Category Archives: Tips

Upgrading Solar on the Vome

So the time has come to show some more of the VOME build out.  SO, here’s another “how did” video and a little introduction.

I wanted to increase the ability to charge my house batteries in lower light levels, without unpacking the folding  panel and just the overall redundancy the extra panel would provide.  Spending time in all kind of places presents challenges for using solar.  Out west in the desert areas it’s a sure thing you can find the sunshine you need.  The shade of a forest is a different story, no different book.

I mounted the panel from my old van on top of the VOME near the rear since the rooftop real estate was a bit crowded.  My plan was to leave room for expansion, and now we expand.  Let’s look at what I did and “how did” when it came to mounting these on a fiberglass roof.  But first consider the roof is actually two “skins” an outer one and an inner one.  The problem this presents is I can’t get to the outer skin from inside to install a backing plate.  That’s why I’ll be using a fastener called a well nut.IMG_20160813_100404.jpgHere’s a video that explains how these fasteners work… Kayak Fishing – Hardware Installation Options, Rivets and Well Nuts.  Now that you’ve seen how they work let me also point out they work to provide a certain amount on isolation from vibration.  IMG_20160813_100415.jpgThe one I’m using here is for a 1/4″-20 bolt and required a hole that was 1/2″ in diameter to allow it to be inserted.IMG_20160813_100512.jpgUsing stainless steel bolts and washers to anchor the brackets on the panel to the roof.IMG_20160813_113348.jpgNotice how as you tighten the bolt it not only expands in the hole to grip it also seals against the roof.  Because there is only rubber in contact with the fiberglass it will not try to wear it’s way out.IMG_20160813_113457.jpgThe outcome???

Well I’m satisfied.  The electrical outcome???

Well turning on everything I could and with the sun playing hide and seek behind clouds the buss voltage bounced happily between 13.1 and 14.2 volts.

This allows us to be more independent in our travels and adventures.

“Get out, Be safe, Go adventure.”

 

Flip the ‘Fridge

This is an experiment to turn a small dorm refrigerator into a chest-type cooler/freezer.  My reasons for this are quite simple.  With a chest-type you don’t lose the “cold bubble” every time you open the door and so the compressor runs less.  And less is good when your running your fridge off of batteries and an inverter.

This is the standard dorm style fridge purchased from a big box store.  This particular one is the Haier mini refrigerator that Walmart sells.  The cost of these range from $60-$110 depending on the size.  I’m working with the smallest size since space is a premium in the van, and since I bought this one from good friend for this  experiment.

******** S A F E T Y   N O T  E *********

WEAR GLOVES WHEN HANDLING BRACKETS AND WORKING AROUND THE RAW EDGES OF THE SIDES AND BACK.  These parts are stamped from sheet metal and may have sharp edges.

DO NOT WEAR GLOVES WHEN USING ROTATING POWER TOOLS SUCH AS DRILLS.    DO WEAR SAFETY GLASSES WHEN USING POWER TOOLS.

So, on with it.

Remove the mounting screws that hold the bottom to the sides
Remove the mounting screws that hold the bottom to the sides

I removed the mounting screws from the bottom plate and then began to move it to the new bottom.  Work slowly and deliberately when moving the plate to the new side, er bottom.  The tubing coming from the inside of the fridge is copper and is pretty strong.   Bend it in an arc along it’s length being careful not to kink it.  This is the hardest and most nerve racking part, so take your time. Protect yourself from cuts by covering the edges with a rag.

The edges my be sharp, so cover them.
The edges my be sharp, so cover them.

As you can see the copper tubing will have to be gently bent down, in the picture above, as the compressor and mounting plate are moved.  I used the same screws I took out to secure the plate in this new position.  Notice that the mounting plate has a raised portion in the middle.  So this new bottom would not allow it set level.

Add a spacer to level up the new bottom.
Add a spacer to level up the new bottom.

Add a spacer of some sort to level up the bottom.  In my case I used a scrape piece of wood flooring.  And the project is basically finished at this point.

Back view of completed unit.
Back view of completed unit.

So  how well does it work?  I set the thermostat above half-scale and in about thirty minutes it was 35 degs.  The best part is the compressor was not running for most of that time.  It was actually cycling on and off.  Now the real test.   I turned the thermostat all the way to super cold.  When I checked it later it was 28 degs inside and again the compressor was not running.

I can’t wait to see how it works in real use.  The current draw is around 1.4  amp.  Should be able to run off a 500 watt inverter.  I can scarcely wait to get it in the new van for a trial run.

+++ Added footnote +++

As someone pointed out, I failed to mention that my fridge was left in it’s new orientation until the next morning BEFORE powering on.  This wait period allows the lubricant in the Freon to drain back into the compressor before starting it.  It’s a good practice anytime you turn a compressor from it’s upright position to allow a little time to redistribute the oils.

Thanks for pointing that out.

As always…

Get out, Be safe, and go adventure.

Installing a Vent Visor for ventilation

This is another post describing the build out of the new van and the installation of some of the goodies.

Today while camped at Tumbling Creek in the Cherokee National Forest in Tennessee I installed the vent visors on the new van.  And here’s a step by step to explain the process.

This is the brand that I installed.   I chose the “in track” style to make the installation quick and easy.

This is the brand that I used but the installation of all of the "in track" models is basically the same.
This is the brand that I used but the installation of all of the “in track” models is basically the same.
The contents were the two visors, a scotchbrite  pad, and alcohol wipes
The contents were the two visors, a scotchbrite pad, and alcohol wipes

Following the instructions begin by “scuffing” the window track with the provided ScotchBrite pad.

Scruffing the felt in the window track
Scuffing the felt in the window track

Next wipe the track with the provided alcohol wipe to remain any dust left by the scuffing.

Now wipe the inside of the track with one of the wipes
Now wipe the inside of the track with one of the wipes

Peel back the tape to expose the adhesive on each end leaving the rest of the tape in place until the visor is in place.

Peel back the tape on each end leaving it in place in the middle
Peel back the tape on each end leaving it in place in the middle

Once you are satisfied with the positioning, then remove the rest of the tape and roll up the window.

Slide the visor into the window track being sure to get it completely in place.
Slide the visor into the window track being sure to get it completely in place.

Leave the window rolled up holding the visor in place for 24hrs to allow the adhesive to set up completely.  This will give you a very nice looking install and allow you to leave the windows cracked even in the rain.

The final shot
The final shot

That’s how you do it.  Now I can drive or camp with the window cracked in the rain.

I hope this helps someone with their efforts to make their van more comfortable.

 

As always…

Get out, Be safe, and Go adventure.