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Discussion Starter · #121 ·
Im excited to see where I go with my project too, but currently learning about how the **** a rivnut works if that tells you where Im at. Ive wired a fair bit of my house, but seeing your electrical setup has scared me to the point that I understand why people buy goal zero's!!
Been there, done that on both accounts.

We did a few test Rivnuts before diving into the Sprinter work. And it all seemed so weird to drill holes and squeeze those things in to them. But it was almost surreal how fast and easy it was on this second van (also having done two other friends' in between). We'd talk about what we were trying to do, do it, pull it back apart and re-do it, re-think it again, then be pretty close to what we'd envisioned by the third attempt. Except that took a few hours this time instead of a couple years like the first time.

The wood-back attachment method started with MUCH larger wood panels to mount the 8020. Then we realized that was going to create a different set of problems. Unbolted everything, re-cut the wood, remounted everything. Sounds annoying... but to do the iterations and get it all done in a few hours and see the objectives come together was very satisfying.

Similar with electrical: took a long time on the first rig - and a lot of swap out of things that didn't work as planned. Did 2 or three other rigs in between after figuring our first one out. So this one was one day to get the truck power part up and going (cabling, ground, breakers, inverter, fuse panel). Then two months later, did the house system in one day. It went so much faster than the first time - knowing much better what we're doing and being confident it would work.

I may not be in the right position to say so... but it's mostly simpler, safer, and easier than it seems. It's the act of doing something new-ish that makes it tough. As the old saying goes, well begun is half done. 😊
 

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Your tag says adventures for 2-4, have you installed the rear seats yet? Curious what you went with and how you pulled it off!
 

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Been there, done that on both accounts.

We did a few test Rivnuts before diving into the Sprinter work. And it all seemed so weird to drill holes and squeeze those things in to them. But it was almost surreal how fast and easy it was on this second van (also having done two other friends' in between). We'd talk about what we were trying to do, do it, pull it back apart and re-do it, re-think it again, then be pretty close to what we'd envisioned by the third attempt. Except that took a few hours this time instead of a couple years like the first time.

The wood-back attachment method started with MUCH larger wood panels to mount the 8020. Then we realized that was going to create a different set of problems. Unbolted everything, re-cut the wood, remounted everything. Sounds annoying... but to do the iterations and get it all done in a few hours and see the objectives come together was very satisfying.

Similar with electrical: took a long time on the first rig - and a lot of swap out of things that didn't work as planned. Did 2 or three other rigs in between after figuring our first one out. So this one was one day to get the truck power part up and going (cabling, ground, breakers, inverter, fuse panel). Then two months later, did the house system in one day. It went so much faster than the first time - knowing much better what we're doing and being confident it would work.

I may not be in the right position to say so... but it's mostly simpler, safer, and easier than it seems. It's the act of doing something new-ish that makes it tough. As the old saying goes, well begun is half done. 😊
Interesting that I have not had to do any rework on either van conversion. Just got lucky I guess. One reason for the lack of rework is both conversions were fully designed in 2D CAD before any work was started. I did make about 100 detail improvements on the second van even though the layout was almost identical. Even the electrical was almost identical. I have never designed anything that could not be improved in a second version.
 

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Discussion Starter · #124 ·
Interesting that I have not had to do any rework on either van conversion. Just got lucky I guess. One reason for the lack of rework is both conversions were fully designed in 2D CAD before any work was started. I did make about 100 detail improvements on the second van even though the layout was almost identical. Even the electrical was almost identical. I have never designed anything that could not be improved in a second version.
"A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds."

But you did learn from your initial perfection to further it into even more perfection. So... good work? 😏

FTR, I actually really like a bit more of the quote from Emerson: "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall."


Your tag says adventures for 2-4, have you installed the rear seats yet? Curious what you went with and how you pulled it off!
Indeed. I haven't made much of it because there's so much backlash to anything not governmentally approved by multiple agencies with extensive acronyms to assure my soul's evasion of damnation for as long as possible. :rolleyes:

Chuckling at myself here... since the continuation of that Emerson quote above is about being cautious for fear of being misunderstood. 🤣 Always on the edge of hypocrisy, of course. 😏

Anyway...

We collected a bunch of seats to see what would work. (Gave away /most/ of them but still have a couple left.) We were working from the premise that a 2-seater would work both against the driver's wall (in place of the shower module) AND facing forward directly in front of the fridge.

We tested the 36" seats and the 31" seats. The 36" seat fit well against the wall but didn't leave room for the oven to open - that tight. So we gave away the 36" seat. After installing the 31" seat in the wall position, we're now unsure whether we'll even bother to do the forward-facing version - it's so small / skinny to begin with... but we still might.

So here's what it looks like bolted in. It works acceptably for short-ish trips - which is probably all we'd want to do with four people. As debated / discussed / preached / finger-wagged here more than once, it's certainly not safe in multiple ways: side-ways seating isn't crash-worthy; the bolt-through-the-floor mounts are certainly not DOT or any other agency approved. But it works fine for what it is. And makes a good place to store / stack stuff while travelling with two.

