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Lithium Starter Batteries

This is a catch-up post, not a very recent activity. It was a while back that I deep discharged my starter batteries again. Had not started the truck for a while and the lead batteries were flat again .. That was the signal for me to finally get the swap done to Lithium batteries. I am tired of lead batteries failing just because they were a bit discharged.

It is tight under the bonnet and my batteries have terminals on the side and not on the top because they would not fit anymore. The Lithiums are 40aH batteries and are […]

TV Lift

We will have a larger TV in the van on a lift in a box behind the dinner table. At the moment we will probably use one of our 40″ LEDs I have from a project. It has a glass front and a touch frame so I can use it as a touch screen for a pc as well not just as a TV. However we plan to put a larger one in there eventually and I have adjusted the height for the lift accordingly to fit a 55″ SUHD from Samsung. It will not be heavier than the […]

Truck Coupling

Today I finally got around to install my goose neck coupling on the truck.
I got a good workout without a hoist. 50 times out under the truck and back.
The exhaust had to go first to make some room and the the install was not that bad.
Above is the hole.

This image shows how I pulled the center section of the coupling up against the truck bed from below. That made installing the bolts a lot easier.

Below is the center section of the coupling under the bed. 1.5″ bolts go into the frame through existing holes and towards the front I have two big […]

A Van With A Balcony

By |March 21st, 2015|SPECIFICATIONS|0 Comments

After the last visit to the Caravan & Camping show I got some more homework to do. We have seen a caravan with a fold down deck. However it was in the front of the van over the A-frame, which is not really an option for us and it was done in a way I would not want to do it for our van.

The deck looked nice and all detail was well thought through, but there were a couple of aspects, which I would want to do differently. First of all it was too heavy with over 100kg added […]

Container From The US

By |February 9th, 2015|COMPONENTS & MATERIALS|0 Comments

At Shipping Etc in Lafayette Luisiana


On October the 8th 2014 I placed the first order in the US to be shipped to Lafayette in Luisiana. My shipping consolidator was located there. The comapny name is Shipping Etc and they do shipment consolidations, but normally not from 46 different suppliers and not into a 20′ container which has to be hand loaded and stacked to the top. Well, but that is the way to make it economical.

The guys at Shipping Etc. went out of their way to get my excentric request accomodated. I have not yet been able to check […]

Custom Made Components

By |January 22nd, 2015|COMPONENTS & MATERIALS|0 Comments

Since I do not use a standard suspension setup from a third party supplier it is inevitable that I have some custom parts to make. I mean the hole chassis and body is a custom part, but here I am talking about the little stuff.

For example, the mount plate for the swing arm is stell and it is bolted to the alu chassis. We gaet to that later what provisons I take to prevent galvanic corrosion.

At this stage I just list the custom parts I need.

The suspension hanger with counter plate to sandwich an alu plate, which is welded […]

240 Volt System

By |January 22nd, 2015|COMPONENTS & MATERIALS|0 Comments

For the 240V system I have decided to use Victron hardware. These products seem to be amongst the most advanced on the market. I had bad experience with Xantrex (Schneider) several times and an unresponsive support. I have a few chargers and an inverter from Xantrex. They work ok as long as you keep them dry. A bit salty air and they spit the dummy. My outback 60A solar charger, which I have in the slide-on camper still runs strong and I would regret dumping it, but it simply is not up to the task of charging the Lithiums […]

Processor Selection

By |January 22nd, 2015|COMPONENTS & MATERIALS|0 Comments

I can write many pages about the selection of the central processor for my automation system. Windows is surely one of the best integrated platforms as far as software development is concerned. Ease of use, tool integration, plug and play, and I have licenses of Visual Studio and other development tools anyway. But there is a huge downside when it comes to small devices. I know C# and WPF and other tools on Windows quite well, but the overhead of the operating system makes Windows unsuitable for really small footprint solutions. Also cost is a factor for suitable boards […]

Network Components and Design

By |January 22nd, 2015|COMPONENTS & MATERIALS|0 Comments

Just a quick reference to the components I use for my Internet of Things in the van.

1. Udoo under Ubuntu (Linux) with an on board Arduino (second processor)

2. 15.6″ touch screen with LVDS interface to Udoo

3. PoKeys57E client board with integrated Ethernet for signal IO and Ethernet to server

4. PoKeys Extended bus board with 8 relays for signal switching via PoKeys57E

5. X2-Board (Arduino compatible) with integrated Ethernet for signal IO and Ethernet to server

6. Arduino UNO with Ethernet shield for local signal IO and Ethernet to server

7. Entec OpenUSB Pro DMX adapter for DMX to USB

8. DMX Controller units for […]

Internet of Things

By |January 22nd, 2015|COMPONENTS & MATERIALS|0 Comments

A new (or maybe not so new after all) term to describe the connection between any kind of control gadget in the house, car, boat or wherever it makes sense or not to connect things, gather data and control functions. An early attempt to connect at least a few components in the house are Home Automation Systems. Opening and closing shutters and curtains, switching and dimming lights, lifting or dropping screens or projectors, controlling the air on, controlling humidifiers, heating thermostats etc. Well home automation still has to go a long way because many components still don’t have a […]

Tank Level Display

By |January 22nd, 2015|COMPONENTS & MATERIALS|0 Comments

With the number of tanks installed in the van, a total of 11, of which 10 require level display one has to think a little about how to organise that effectively. The solutions I found in the vans we looked at were not really satisfactory at all and having 10 displays or at least 3 combo displays for three tanks did not appear as a good solution either. All the solutions used in vans only show 5 levels (full, 3/4,1/2,1/4, empty) or even less. With larger tanks this becomes ineffective because one cannot really trace usage very well unless […]

12V Light Switches

By |December 22nd, 2014|COMPONENTS & MATERIALS|0 Comments

In the whole of the van we have many lights for different purposes, requiring different controls.

