“if someday they say that, through my work, I have contributed to the well-being of man. I will be satisfied”~ George Westinghouse. (Just another Capitalist that made America great)
I am getting a little burned out on watching other people on YouTube, DOING, what we plan to do. I am not resentful, only a little bit envious, and sad to admit more than a little bit scared. (only YOU, my hairdresser, and my teddy bear know this so keep it quiet)
I spent the last 10 years building the “perfect” life, complete with a 2400Sq Ft. custom smart house (Tammy made it a smartHOME), a thriving small business, and a rat race life. I cannot believe we have been “downsizing” for almost 2 years and still have stuff of value left. And what we want to take still won’t fit in the van.
The truth is, “living with less” is still not completely real to me even though we have sold over $10k worth of “stuff’ and don’t miss any of it.
Today, we were passed by a sprinter covered with stickers. It was obviously the mobile palace of a man and his queen who had made good on our promise.
We all found the courage the courage to pull over and meet each other.
AS ALWAYS. I was immediately overwhelmed with gratitude for the people my higher power insists that I meet. We shared sprinter stories and accolades, a little sun, ideas, and many smiles and laughs, it was a beautiful interlude to a long day.
Dan and Kristina are real people who are living full time in (or out of) a sprinter. They built it, and they are living it!
I needed the reminder of what it is all about. Thank YOU!
MagicSprinter gets about 50 new “users” a day. I am sure the vast majority is spam. I have been to cheap to pay for the advanced spam filter so I just went in a bulk deleted users (and their comments) IF you are/were a legit user, you may have to start over with the registration process.
If not, meet my new best friend. The akismet WP spam filter.
Sorry for the inconvenience…
Ok, I have not updated in a loooong time. I am truly sorry In my defense we have been enjoying an epic Alaska summer, and working on the MagicSprinter pretty much everyday.
The trip to Fairbanks, then Juneau (see the gallery for pictures) produced a punch list of things that were not on the short list.
- Mosquito netting over the big door. (DONE) see the galery.
- Rotate the bed 90 degrees and make it 80 inches from 70 inches long. Guess whos idea that was 🙂 DONE, and excellent! we can both stretch out and we made some new for storage.
- Integrate Alexa. (Almost done) The miles of programming are done, and tested. I just need to put the DAQPi back in, test everything, wire it back up, buy another echo, etc, Ad infinitum I will probably find another excuse to rewire the backplane in the process.
- Bulkhead at back door, or head of bed, depending on perspective. Done but needs a hinge the jams for the escape hatch
- Must include escape hatch
- Should be usable for hanging storage
- Kitty containment
- cargo net at foot of bed. (not even started)
- Kitty containment
- External cell booster, and 4G antenna. (DONE, but I have ideas to make it work better)
- TV. (research started)
- Additional batteries (cuz i suddenly feel like i am wasting solar energy) this is on the short list for the next time we can afford it (SOON)
So, since some of our punch list is done, we decided to work on a form over functionality project. Finishing the interior wood.
I have always planned to sand/poly/sand more/poly/ sand again/poly, repeat until happy method of finishing the interior as natural wood. Today, I am leaning toward finishing the trim, and hitting it with a nice coat of chalk paint.
The desk, which is 3/4 oak plywood that has been abused and unfinished for 3 years will probably get a good sanding, a burned in outline of Alaska, and a 16th of an inch of clear epoxy. As a matter of fact, that is a project I can start now 🙂
Back to work!
Time was running out so I went to a local company and asked their opinion. And I am glad I did! I was stuck in analysis paralysis. Casey at Susitna Energy helped me get over it and pull some triggers. He convinced me that 300 watts (one panel) was enough, then he convinced me that I would be very happy with the Midnight Solar Kidd 30 amp charge controller, even though it did not have a remote display, or a hacking cult. I knew we were about to get busy and this was an important upgrade to get checked off my list before things get serious. Turns out, I was right about all that.
So, the first visit I brought home the panel, ($400) and started designing the mount in my head (more for another post) I researched charge controllers again, and decided if I could mount the charge controller in the right place, I wouldn’t need the extra install time for a remote display, and if ever get bored I will hack the controller if necessary. Second trip, I brought home the 30 amp Midnight Solar “kidd”
Installation took about 2 days with perfection and fabrication of the homegrown (tracking ready) mount. (still working on the tracking mechanism but the panel is mounted and I have at least one pivot point to work with in the future.
