or 8 gauge wire directly to the frame. And then all Grounds go to frame (including the 8 way connector on the camper side).
     
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  4. JOHN M TRINDLE

    JOHN M TRINDLE Member

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    Pigtail, right. I knew umbilical was more "space program" than "RV/tow". Thanks!

    So, I've had partial success, and have a way to light the interior from the battery! I finally discovered a hidden female bullet connector, as well as opened up the harness combing to trace the "extra" male bullet connector I have. It might help to know that I am red-green color blind.

    1) male bullet into harness: the insulation at the male bullet was whitish with some black, but inside the harness combing it was (probably) green with a red stripe. I was reluctant to hook any voltage to this (because of the white appearance) until I found it was really a different color.

    2) Female bullet connector to smaller gauge wire: This doesn't appear to go anywhere!

    3) Female bullet connector to larger gauge wire: this goes to one of the 6 wires of the 2x4 wire connector, and comes out the pigtail at the 12V pin. In other words, supplying 12V at the 7 pin bargman would supply 12V at this female bullet.

    4) Male bullet red wire to ring connector at battery positive.

    5) Ring terminal at battery negative to group frame ground.

    If I hook #1 male to #4 male with an alligator clip, I get interior lights and patio light when my converter is switched to "batt" !!

    So, here is my "current" plan:

    a) Get or build a fused wire with a ring terminal at one end and a female bullet connector at the other.

    b) Connect this to #1 above, allowing interior to be powered via the new fused wire.

    c) Connect #4 male bullet to #3 female bullet. This will allow charging the battery via the TV's 12V, and will pass through 12V if needed.

    d) Connect the 12V line of the bargman on the TV via a fused connection to the TV battery. I plan to fuse both new wires at 15A.

    -----

    I think this would work, but I still wonder about female bullet #2 above. Since it's a black wire, I would *expect* it to want 12V, but I can't prove it's connected to anything. Physically, it seems to disappear into the back of the 2x4 wire connector, but I get no continuity with any of the pins or bullet connectors.

    If it makes any difference, when I wrote to Starcraft with my VIN they sent me a 1992 manual. The schematic is substantially the same except that they left out the battery (!) and one of the black wires is 12 ga instead of 10 ga, and the wiring around the converter itself is a bit different.
     
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2019
  5. BillyMc

    BillyMc Well-Known Member

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    I've discovered that RV wiring does not conform to logic in many cases. I too discovered Starcraft's hidden bullet connectors in the harness. I was trying to find why I didn't have 12v to the fridge. Green wire connected to the fridge goes through the floor into the wiring harness, but no green wire exiting the harness anywhere. After opening the harness I found a hidden bullet connector in the wire and it changed to a blue wire.
     
  6. mpking

    mpking Well-Known Member

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    Ditto on the wiring. I believe the *standard* (and i use this term VERY loosely) is that Black is POSITIVE, and white is Negative.

    Your doing the best thing. Just chase the wires.
     
  7. JOHN M TRINDLE

    JOHN M TRINDLE Member

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    I have a clean dome light setup now! 15A fuse from the battery positive to the unconnected male bullet got me dome and patio lights. I swapped out the dome light 1156 bulbs for the LED equivalent.

    Now I have to chase down the fuse in the TV I evidently buggered when I installed a USB charger a couple months ago. I used the rear cigarette lighter plug fuse and how that circuit doesn't work (and is the most convenient place to get fused, switched 12V for the trailer pigtail).
     
  8. BillyMc

    BillyMc Well-Known Member

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    Unless the TV has a circuit designed for this I would add a circuit with a relay triggered by a switched circuit. Remember to protect the circuit with a fuse or breaker that will blow or trip before the circuit is overloaded. The charging system on the TV can easily supply more current that the pigtail can handle and connecting it to a very low battery could very well do that.
     
  9. JOHN M TRINDLE

    JOHN M TRINDLE Member

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    Today's work: tested propane setup, works great. Adjusted lift system so height (and canvas tension) is closer to equal on all four corners. This has resolved the worst of the gapping between the canvas and body. Added spare tire cover and propane tank cover.

    Still to do: replace sink drain hose, repair lots of small holes in front curbside corner.

