What’s Inside Our RV Technology Cabinet? Geek Tech!

TheRVgeeks Miscellaneous, Not Just For RVs!, Updates & Upgrades 35 Comments

As working-age full-time RVers running our business online, our technology needs might be a bit higher than most. But plenty of our gear would be useful for anyone. Come along for a tour as we share our Geek Tech!

John is our resident technology guru, so he’s giving the video tour (with a gracious introduction by Peter). Since tech changes so rapidly, it probably goes without saying that our 11-year-old motorhome has undergone some high-end mods to get where it is today. And because tech continues to advance every year, you can bet that our set-up will look different a few years from now, too.

If we were retired (or part-timers), all this tech would either be pure luxury, or more likely, we’d do without a fair amount of it. That adds yet another positive aspect to working full-time on the road — we can justify the expense of keeping our gear pretty cutting-edge because it’s all stuff we need for work (pay no attention to the Apple TV behind the curtain). wink

P.S… you may have noticed that there’s one omission from our tech cabinet: cellular boosting. As we mentioned, technology (especially in the cellular arena) is always evolving, and we’re currently evaluating options (utilizing the sage guidance of our friends and connectivity experts, Cherie & Chris at RVMobileInternet.com). Expect to see a future video on that topic.

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We're handy RVers, not professional technicians. We're happy with the techniques and products we use, but be sure to confirm that all methods and materials you use are compatible with your equipment and abilities. Regardless of what we recommend, consult a professional if you're unsure about working on your RV. Any task you perform or product you purchase based on any information we provide is strictly at your own risk.

We sometimes receive products for evaluation at no cost, and The RVgeeks are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. But our opinions are our own, you won’t pay an extra penny, and we only link to products we personally use, love and can recommend to friends with complete confidence.

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Comments 35

  1. Hi Guys
    Always helpful videos and info. You have to have a ton of video you have to keep and organize. I’m sure you use some type of software to edit your videos – can you let us in on what software that is? How about organizing your footage? You seem to easily pull up a piece from years ago to interlace in a current video – what kind of software do you use to help you manage all your video and how do you store it? Thanks so much
    Rob C.

    1. Post

      Thanks, Rob! Glad you like ’em! We do, indeed, have a ton of video footage to store (hence the mondo capacity of our QNAP NAS drive!). We use Final Cut Pro X (FCPX) as our editing software… but started out using iMovie since it was easy-to-use and came free on our MacBook! Honestly, iMovie did about 95% of what we wanted to do for many years. It’s only been the last few that we have needed the greater power & flexibility of Final Cut. Luckily… Apple had changed iMovie’s interface to be much more like FCPX, so the transition was fairly straightforward.

      As far as organizing… we don’t use any particular software. We store all of our footage in folders named for what the project was (and we have some “catch-all” folders for non-project-related footage like driving scenes, etc). We keep multiple copies of new footage that’s waiting to be edited into a video (2 separate external drives plus a backup copy on the QNAP) so it’s easily accessible (and portable). But as far as finding it goes… we rely on Peter’s (almost-creepy) memory for anything he’s shot. Seriously… he’s like the Encyclopedia Photographica. If he shot it… he remembers it. And since it’s organized by subject name and/or date, we can find it easily even when he can’t immediately pull it up from memory. Both of us thinking the same way about most things, and being pretty anal-retentive, doesn’t hurt either! LOL!

  2. Hi Guys, You two have been a great help. The APC Uninterruptible Power Supply as described as having a small inverter beside the battery backup. What model number is the unit, Thank You

    1. Post

      Hey Randy! Thanks! It’s always nice to hear! The APC unit we’re using is available at Amazon here. There are larger units (with more battery power to either power more devices OR keep them powered for longer), but since all we really needed was to ensure our QNAP NAS drive had time to gracefully power down (it’s connected via the USB cable to the UPC so it gets alerted when power goes off and initiates a shut-down procedure), this one was sufficient. Hope that helps!

  3. I cannot tell you guys how helpful your videos are.
    I noticed in your tech cabinet video you have a QNap. Would you mind doing a video focusd on the Qnap? Such as how you personally use yours (movie storage, camera footage, home media server, etc) out of all the qnap devices how you arrived at this one to suit your needs and so on. I would love to know how you guys use yours and so on. Thank you very much.

    1. Post

      Thanks so much for the kind words, Christopher! It’s always nice to hear that people find our videos helpful!

      We’ve talked about doing another video about the QNAP itself, but figured it would be such a bore (and not of interest to a large segment of our viewers) that we’ve backburnered it. May have to add it back to the list of future videos if more people care.

