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Old 06-19-2016, 08:26 AM   #1
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How to get the correct distance when hitching your TOAD

I originally posted this in the National RV Owners forum then decided this might be a better forum. Anyway here is a repeat listing.

Hi All,

I know this is a bit over the top but I could not come up with the best way to judge the distance between the car and my rig when positioning the car to hook up for towing. I tried using spots on the windshield and aligning them with things on the RV, but nothing is really repeatable. The best solution is to have someone drive the car while you guide them into position. Side to side is not a problem its the depth Im always too close or too far away. Even with a telescoping tow bar.

Im an engineer and thought there has to be a solution to my problem and here is what I came up with. While looking through eBay at some Chinese electronic suppliers I came across an aftermarket 4 sensor DME (distance measuring equipment) backup monitor for cars. The cost was less than $15.00 shipped, so I though why not.

I install the unit into my Roadmaster rock shield. I made the unit fully self-contained complete with a battery so I did not need to add a power source. I used a standard 9 volt transistor radio battery. The DME unit draws approximately 230mA when powered and it only needs to be powered when you position the car so the battery should last a long time. Just be sure to power it down after positioning the car.

I cut a plate 4.5 x 7.0 out of clear plastic then mounted the display and processing unit to it. I covered the plate with foam sealing tape except where the display is mounted so it could show through. I cut a hole in the rock shield to gain access for mounting and running all the wires. I mounted a switch to the rock shield and with some Velcro I mounted the battery inside the shield. I mounted 2 of the sensors to the front of the rock shield and fished the wires and connected them to the processing unit. Then I secured the plate to the rock shield using 4 short molly type anchors.

The DME displays distance in tenths of meters and is quite accurate. I have only tested it in my garage as you can see from the pictures but I am sure it will work very well when bouncing a signal off the back of the RV. The display is visible over the top of the dash when positioning the car.

I will attempt to add some pictures.

If you found this project interesting please check out some of the other things I have posted.





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Old 06-19-2016, 08:33 AM   #2
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The picture links worked for me (except 2nd one), they take you to the same pics that show in his post, so if you can see the pics in the post the links are not needed.

US Navy Vet, Liberty Tree Member of Oath Keepers, NRA & VFW Life Member, Alaska EMT.
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Old 06-19-2016, 08:37 AM   #3
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Seems like a clever solution in search of a problem. With a telescoping tow bar, I've never had an issue with parking within the 'zone' to connect the car to the RV.

Bob & Donna
'98 Gulf Stream Sun Voyager DP being pushed by a '00 Beetle TDI
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Old 06-19-2016, 09:00 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by BFlinn181 View Post
Seems like a clever solution in search of a problem. With a telescoping tow bar, I've never had an issue with parking within the 'zone' to connect the car to the RV.

Agree. I have a spot on the back of the MH that I align to. It's always within range of the tow bars extension capability. I like the ingenuity of this idea.
Try to live up to your dogs opinion of you.
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Old 06-19-2016, 09:27 AM   #5
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While still learning, I got a old fiberglass tent pole about 4 feet long and glued it in a 4x4 block about 6 inches to use as a base. I then measured the correct distance from the jeep bumper to the hitch and marked the distance on the fiberglass pole. I lay the pole down under the hitch to see the distance and then stand the pole up at that point. I would pull forward slowly until the bumper touched the pole, it also helped in left / right alignment. I kept it in the rear compartment for a long time but finally removed because I got to the point that I could pull up the first time without it.
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Old 06-19-2016, 09:36 AM   #6
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Very cool Bill. Can you post information on the dme?
Myron & Deborah
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Old 06-19-2016, 05:16 PM   #7
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Hello again,

Here is the link:

4 Parking Sensors LED Display Car Auto Backup Reverse Radar System Alarm Kit E | eBay

This one is actually cheaper and has free shipping. It is the same unit I used but the sensors look to be black.

I like the way they work so well I am going to install one in my old 1999 GMC Yukon.

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Old 06-19-2016, 05:25 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by BFlinn181 View Post
Seems like a clever solution in search of a problem. With a telescoping tow bar, I've never had an issue with parking within the 'zone' to connect the car to the RV.
I totally agree with Bob. I watch the back of the coach for the H emblem on the hood of the CRV and stop. Works every time and no batteries required.
Dennis & Carol
2003, 4006, 41' DutchStar, Spartan, ISC 8.3L W/BanksPower - 2013 Honda CRV, BlueOx Baseplate, Aventa Bar & Patriot Brake. And the 04 Bird, Sunshine Car.
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Old 06-20-2016, 01:12 PM   #9
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"I’m an engineer"

I never would have guessed that, like minds think alike I guess.
When the top of the steering wheel just covers the coach rear bumber I'm right where I need to be.
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Old 06-21-2016, 08:53 AM   #10
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How to get the correct distance when hitching your TOAD

Nicely done, Bill! I like the self contained feature, so there's no setup required, save the flip of a switch.
As it happens, between my Element, rock guard, and the back of the coach I have a plethora of visual cues that make positioning fairly straightforward.
But I could have used this a few months ago! Before I got around to doing a full rebuild on my Roadmaster tow bar, both rods were locked in the full extend position. I had to be longitudinally aligned with near zero tolerance, and positioned within about a two inch window. I got pretty good at it, but on average I would be in and out maybe 2-4 times.

John & Diane, fulltiming since '12 02 DS, FL, Cat, '04 Element NHSO RVM103

John & Diane, Fulltimers. RVM103 NHSO
On the road since June '12 with Lincoln, the guard cat.
2002 Dutch Star 40, Freightliner, Cat 3126, 2004 Element
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