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Maggie's First Trip, mobile amateur radio, with build report
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kourt
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Location: Austin, TX
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 19, 2014 3:10 pm    Post subject: Maggie's First Trip, mobile amateur radio, with build report Reply with quote

Greetings Samba friends,

I bought my 1991 Westy on 1 November 2013 and have been spending a lot of time repairing, upgrading and modifying it since.

This weekend was my first real trip in the van.

When I acquired Maggie (previous owner's name for the van, short for Sugar Magnolia, a Grateful Dead song), she had worn hardware throughout, improper tires, broken accessories (wipers, mirrors, etc.), non-functioning camper equipment, and was completely filthy.

First, the build report:

Nokian Hakka C van tires, 205-70-15, including spare
Mefro 15" steel wheels, including spare
Van Cafe oversize spare tire clamshell replacement/retainer bar
New front wheel bearings
New front brake rotors, pads, caliper rebuilds, brake lines
New front bushings, Powerflex
New shocks, Bilstein
New springs, Van Cafe 2WD
RMW front/rear bumpers
New propane tank
Propex HS2211 heater
New speedometer cable
New antenna
GoWesty camper connections
Window tinting removed (it was in poor shape)
Front window felts/guides/weatherstripping replaced
High output headlight kit
Exterior/Interior LED complete conversion
New tailgate and aft passenger side interior panels from sew fine
New carpet and padding from sew fine
Truckfridge
Yandina combiner
100 watt solar panel on roof
Mean Well inverter/charger/solar charge controller
Werker x3 parallel house battery system
Lots of other goodies

There's a Bostig conversion coming this spring--Retail Group 1--and all the parts are in, I just need to find a little time for it.

The trip:

One of the great reasons for buying this van was to outfit it as an amateur radio mobile station. This weekend a special "contest" for ham radio folks was scheduled, and one of the classes of competition is "rover" whereby you make as many contacts on certain bands as possible from a mobile setup. You are limited in the types of antennas and amount of power you can use, but you get more points for the contacts you make due to those handicaps.

Our goal was to operate within four special geographic grid squares, and make as many contacts as possible within each square at a pre-designated, high elevation contact point, plus make contacts while on the move.

The van was geared for a complete operating position at the back bench:

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


We were also outfitted with some big antennas for mobile use. This is a 2 meter/70cm omnidirectional mounted in a Thule hitch mount bike rack:

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


I also have smaller dual band antennas mounted in special brackets coming from the aft engine intake air vents:

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Lastly, I have a big 102" whip mounted on the RMW bumper:

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


When stationary, we would set up a much larger directional antenna which was anchored to the bike rack, with antenna feed lines running back into the van:

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Here's a shot of my brother working the bands on Saturday night, after supper:

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


...and here's Sunday morning breakfast cooking while making more contacts:

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


For the food lovers out there, here's a closeup of the breakfast:

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Lastly, a GPS plot (with elevations) of our track:

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


We had a great time. The team of the combiner, solar panel, charger, inverter, house battery, and rebuilt alternator gave us extreme confidence in our power profile throughout the trip, and we had no qualms about running higher amperage radios, keeping the lights on, playing the stereo, charging laptops while camping, running the fridge at 40 degrees temperature or the Propex heater at high temp thermostat settings. Everything worked great!

More photos of certain things:

Van Cafe oversize spare tire carrier:

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Solar panel (Renogy 100w from Amazon):

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Detail of solar panel mounting hardware--spring loaded cabinet hinges. This lets the panel be dismounted from the roof and relocated in the sun (with a DC cord extension) while the van sits in the shade. No rattles, and they work great.

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Truckfridge with complete paint job, plus CO/LP sensor below:

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Blue Sea volt/amp meter:

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


I hope you've enjoyed this post! More to come this year--this van will travel a lot.

kourt
Austin, TX
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Timwhy
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 19, 2014 4:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

pictures?
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JudoJeff
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 19, 2014 4:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Loved your post! I'm in RG-1, have most of the parts ready to install when warm weather arrives. And I did the VHF sweepstakes for years! (K1BE)
The Hampden County RA led the results for many years.
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Dampcamper
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 21, 2014 10:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great, I've been trying to figure out a mounting for a dual-band VHF/UHF...I like your rear-vent mount. Got my old trusty Kenwood TM V-7 ready to go in as I rebuild the front end.
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Vanagon Nut
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 22, 2014 11:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

re: breakfast. Ham 'n eggs! Ha ha. Wink

Great to see shots of transceiver size relative to cabinet. At some point soon, hope to get 80% + on my exam (Canada) for HF qualifications.

Neil.
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woggs1
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 22, 2014 12:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow, just wow. You bought the van in November and you did all that stuff by January? Most people take years to get all that stuff done, good work!
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kourt
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 22, 2014 12:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dampcamper wrote:
Great, I've been trying to figure out a mounting for a dual-band VHF/UHF...I like your rear-vent mount. Got my old trusty Kenwood TM V-7 ready to go in as I rebuild the front end.


I wanted something that was discreet and allowed for a protected entrance for the antenna feedline. The engine vents were the obvious location. I used the Laird Tech SBTB3400:

https://www.theantennafarm.com/catalog/laird-tech-sbtb3400-3858.html

These are mounted with machine screws and nylon insert nuts to the sheet metal at the top opening of the engine vent lumen. This is an NMO mount platform. It will take a small antenna, but I wouldn't put anything with a lot of height or mass on it--I'm sure the mount would not withstand the wind force of a really tall antenna combined with wind resistance while driving.