      In a nutshell… we pretty much use our QNAP for everything you mentioned: movie storage (both home movies & ripped copies of DVDs we own), photo storage (backups of all our photos taken or digitized), video storage (for footage and Final Cut Pro X projects from our YouTube videos) and backup (both Time Machine for our Mac laptops and an extra backup of our website client files). We chose the one we have because of it’s capacity (6 bays with 4TB means 24TB of total storage) and because, when we bought it, it was one of the few devices that was capable of working with Time Machine (that’s likely changed now).

      Some more nitty-gritty – we have the 6 drives broken up into two groups:

      • One pair of drives is configured as a RAID1 array and serves as a 4TB Time Machine drive for both of our laptops. Since most of our important files sync between our laptops, and we run regular bootable clones of each laptop to a portable drive, this is just an extra precaution. Plus, the ability to roll back a change to a file through Time Machine can be invaluable at times. ;)
      • The remaining 4 drives are set up as a RAID5 array, which we then partitioned into several separate “drives” for storing various file types – one partition for each of the following: client file backups, YouTube Video backups, photos, and videos (home & ripped movies).

      QNAP has a fairly well-stocked app library to choose from, which we used to install the Plex Server onto the system. Plex allows us to browse our library of videos from any device connected to our network on the RV. We use a 4th Generation Apple TV to allow us to watch the Plex content on the big TV up front.

      For the most part, we don’t even think about the QNAP (other than shutting it down before we move the RV to avoid having the drives spinning while we’re on the road) – it just does what it does, making all of our files available to us on any device we want.

      Hope this helps… and that it didn’t put you to sleep! LOL!

    1. Post

      Hi Kerry,

      Thanks so much for your kind words and for spreading the word! We really appreciate it!

      The fan we use in our Tech Cabinet is a Noctua 12V computer fan that we bought on Amazon… you can get it here: http://amzn.to/2jPP072 We jury-rigged a connection to an existing 110V-to-12V power adapter that we had lying around, so that we could plug it in to the power strip in the compartment. We could’ve wired it right into the 12V power from the RV, but figured the only time we need the fan running is when all of that equipment is powered up… which all requires 110V, anyway.

      Hope this helps!

  4. Pingback: Our RV is Driving Us BATTY... Again! - TheRVgeeks

    1. Post
  5. Thank you for the help. I should have asked this in my 1st question but how does the air port extreme work? I’ve watched videos and looked it up but still don’t understand is that just to make stuff that’s not wireless wireless?

    1. Post

      The Airport Extreme Base Station is just a wireless router. It takes any internet connection you plug into its WAN port and shares it with the ethernet ports (for hardwired devices like a printer or network attached storage enclosure like our QNAP) and creates a WiFi network for your wireless devices to connect to (like a laptop, smartphone or tablet).

  6. My 2003 Bounder 37U has an HWH hydraulic, manual leveling system. It works great.
    My question is: can an automatic leveling component be added to the present system?

    1. Post

      Our guess is that you’d have to replace at least the main control unit and the control panel, but you’d have to ask HWH to be sure. We have a better suggestion though. Since we installed our LevelMatePRO, we don’t use the automatic feature on our system, but level manually instead! Here’s our video about it.

      1. Looks real good. Our season is coming to an end, so will look at it in the spring.
        Thanks for the prompt reply.
        Never miss your site.

  7. Hello. I am a new full timer and would like to set up (on a way smaller scale than you) a entertainment system. I have the smart tv as well as Appletv. Now I have a Mac and my has Windows. I know it’s not a problem but I’d like to get the capability to to stream from both. I would also like to be able to get cable as well. I have directv and can stream.But if there is no signal all of our devices are pointless. If you can offer some advice I would appreciate it. Thank you.

    1. Post

      Hi Ryan,

      Not sure we’re qualified to provide too much advice here, but here are a few thoughts:

      • With your Mac, you should have no problem using Airplay to stream any content you have there to your TV, via the Apple TV. But for the Windows computer, you may have to look at installing a Media Server application (like Plex) and using the companion viewer app on either the Apple TV or your Smart TV to be able to view it there… although I think that the Plex Server app will only be able to stream locally-stored content from the Windows laptop to your Apple TV/Smart TV.
      • It may be easiest to just go the hardwired route… and use an HDMI cable to connect either of your computers to the TV when you want to stream something there. Avoids the complexity of cross-OS streaming over a network, etc. But does mean you’ll have a cable strung across the room when doing it.
      • I assume that when you say “if there is no signal all of our devices are pointless” you’re talking about situations where you’re not online (through WiFi or cellular)… and yes… in those situations, you’re dead in the water if you want to stream internet-based content. But if you have locally-stored video files (like movies purchased and downloaded from iTunes or Amazon, etc), then THOSE files could still be sent to the TV either through Airplay or an HDMI cable. We’ve had situations like that where we’ve gone into town to get access to the internet to download a video to our laptop… then went back home to the RV to watch it on “the big screen”.
      • If you’re looking to have a local WiFi network available to your devices, even when you’re not connected to the Internet… you’ll need some kind of router (like the Airport Extreme… or ANY Wireless Router, really) to do that.

