Introduction

High quality campers are increasing in demand as they offer outdoor adventurers the safety, entertainment, shelter, and creature comforts needed for a memorable camping experience. Generally, hard-shell campers with durable and high-quality construction are limited to full-size pickups due to their larger size and heavy weight.

By using linear actuators and ultra-lightweight folding technology, Cube Series RV aims to offer lightweight, compact, and convenient campers that are also suitable for compact pickups without sacrificing durability. In this case study, we will cover the process, challenges, and solutions the team at Cube Series RV had faced in bringing their Cube Series Camper to life.

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The Company/Industry

As the automotive industry continues making improvements to trucks and other vehicles, the technology behind campers was getting left behind. The average compact truck tends to be limited to campers with flappy canvas pop-ups or hard-shell alternatives which end up being too large and heavy. Former auto-industry veterans Rick Wise and Joe Orr co-founded Cube Series based in Bend, Ore. The Cube Series team with over 40 years of experience working on RVs and campers sets out to create the next generation of campers and trailers.

“There was nothing in the way of a camper that went on like a Tacoma, a Chevy Colorado, a Nissan Frontier, a Ford Ranger,” Wise said. “Anything that was available had the cantilevered bed that went over the top of it, and it was canvas. So, we came up with a hard-sided, folding camper. It’s all fiberglass and aluminum. It’s completely waterproof and it comes in at less than 1,200 pounds.”

The Cube Series campers and trailers offer convenience and ease of use without sacrificing the durability found in higher end hard-shell RVs. By offering lightweight, waterproof, and canvas-free solutions, the team aims to release their Cube Series campers and trailers at a lower price than any comparable model so you can bring your camping experience to the next level.

Why Choose Progressive Automations

Rick Wise, co-founder of Cube Series RV, was browsing online in search for linear actuator solutions that could operate the Cube Series Camper’s folding mechanism. In his search, he came across the Progressive Automations website, which he found to be well organized and easy to use. Our website had the detailed product specifications and datasheets that Rick was looking for to gain a better understanding of our product’s capabilities. Rick later contacted the Progressive Automations team as he wanted our feedback and professional recommendations. From here, our team had set up Guninder to be Rick’s dedicated account engineer.

As the lead B2B Engineer of Progressive Automations, Guninder has extensive knowledge of our product range and studied in the field of Mechatronics Engineering. Since his time with the company, Guninder’s goal has always been to provide the best products for customers' needs.

Guninder provided Rick with excellent service as he was friendly, well experienced, and responsive anytime Rick had questions about our actuator solutions and how to integrate them with his Cube Series Camper. Our detailed website and experienced team gave Rick a great first impression, however, the major selling points that made Rick continue to choose Progressive Automations is our quality and durable products which are backed up by our 18-month warranty. Rick was notably impressed that Guninder could always accommodate his needs. By expediting the shipping times of Rick’s actuator solutions, Guninder ensured that Rick could meet his deadline for the Cube Series Camper to be show ready at the RVDA convention.

The Application

After a long and tiring day in the rain or snow, the inconvenience and exhaustion of setting up manual-type campers is a problem experienced by many outdoor enthusiasts. With the use of electric actuator solutions, the Cube Series Camper aims to have a convenient method of setting up a camper with minimal labor required.

Knowledge of the ever-increasing demand for high quality campers motivated the Cube Series RV team to design a lightweight, durable, and compact camper solution. With this design, their camper solution is not limited to just full-sized pickup trucks, it allows a broader range of audience the opportunity to enjoy the same camping experience. To operate their folding wall mechanism, the Cube Series RV team was in search for linear actuator solutions that could meet the following requirements:

  • Synchronous motion for four actuators to travel the same speed
  • Salt water and corrosion resistance for rough terrain
  • Waterproof and dust tight ingress protection for all weather conditions
  • Sufficient force ratings to lift side walls loaded with a roof top (under 1200 lbs)

The Product

Outdoor adventurers may go on camping trips anywhere and at anytime of the year. Whether being parked near the beach, salt water or next to salted winter roads, a camper solution that was impervious to all weather conditions is crucial for long term durability. The PA-10 was perfect for the job due to the added salt spray coating available.

When multiple actuators are required to travel synchronously, we recommend actuators with hall effect sensors. This is because they have hall effect feedback that goes to a control box which would then be able to make the needed corrections if one side travels at a different speed from the other. Differing speeds can sometimes happen from slightly unequal weight distribution or the speed tolerance from the DC motors (+/- 10%) in the actuators.