Cabinet lights
Skirting lights
Ceiling lights -indirect
Slide-out facia – internal indirect light
Ceiling downlight
Reading lights
Work lights
Wall wash lights
Shower downlight
Vanity light
Awning lights
Storage compartment lights
Underbelly lights
Outside table light
Pass through shelf light
BBQ light
Step lights
Coupling lights
Search lights
Security lights

In today’s day and age all these lights can have one thing in common, they are low energy LED lights. But not all LED lights are created equal. There are different types or LED lights and it effects the way they can be controlled, say dimmed. Simple on/off is the way you find it […]

Body Material

By |December 22nd, 2014|COMPONENTS & MATERIALS|0 Comments

Strength, UV resistance, light weight, good insulation properties, easy and quick to work with and reasonably priced are the attributes one wants from body material, but such a thing does not exists. One can find a multitude of composite panels, which meet most criteria but are definitely not reasonably priced for the home builder.

Steel frames and aluminium cladding are still very common amongst caravans. The reason is most likely material cost, however any frame construction has an enormous labour component, where in comparison a composite panel should compare favourably. For a home builder like me the labour side is […]

Running Gear And Brakes

By |December 22nd, 2014|COMPONENTS & MATERIALS|0 Comments

When it comes to hubs and bearings all trailers in Australia are pretty much the same. One can use 4,5 or 6 stud hubs with bearings sitting on a spindle and a couple of different electric brakes or if one dares even a hydraulic brake. However with hydraulic brakes the callipers and mounting brackets are rather limited and primitive for trailers.

I have been looking at some trailer parts and was questioning some of the play a bush had over a bolt and was told that this would be the best I can expect, it is “just” a trailer part. […]


By |December 22nd, 2014|COMPONENTS & MATERIALS|0 Comments

When it comes to a suspension for trailers above 3.5t the air becomes a bit thin. With this subject there are also a few camps supporting one or the other technology. How good does a suspension on a van need to be? Well, some people claim that only a vehicle needs a comfortable suspension and the one on a van needs to be practical and safe but not necessarily comfortable. I beg to differ, especially when one plans to go on lots of tracks.

The simplest and cheapest solution is surely the old traditional leaf spring suspension. Has a good […]

Chassis Material

By |December 22nd, 2014|COMPONENTS & MATERIALS|2 Comments

The decision about the chassis material was not an easy one. I made a design with steel, aluminium and also everything in FRP. The latter looked very interesting, but it would have required a lot more research and testing with a chassis of that size and weight, so I canned it. Still, I would love to give it a try, but maybe in another life.

There is a never ending discussion between followers of either camp. Arguments pro and contra one or the other are plenty. There is the C350 and C450 steel, which made stronger steel lighter, but I […]

Initial Thoughts

By |December 22nd, 2014|DESIGN|0 Comments

When we looked at the vans on the market in our area and at shows we took note of all the components they have used. No matter at what aspect of a van you look you realise that there are only a very limited number of choices, in some cases only a very few. All vans end up with the same components more or less arranged in a slightly different way, but still the same components.

We were talking to a few manufacturers about some of our wishes and ideas and we found very little understanding or cooperation. It was […]


By |December 22nd, 2014|SPECIFICATIONS|0 Comments

Neo angle corner shower – 90cm x 90cm with high basin
Light polycarbonate shower screen with double door for entry
Shower head on rail
Thermostat mixer for shower head
Water circulation system with inline electric heater and 9 gallon holding tank
High pressure and flow pump from circulation holding tank to 6 body jets
40l hot water calorifier under vanity
Mirror cabinet above vanity
Frontloader washing machine
Porcelain toilet – standard height with raw water flush mechanism
Heated towel rack over toilet
Electric floor heating
Porcelain vanity with single lever thermostat mixer
Remote controlled extraction fan above toilet
Extraction fan and light above shower
Heater vent under vanity with fan forced heat exchanger
Skirting lights […]


By |December 22nd, 2014|SPECIFICATIONS|0 Comments

2 x 700Ah 12V Lithium battery banks with individual passive protection system
24 x 100W semi flexible solar panels, connected in two groups of 2 serial strings of 6
2 independent solar controllers with 85amp max charge connected to each panel group
2 3000W Inverter/chargers – 120A charge current, can run in parallel for 6KW output
Inverters with power boost feature (boosting output from battery if AC in is not sufficient)
AC input panel with 2 independent 15A input sockets each separately connected to one inverter with transfer switch at front of van
Both AC inputs are RCD/RVD protected and can also be used with […]


By |December 22nd, 2014|SPECIFICATIONS|0 Comments

Floor lighting in skirting in kitchen, bedroom, office and bathroom area with:
Central on/off switch and night mode
Courtesy (warm white) and night level (blue)
Zoned proximity switches for night level lights in night mode with timer
Indirect light behind facia covering awning recess in living area (dimmed)
Suspended down light above dinette with dimmed warm LED lights
Indirect ceiling lights in kitchen cornice with dimmed warm LED lights
Two reading lights above lounge chair area
Two reading lights above bed
Door lights inside bed room wardrobe with door switch
Door lights inside kitchen cabinets with door switch
Down light with exhaust above shower
Down lights in office with dimmed warm […]