Stuff We See (and are willing to share with customers)

Build update.

A month or so ago, I decided to keep the Magic Sprinter. Business has picked up a little and the payments are not hurting as bad. I have slowly renewed my enthusiasm and commitment to the project.

And I am glad i did. Read about the latest EPIC road trip here…

3 weeks ago I decided to put the new backplane in. don’t ask how or why it has taken this long. Lets just say it has been a long hard winter.

The new backplane went in without a hitch, and has been working almost glitch free for a couple weeks! the rev.1 interface board has been flawless except for a few design errors.
After a month of fiddling with the software, I trashed all of my work, reformatted, downloaded the latest jesse, and headed down the Node-Red road. I made more progress with the UI in one week than I made in two years the old way :) Yea, javascript does suck when I need to do something custom, but it sucks considerably less than scratch building everything in python/flask/jango/etc. Maybe someday, i will slow down enough to become proficiant at scratch coding, but for now, I am very happy to use lego block coding.


  • Magic sprinter is now tweeting!!! you cann follow us at @MagicSprinter on twitter.
  • I built another quick down and dirty interface board to run the DS18s (4 of them)
  • Replaced the 2 Die hard RV 12V RV marine batteries with 2 6V 240 Ah batteries. VAST improvement. The die hards seemed to never live up to my expectations, so far (1 boondocking epic road trip later) I am very happy with my investment.
  • Conversion to Code-Red as my programming platform. I was always hesitant to do this because I have a PiPlates DAQplate incorporated in the backplane for AD and other chores, and there are no Code-Red nodes or Flows for the PiPlates family. However, I was able to incorporate pythn functions to read and write to the DAQplate in no time and the results are fabulous!


2017 Kickoff

Posted from Fairbanks, Alaska, United States.

May 30, 2017

Fairbanks Alaska (Actually more like Ester) 55 F when i went to bed, 44 F when I got up. Sun woke me up at about 0430 (gotta LOVE the arctic in the summer!

Okay, this is like the third trip of this season, first two were to Soldotna. This trip I drove up to Fairbanks on memorial day for a quick job the next day. Still getting my shit together (as in I have not yet stashed toilet paper in the sprinter)

I camped in my favorite spot on the banks of the Chena river. It was kind of dreary and cold (as all spring has been this year) but today the sun is out and the day looks promising. Unfortunately I am only going to be here a couple hours. :( Then back to the valley were I am pretty sure it is still raining, and or snowing.

Anyway, I posted a few pictures of this trip in the gallery section. Enjoy!

Been a while

I have neglected the last 15 thousand miles so, i will try  to make it up in as few words as possible.

June: (with the BEST road partner one could ask for)

Drove to Haines, took ferry to Juneau, stayed a week or so (worked) then did the whole thing in reverse.  AWESOME! I will try to get the gallery up.

(Rest of) June:

Chena Hot springs, Camped on Chena road. Fairbanks, Denali park Seward, (Hiked and camped at Exit glacier) Kenai and I think even Homer.


At least a couple trips to Fairbanks and Kenai. And another trip to Seward (stayed on a friends boat. )




Hunting on the Denali Highway.  8 days Bob and i, a boat, a side by side, a bunch of guns, and nothing but nothing as far as the eye (or $1000 binocs) can see. Trailered for the first time (Probably under 4k Lbs.) BUT I trailered 2ce across the 140 mile long dirt road we call the Denali. Performance OUTSTANDING!


I am pretty sure we hunted Paxton and the Denali in October. I remember we got seriously snowed on. I know we did a windi night that got down to 10 below.


Cleaned it out and gave it to Johnny to use as his company rig. New studded snow tires made this thing a tank on ice or in snow. I know Johnny went steelhead fishing in it to the Anchor river at least 2ce.


Went to Wisconsin and Florida (took an airplane) Wished i had the sprinter, looked at big motorhomes so i wouldn’t have to fly back.


Flew back from Florida, got off the plane in (-10˚)Anchorage in shorts, flipflops and a smile…Drove to Fairbanks the next day (-50˚) “Camped” in a hotel room.


The rest remains to be revealed…


Update 8/3

Ok, while I have it in my head. The voltage divider circuit I cobbled together to drop 12V into direct logic and analog inputs at ~5V seems to produce a logarithmic relationship instead of a linear one.

