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Sunday, August 6, 2017

Tech nuts notes

TechnoRV August 2017 Newsletter

It is hard to believe it is August already. The summer rush of vacationers is coming to an end, and kids will be going back to school soon. We really enjoy meeting weekend RVers. It is a different vibe in RV parks during the summertime. We try to stay away from high tourist areas during peak times, but we make the best of it if we do happen to stumble into a National Park on 4th of July weekend. We were actually in Crater Lake National Park for the 4th of July week, and there were certainly more people there than any other park we've visited.

We are going to change our newsletter format up a little bit going forward. We get requests for more of what we are up to in our travels, and then we get requests for more product reviews, technical articles, and RV tips and tricks. So in our monthly newsletter, we will give you a little bit of what we have been up to in our travels, and then if you want more of that then here is a link you to our personal blog.


Our personal blog is called The Let Go Life. For us, the Let Go Life was all about letting go of things that were keeping us from doing what we wanted to do. This led us to selling our house, quitting our regular jobs and hitting the road as the owners of TechnoRV. The whole concept of The Let Go Life, and our journey from corporate employees in suits to business owners in flip flops, is all in there. So if you want to know more about us and our life journey, then go to the Let Go Life, and you can even subscribe to get updates on when we post. We will post a minimum of once a month, but from time to time we may have a few more. We will be sure to include pictures from the previous month, and we will start making videos of our journey. Our journey will not only include the fun stuff, but also the journey of running a business from the road. We not only run an internet retail site with support personnel in Montana and a warehouse in Alabama, but we also attend RV shows as vendors. We will give lots of tips on making money (and losing it) from the road and lessons learned along the way.

So if you want to see more about what we did in July, including Crater Lake NP, Redwood NP, a visit from our daughter, and a lot more, then check out The Let Go Life.

For this month’s newsletter, I am going to give you some tips to get a temporary increase in your cell signal, a little bit on how cell boosters work, and I will give mine and Tami’s secret to backing into a RV spot without either of us filing for divorce.


Replace bars with signal strength.

Know where the cell towers are located.

Use Airplane Mode to estalish a better connection to the tower.

Use cell boosters when needed.

The first step to understanding cell phone signal strength is to have a way to get an accurate reading of what your signal strength actually is. Most people use the signal bars to determine what their signal strength is, but did you know there are no standards for signal bars? I can put my iPhone next to Tami’s Android phone and there can be as much as 2-3 bars difference depending on where we are. So what this tells me is that this is not an accurate means of determining true signal strength. We need to get the bars to a more precise signal reading. 

So to replace those bars with the actual signal reading on an iPhone, you will need to put it into test mode. To put the iPhone into test mode you will simply dial this number: *3001#12345#*. Yes, you actually enter this number as if you are dialing someone on the phone, and then you actually click the call button once the number is entered. This will put you into test mode and you will notice your bars are gone and it is replaced with a signal rating; more on what the signal rating means later. If you want to always see the signal rating instead of bars (This is what I do), then while in test mode simply press the iPhone power button for about 5 seconds, then press the home button for 5 seconds. Now you will be back at the home screen and the bars will be gone, replaced by an accurate signal rating.


To see the actual signal rating on an Android, go to: Settings > About Phone > Status >Sim Card Status. Now you will see the signal rating. I am not aware of a way to put an Android permanently on the signal rating, but Android has a great free app called “Network Cell Info Lite”. This app will give you everything you will want to know about your signal strength, and I highly recommend it for Android users. 


Now that you have your device reading a more precise signal strength, what does this mean. Well, you will see your signal strength as a negative Dbm number. Without getting all technical, just know that the closer you get to zero, the better your signal strength. So a -70 is better than a -100. In fact, if you are -100 or lower, then you are in a poor cell zone, while approaching -50 is great signal. You will never reach zero, but this should give you an idea of what is good and not good.

Now that we are reading numbers that matter, let’s talk about some things you can do to get better signal.

If you are not super concerned about signal, and would just like to improve the signal for a quick phone call, then the first thing I would do is walk outside of my RV. Often times just getting outside of the metal box can do wonders, or at least get you enough to make a call. Knowing where the cell tower is can be helpful in a RV as well. If the cell tower you are connected to is behind your RV as opposed to in the front of your RV, and depending on where your windows are, this can make a difference. There is a cool app called “Open Signal” and this will tell you exactly where the cell tower is that you are connected to. Just download the app, click on it, and it will point to the cell tower, kind of like a compass. You can also display a map of all of the towers around you, and from the different providers. This can be helpful if you have different carriers on board so you know which one may be best. Once you know where the tower is you are connected to, then you may realize that being on that side of the RV that the tower is on gives you a little better signal than the other sid e. Knowing where the cell tower is in relation to your RV can also be helpful if you are using an outside antenna for boosting cell signal, especially directional antennas.

