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Old 10-07-2017, 12:23 AM   #1
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RVI Brake 3 Review

We have several thousand miles with the RVI-3 system now and I thought I'd provide a review and some thoughts.

Bottom line up front: We like the system and would purchase it again but we wish the "Command Center" was either more useful or available as a separate option from the main brake system.

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Overall we like the RVI-3 quite a bit, but we have some frustrations related to the impressive sounding but underwhelming "Command center" tablet and hub. The braking system itself (which is the important part) is rock solid, compact and very easy to setup and use. So far it just works.

The "command center" system that comes with it is much less impressive. This system includes a cheap android tablet (ours had scratches and looked pre-owned) and a "hub" which is basically a wifi hotspot that functions as a middleman between the tablet and the actual brake system in the toad.

The package also came with two USB chargers that can plug into either a cigarette lighter or a 110v outlet, which is a nice addition since those dual chargers are relatively rare. Cords are also included (USB to micro-usb) to provide power to the tablet and hub. You'll need those cords and chargers - Although both the tablet and hub have internal batteries they don't last very long when connected and in use. We quickly learned that both the hub and tablet need power if we're driving any longer than about 45 minutes. When the hub runs out of power an alarm will sound. To be fair the Command Center quick start guide does state the hub needs to be powered while in use.

The package also included a rather nice magnetic mount for the tablet.

The main brake unit is solid and I can't think of anything negative to say about it. The command center system does have some plusses and minuses:

Plusses:
- Displays what the braking unit is doing and allows adjustments if necessary.
- Provides an easy and straightforward way to change the settings on the main brake unit (the settings can be adjusted on the unit itself if necessary by following some single button push sequencing as detailed in the manual)
- Provides an audible warning for a breakaway.
- RVI provides some other apps in their app suite that may be useful for some (they weren't to us). There is a levelling app (which uses the hub to detect level) as well as a checklist app.

Minuses:
- The hub and tablet really have to be powered while driving.
- The hub can't be turned off. It continues to broadcast a wifi signal and will appear as a hotspot to any wifi enabled device. Not a huge issue while driving, but there is no way (that I have discovered anyway) to turn it off once we're done travelling. It will needlessly crowd the already crowded 2.4GHz wifi spectrum - at least until the battery runs down (assuming we unplug it after driving, which we often forget to do) after a couple of hours. It appears as an open wifi connection and I'm sure many people have tried to connect to ours hoping for some free internet.

- The tablet, hub and/or brake controller sometimes get out of sync or lose connection. This is very disturbing while driving since the tablet emits an alarm. The brake controller is still working, but the alarm is annoying and distracting.

- The biggest downside is a possible safety issue. The main screen on the tablet while driving (called "drive mode") contains a big bullseye which will fill from the center out to show when the toad is braking and by how much (ie. if the bullseye is filled, the toad is braking hard). That part of the system is nice and visually clar and simple. However, the center of the bullseye is the "test" button which is used to check if the system is working. Press this with your finger and the system will apply hard braking for approximately 10 seconds. In my opinion there is no reason to have this test mode on the main drive screen. A user could potentially activate it by mistake and I was (and remain) a bit paranoid about it.

After several thousand miles of use we no longer use the tablet or hub very much - in our opinion they have a bad annoyance-to-utility ratio. But the main braking unit remains excellent and we are very happy with it. Overall we give it 4 out of 5 stars.
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Old 10-07-2017, 05:50 AM   #2
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Thanks for the write up.
I have ours. Finished the base plate install on a new to us '14 CRV and have taken it for a test run.
Currently trying to figure out mounting for the tablet but based on your & other comments I think I'll delay anything permanent and go w the temp mount until we gain some experience.
Thanks again for a complete review
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Old 10-07-2017, 06:05 AM   #3
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I had hoped that the Test function was more related to how long the Test was pushed instead of 10 seconds.

One issue I have with inertia based brake systems is that a slowing down on a downhill mountain road may not trigger the braking action. Last year in the Oregon and Washington mountains I found that the 4000 lbs of the toad was adding to the downward acceleration and the toad brakes weren't turning on. There are an extremely few non-air brake systems that trigger with the application of the tow vehicle brakes.

I figured the Test function would at least allow me to hit the toad brakes once in a while on the downhill situations.
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Old 10-07-2017, 07:23 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dale & Mark Bruss View Post
I had hoped that the Test function was more related to how long the Test was pushed instead of 10 seconds.

One issue I have with inertia based brake systems is that a slowing down on a downhill mountain road may not trigger the braking action. Last year in the Oregon and Washington mountains I found that the 4000 lbs of the toad was adding to the downward acceleration and the toad brakes weren't turning on. There are an extremely few non-air brake systems that trigger with the application of the tow vehicle brakes.

I figured the Test function would at least allow me to hit the toad brakes once in a while on the downhill situations.


I have yet to see the brake system activate on a downhill. I’m typically going slow, primarily using the engine brake with light braking. We’ve been over most of the big passes in Colorado.

