I always wanted a really basic sink and water system. No holes in the side of the van for a fill port, removable jugs for filling at filtered water stations, no tanks outside the van to freeze. I wanted an electric water pump. Combined with the fact that I decided I’d be OK boiling water rather than installing a complicated water heater system, I was able to put together a super cheap and functional setup for my van’s kitchen.

My van has come and gone, but I adventured for 50,000 miles over two years in it — which puts me in a great spot to reflect on what I wanted and what I changed over time.... Read the rest

How do you know how full your batteries are? With AGM or flooded batteries, you can get a rough idea using a “state of charge” graph and your system’s current voltage.. but, sometimes you want more details. What if you want an exact percentage, want to know exactly how much current is flowing in/out of your batteries at any given time, or have Lithium batteries that don’t have enough voltage drop to determine state of charge by voltage alone?

I recently upgraded my batteries and saw that Victron has a full-featured battery monitor in the $160 range.... Read the rest

The Ford Transit factory 4″ reverse camera in my otherwise-pointless rear view mirror leaves a lot to be desired for me. My Pioneer head unit, installation details here, has both front and rear camera inputs. The reverse camera has a trigger wire that automatically pulls it up on the screen when it is sent 12v power (the intention being that this is wired into a circuit powered up when the vehicle is in reverse). Unfortunately, accessing the forward camera input involves 3 or more button presses.... Read the rest

n52 inline-six in a 2006 bmw z4

I had an ignition coil fail in rural Oregon and I was able to replace it with nothing more than a flathead screwdriver in the parking lot of an AutoZone. For as much as I’ve heard about BMWs being difficult to work on, the Z4’s engine bay was spacious, and once you master the electronic side of things (with the INPA software), BMW repairs are a breeze.

This is one of those things that’s really better explained in video, so I’ve uploaded one that I recorded a couple of years ago to YouTube showing how to access the spark plugs and ignition coils.... Read the rest

Like everything else, I did a deep dive on heaters during my initial build. I ended up installing a Propex HS-2000 6500BTU furnace, but later switched to a generic diesel heater that I purchased on Amazon. I didn’t find that the Propex was sufficient in the lower 20’s or colder in my van. Additionally, the cost of diesel means that I’m getting three times the heat output for less than half of the cost of propane. I sold my Propane furnace to pay for my entire diesel heater installation.... Read the rest

This article was updated on 9/20/20 to reflect my final electrical configuration. The upgrades I made were swapping a Tripplite UPS / Inverter for a Renogy 700w Pure Sine inverter, swapping my two golf cart batteries for BattleBorn lithium iron phosphate batteries, and adding an AiLi battery monitor.

Planning a conversion’s electrical system is rather intimidating, but I’ve found that putting it down on paper helps tremendously. The diagram below was made on diagrams.net, but your first step should be writing down a few lists: what needs power (i.e.... Read the rest

I want my van to feel like home, which means that I need reliable Internet. I want to keep up with YouTube, write blog posts, and not worry about data caps or finding public WiFi. I’d imagine if I were working remotely it’d be a top priority for me as well!

Core Components

I’m actually using the 7730L, but when it fails, this is what I’ll upgrade to.

... Read the rest

I’ve been using this magnetic 4G antenna with my weBoost 4G-M cellular booster for about a year now. The performance was good, or so I thought. The magnetic bit was strong enough to hold on at interstate speeds without issue, but every single tree branch that I encountered would leave it dangling down, or stuck to my back door.

Upgrading to the Wilson OTR antenna has been on my agenda since I installed the Aluminess spare tire carrier on my back door, but I was never able to find a mounting solution that would accommodate the 2″ tube.... Read the rest

My friends and I are driving down a National Forest road with no cell service, being in a caravan makes it very tricky to explore any side roads together. I drive a mile up the road to scout it out and find a great spot at the end, and pass another car on the way back to my group. I tell the group about the spot, but by this point the car I’d passed had taken it. Alternate reality: I drove up the road, claimed the mountain-top spot with panoramic view of the Cascades, and radio’ed down to my buddies to come on up.... Read the rest

Having a Yukon Gear locker installed, I wanted to be able to change the gear oil in my differential regularly.. and the factory cover makes that a nightmare. Sealed with only black RTV from the factory, draining the oil involves removing twelve bolts, breaking that RTV seal, cleaning both surfaces, reapplying RTV, reinstalling twelve bolts, allowing time to cure, and filling with oil. Well overdue for my break-in change, I opted to ditch the factory cover for something with a drain plug, and ditch the RTV sealant for an actual gasket.... Read the rest