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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I kept trying to figure out how I am going to balance the need to switch some 12V stuff on/off against the fuse panel setup I have now and a circuit breaker setup I'm planning to implement.

Turns out the off-road folks have made these into a switched relay KIT thing on Amazon. But they're not attractive and subtle the way marine stuff would be.
 

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Lots of options for marine electronics panels. I searched for marine 12 volt switch panels then for RV 12 volt switch panels and got quite a few options.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks, @Muvybuf. I'm actually not too bad at searching. But there's a big difference between "switch panel" and "relay switch panel." Sure, I could use a switch panel and build all the wiring to a handful of relays... but it would be really great to buy it with all those connections complete.

I tried to paste a photo of one into the first post but it's not working right.... 🤔
 

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There are a handful of Jeep specific options, that look a bit for factory-ish. I've never used them personally though. Here's the first one that I could find.

Painless Wiring
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Cool, @Stokeloafvan. That's the sort of more subtle look I'd prefer. I'll look more in that category. I was hoping for a more "fancy" (while subtle / classy) marine look. But those are an improvement over the Amazon stuff. Thank you. 😄
 

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Howdy,
I just installed one of these recently. They work awesome. Solves a ton of problems in one shot. You need to be a little smart about how you use the outputs (usually just a bunch of ready to crimp ends) but cool AF 10/10 will use again..
 

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I think you may already have found this based on a previous comment but I'm going to use this 6 relay box:

Amazon.com: 12V Auto Waterproof Fuse Relay Box Block Kit [6 Bosch Style Relay Holder] [6 ATC/ATO Fuse Holder] [Relays & Fuses Included] Universal Relay Block Box for 12V Automotive Vehicles Cars Marine Boat Jeep : Automotive

Plus a rocker switch panel (there are hundreds of options, here's one):
Amazon.com: Nilight-90111F 6 Gang Aluminum Rocker Switch Panel Toggle Dash 5 Pin ON/Off Pre-Wired Rocker Switch Blue Backlit Switch for Automotive Car Marine Boat RV,2 Years Warranty : Automotive

So that's somewhat clean and straightforward and about $60 plus the cost of wire.

For controlling the relays, I'm going to get a little more fancy and use @tngw1500se's Idea to control relays with push button momentary switches and a microcontroller as discussed here: WIRING: If I had it to do over again.....

It gives you some added flexibility such as being able to control a load from different switches (e.g. a light switch by the door and the bed controls the same light) and I can also add temperature (or other sensors) to use it to control loads like battery warmers, tank heaters, etc.
The downside to this approach is obviously complexity 🤣 But I've often tried to wade into the world of Arduino and this gives me a practical reason to do it, and thgw1500se already wrote a lot of the code for me (it's in the thread I linked above) so that's a big head start.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Loving this. Keep 'em coming!

My ideal setup would be similar to VanDoIt’s.
...

A very expensive option:

sPod BantamX

If anyone knows how to pull that off for less than $900 I’m all ears!
The look of the BantamX is quite similar to some of the $200 units on Amazon. Maybe that IS the way to go. Simple and inexpensive. 🤔


I think you may already have found this based on a previous comment but I'm going to use this 6 relay box:

Amazon.com: 12V Auto Waterproof Fuse Relay Box Block Kit [6 Bosch Style Relay Holder] [6 ATC/ATO Fuse Holder] [Relays & Fuses Included] Universal Relay Block Box for 12V Automotive Vehicles Cars Marine Boat Jeep : Automotive

Plus a rocker switch panel (there are hundreds of options, here's one):
Amazon.com: Nilight-90111F 6 Gang Aluminum Rocker Switch Panel Toggle Dash 5 Pin ON/Off Pre-Wired Rocker Switch Blue Backlit Switch for Automotive Car Marine Boat RV,2 Years Warranty : Automotive

So that's somewhat clean and straightforward and about $60 plus the cost of wire.

For controlling the relays, I'm going to get a little more fancy and use @tngw1500se's Idea to control relays with push button momentary switches and a microcontroller as discussed here: WIRING: If I had it to do over again.....

It gives you some added flexibility such as being able to control a load from different switches (e.g. a light switch by the door and the bed controls the same light) and I can also add temperature (or other sensors) to use it to control loads like battery warmers, tank heaters, etc.
The downside to this approach is obviously complexity 🤣 But I've often tried to wade into the world of Arduino and this gives me a practical reason to do it, and thgw1500se already wrote a lot of the code for me (it's in the thread I linked above) so that's a big head start.
I suspect the thread from @tngw1500se helped nudge me in this direction; though I don't want that level of effort or complexity. But the relay thing in general will solve the accessible switches problem for me.