One of my favorite quick tips that can sometimes give you decent signal gains is to reestablish your connection with the cell tower. Sometimes you may not even be connected to the closest cell tower, or maybe the signal to the tower you are connected to needs to be somewhat rebooted. This is easy to do, and can be done with tablets, cell phones, and even cellular hot spot like Jet Packs. To reconnect to the closest cell tower just turn on airplane mode, wait for about 10 seconds, then turn airplane mode back off. By doing this you will break the connection with the cell tower and then re-establish the connection. I have seen some very nice signal increases by doing this. I usually do this at least once a day because it is super easy and I can usually get some instant gains. You can see the increases now that you have the signal strength showing on your phone. Go ahead, give it a try.

Now, if you are someone that really needs more consistency in your cell signal while on the road, then you are going to need to invest in a cell booster. A cell booster will have an outside antenna that will pull in the weak cell signal, then it will run the weak cell signal though an amplifier to increase the signal strength. After the signal strength is boosted, then the system rebroadcasts the stronger signal within your RV through an inside antenna. It is like bringing the cell tower inside your RV. We use a cell booster almost everyday. If you would like some one on one time with us to discuss your connection needs then you can call us at 866-324-7915, or email us at We discuss options with RVers every day and are very familiar with the obstacles you face on the road.

Since there are so many variables on the road there is nothing that is 100%, but with these methods you can certainly increase your positive experiences dramatically.

WeBoost 25 off

When we became RVers, one of the first things we noticed was the entertainment you can get from watching couples try to work together to back a RV into their RV spot. It usually ends with the driver getting ticked off at the spotter, and the spotter thinking the driver is an idiot because they can’t follow simple instructions. I have seen RVs drag picnic tables, tow cars side swipe trees, and awnings nearly ripped off. One time we even got hit by a RV after the driver got so upset that they gave up and told the spotter to do it. The spotter had never driven a RV, but was so determined to show that it could be done that she ran right into us. Now the only reason this is entertaining is because we are not exempt from our own mistakes, and it is painfully real to us because we have had a few bumps along the way ourselves. Maybe you have seen this video of us explaining damage to our RV only a month after we bought it. A good test of a marriage can be seen daily as RVers around the country work with their spouse to back in their RV.

Needless to say, we have studied all of the different methods of communication while backing into a RV spot. There are recommended hand signals, special terms and backing up techniques all over the internet, and maybe you have found something that works for you. We stumbled on our method of backing up by accident. It's not that we were horrible at it, but there were certainly moments of wondering what Tami meant when she said turn right. Did this mean my right or her right? Do you mean make the back of my RV go right, or are you talking about steering to the right? At some point it hit Tami on what would be best. So here is our method of backing up the RV and keeping our marriage intact. 

Tami now just tells me exactly which way to turn my steering wheel as if she were driving. I am like a robot just doing what she tells me. So now instead of me hearing things like “Go left,” or “The back end needs to be more to the right," all I hear is, “Turn the steering wheel to the left; now stop; now come back until I tell you to stop; now stop; now straighten your front wheels and come straight back. Done! I could literally close my eyes and just do what she tells me to do with the steering wheel, and we would be fine. Now this does require the spotter to know what the effect on the RV is by turning the steering wheel a certain way, but that is easily learned. We have backed into places so tight that you couldn’t fit a greased BB in between us and the next RV, but it is not a problem anymore. Maybe this could work for you or maybe there is a better method for you, but we wanted to share this method that works flawlessly for us. Now our back in and set ups are stress free!


In closing, we want to take the opportunity to thank each of you for supporting us. We work hard to bring you our RVing experiences and opinions on products and services. We have never claimed to be the experts, but certainly our full time life on the road can be a great education tool for many of you, and we are glad to share. We know there can be opposing opinions to everything, but our opinions come from real experiences and often times intense research on products and services. We only sell products on that we have tested, use ourselves, and believe them to be the best on the market. We are usually the first in line to know about new products, as we have great relationships with many of the big suppliers. When we are able to share ne ws and info, we will do it promptly. Speaking of which, I believe the next newsletter will be full of industry changes on certain products as we are watching some upcoming advancements very closely.

Safe travels and hope to see you down the road!

Eric and Tami Johnson


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