The PA-10 actuators do not have hall effect sensors off the shelf; however, we were able to custom manufacture PA-10 actuators with hall effect sensor feedback and 24 VDC motors. This allowed compatibility with our FLTCON-4 control box for synchronous travel of four customized actuators.

Paired with our RT-11 remote, the control box and remote setup allowed Rick to change actuator travel directions, store preset positions and read the actuator’s position through an LED display.

These customized PA-10 actuators were the best fit to meet the requirements for a Cube Series Camper primarily because they are able to travel at the same speed synchronously, offer salt spray protection and are also waterproof with an ingress protection rating of IP68M while in motion, as well as IP69K when static. Each custom PA-10 actuator also has 450 lbs of force rating to easily handle the loads experienced from the side walls and camper roof while being able to operate in temperatures ranging from -20°C to 70°C. The RT-11 remote and FLTCON-4 control box required protection against the elements and was installed from the inside while receiving 110 VAC input power.

Many other products and appliances were integrated to ensure the Cube Series Camper offers a luxurious and comfortable camping experience. Some of the Cube Series Camper’s standard comfort features include:

  • Generator Prep ready Plug & Play
  • Ceiling LED Lights, Plug-In Power Sockets & Plug-In USB Ports
  • 110V Exterior Outlet & Patio Light
  • AGM 12 Volt Deep Cycle Battery
  • Solar Panel Prep Plug & Play
  • 2 Burner Stove & Sink Combo
  • Built-In Refrigerator
  • Built-In Microwave
  • Gas Furnace
  • Memory Foam Bed (44″ x 80″)
  • Aluminum Cabinet Drawers, Storage Doors & Corian Counter Tops
  • Thetford Electric Flushing Cassette Toil
  • Tankless Water Heater with Outside Shower
  • 21 Gallon Fresh Water Tank
  • Shurflo Fresh Electric Water Pump

Challenges & Solutions

Their final solution was a camper made of cutting-edge materials including resilient composites, alloys, rugged aluminum, and fiberglass. With quality construction materials, the Cube Series Camper can handle outdoor weather conditions while offering bear proof durability and weighing less than 1200 lbs fully equipped. The Cube Series Camper can now meet the size and weight constraints of all sub-compact mid-size pickup trucks.

1

The Cube Series RV team found their initial design phase especially challenging as they had to come up with a lightweight and compact camper design without compromise in durability.

2

Sub-compact mid-size pickups which had to fit in a standard sized garage and parking spot were kept in mind during the entire design process.

3

Another goal of the team was to achieve bear proof durability to meet the laws and regulations found in certain campsites.

RESULTS

Users of the Cube Series Camper enjoyed an improved level of convenience through our actuator solutions which require no manual labor when raising and collapsing the camper’s side walls and roof. The synchronous motion of our custom actuators ensured smooth camper operation without getting jammed in the middle of travel. As most of the camper’s setting up is done by the actuators, all that is left for users to manually push and lock into place are the two remaining lightweight inside walls.

“Power actuators put the two sides up – the load-bearing walls – and then the two inside walls are just pushed up manually and lock into place,” - Rick Wise

The Cube Series Camper had a successful show at the RV Dealers Association (RVDA) meeting in November 2021. A towable unit featuring the same foldable technology is currently in the works and will be available sometime in 2022.

“In two days, we signed up over 30 dealers who want our product as much as they can get,” - Rick Wise

Below is a video of the Cube Series Camper in action:


PA Product Used

PA Product Used

Hall Effect Sensor Actuator IP66

Model: PA-04-HS

  • Voltage: 12 VDC, 24 VDC
  • Stroke: 6-40 inch
  • Force: 400 lbs
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Final Word

By integrating the right equipment and supplies, the Cube Series RV team can now take advantage of their ultra-lightweight folding technology for their Cube Series Camper. This new and innovative camper solution offers the means for compact pickups to experiencing all the benefits found in quality hard-shell alternatives while still being lightweight, compact, and convenient.

The teams at Progressive Automations and Cube Series RV are both excited to continue working together and look forward to the Cube Series Camper’s future release into the market!

As one of the top suppliers of electric linear actuators, Progressive Automations offers industry leading flexibility, quality, support, and field experience to meet all your needs. If you have any other questions on what we can offer, please do not hesitate in reaching out to us! We are experts in what we do and want to ensure you find the best solutions for your application.

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