Van Projects

My work on robots and the Apple II has been quiet lately, but I’ve been busy.  My latest project is a conversion van, which I will live in full-time.  The goal is to be self-sufficient, including power and Internet connectivity, anywhere in the U.S. for at least a week.  Sure, my house will be small, but my backyard will be huge.  To achieve this, I’ve been working on several projects.

  1. Solar Power – The van carries a battery bank, solar array, and optional charging from the alternator.  I’ve spent time analyzing my power requirements, understanding how the components connect and work together.  I’m installing a battery monitor to measure charge and discharge rates.  It’ll be interesting to see how the system performs compared to my predictions.
  2. Two-way Radio – Since I’ll be traveling in places well off the beaten path, I’m installing a ham radio for emergency communication and staying connected.  I just got my first amateur radio license, KD0QXJ.
  3. Integrated computer – I’m integrating a small computer into the van to provide backup service for a laptop, wireless access point, firewall and router for a satellite Internet connection, and file server.  Also, the computer provides monitoring and data logging for internal temperature sensors, GPS receiver, battery monitor, and solar charge controller.  The goal is to monitor all the major systems of the van from a tablet computer to reduce the number of control panels mounted on the walls, consolidate monitoring in one convenient location, and capture historical data.

These projects are coming together very soon, and I’ll share details as I get them.