Monday, October 20, 2014

A Laser Guided DogHouse

One of the more challenging aspects of traveling with a Truck Camper
is loading it into the back of the truck.

When backing under the DogHouse it must not only be centered, but
the truck must also be square to the camper.   There is only about an inch
of play on either side and if we are not square the truck bed sides will scrape the
camper as you back under.  With the camper lifted about 4' off of the ground
any bumping puts strain on the legs...  not a good idea.

While I've never found loading it to be particularly difficult, it can sometimes 
require a number of back and forth adjustments to get it right, and then slowly backing
under it - stopping and getting out numerous times to check the sides to make sure we
are backing under straight.

Some folks solve the problem by not unloading the camper, or
only unloading it when they absolutely have to.

Our rule is not to unload if we are only staying somewhere for the night,
but if we are staying longer...  off it comes.   
Its much easier to get in and out
(especially with the Doodles) when it is lowered down to the ground.

Anything to make the job easier and more accurate results in time saved at departure.

Working off an idea that I saw on the internet I built a laser guidance device.

The main component is a horizontal laser that sends out a fan shape beam of light.

This was mounted onto an aluminum bracket that I fabricated and mounted onto
the centerline of the truck inside the sliding rear window.
You can see the green beam shining.

Next was adjusting it so that it projected it's beam straight down the centerline
as well as vertically.   Below I was fine tuning the vertical allignment.

Finally installed, I put 3 pieces of reflective tape on the camper. 
(note - the camper window is NOT in the center of the camper)

Having the one spot on the top front of the camper gives me a plane
(remember Geometry?)
This one closer spot assures me that I am perpendicular.

I used to have to slowly reverse while turned around and stretching to try
and look right down the centerline out the back window.

Now I can simply use the mirror and see that I am aligned properly.

Note - the camper is not yet lifted.
It is also level - the truck however is slightly sloped (as is the driveway)
So you can see in the photo below the upper line is slightly off to the side.

If I was going to load the camper I would first make sure that the camper and the
truck were on a similar plane side to side, but you can see how even at this
point we could load up and go.

It took all of a minute to get the truck backed 
and in loading position in this first test.

I think this will be a real time saver.
It will also be useful for backing up to the 5th wheel - especially at night.

Parts list

DPPS-5b 4.5mW Green Laser Module

A heat sink

A 3v power supply.
Mine uses 2 AAA batteries and has an on off switch.

A way to mount it to your truck.
I had some Aluminum flat plate laying around and was able to
fabricate the mount from that.


  1. Wow, What a great idea and so simple. I would get a step down voltage circuit and power from one of your up lifter switches.

    Nice job.

  2. Nice Job Greg, I remember those days when we had a cab over camper.


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