Engine Monitors and Trip Computers
Today's diesel powered coaches are highly dependant upon electronics. Most of this data is available on a data buss
that passes this information back and forth between the engine's ECM, the transmission, and the instrument panel control modules.
The manufacturer may utilize an OEM display system to display various engine parameters and offer trip computer operations to the
driver. Unfortunately these systems tend to be limited in scope and the RVer wants a more comprehensive system that can display multiple
trip settings, maintenance and service reminders at the proper time, and detailed information about the engine parameters.
There are a number of aftermarket systems available. Two of the most popular manufacturers of them are
SilverLeaf Electronics and
CoreTronics, who makes the TripTek system.
SilverLeaf makes an entry level system called VMSpc. This setup utilizes your laptop to display the information.
While the software can be downloaded for free, you do need to purchase an interface cable from them to tap into your coach's
diagnostic port. The advantage to this system is low cost but it does tie up your PC screen which may interfere with any GPS tasks
that you may want to run at the same time. It also means that your laptop must be running in order to log any accumulated
service hours. A sample screen appears to the right.
If you don't want to tie your system to a laptop you can choose to go with a dedicated system you won't need your
laptop. SilverLeaf makes a number of these devices. The VMS240CL color LCD display is shown at the right. This compact little box
can be mounted in the dash if you have enough room or be placed on top of the dash if you don't have room and don't mind it sitting
up there. Most of the VMS series units can take optional attachments, such as the SmarTire tire pressure monitoring system.
If you would like the benefits of a dedicated system, but don't want or have room for another display device you can
chose the TripTek system from CoreTronics. TripTek is very similar to the SilverLeaf Electronics line in that it offers a comprehensive
array of information. It even has a preflight checklist that you can view before departing from your campsite. It too has the ability
to monitor tire pressures with an optional module. The biggest difference is that TripTek uses your RV's backup monitor to display
information. The data is superimposed over the screen and works with both color and black and white monitors. There are a number of
different screens to handle the various functions and they can be cycled through via a very small control pad that can be located almost
anywhere within the driver's reach. They can be blanked out if you don't want to view the information and will automatically disappear
whenever you place the RV into reverse gear.
For more information on any of these products please select one of the following links:
Submitted by Mark Quasius - 3/07/06
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