So, Lets review my “totally cobbled together out of what I had” Voltage divider circuit. (be easy on me)

voltage-divider (1)

This is pretty close to what I built. The calculators say the output voltage will be about 3.70 Problem is, this doesnt give me a wide enough scale to measure accurately. The multiplier of the equation introduces, and amplifies to much deviation.

But, who cares? I  autonomously streamed  data (erroneous as it is) to a cloud database, and ultimately to a web-page. Click on “Telemtry” above

Next step? stream more erroneous data, OR, step back and redesign for better accuracy?

The temp sensors are another story, for another day…

Oh, I just noticed the timestamp is off by 8 hours. (Presumably: UTC-9=AST+DST (extra points if you figure that out. ))



The roof rack

I tackled the roof rack in late May, I had some jobs coming up that were going to require I haul the 12 foot step all over the state. Since I can not handle the rattling of ladders inside, and the 12 footer takes up way to much space. So, I did what any red blooded american would do, and I built an elaborate roof rack!

One of my super powers is that I can (sort of) weld aluminium, I have done a few small projects, and most of them are still holding together, so, why not tackle a 15X5 foot beast that has to be perfectly aligned, and look good, and function?

Of-course, I am writing this after the fact. So here are the statistics.

  • Material:  > 500.00 (not including the off road lights that I already had)
  • Labor: I stopped counting at about 50 hours.  I could probably build another one in 30 or 40 but the first one always takes the longest.
  • Considerations: I still have not figured out if I want to finish it. I had a suggestion to paint it white to match the van, but, I still have not wrapped my brain around what that will take.

I promise, I will get some pictures of the build process up soon.


Update 8/1

400 miles round trip to Kenai today.


  • the seats suck at about 4 hours, then I get numb
  • The ladder rack, and the cool off-road lights are costing me about 5 Mpg.
  • The DAQC ran all day  on the Belkin powerpack 6600. It did so , because it is picky about cables, and doesnt like my USB power buss.  ( think I have it charging and pumping now )
  • I figured I was going to round-trip it but, i could/should have been more prepared for an overnight
  • I went over 40K miles today, and she promptly told me it was time for the 40K service. We will see how persistent she gets…


  • Powered the DAQC from an external source for over 10 hours. (oops)
  • I have the app (GUI, whatever)  pumping data to a database in the cloud. ( about every 5 seconds)
  • I (we) survived a 400 mile trip to the Kenai during tourist and dipnetting season.


I am a (almost) a total python noobe, I say almost because the other day I caught myself constructing a function without looking up how to do it.   I program in spurts, once, maybe twice a year, I will sit down for a couple months, in my underwear, chain smoke,  not eat, turn off my phone,  and frantically write some code that is either out of date by the time I get it done, OR, I end up chasing shiny objects (other ways to do it) until I loose interest, and move on to something else. (Hunting season is looming so I must make progress before THAT shiny object takes me away for a month or two).

I rarely ever accomplish much….or do I?

We will get back to that. Today, (this month, and half of last) I am writing the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd iteration of the Magic Sprinter GUI (Python). I started in tKinter, moved toFLASK, and tried flask sockets and json.

I settled for an http refresh tag in the header to accomplish what I cant seem to grasp in json. (Ill get back to it I promise….)

For now, it sort of works in plain old GET, and PUT,  (with the aforementioned http refresh)  from a FLASK template, We will see how long that holds up.

I did just pull off the first (correct) 1000 db entries into the cloud db. Real time telemetry is not far away.

Today, I learned the all important lesson of abstracting your functional code from your GUI code. Not even sure what that means, but I know I need to learn how to make it happen

Stay tuned…

The Short List

  • Abstract the functional layer of the GUI from the Web Layer (Priority)
  • Add “Vent State” to GUI
  • Add “Engine State” to GUI
  • Finish Switch code for Lights, and fan
  • Seal Roof Rack mounts
  • 5 Volt Buss (UPS)  (Sparkfun Lipo Babysitter OR Breadboard ) power supply (temporary)) UPDATE: Used 6000mh power pack, Working well, but not monitor, yet…)
  • DAQ-Plate Mount
  • Roof antennae for 4G modem
  • Urinal
    • Lady Frinedly design)
  • Engine telemetry (OBD)
  • Add real time telemetry to

Longer List

  • IR output
  • New TV in Back
  • Solar Panels/Controller.
  • On the fly adjustable air bags on rear suspension
  • BIG enclosed trailer.

Just another sprinter fan