    I've been using the awning the last few days, and went to put it away... totally wrecked the bag zipper. The cloth surrounding the zipper itself is extremely fragile and now unusable. The bag seems OK and the awning itself is is good+ condition. I'm recruiting my wife to add straps instead of trying to fix or replace the bag. Hopefully that will make it easier for one person to roll and stow.
     
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  10. BillyMc

    BillyMc Well-Known Member

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    Do the rolling with the awning rail no more than shoulder high makes the job easier.
     
  11. JOHN M TRINDLE

    JOHN M TRINDLE Member

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    I'm starting to agree with BillyMc that using a relay of some kind to prevent back-feeding the TV from the trailer battery is a good idea from an accidental drain while parked during travel perspective. Right now my only solution is to maintain the battery charge before I go on the road, and to unplug the pigtail when the TV isn't running.

    I'm even on more on-board about limiting current from the TV to the trailer, and that is accomplished right now with a 15A fuse protecting the TV cigarette lighter circuit the 12V for the pigtail is spliced into. If I just go to the relay/fuse approach, I'll have the same issue... current will be drawn to a discharged battery in the trailer either successfully, or a fuse will blow.

    A couple questions:

    1) There are LOTS of automotive relays, most with a specific purpose. Is there a generic kit on the market which will provide wires for input of the switched 12V and the + and - of the battery, and provide output 10 or more amps output? Or do I need to adapt one of the existing relays with a socket or somehow wiring directly to the pins?

    2) I'd like to limit current provided or at least make it easier to reset the circuit if I draw too much. Are there 12V breakers that would be suitable instead of a fuse? The most versatile approach I can imagine would be to include a real battery charger circuit on the TV end of the wiring, but unless there is a 12V version, COTS gear would involve inverting the 12V to 120VAC in the tow vehicle to power the battery charger. That seems... inefficient at best.

    If it is of any help, the current circuit is providing 15V to the trailer battery when the TV is running, and shows 12.7V-13V when it is not, depending on the state of the TV and trailer batteries. I haven't measured how much current is being drawn.

    In other updates: new wheel/tires to replace old cracked tires (and now the sizes are all 12-4.80 instead of having a mix of 12-5.30 and 12-4.80)... adjusted new dolly jack to lower tongue about 1", corrected missing wheel on original dolly jack. Replaced sink drain hose. Will add non-rusty wheel bolts, and jack handle to original dolly this week. TV ball is now at the right height for level towing. Meanwhile, I'm fighting back the mold and mildew, with some success, and am getting ready to clean the vinyl windows. I'm hoping for dry weather later this week so the canvas can dry and I can re-apply waterproofing.
     
  12. Anthony Hitchings

    Anthony Hitchings Active Member

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    Renogy makes a DC-Dc charger which will do what you want in your #2

    It would run only when a switched dc circuit in the TV is hot (trigger signal).

    I have one, I use it with my portable PV-battery bank to charge the batteries in the PUP when PUP is parked in heavily wooded area (yellowstone, glacier etc, oregon).
     
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  13. JOHN M TRINDLE

    JOHN M TRINDLE Member

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    Thanks Anthony! It looks a little robust at 20A output, and the manual is super-confusing about lead-acid versus lithium-iron. Which type battery are you using? I wonder if enabling current-limiting mode would work.

    Your lead has let me search for the right keywords, though, and one example is this https://www.etrailer.com/Accessories-and-Parts/Tekonsha/2024-07.html
    That gives me hope there might be an intermediate solution.

    I might want to ask you some PV questions in the future... I've been thinking of investigating Renogy starting with 100W or 200W kit. but that'll have to wait until after I get a reasonably dry and clean pup and see how real camping with it goes.
     
  14. Rusty2192

    Rusty2192 Well-Known Member

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    This battery isolator relay does exactly what you need (I’m using the same one on our Sienna). The 12V battery is in the trunk of your TV and the cigarette lighter is probably switched with the ignition, so it would be super simple to wire up with some 10 gauge wire. Throw a self-resetting circuit breaker on the battery feed and you’re good to go. Your TV has a huge advantage for charging the pup battery than most since the 12V battery isn’t charged by a wimpy alternator. It uses the primary drive motor/generators to charge the high voltage traction battery, which then keeps the 12V battery topped off via a DC-DC Charger. There are people that use Prii as generators with 1,000 watt inverters just tapped into the 12V feed, which is 83A, so a 20-30A battery charge circuit won’t phase it.