      Hope this helps.

  8. John, you had a lot to describe in a short time and did a great job doing it.

    This is one of those videos that can (and will) be viewed more than once and will offer more clarity with each viewing.

    Judging by the first few responses this will also be one of those videos where the Q & A’s will also be more information & advice.

    1. Post

      Good Morning John. I’m proud of what a great job John did on this one. He did the entire thing in one take right off the top of his head. That’s how well he knows his stuff. And I did warned him that he would be answering LOTS of questions once this went live. LOL None of them have been replied to yet because he’s not up yet, and this is of course his area of expertise. I am only first level tech support. ;) — Peter

  9. Anne and I are retired, and on the road about 7 months each year. We’re retired, but Anne still services her bookkeeping clients and needs secure access. We tried to get in on the MiFi deal Cherie and Chris had with the Huntsville School District, but that ended before our order shipped. We were able to “sublet” an AT&T Unlimited service from an owner on Ebay. We pay $109 a month, and this last month used 493 GBs. Our MiFi device, a Netgear Aircard 770S, can connect 10 devices wirelessly; but has no wired ports.

    Our only issue is needing good cellular service. This month we’re in the “middle of nowhere” Idaho, and have amazing connectivity. Last month we were just outside of Loveland CO. The park had OK cellular, but the data service was Edge. So we effectively had no data service, and the park WiFi was just barely enough to get email. Most days we drove four miles to a parking lot, on a picturesque town lake, where our MiFi could pick up LTE service.

    We are using the WeBoost RV 4G Cellular booster. I usually get 2 to 3 more bars than the native signal. We have mounted the outside antenna to flagpole attached to our ladder. This allows the antenna to be raised above the roof line, and then rotated towards the nearest tower. We use the Open Signal app to locate towers.

    I’m very interested in where you have cable connectivity, and how often? Are you in an RV park, or at a friend’s house?

    We love you both, and always learn from, and enjoy your posts.

    1. Post

      Hi Rich & Anne. Thanks very much for your nice note!

      It sounds like you’ve got a really great cellular setup in your RV… you’re way ahead of us on that! We don’t get access to cable internet service when we’re on the road, moving regularly. But we often spend our summers stationary in one spot for several months at a time… so that gives us the ability to sign up with the local cable provider for service. Not all RV parks are setup to handle that, but typically if they have any accommodations for longer-term residents, it’s possible.

      Safe travels!

  10. It is always nice to see someones knowledge come to the forefront…Great Job John…Pretty Sweet Setup!!!
    Wish you guys were our neighbors…lol.. We will be putting some of that to work in our unit…..

    It may be a good thing for you both that your not!!!! We would never stop asking for your help….

    Safe Travels ….

    1. Post

      Thanks so much for your very nice comment, Floyd & Michelle! If our hands weren’t so full maintaining & upgrading our own system, we’d consider offering our “services” to the public. ;) Happy travels!

  11. Nice setup! So you are using the Air Port Extreme for your WiFi within and around the coach. I am assuming it is better then using just the GO2?

    1. Post

      Hi Steve. Yes, we use the Airport Extreme for our WiFi network because it broadcasts a faster network (802.11ac vs the 802.11n for the Go2) and it’s MIMO, so the WiFi signal itself is stronger. If we weren’t constantly shuttling (VERY!) large video files back-and-forth across our network, we’d be fine with just using the Go2 as our main WiFi router and having one less piece of hardware in our tech cabinet. For most uses (including streaming video to your devices), the Go2 is plenty fast. We’re just impatient… and we take just about any excuse to have more Apple gear in our arsenal. ;)

      1. Thanks!!
        Right there with you on the Apple in my S/B I have 2 Imac’s (20 and 27″) 2 Ipads 2 iPhones 2 Apple TV’s old 500gb Time Machine/router (when 802.11n was the fastest). I wish my tech cabinet in my Ventana was as large as yours :-) I did not see a weBoost or any cell booster in there. Do you not use one? Is your jet pack strong enough to get cell signal?

