REDARC Braking Force…Kurt Quambusch
With its three-axis accelerometer and advanced software technology, REDARC provides unmatched trailer braking safety and install flexibility.
For many years REDARC has been manufacturing electric brake controllers that are known as User Controlled. User control allows the driver to adjust the amount of braking force applied to the trailer brakes. It activates when the vehicle brake lights come on, or when the override is pressed. This style of controller has been efficiently and safely pulling up caravans, camper trailers, boat trailers, tradie trailers, horse floats and much more, all over Australia for years.
However, as the leader in electronic brake controller design and manufacture, REDARC reset the benchmark with the Tow-Pro released in mid-2014, and then in 2015 with the next-generation Tow-Pro Elite which offers User controlled braking as well as Automatic braking.
Tow-Pro Elite offers the latest in Automatic (Inertia Sensing) electronic braking technology. Inertia sensing, or automatic brake controllers in years gone by have used what was known as a “pendulum” to measure braking force. The idea being that the mechanical pendulum would swing as force is applied to the controller body by the vehicle decelerating under braking. The pendulum would be attached to a variable resistor or have an arm that ran across a resistive plate, which adjusts a signal to the brains of the controller telling it how hard it should apply the trailer brakes.
Whilst this type of measurement was reasonably effective, and quite advanced in its day, it had some limitations. Being a mechanical moving component it would wear and have “dead spots”, similar to fuel gauge sender units. Additionally, vibration and dust would affect the measurement and resulting braking force.
Some later “solid state” inertia sensing controllers dealt with some of these downfalls by removing the moving components. However there was still the need to mount the brake controller body in a certain direction and within a set angle, in order for the controller to provide measurement across a range of braking conditions.
With the Tow-Pro Elite, REDARC took the theory of measuring inertia and developed technology that eliminated all of the limitations that were inherent with this type of automatic brake controller. Utilising a three-axis accelerometer and advanced software technology developed in house, REDARC provided users with unmatched trailer braking safety, performance and install flexibility.
The three-axis accelerometer sits within Tow-Pro Elite’s main unit and enables it to be mounted out of the way (e.g. behind the vehicles dashboard) in any orientation. Measuring along all three axles also allowed REDARC’s engineers to adjust the braking profile to suit conditions such as ascents, descents, turning and reversing to ensure that the trailer brakes feels like an extension of the vehicle braking.
The Elite also incorporates ‘Active Calibration’ which allows the unit to constantly monitor the direction of travel, removing the need for an initial calibration process. Active Calibration will occur as soon as the vehicle is driven with or without a trailer attached.
Although the Tow-Pro Elite can be mounted in any orientation,it’s important to securely mount it to the vehicle. The internal accelerometer relies on a solid mounting to know how hard the vehicle’s brakes are applied so it can vary its output accordingly.
In addition, the requirements for a suitable connection of a brake controller trigger wire are quite specific. It must provide battery voltage output whilst the vehicle brakes are applied/0 volts output whilst the vehicle brakes are not applied. It must also accept battery voltage when the brake controller manual override is operated and illuminate the trailer’s brake lights.
Another common installation mistake is inadequate wiring or poor connectors. Under full braking force, a trailer can draw as much as 25 amps. Cheaper components such as blade fuses or crimp terminals are often not up to the task of currents of this magnitude.
In March, REDARC released a range of vehicle specific wiring kits that not only makes installation easier but also reduces these common trailer installation mistakes. In total nine kits, directly compatible with 14 popular 4WD vehicles will provide ‘Plugand Play’ style connectivity.
Each wiring kit comes with the complete range of hardware required to install a Tow-Pro Elite electric brake controller and contains a vehicle specific harness with connectors that mate to the vehicles connectors, circuit breaker, mounting hardware, fasteners and detailed fitting instructions. All harnesses are manufactured to OE level standards and quality.
The Tow-Pro Elite is ADR Compliant meaning that the main control knob uses a unique retention nut that allows fitment to varying dashboard thicknesses. Still, when selecting a suitable mounting location for the Tow-Pro Elite, the remote head must be installed in material between 2-3mm thick so that the override button can be depressed correctly. However, this is not always possible for some vehicle types.
To overcome this, and provide even more installation flexibility, REDARC released three switch inserts which allows the installer to create an OE looking remote head mount whilst still maintaining ADR21 compliance when fitted correctly. A switch insert for the Toyota Hilux and Mitsubishi Triton, Holden Colorado and Universal model are available.
The Universal switch insert allows for installation in up to 7mm panel thickness with a simple push action. Supplied in the kit, is a drilling template and self-adhesive gaskets for curved dash installations to produce a professional OE looking fitment for the customer.