    (in case it isn’t obvious, my daily driver is a Prius [8D] )
     
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  15. BillyMc

    BillyMc Well-Known Member

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    Yes, there are 12 volt circuit breakers available in both manual and auto reset.
    According to their Q&A it isn't sufficient for charging a deep cycle battery. They offer an alternative, at a much higher cost.
    Inefficient kinda, inexpensive yes, doable yes depending on your power demands. You could run the battery + on the 7 blade connector to a 12 volt power outlet in the PUP and connect a small inverter to it. Then plug in a battery charger to keep your battery charged. The plus to this is you can use the charger at home or camp sites with shore power.
    1) Make sure you are using an inverter that doesn't need more current than the 15 amp circuit can supply.
    2) Make sure the inverter has enough output to power the charger.
    3) Make sure the charger has enough output to keep up with demand.
    I run my fridge on 12 volt while travelling and it draws 9 +/- amps so if I used a 4 amp charger my battery would be discharging during the trip. If you don't have any 12 volt items running while travelling a 4 amp smart charger would probably work.
     
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  16. BillyMc

    BillyMc Well-Known Member

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  17. Rusty2192

    Rusty2192 Well-Known Member

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  18. JOHN M TRINDLE

    JOHN M TRINDLE Member

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    Thanks, guys!! I had never heard of a "self-resetting breaker" before. I'll definitely downgrade to the 15A version.

    Thanks, Rusty, for the reminder on the 1000W generator usage for Prius in "READY" mode (a.k.a. "running"). I know I don't want to drain the battery anywhere near that fast if the vehicle isn't in READY mode.

    Billy, I've employed a similar modular approach in constructing a "busking" rig for one instrument, one microphone in a rolling cart. It can charge from 12V or 110, and run a small 60W Vox amp using a 12V computer adapter plus supply 110V to a USB. Of course, a few months later you could buy everything in one box except the amp and the cart, so it was more educational than practical.

    At the moment I don't have any 12V devices that would be active while towing if the converter is in "OFF" mode, and a max of < 10W plus the converter if in "BATT" mode (3 LED lights). I'm sure the latter will increase as I gain confidence in the system. I just want to be sure I have a charged battery when I get to my next campsite.
     
  19. JOHN M TRINDLE

    JOHN M TRINDLE Member

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    Seizing every non-rainy day to work on the Starflite. My wife is sewing cuts in the screen shut. I am replacing the lug bolts with non-rusty ones and losing a mildew stain fight.

    The mildew stains / holes are the last obstacle before my first Camp Driveway test, and then a trip to the nearest camping area (there are other things to do but none of them prevent roadability or an overnight).

    I've been able to patch the holes with a combination of T-Rex tape, opaque tape on the inside and clear on the outside. But, I then sprayed mildew cleaner on it released the adhesive on the inside tape. The waterproofing released the adhesive even more effectively on the inside AND outside tapes.

    Now I have Duck Tape which my wife assures me is a better color match, but am pondering the correct order of application of the solutions. This iteration is clean, let dry, then waterproofing, let dry, then tape.

    20200116_124418-edt.jpg 20200116_124444-edt.jpg 20200116_124714-edt.jpg
     
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  20. JOHN M TRINDLE

    JOHN M TRINDLE Member

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    Went with https://www.amazon.com/Fastronix-Automatic-Reset-Circuit-Breaker/dp/B07NSFHT2V/ because of the cover, but used wire too big to let the cover close (!) Used the isolator https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001EAWS6O/ but the geometry isn't very good for the Prius install location. I'll have to sort out the wires and the isolator fairly soon to have more comfort with those naked + posts hanging out of the isolator. I did get the cover on the fuse mostly closed, and I've jury-rigged some insulating material around the isolator, but it's not comfortable.

    But, it works! No more back-feeding into the cigarette lighter circuit from the camper battery. Also, the extremely thin wire from the cigarette lighter circuit is just the sense circuit now and doesn't have to deliver any significant amps. One flaw with this circuit for sensing is power *does* flow from the TV battery when in "ACC" mode as well as running. I haven't found any real use for accessory mode in the Prius so far.
     

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