SprinterVan Build(s) - "the Brain"
Solar/Electrical control center We have been planning and waiting a long time for this part of the build. In fact, we ordered all the parts and spent the better part of 2 weeks (back before our winter trip) perfecting the layout and test wiring a few protoptype boards just so this could happen quickly and efficiently now. That, of course...didn't work out exactly as planned- but I cant imagine how long this would have taken if we hadn't of thought so far ahead and spent that time!
I spent a few days upfront recreating our test panels in aluminum and fabbing up nice bases that would eventually be the mounting (and hopefully attractive background) for the components to come. This meant time in the metal shop and some fun fabbing and prototyping (the best part of any project!).Once the plates were complete we transferred all the individual components over, did a test install in the van. The entire system is designed to sit above and behind the passenger side wheel well so you have constant/easy access to components and if ever needed, field repairs are easy (as opposed to the tight spaces I had to wriggle into in our last van).
Things looked nice and clean, with lots of extra space to run wires as planned... but the deeper we got in, the more complex we realized this system had become. All for the right reasons, as we've already planned ahead for expansion to a second 300AH battery and/or shore power if someone should ever need it (though I honestly can't imagine why anyone every would), and this system will absolutely be the top of the line system available in the van conversion/overland market.
A few days in and the kinks started to work themselves out this is one of those jobs that is rewarding on many levels...despite fact that it takes far longer than you plan (even though you think you've planned everything out at twice as long as it should take.
We got to invite a dear friend to town to help assemble everything, we got to book our "home base" for a few days to ensure we had a good clean work environment and that means (when we took enough of a breather to look up) we also got to catch up with other friends and neighbors. Something we clearly haven't been doing enough of despite having been in portland for over two months now.
Wow, over 2 months in one place... you'd think we were putting down roots! Not to fear... we are itching for the simplicity of life on the road and cant wait to get back out there soon, both to show off the work we've done and to get out of the shop and enjoy the time where we are stuck without the possibility of a project because we're on the road (not that we haven't been known to do a few home depot parking lot projects along the way!) ;)
I think the bulk of the time in this project was spent doing things we really wouldn't do any other way... making sure everything is done correctly, making it tidy and making sure its all well labelled and clear for whoever ends up trying to work on it in the future.
All in, were gonna call this one a huge success.
The electrical is always a bit less that gratifying when everything is together and you flip the switch for the first time. Just a few blinking lights to let you know you've done things right (oh, and lights, and power, and outlets add...)
No question we've developed and created the top of the line van electronics/charging system on the market, which should allow us and our clients to live offgrid as much as they choose to do so in all 4 seasons. 300AH of Lithium Battery (meaning 300AH of actual use vs AGM batteries) cold weather disconnect and solar charging, already built for expansion and all inside the vehicle to prevent damage from summer and winter extremes. Also...it's a thing of beauty, which is why we wrapped it all in an acrylic box so you could see whats going on behind the scenes and hopefully so field repairs (if they're ever needed) are easier to manage.
Now on to the next project (and stay tuned for the addition of an advanced monitoring system to track everything you've seen in the images above)!