With the default settings and using the “large SUV” mode with our big minivan, the brake doesn’t activate until a moderately hard slowdown. We try to avoid those and slow early so the toad brake doesn’t get much use in practice. But it does work and work well for hard and moderate braking, which is what we like. There are adjustments so users can tailor to their own driving style, preference and configuration, but we haven’t played with the settings since the initial setup.
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Old 10-09-2017, 02:43 PM   #5
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The brake system is awesome, but the tablet could easily have been much smaller so it could be more easily placed on the dash...it's just too large and clunky.

With regard to the "test" function, I could not agree more. I mentioned this to the owner/designer several months ago...he actually suggested that perhaps push-and-hold functionality would be better (so, maybe push/hold for 3 seconds before the test activates). Disappointed it's not yet implemented.

I've had no issues on downhills with the unit activating during normal braking or using the engine to brake...the RViBrake3 does kick in occasionally. I use the Large SUV setting most of the time, but I've played around (which I find very useful with the tablet) with other settings.

Overall I'd get the RViBrake3 again. I used the Ready Brute Elite on my previous towed, and I think it's a fantastic system, but I did not want to bother with routing the brake cable in my brand new 2017 F150. Also, the ability to adjust brake settings on-the-fly with the RViBrake3, is useful. And, if/when we get a Jeep as a second towed the RViBrake3 is easily moveable between toweds.
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Old 04-25-2021, 01:08 PM   #6
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I find that the Command Center gets VERY HOT. I think that it was responsible for blowing some fuses to my lighter?USB. If you don't use command center or hub, how do you know that brake system is working?
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Old 04-26-2021, 03:29 PM   #7
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Question RVI Brake 3 & 91 jeep wrangler

Sorry to hijack this thread. I am thinking of purchasing the RVI3 brake system for my 1991 Jeep wrangler, but I need to find out if it will fit. I have contacted RVI and they couldn't tell me if it would work in my jeep. I am hoping someone might have experience with this combination.


any assistance would be appreciated
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Old 04-26-2021, 04:05 PM   #8
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Best to start a fresh post and formulate your question carefully / thoughtfully. The RVi3 brake will certainly "fit" and would expect if thats what you asked them they misunderstood. It is one of the most compact brake units I've seen. Is your Jeep capable of flat towing might be a very different question.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Joelfke View Post
Sorry to hijack this thread. I am thinking of purchasing the RVI3 brake system for my 1991 Jeep wrangler, but I need to find out if it will fit. I have contacted RVI and they couldn't tell me if it would work in my jeep. I am hoping someone might have experience with this combination.


any assistance would be appreciated
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Old 04-27-2021, 05:43 PM   #9
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I keep getting random errors for losing communication. Not certain if its between the hub and tablet or the hub and the break. Slightly annoying, but the break seems to work well. I guess I'll keep moving the hub around to hopefully find a sweet spot.
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Old 04-29-2021, 08:03 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Machine99 View Post
I keep getting random errors for losing communication. Not certain if its between the hub and tablet or the hub and the break. Slightly annoying, but the break seems to work well. I guess I'll keep moving the hub around to hopefully find a sweet spot.
I put the hub in the very back of our coach...in the rear bath up on the shelf below the cabinets (your layout may be different of course), and don't seem to have issues with communication.
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Old 04-29-2021, 10:54 AM   #11
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I still use our RVi3 but no longer bother with the command unit or tablet. It's worked flawlessly for us. The only downside to not using the buggy command unit and tablet is that we wouldn't know if the unit stopped working for some reason.

Quote:
I am thinking of purchasing the RVI3 brake system for my 1991 Jeep wrangler, but I need to find out if it will fit. I have contacted RVI and they couldn't tell me if it would work in my jeep. I am hoping someone might have experience with this combination.
It should work with any vehicle. You need about 18"+ of space between where it would brace against the base of the driver's seat and the brake pedal.
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Old 04-29-2021, 04:16 PM   #12
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I am using the Demco Duo Play system and like its simplicity.
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Old 05-02-2021, 12:00 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joelfke View Post
Sorry to hijack this thread. I am thinking of purchasing the RVI3 brake system for my 1991 Jeep wrangler, but I need to find out if it will fit. I have contacted RVI and they couldn't tell me if it would work in my jeep. I am hoping someone might have experience with this combination.


any assistance would be appreciated


A Ready Brake or Ready Brute Elite from NSA would be a much better option for a Wrangler.
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Old 05-02-2021, 12:38 PM   #14
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We have had both a Ready Brute Elite and an RVI Brake 3 (have the RIVB3 now). We used the Ready Brute Elite on our prior Ford CMAX Hybrid towed vehicle.

Properly adjusted, the Ready Brute Elite is 0% electronic and 100% mechanical. It's the same kind of setup I've seen on many boat and utility trailers. It was nice to just connect-and-go.

However, I like the ability with the RVI Brake 3 to remotely adjust braking force, and especially to remotely activate the brake for a functional test (which we do every time we pull out, even from fuel stops), and we can see it's operation while in-transit. It takes only a few minutes to set up at the start of a trip, so it's really just small part of the overall camp-breaking effort. If we overnight at pull-thru sites we just leave it connected, and (of course) test in the morning during departure.
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