Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Some new Gear...

Each time I travel with my van I realize some things need to be making change to make it better is always on my mind.  One thing I'm working on is the problem of not having  a way to charge my electronics when boondocking or in primitive sites. I have only 4 electronics I need to keep cell phone, my laptop, my camera battery, and my DVD player!  I can charge all of these while driving but it can drain my motor battery especially if Im using the air conditioner. Altho my laptop is supposed to play DVD's it won' I carry a small 7" screen DVD player.  It is rechargeable and  watching a movie is a good way to unwind and get ready for sleep.  I've had it a long time.  It can be plugged into a TV if I ever decide to bring something like that along on my camp trips but really don't see that happening in my current van due to space.  I find el'cheapo DVD's (ie): for $10 I got  24 movies! Each box has 2 DVD's and each DVD has 3 movies on each side!! I watched only 4 movies, and most of those I did not see the end as I always fall asleep! Now there is a 7" TV/DVD with an HD antenna. THIS ONE. It can pull in on AIR network channels. I would enjoy one of these then If a signal was present I could get the local weather report.

   I have a 12 volt battery I am now taking with me for charging purposes, and it worked very well charging my electronics on the Florida trip.  Of course I didn't always have internet on my Verizon Wifi...I purchased an Inverter from Walmart and its easy to connect to the battery...I think I blogged this item before.

Schumacher XI41B Power Inverter
Sunforce 1.8 Solar Battery MaintainerIt came with cables and I just hook it up to the battery.  I have an electric battery charger I can use when I get next to an outlet, but without one I need solar power.  I found this small panel, at Harbor Freight along with a Charge Flow Controller.  since my power demands are LOW...all the volts I used outta my battery were replinshed in just a few hrs hooked on this small panel...when I checked the battery  with a voltage meter it was putting out 12.3 volts after chargingThunderbolt Magnum Solar 96728 100 Watt Solar Charge Regulatorthe panel is not big I can put it in any window or on the dashboard, and it works perfectly so far! There was a very good deal on some 45 watt panels but I am not ready for anything that would be surface mounted. I think this will be perfect for me...and there is a bit bigger panel I can add in time a 15 watt one. This one is 1.8 watts its like a trickle charger. and it has a long connection wire. I plug the controller into the panel, then hook the panel to the battery and I leave a window open while its charging. While in Harbor freight I picked up a new battery voltage meter so I can carry it in the glove box...and this panel comes with a plug for the cigarette lighter so I could charge my car battery via that!  They also have a fold-able notebook sized panel I almost got that one, but I like the size of this one better...

And while deciding which panel I would buy I found a wonderful lightweight fold up camp chair with a side table, its very comfy and much lighter than my other chair...the chair I currently use is extremely comfortable, but its so Heavy....sometimes I want to sit but don't want to drag it out of the van so this one I can lift with one hand!!  And the table sold me! They had a tent sale and I got everything marked down...this chair was $24.99  The next thing I had to address is the center fold in my bed.  In summer its fine I bring along my air bed, its cool and comfy but only in summer--- in winter, spring, fall its like sleeping on an ice cube!! 
 62314 Foldable Aluminum Sports ChairSO for $8 I got a pack of those closed cell foam pads for a shop floor! You put them on the floor where you stand for long periods...4 in a pack so now you can NOT find that center fold in my van bed...And I found at Big Lots a 3" memory foam mattress I plan to get the twin size for about $65. Next month maybe that will be in the budget...

Lastly I got this item for those trips when I have more gear than I need! Like my screen room for those times when I am going to camp in one spot for a few days....this cargo carrier plugs right into my trailer hitch holds 500 lbs of cargo! It was reduced to $39.99 in the tent sale so I grabbed it up...I could also use this to carry a bike, spare gas can, firewood, just about crates, a bale of hay...I mean its wonderful...I plan to use it in my daily life for putting my stick containers on so now I dont have to put them inside! AND when mom travels with me she has a large wheeled walker it will fit wonderfully on this carrier! So it won't be in the way of the dogs...Haul-Master 66983 500 Lb. Capacity Deluxe Cargo Carrier
Stick containers? Okay when you have a zillion trees in the yard they drop a zillion sticks I have several bins I use to pick up sticks each week and then I have to take 'em to the recycle center to be ground up!!  So all sorts of NEW GEAR to enjoy!

Eleanor Roosevelt: You must do the thing you think you can not.


  1. Some good buys here, that rear rack will be really handy, ideal for carrying things that you dont want in the van. I read a few RV blogs and solar panels seem to be the thing especially for boondocking. You may have read this blog,
    he's dome some amazing modifications to his van. I have never got my head around motor electrics and can just understand the basics but in our van the leisure battery is wired so that it too charges up as we drive. We stay on sites with electricity as wild camping is not usually allowed in the UK so fitted Solar panels wouldnt be worth it for us. Another factor is that we are often short on the old sunshine.!!

    1. I wish my van was wired that way...all the ambulances I used to drive had it rigged up that way. Certainly would need the sun to make the solar work...they also had this rear carrier in aluminum but it was not on sale, its lighter than the steel one I got....kinda wish now I'd gone for the light weight one.

    2. Would the cost of having an auto electrician wiring in the leisure battery would be very high, as it would be handy. You'd have the back up of the solar panel if you're wild camping and also of just running the engine for a while to charge the batteries. Our Leisure battery will last for a few days if we only use the lights as the fridge and heater work off the propane.

    3. I have not considered it, the cost probably wouldn't be too high, but there is NO room under my hood for another battery so it would have to be placed inside I have a pretty big storage space at the back and this is where it currently resides and I can move it out of the way for daily this is currently the only vehicle I have.

  2. You sure did get some great buys. My deep cycle batter is wired to charge off my truck but I'm not crazy about the way it killed my battery. Of course it could have been totally operator error. But it is amazing how long those batteries last. I have had mine for about 2 yrs now and it is still fully charged. Of course I havent used it all that much. I did finally get one of those little meter to check it.
    I like your power converter I looked at so many and bought a different one but it works just fine for charging the camera battery. Your so much better than I am at understanding all this stuff. But slowly I'm getting there. I love my chair too but it doesn't have the neat little bag on the side and everyone keeps telling me to buy that carrier for the back of the truck. But I couldn't get in or out of my driveway with it on so would need to do all that in the street.

    You sure are making your van into a great camper. Now you even fixed the problem with the bed.

    1. Thanks Jo for all your encouraging words, I know what you mean about the length of the carrier, It will mean watching out for those "dip" type entrances to parking lots I have that problem when Im pulling my utility trailer. I HOPE to get in at least one Spring trip so I can try out all my new "add ons"

  3. Sorry bout that ... I am having a hard time leaving comments here...they went to cyberspace somewhere. You are the greatest Shopper! I showed this one to Bill, especially the part about the foam thingies you bought for your bed...he said that was a great idea and thank you,. He had told me we need to do something about the Roadtrek bed. Before we went to Alaska, he made (welded )a carrier like the one you bought. It works great...

    1. I was so happy to find good prices on some of these things I needed...and some things I didnt need...I think the solid core foam is going to make a big difference...I like a good firm feel to my sleeping space.


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