DIY 10-minute installation - Ha, ha, ha, ha ,ha, ha . . . . .

10 Mar, 2018; Tucson AZ

You'd think by now I wouldn't fall for such outlandish claims!

But, you'd be wrong.  I've been looking for a Tire Pressure Monitoring System for the trailer.  In January, at the big RV show in Quartzite, I looked at a number of TPMS systems - but couldn't find any for less than 6 tires (I only have a dual axle - 4 tires).  Plus, they all looked like they'd need a professional to install them (lots of wiring).

So, when I saw this 4-tire, solar powered, 10 minute DIY installation unit at Camping World, I just fell for it.  Never, ever, ever look at products on the end cap of an aisle - it's designed to pull you in.

To be fair . . . . installation wasn't horrible.

It took longer than 10 minutes to read the instructions!  That said, there were only 3 pages and the instructions were clearly written and easy to follow.  One confusing issue was the inclusion of extra (EXTRA) batteries.  Usually, either batteries aren't included at all or there are just enough.  I put the batteries into the tire valve covers and installed them in about 15 minutes.

Then came an unexpected part - wiring!

The unit came with a signal booster that had to be installed on the undercarriage.  The wiring came with teeny, tiny alligator clips (perfhaps for the 10 minute DIY install, you could temporarily connect the booster with clips).  The instructions suggested hard wiring the booster onto the trailer batteries or onto an 'always hot' 12v connection.  

Well, I wasn't about to cut into my wiring harness anywhere or try to fish the wire somewhere.  I've wired solar panel systems to the batteries so that seemed the way to go with this.  

I used an existing weep hole in the cargo bin that contains my batteries to feed the wire up to the batteries.  It was easy to zip tie (included) the booster onto the undercarriage frame (I also used some electrical tape just to be sure).  

1st step - cut off the alligator clips and strip the wire far enough to reach the appropriate terminals on my 2 6v batteries

2nd step - add battery terminal rings and some protective tape on the tiny wires

Check that the connection works before finishing the install

Firmly zip-tied and taped into place!

Next, it's time to program the solar-powered monitor.

I had used an included USB cable and charged up the monitor.  Then, I tried to program in the baseline PSI I run in my trailer tires.  The buttons all worked as indicated in the instructions to get into programming mode and move between tires and enter values.

But, whoops - the numbers are in BAR not PSI and the temperatures are in Celsius not Fahrenheit!  
Unfortunately, there's nothing in the instructions about switching modes.  I know that there has to be a way though, so I start pressing various combinations of buttons until I find the way to switch modes.  

So, with the monitor now showing Fahrenheit and PSI, I try to go back into programming mode.  But, the buttons don't work.  No matter what I do, I can't get back into programming mode - or even turn the monitor on or off!  

I check the web site - figuring that there must be a way to reboot or return the device to factory settings - nothing works.  Dang, now I need to call customer service.

I get someone right away!  The guy is very helpful and walks me through several common issues and problems before we realize that there isn't going to be an easy solution.  He offers to mail me a new unit right away along with a return label for my weirdly not working monitor (the service guy is really perplexed by the odd behavior of my unit - I wonder how I managed to get the unit to fall into some rabbit hole of code that has gotten it stuck).  

Cut to 3 days later

The new monitor arrives and works perfectly!  It installs on the windshield (so the solar panel can keep it charged) and is easy to read.  If it ever needs a power boost, I can use the included USB cable with one of the battery packs that I keep around for boosting my phone and other small electronics.  I should have taken some pictures of the monitor before I installed it - having trouble getting good pics now.  Trust me - its' really cute!

Bad picture from the outside - but you can see the solar panel back of the monitor.

oops - looks like I need air in the back tire on the passenger side!

I would recommend this product

Don't be as naive as I was in thinking that this is a 10 minute install - but the instructions are clear, they include extra batteries, their customer service is excellent and now I have a TPMS on the trailer!
It wasn't a difficult job - maybe 2 hours if everything had worked just right.

The manufacturer is Tire Minder.  They make a lot of different models - 2 tire, 4 tire, etc.  I like that I can see the PSI on each tire plus the temperature.

Another project, another sunset

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