It is mounted spanning the top rails of the Ladder rack, plenty of airflow to keep them cool (and more efficient) and no self induced shadowing. I powered up the system at about 8PM on an overcast night and started making about 10 watts (that is better than 0)
12 hours later we took off for a 750 mile+, 72 hour jaunt to Fairbanks. It was sunny and 81 in Fairbanks and while we were parked at the job site, we saw 230+ watts and “Float” (which is why Casey recommended more batteries.
I currently have 2 Duracell 240Wh 6 volts, but watching the charge controller I now feel that I am wasting “free” energy, and want to be able to store more. (next project)
With the solar, we can keep the batteries topped off, and make ice (and other coldness) in the fridge (about 6.5 amps 70ish watts) and power the DC stuff without charging off the engine. We still start the engine to run the microwave for over about 30 secs. Incidentally, tonight we ran the micro on defrost (on a couple of New York’s) for 14 minutes with the engine running, and the solar panels contributing about 30 watts. The battery (the collection of batteries) still look like they will make it through the night.
Fast forward. We returned from the Fairbanks trip at noonish on Thursday, shit showered, shaved and did laundry then left for Juneau (1500 miles+ plus a ferry ride, plus a border crossing, 24 hours later. Except for the 23 hours at home, we have been “boondocking” for almost a week and have done over 1600 miles.
It is now Sunday night, we are in Juneau AK. We have made our own ice from the power of the sun all week, kept a lot of Dr. Peppers, and Rockstars nice and cold, NOT eaten out (because we brought real food in the fridge,) and thawed 2 New York strip(s) with a microwave without an electric bill. The grill is ready to light and we are tucked into a national forest campsite (for 10 bucks a night, NO HOOKUPS) cuz Juneau is a tourist town and frowns upon squatting.)
It has been an amazing magic sprinter week. We have taken 2 trips of a lifetime through Alaska and the Yukon. Check out @AlaskaTammy for the travelogue.
Priority projects. (in order)
- External (directional) antenna for the 4G router
- Get the cell booster working better (external directional antenna)
- 2 more batteries.
- Better, more secure, convenient mount for the torch.
I seem to have a mental block with math, or at least with numbers. I can feel my brain, walk a way when confronted with numbers. I can’t see, or remember model numbers of equipment, or designators, or whatever. In math, though I usually understand the equations enough to figure them out, but, I have trouble getting the numbers into the right place in equations.
So today (this week actually) I am working laboriously at figuring out my power (from solar) requirements to bring the magicsprinter one step closer to “expedition vehicle” status, or at least full time vanlife status. (it will never be 4wd unless I find a way to raise the 25k price of conversion). So, “fulltime vanlife” is probably the apex of the magicsprinters identity.)
Lack of power is your dilemma…
Since installing the (residential) refrigeration unit (4.5 ft2 ) I have been forced to try and understand the numbers. I know the fridge draws about 6 Amps (70 watts) at the battery. (my fantastic fan draws at 1 to 3 amps) I don’t know how much my interior lighting draws (cuz I don’t have any, and it is summer in Alaska, so it is light out way later than I need interior lighting.) I can probably safely give it a number of 2 amps (24 watts) But, I am having trouble converting that to the important number of kWh (Kilowatt hours)
I am pretty sure my design needs to work from that number, I have to spend a grand or two to find out.
Here is what I know so far…
- Monochristaline solar panels. (12v in series to
match the input of the charge controller (voltage and wattage)
- Independent (self-cooling) mounts (not flexible stickyback)
- MPPT charge controller
- Matched to solar panels (V?, W?)
- Match to battery bank.
- I Have 2 6V 240Ah wet cells.
- May want to convert to lithium in future (if I can ever afford it)
- Would like to optimize the charge control for maximum life of battery
- Inverter/charger/transfer switch
- I Probably need around 3Kw Invertor (I currently
- I would like Inversion, charge control (from mains) and automatic transfer (mains to battery) to be automatic, transparent, and perhaps integrated into one unit.
