Much plan, many helps!

I have had an awesome week of talking to very helpful people about my designs. Bert Green of SolarMill, Thom Stanton of Timber Trails, Shaylen Broughten of SABarts and her husband Chris, and Matt Blair of B&C Creations. I'm just going to keep linking to these folks again and again because they just keep being super handy with advice and assistance <3

Right now all of this is crystallized in my brain, so before it disintegrates here's a big info dump of everything I learned and will be applying ASAP.

PS WINDOWS are my first big step, so everything I need to get them happening is bolded below. 



I can very likely power everything with a solar array, as long as I have a little backup from my vehicle engine and once in a while a little shore power! I have room for 4 batteries, totaling approx. 4000 usable watt-hours (assuming I don't drain them all the way dead, which hurts them). With a ~1000w array (probably four 240w solar panels) on the roof, I can probably get a full battery charge during one sunny summer day. This will power my computer, a/c, small chargers, lights, etc, easily! 

The batteries are probably around $500 for all 4, if I get flooded lead-acid. Look into Trojan brand - they sell golf cart batteries. 

If I can get a friend to get some from a big local solar company for me, they'll be cheapish since I won't have to pay shipping. Expect approx $1000 for 1000w. Don't buy flexible panels. 

I'll need a charge controller to go in between the panels and the batteries. Apparently this will be like $580, since they don't make enough incremental sizes of them for the small system I'm running :( 

To use the engine to charge my batteries, I can get a product by Blue Sea designed for boats: a battery switch for adding a battery to a system. This will automatically switch my engine from being started by the car battery to charging the battery bank, and then turn off that connection when they are full. With this switch, I can simultaneously charge my batteries from the engine and the solar array. AMAZING, and only like $100. There's a nicer version that will let me plug in via shore power too, but I think my inverter is going give me an easier way to use shore power....

My inverter will be the last step between the batteries and my electric and electronic devices. If I get a small/cheap one, it'll just be outfitted with regular house-style plug outlets. For now, until I get a sense of things, I'll probably just run heavy extension cords (SJOW?) and power strips around to power things off of a borrowed small/cheap inverter (1100w). This means that if I want to use shore power, I'll just unplug my power strip from the inverter and plug it into a house extension cord. A bigass inverter could be very pricey, still unsure about this. I am still not totally convinced about whether I need a pure sine wave inverter or not - more research is required. 

Budget about $200 for wire. Crimp it with a ratcheting crimper. 

totalish: $2500?

Air Conditioning

Sounds like I might be able to get a mini-split! I need to make some real cost- and energy- and effectiveness- comparisons between RV units and extra-small mini-split systems. Where does the exterior portion go, hmmm? Research mitsubishi, call Tribbles to talk to experts. Possibly build a bulkhead in the cab, mount the minisplit on the front of it. 


Save the triangle window for the door, nix it on the cutting

Place them exactly according to expected width for frame studs on all sides, metal studs, (remember rivets above, can't cut through them), optional trim on top of frame studs, gasket. Make cardboard stencil and trace into exact cutting location on inside AND outside. 

I got a quote for 3 windows (plus replacing my dumb windshield which I have already managed to crack): $650 for labor and parts (despite the fact that I'm providing the glass... oy) If I don't do the triangle window, by my math that should go down by about $150, but we'll see if I can convince the auto glass guys that I'm right... 


Gotta make decision about framing first: 2x3"? 2x2"? 1x1"? I want maximum space and minimum cost, so small framing. I want solid insulation, but the ceiling and floor are the big players there, as long as I seal up any air flow. I want to anchor several things into the wall, so know where my studs are and have a decent depth for anchoring: shelf anchor set x 4, desk, sink surface, computer mount, waterbox. I also want to screw some small things in on a whim, so have a solid surface for little things.  I can easily make good quality lumber by buying nicer cuts (2x6, 2x8, etc) and ripping them down. The bigger the original lumber, the easier to get multiple good pieces. 

I also need to be careful about my sheathing - apparently big metal walls get hot in the sun (duh) and make whatever's touching them heat up. If I use cheap plywood, it'll get really hot and off-gas formaldehyde into my workspace. OOPS. Better find a better  sheathing. 

Look up NAUF (no added urea-formaldehyde) plywood, as well as luan plywood. 


Before I can decide how deep to build my walls, I need to research what sizes of insulation I can get - is 3/4" foam board available? Do I want foam board or does it off-gas in the heat? Is foam spray cheaper, and is it worth the trimming work? Does it off-gas in the heat??


Finish modeling the front of the vehicle, at least the floor and roof if nothing else. Maybe find a seat model to thrown in. 

My floor frame was overworked, so I need to cut it down to sections a, b, c, and add section d in the front area. Construct these rectangles outside the truck and lay them in. Off-setting the braces from each other between sections will make it easy to attach them to each other. Model the plywood laying across them too - 12 ft = 3 easy 4x8 sections.  


The computer can be mounted to an arm, and there shouldn't be a problem with jolting since I have a solid-state drive. I still want to check with apple or at least albtech about this. 

I also super need to do a test of orienting my computer - can i have it be on the right side? Will I go crazy? Do I want it near the wheel-well foot-rest?