Category Archives: Product Reviews

Vango Kela(Tall) Airbeam Driveaway Awning

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With a 3 week trip to Germany looming, we finally stumped up the cash and bought the Vango Kela Tall. After lots of price checking, I bought online from John Cross in Sussex. http://www.johnscross.co.uk I have a Defence Privilege Discount Card, & JC as supporter of veterans, offers 10% for all purchases, which at a RRP of £379 is potentially a decent amount with over £30 off the purchase price.  Additionally its free delivery. Anyway…all good, and an excellent delivery process. I would be surprised if you can source it cheaper?

You’re right though, it ain’t cheap, but it is really well made, and the air system means there’s no metal poles to lug about, or try and thread through interminably small holes. With practice, I reckon I’ll be able to assemble in under 10 mins!!!

This weekend we went off to Tan House Farm CL at Frampton on Severn, meeting up with Aussie Relatives. So fully equipped, we excitedly deployed the Vango! and thoroughly enjoyed the beautiful weekend, on a fantastically peaceful CL, with the bit of extra space to chill out in.

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I’m not the world best tent erector, but this product was quite easy and the “air beams” are very solid. The only issue is making the shroud that joins to the van, fit snugly to the van exterior, lots of gaps for midges and rain to get in!! Maybe I can improve on that as we gain experience. We also like the fact that the living space, can be sealed from both ends with a midge net. This might be useful in Southern Germany, I suspect we will sleep some nights in the awning, as the van lacks aircon.

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The packing away was no big issue either, you just need a system in place, that suits you, to get the job done.

Overall very happy thus far.

That is all.

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Maps – Waterstones 3 for 2

As an ex mil guy, I loves me maps I do!
Anyway, popped into Waterstones to pick up a couple of 1:50,000 OS maps for a forthcoming trips to the lakes. Whilst there I noticed OS Tour Maps….Brilliant, not seen them before.They cover entire regional areas on one map, so one map covers the Lakes, or the Peak District, or Devon & Somerset etc. They are ideal for a life on the move and give you a 3D view of high ground and the watercourses. Plus it includes all info about interesting locations you might like to visit. You wouldn’t want to go on the hills with them, but ideal for pre-planning and if you don’t intent to stray far from your van.

Best of all…Waterstones have a 3 for 2 offer at the moment on all their Ordinance Survey range of maps. So today I walked of with 1 x 1:50,00 and 2 x Tour maps for just over 12 quid.

Tidy!

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GPS Tracker – Product Review

I’ve just purchased a GPS Tracker. I wanted to ensure I would be the first to know if my motorhome was getting interfered with, giving us of piece of mind and some advanced warning to react.

My requirements were that I wanted a British supplied tracker, with long battery life, self monitored, software that was compatible with Mac OS and inexpensive to purchase/run.

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The tracker is from a British company called www.absolute-tracking.com based near Luton. They had a deal on ebay, offering a GPS tracking unit(Model SMS007) for £119. Its a self monitoring device, that has the ability to send an SMS message to your mobile phone if any movement on your vehicle is detected. You then log onto their server and track it via GPS. Access to the server is free for the first year, then £24.99 per annum there after. The device is factory fitted with a Lebara PAYG simcard, this costs 5p per text and works abroad(you can request other providers). The only other cost is for your Poll credits. The company provide 35 polls at the point of purchase. Overall if the device works it has the potential to be cost effective. The device is just smaller than a credit card, its waterproof and has 4 magnets for attaching. Its powered by a lithium battery.

The company claims that the device has a battery standby time of 15 days when set to “Setshock3” mode. This means the unit is effectively asleep, drawing minimal power and will only fire up when the vehicle moves. My thinking was I could recharge every 7 days. This way I can conceal it away from the obvious power sources, I would also have enough power to track it.

You send it commands to the device using SMS from your mobile. The unit sends you a reply SMS telling you that it has complied with your instruction. It also includes the battery power percentage in the message. You track the device using your PC/laptop/3g Phone.

I received the device by Royal Mail, some 20hrs after ordering. I did have a problem with the charging unit, so I phoned the company who promptly offered a replacement by post. Customer service at this stage seems ok

The set up procedure is fairly straight forward. The user interface and mapping appears to be clear and simple. I charged the device for 4hrs(mains/12v or laptop).

Then after setting it up, I popped it into the car. The other half then drove to Sainsburys, about 3 mile away. I clicked “Poll” and got a fix at the supermarket. Whilst she was in the store stocking up on my coffee, I sent a command to the device setting it to “Setshock3” It responded “Set Shock & Move Alarm OK Battery 100%.” When the other half got back into the vehicle and departed Sainsburys, I received an SMS stating “SHOCKALARM Battery 100%” This is the device basically telling me the vehicle has moved.

So it does work, I like what I see so far. Especially the SMS interaction. The next stage will be to get an idea of the battery life. Also I need to find a place on the van where I can conceal it, which allows it good GPS coverage and where I can easily remove to recharge. Update to follow.

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