RV-Bridge Takes HomeKit To The Open Road

A gray 3d-printed box with RV-bridge embossed on it, and a connector-terminated bundle of wires coming out of it.

In the world of proprietary protocol darkness, it’s comforting to see that the RV realm (Recreational Vehicle, also known as a motorhome) has mostly settled on RV-C, an open protocol that lets various devices and systems inside an RV talk to each other over CAN. The undeniable openness of RV-C is surprising, but we haven’t seen many hobbyists tinker with it — yet.

Now, [Randy Ubillos] sets an example — his gift to us is an ESP32 firmware called RV-Bridge and it lets you control your RV’s RV-C network from HomeKit. After all, your motorhome could benefit from home automation, too!

The RV-C network in [Randy]’s family RV already had a factory-provided front-end and an iOS app, but naturally, it had a limited set of features. Having looked around online he found that both RV-C and HomeKit had open libraries for them, and set out to join these worlds together.

Now he’s released the first revision of RV-Bridge, fully-featured enough for comfortable day-to-day use, and with a setup guide for those who want to try it out! When it comes to hardware, you’ll want an ESP32 board with CAN support — [Randy] has found a perfect board for sale, and made it even more fitting by designing a 3D printed case for RV use; as usual, files are on GitHub!

Making your stock RV more comfy through hacker methods is exactly what we expect to grace our tips line! The kinds of RV projects we’ve seen so far, are also outstandingly cool, yet of different kind – things like building your own RVs out of something not meant to be an RV, whether it’s an abandoned airliner, a school bus, or a jet engine! Oh, and if your hackerspace owns a RV, you can always convert it to something else, be it a mobile hackerspace or a spaceship simulator.

19 thoughts on “RV-Bridge Takes HomeKit To The Open Road

  1. I assume the reason not many RV-C projects exist is because RVs are bloody expensive. Especially newer ones that would have such amenities. Think about the Venn diagram of hardware hackers, people who are interested in having an RV, and people who can afford a newish one – the intersection of these is probably not that huge.

    You also don’t see too many DIY projects involving private jets or yachts.

    1. My Dad’s RV is just a couple years to old for this sort of thing, otherwise I could see him asking me to do something like this for him. But he tends to upgrade every few years, so I’ll be keeping an eye on this project.

      1. Yeah, yachts have the same issue. Newer ones have nice CAN bus systems but if it’s large enough then you’re already paying for someone to upgrade and maintain it for you. It does make for an interesting thought experiment about how you could become a literal pirate of the high seas by hijacking the sizable yacht via CAN bus when the crew is off to lunch. :)

        1. Boats also suffer from the awful proprietary piece of shit that is NMEA2000, which adds boat tax to everything. Very pleasantly surprised to see RV-C showing how it could also have been.

  2. Now this I will have to look into this. I was just about ready to start hooking up a bunch of sensors and esp devices to start automating our RV. This could make that a lot easier, sure hope it works out!
    Many thanks for this post.

  3. Combining my RV experiences with HomeKit experiences = recipe for comedy. When Siri hears benign conversation and thinks I said “Hey Siri Set Up Camp” then the whole RV starts transforming while I’m driving down the road at 70mph. Awning drops, all the TVs turn on, generator kicks in, satellite antennae extends fully, stove turns on, hydraulic RV legs fully extend, sliders pushing out from every direction….

    1. Heh! That’s why the project only does lights, fans, switches, and climate control. The more benign stuff from a safety standpoint. (And specifically notes that care must be taken during configuration to not accidentally specify any of the control outputs for things like slides and bunks.)

        1. That’s true for drop-down bunks, but the slides require the engine to be running to operate. There’s a big “Make sure the brake is on and the jacks are down” warning that pops up before you get to the screen with the actual controls on the RV’s panel and in the iOS app, but you could totally extend the slides with the vehicle moving if you wanted to.

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