The feedlines are passed through the rubber grommeted connections in the upper vent space wall, entering the cab at the tops of the D pillars. From there, they simply pass over to the driver side, down the wall into the clothes closet, and from there, through drilled cable passages in the cabinets to the small cabinet next to the factory AC outlets in the camper. Everything goes to that little cabinet, and from there, routed further as needed.

kourt
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dobryan
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 22, 2014 12:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Detail of solar panel mounting hardware--spring loaded cabinet hinges.


Any chance you've got a link to those cabinet hinges? They look just like what I need. Very Happy
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kourt
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 22, 2014 12:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

woggs1 wrote:
Wow, just wow. You bought the van in November and you did all that stuff by January? Most people take years to get all that stuff done, good work!


Yes, it has been a labor of love. Lots of time spent on this project. I just finished all new front carpet (from SewFine) along with padding and a radiant barrier underneath, in hopes of heading off some of the hotfoot. I also put in the GoWesty transmission cooler on Monday.

I am a Volvo 240 guy, so I have a great appreciation for build quality and aftermarket support. The Volvo 240 is great--supported on Brickboard.com and the aftermarket parts are pretty good. Vanagons are in the same vein, and I really enjoy reading Samba posts and learning about this unique vehicle.

With the Volvo, I am a bit of a purist, trying to keep the car as close to the original design intent as possible. I have an old air cooled BMW motorcycle (85 BMW R80) that's kept the same way. With the Vanagon, I am letting loose and modifying with no restraints, building to my specific uses and intents. It's very liberating.

kourt
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kourt
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 22, 2014 1:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

dobryan wrote:
Quote:
Detail of solar panel mounting hardware--spring loaded cabinet hinges.


Any chance you've got a link to those cabinet hinges? They look just like what I need. Very Happy


Yes, these are the Sugatsune Quick Release Hinge - HG-OTA100:

http://www.homeclick.com/sugatsune-hg-ota100-quick-release-hinge/p-332242.aspx

They have been perfect. I can unlock one side of the panel and angle it up 30 degrees to face the rising sun, or completely unlock the whole panel and place it in a better position, using extension cables:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003YYVG16/ref=oh_details_o03_s00_i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Here's the solar panel:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B009Z6CW7O/ref=oh_details_o00_s01_i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Inverter/solar charger/charge controller:

http://www.samlexamerica.com/products/ProductDetail.aspx?pid=101

The inverter is wired in front of the on-board AC outlets. When I plug a shore power AC cable to the outside power connection, it connects to the inverter. The solar panel also goes to the inverter. The house batteries also connect to the inverter. This single device manages all the power: constant power to the AC outlets, charging of the house batteries by solar or shore power, programmable to prefer solar over shore power or vise versa. I topped this off with the Yandina combiner, so the alternator can come into play to charge the house batteries as well.

kourt
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 22, 2014 1:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Perfect! Just ordered 4. Thanks! Very Happy
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 22, 2014 1:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Your breakfast looked great. You might consider installing a defribulator Smile
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 22, 2014 6:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

onemat wrote:
Your breakfast looked great. You might consider installing a defribulator Smile


Oh, he can just grab onto the HF antenna and have somebody key up the transmitter.
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 09, 2014 8:43 am    Post subject: Re: Maggie's First Trip, mobile amateur radio, with build re Reply with quote

kourt wrote:


Detail of solar panel mounting hardware--spring loaded cabinet hinges. This lets the panel be dismounted from the roof and relocated in the sun (with a DC cord extension) while the van sits in the shade. No rattles, and they work great.

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.



kourt
Austin, TX


I found and ordered the Sugatsune HG-OTB100 on Amazon. thanks for the tip:
http://tinyurl.com/lqtoqkq

What are you doing to secure the panel from theft?
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HoustonPhotog
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 17, 2014 9:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

love the hinges! nice find indeed.

great work on the build so far.. ive only had my westy a few more months than you and im addicted!
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kourt
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 18, 2014 12:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There is no outright theft prevention in this setup. It assumes that the average thief will not even bother to study how the hinges work and release the panel.

kourt
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 03, 2015 6:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Looks Great!


73's
KK6QPT
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 03, 2015 10:11 pm    Post subject: Batteries Reply with quote

The Samelx inverter looks like just what I have been looking for, but I notice it specs only lead acid type batteries, and says it needs minimum 120 amp hour for inverter. What house batteries are you using with your system
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 04, 2015 5:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm using three Werker 55 AH SLA batteries, wired in parallel, providing 165 AH, stored under the rear seat.

The Samlex device is a nice, complete unit, and I would do it the same way again.

I've had no trouble powering small things like laptop chargers, or more demanding things like waffle irons.

kourt
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PostPosted: Thu May 05, 2016 11:49 am    Post subject: Re: Maggie's First Trip, mobile amateur radio, with build report Reply with quote

Kourt,

You've inspired me to mount mine that way. I just ordered this.

http://www.amazon.com/Renogy-Watts-Volts-Monocryst...ge_o00_s00

I have two of the sla1161(?) batteries already as an aux setup.

I love the use of those hinges!

Where did you run the wires?

Thanks
Jimi
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