I hadn't searched for a fuse/relay box /without/ switches. That looks super good as well. Then I could just more attractive buttons, as you suggest. Okay... liking that. 🤔

The current contender is this thing: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08J6W4TJG/

Product Portable communications device Communication Device Gadget Font
 

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I hadn't searched for a fuse/relay box /without/ switches. That looks super good as well. Then I could just more attractive buttons, as you suggest. Okay... liking that. 🤔

The current contender is this thing: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08J6W4TJG/
That's pretty cool! I'd probably be going that route had I not seen tngw1500se's post. Since then I decided that I wanted to be able to turn on the back/side spotlights from a switch next to that door and from the driver's seat... and then I started down the "what if I added temp. sensors and had it control my tank heaters too?" road and it's snowballed a bit from there 🤣
I'll have a write up of my experiences in a month or two. I've got a simple Arduino setup currently working with some push buttons switching a 16-channel relay board on/off but the temp sensors will add another layer of complexity to that. I like the little round metal buttons that I linked here as I can just drill a hole and install them in the dash or headliner or a custom panel, but the labelling will be a little tricky to pull of nicely, especially compared to the switch panel you posted.
 

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Not necessarily cheap, but I’ll put in a plug for a friend’s product, which may not have sufficient capacity without daisy chaining a few units together and/or external relays. It has no dedicated controller; instead uses Bluetooth connectivity to a smartphone app (Apple iOS or Android, fully certified and on the respective app sites) for monitor and control. Also has some cool integration with the phone’s GPS for speed, elevation, headings etc and a temp sensor and displays source voltage as well as current draw on each circuit. Can be programmed to switch circuits on or off or variable (PWM) outputs based on time of day, sunset/sunrise, temperature, voltage (ie battery protection) etc. also programmable circuit breaker settings.
I have no involvement with the company and don’t actually use it in my van (I have a RedArc Manager30) though I have an older generation on my motorcycle.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Might be of interest:
...
So cool. I'm always torn: I have enjoyed putting time into stuff like that years ago... but I'm not sure I want to do that now. 🤔

I'm kinda liking the one @Dman linked. Looks like the "off the shelf" setup similar to what you guys are building, @tngw1500se and @Pajarojo . Oh, man... so many options! 😁
 

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I'm finding that the hardest thing with these arduino projects (once somebody else does most of the legwork and posts a video for you) is just figuring out how to package it and get it installed permanently. So the cables, the cases, etc are what are really the challenge (so far)
 

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I'm finding that the hardest thing with these arduino projects (once somebody else does most of the legwork and posts a video for you) is just figuring out how to package it and get it installed permanently. So the cables, the cases, etc are what are really the challenge (so far)
I used a pistol case. They're plastic with latches and make a little "cabinet" when mounted on the wall. Since they're plastic, you don't have to worry about a wire shorting to the box either. It would be easy to get a fuse box, relay board and a esp board in the case. I just cut a thin piece of plywood to fit inside to mount everything to. Sometimes you can find a buddy who has one for free. I also mounted a LED in mine on a switch so it lights up inside.
 

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I used a pistol case. They're plastic with latches and make a little "cabinet" when mounted on the wall. Since they're plastic, you don't have to worry about a wire shorting to the box either. It would be easy to get a fuse box, relay board and a esp board in the case. I just cut a thin piece of plywood to fit inside to mount everything to. Sometimes you can find a buddy who has one for free. I also mounted a LED in mine on a switch so it lights up inside.
Nice idea. What do you do for cables? I bought a kit with crimpers to make my own cables with dupont connectors but it's pretty difficult to get good results with that. I think I may end up with something like this (not sure if this is the right one for my ESP32 board but something similar)
 

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Nice idea. What do you do for cables? I bought a kit with crimpers to make my own cables with dupont connectors but it's pretty difficult to get good results with that. I think I may end up with something like this (not sure if this is the right one for my ESP32 board but something similar)
That would work. It would be easy to hook up the cables. I'd use a Cat 5 cable that went to the switches from there. I think I'd stick with no more than 7 switches and use the eighth wire as a ground return to the ESP from the switches. Since the code I wrote uses normally open momentary switches, you could use more than one switch panel and just double up (or triple up) the wires for the inputs.

It would be nice to add Bluetooth (since the ESP32 has it) to the code so it could be controlled from a smartphone. I thought about using WiFi and Alexa but that would require you to disconnect from any network you were currently on and then connect to the ESP with your phone. With Bluetooth, you could have both connected. Personally I see no need to connect it to the internet. Seems like most places I'm at, there's no internet anyway even with a hotspot on my phone. I don't see the need to remotely control the van.

Years ago, on my motorhome, I used a ESP8266, a relay and a momentary switch to turn on a 12 volt water valve for 15 minutes, then shut it off again. Had three switches mounted on the walls near all three places it had water (bath, shower, kitchen). That way when we were not using the campground water supply, it was off so I didn't worry about a flood while we were out riding motorcycles for the day.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Well, now y'all have me looking at more expensive stuff. The idea of a Bluetooth (or otherwise tablet) controlled switch setup is quite appealing. That seems even more promising than the other button setups.

@Dman, that Neutrino stuff looks nice. That got me searching for more stuff like that.

Now I'm even considering the pretty-package of this unit from Garmin. Or this unit from Trigger.

I've got a tablet in the rig now for music and Victron and Torque Pro and Dometic and whatever else. Maybe this BT approach brings that tablet to front-and-center and I don't need another device. 🤔

Or maybe it's worth going the DIY route that @tngw1500se has setup?

It's only money, right? 😏
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Back and forth... decided to go with the inexpensive one for now. Had to remind myself of one of the guiding premises: keep things simple and reliable. Tablets and Bluetooth don't help that. Will report back how this one works: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08SQWXGVZ/
 
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