  12. Do you guys worry about the security issues of leaving your TimeMachine back up “on” 24/7? I typically don’t have my backup device connected until I decide to connect it, so that my backup doesn’t get hacked/damaged in anyway. Your thoughts??

    1. Post

      Hi Trish,

      No, we don’t worry about that too much, but that’s for two reasons:

      1. We have our TimeMachine backups encrypted (we just used the setting for that feature when we activated TimeMachine), so they are reasonably secure from any casual hackers
      2. Since our TimeMachine Backup Drive is a NAS device with datacenter-quality hard drives, we’re not worried about them “wearing out” on us from being left on 24/7.

      If you’re using a portable USB drive for your TimeMachine backups, we’d recommend continuing to do it the way you are. Those small portable drives usually aren’t designed to be powered up all the time, so doing so will tend to wear them out faster, potentially corrupting your backup. Plus, if you’re using a laptop, having an external drive connected all the time spoils the portability. ;)

  13. Thanks so much to the both of you for all the helpful information and thoughtful pieces. I really enjoy your tech stuff and your improvements. But what I like most is your videos and blogs about places you go. We are part-timers. Meaning we still have a brick & mortar house, but we try to spend as much time on the road as we can. Probably just short of 6 months a year right now. Your videos have really help make our Motorhome into a great residence.

    you mention both an AirPort extreme and the Go2 router. You say you use can use either a cable modem or the wifi ranger. How are things connected?

    My question is: When you are connected to wifi and the signal is coming to the Go2 router, does it then go through the AirPort? Then when you switch to the cable modem, do you have to manually switch the ethernet connection on the AirPort WAN Internet port?

    One last question, if you please. I also have the WiFi Ranger and Go2 router. I love it. I big thanks to you guys for the install video and the info on it. I bought it because of you. You mention that you can tether your iPhone. Can you send me a link to the instructions on how to do this. I also have the WeBoost system and it gets me service when there is no internet. Would be nice to tether to my Go2 network I already have set up.

    1. Post

      Hi Craig,

      Thanks so much for the kind words… it’s always nice to hear that people are enjoying our videos!

      You are correct about the cable internet -vs- WiFi issue. When we’re stationary for long enough that we can get cable internet service, we just leave the WiFiRanger Go2 shut down and plug the cable modem into the WAN port on the Airport Extreme. When we leave that location, we manually connect the Go2 to the WAN port on the Airport router and now any WiFi networks we connect to with the WiFiRanger provide internet connectivity to our whole network.

      To connect the your iPhone/MiFi to the Go2, you can see page 9 on the Go2 manual (PDF) on the WiFiRanger website here: https://wifiranger.com/images/guides/WiFiRanger_UserManual_Rev10.pdf

      To hardwire your phone to the Go2, you just use the USB charging/data cable that came with the phone and connect it to the USB port on the Go2. You may need to be sure that you have your Go2 configured properly to utilize that cellular connection… again, check out the manual listed above for the basics. But it SHOULD just work.

      And if using the USB cable won’t work for any reason, you can always just use the regular WiFiRanger control panel to connect the Go2 to the WiFi network being broadcast by your phone with Personal Hotspot turned on (as if it was an external RV Park WiFi network you were connecting to) and you’ll be good to go that way.

      Hope this makes sense!

    1. Post
      1. Great video. I loved the walk through of your setup. Out of curiosity what do you use to backup your NAS drives in case of failure? You mentioned you have your home movies and photos stored on the QNAP. I know you have them setup in RAID but if the array fails during a rebuild or something you can lose all your data. Currently I’m looking at whether I should do NAS to NAS backup or just slap an external on the NAS for backup. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

        Keep up the good work!

        1. Post

          Hi James! Great (although cringe-inducing) question! You’re right… the array could fail and we could lose it all. And that’s what would happen. ? We’ve gone back-and-forth over the years with thoughts about all sorts of options for how we could protect ourselves (and our data): external drive(s), NAS-to-NAS, cloud, etc. And we’ve always just come back to accepting the risks. Would it be heartbreaking to lose everything? Sure. But at this point, we don’t have the room (or the budget) to implement a NAS-to-NAS backup (which would, ideally, be the best and most automated), so we grin and bear it. We do make some attempt to store crucial, irreplaceable files on small external drives that we leave with friends and family… updating them whenever we’re there. And we put some stuff up in the cloud when we have the bandwidth available. But since these are manual operations that require us to remember… they don’t always happen all that regularly.

          It’s one of those areas that’s tough to deal with in a mobile lifestyle and often requires a bit of compromise.

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