- I Probably need around 3Kw Invertor (I currently have 2k)
- Do I need to increase my capacity?
- Physical plant
- Heavy gauge wire
- Good connectors
- Circuit protection (breakers)
- Sealed roof penetrations
- Custom mounts for solar panel(s)
I have been making a materials list but still have not settled on any of the components (The numbers still don’t seem to want to line up in my head)
Sometimes, the paved road, becomes a gravel road, that peeters out into a tail.
~wisdom from @awesomeplayers
We added a Budget model (from target) whirlpool refrigerator/freezer. I will post the details if it works out.
Initially it drew 6.56 amps (about 75 watts on a 12V inverter, 1 of those amps being the inverter itself.).
It froze water in the freezer part, and the fridge part seems cold (BUT, it is in the low 40s ambient) . It shut off and has not drawn a dime since. I am going to let it go all night. The “Coach” batteries are at 12.5ish now, (19:30) and the inverter is idling. (because the new refrig is not having to refrig much)
I will post again in the AM with the results…
If the coach batts are still above 12V, annnd the inverter hasn’t errored out, I will be VERY happy.
I have trouble seeing what WE do as extraordinary. Maybe it is an Alaskan thing. Maybe the things I get to see, and get to do in the last frontier are extraordinary to most. Maybe they have become mundane to us.
WE did a couple 120 mile (round) trips to Anchorage for some good jobs from some good “buyers” Being what it is (a 24 foot long 9.75 foot tall extended wheelbase van) it gets around great even in tight alleys, downtown, parking lots, etc.
We headed to Soldotna Thursday morning (200 miles one way), to do a circuit cut over and network upgrade for one of our favorite national clients. While we were in Soldotna we were blessed to help out on of our “local” clients with a few pressing issues (install a few extra cameras, and help guide her through “porting” a couple of her phone numbers to AT&T (more on why, later, maybe)
While working the circuit cutover we were able to use the 4G LTE/WiFi hotspot magic of the magic sprinter to provide “out of band” access for the upstream engineers. It worked great and because of it we were able to avoid a costly abort for our client
Now we are back at the home shop and contemplating some reworks of the magic sprinter to make it even more full time friendly.
Ideas we are working
- Indoor toilet ,and perhaps a “stealth urinal”
- Outside shower (can wait until warmer weather)
- More organized storage for clothes
- Water cooler/heater
- Change the orientation of the bed, so we can make it a little longer, and provide a desk surface for Tammy
- PTZ camera on a retractable mast on the roof
- Fix and finish a few current design flaws.
- Better inside organization
- Space (coach) heater/furnace
- Back up the magic DAQC. I have written miles of code for the DAQC system, and I have never backed it up. Oops. I was recently writing some code on a similer system for another project, and lost it all after about 30 hours of coding 🙁 that reminded me to back up the code in the sprinter.
- Much better inside lighting.
I will try to make this short and sweet. This is dedicated to the guy in the Honda that gave us a shout out and thumbs up in traffic today. YOU know who you are (but I don’t) THANK, YOU! I needed that to get back on track.
SO, what has happened since I posted last?
- We had an earthquake. A big one by most standards, BUT, we survived, and hung out in the magic sprinter because it had power, and broadband while the rest of our world didnt.
- We listed our house. We are now seriously down the rabbit hole of going “full time”
- Somebody reminded me that my business has value, by showing interest in buying the business, (including the sprinter)
- I did a bunch of “epiphany awareness” and realized that the things I have built, have value. (house 200k, Sprinter, 50k Dreamweavers 300k) (Checkbook 67.34)
- Tammy and I took a whirlwind (work) trip to Soldotna (middle of the night, jaunt through Alaska in February) after a last minute (2 year to late) install of the lightforce light cannon LED’s)
- “I will miss the magic sprinter” became a theme of the trip. As always, the journey in the magic sprinter, no matter how arduous, was comfortable, and magical.
- On the way home, I got an email from the guy who wants to buy DreamWeavers. I have read enough of it to know he wants DW, but doesnt want to cash me out of the sprinter. (I try NOT to read emails while driving 85 on black ice )
- We are home now (safe) I will read the rest of his proposal tomorrow….
Gotta go with what the universe thinks I deserve….