If 4-person for longer trips were a bigger deal, we'd adjust the space to make the forward-facing work better and put serious effort into making sure the mount-plates on the bottom cross over large frame members.

On the plus side of that layout, the table setup makes it very four-person friendly. On the downside, it is /really/ tight to squeeze by the galley.
Vehicle Motor vehicle Automotive tire Mode of transport Head restraint
 

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But you did learn from your initial perfection to further it into even more perfection. So... good work? 😏
Another thing before the Sprinter build was travel to New Zealand where we rented the same size Sprinter conversion. Learned a lot of what not to do. It also helps to build a van like a house. Start with the foundation. I built a 80/20 floor frame so built up from the floor frame. Built front cabinet faces and then measured back to the walls for the horizontal members that connect to the walls. Did not need to know the exact dimensions of the walls.
 

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2021 R2X high roof long carbonized gray - TURBOCHARGED!
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That's bad science, IMHO.

In a deeper dive beyond just the correlation studied in that article, I've seen others that suggest the causation in a statement like "88% of cases (n = 7,268), patients were injured within 10 miles of their location of residence (Table 1)." is that the same cohort likely spends 88% of their time within 10 miles of their home.

Therefor you're actually no more or less likely to get in an accident based on your distance from home. Correlations are interesting but causations are what are important; correlation does not imply causation.



 

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That's bad science, IMHO.

In a deeper dive beyond just the correlation studied in that article, I've seen others that suggest the causation in a statement like "88% of cases (n = 7,268), patients were injured within 10 miles of their location of residence (Table 1)." is that the same cohort likely spends 88% of their time within 10 miles of their home.

Therefor you're actually no more or less likely to get in an accident based on your distance from home. Correlations are interesting but causations are what are important; correlation does not imply causation.
I'm probably splitting hairs but. Not so sure I would necessary call the study bad science based on the statement in the abstract. IIRC causation was never mentioned. A more accurately might be that the citing if the study was misuse of information. (by random guy on the internet to justify wagging his finger) . Whodda thunk. 🤣
 

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Interesting that I have not had to do any rework on either van conversion. Just got lucky I guess. One reason for the lack of rework is both conversions were fully designed in 2D CAD before any work was started. I did make about 100 detail improvements on the second van even though the layout was almost identical. Even the electrical was almost identical. I have never designed anything that could not be improved in a second version.
Yes Dave, but you were already a very experienced equipment designer long before starting down the van build journey.

I can easily imagine that you had 30+ years of pretty advanced experience before starting, and maybe had even built a house. That does have some ramifications on your success rate.
 

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Yes Dave, but you were already a very experienced equipment designer long before starting down the van build journey.

I can easily imagine that you had 30+ years of pretty advanced experience before starting, and maybe had even built a house. That does have some ramifications on your success rate.
Probably true. I did have 40 years of designing conveyors/machines and am reasonably proficient at 2D CAD drawing skills. Designed the house and barn but did not build them. Also was lucky enough to have a shop and tools. Have always used tools but hardly a skilled craftsman. Due to limited skills I have to find simple ways to do things.

Starting with an 80/20 floor frame does make the build a lot easier. Just build up from the floor.
 

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Agreed - the science in the article was great! Using the citation to discourage short trips was the bad part. The message of not using them on any trip is better. Or maybe just not on 88% of trips. ;-)


I'm probably splitting hairs but. Not so sure I would necessary call the study bad science based on the statement in the abstract. IIRC causation was never mentioned. A more accurately might be that the citing if the study was misuse of information. (by random guy on the internet to justify wagging his finger) . Whodda thunk. 🤣
 

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Bit of a random question, since you are running 2 bigbatteries in parallel: when you turn on 1 battery (button on front), does it light up the voltage meter on your other battery?
 

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Discussion Starter · #133 ·
Bit of a random question, since you are running 2 bigbatteries in parallel: when you turn on 1 battery (button on front), does it light up the voltage meter on your other battery?
Indeed. Not comforting as far as considering those switches to be turning the batteries OFF, is it? After seeing that, I realized that if I'm in a situation where I need one of the two off-line, I'll have to pull the plug on it.

Best guess is that the meter is on the wrong side of the switch and the battery is on the other side - because the voltage goes to exactly what the other battery reads (not a mix or of the one that's turned off) but it still doesn't seem right. 🤔
 

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Indeed. Not comforting as far as considering those switches to be turning the batteries OFF, is it? After seeing that, I realized that if I'm in a situation where I need one of the two off-line, I'll have to pull the plug on it.

Best guess is that the meter is on the wrong side of the switch and the battery is on the other side - because the voltage goes to exactly what the other battery reads (not a mix or of the one that's turned off) but it still doesn't seem right. 🤔
Yeah, exactly what mine do (the 12V versions). I need to do some testing with my amp meter to confirm that when I push the button to enable one, there is no discharge from the one that lights up but should still be off. Definitely a weird design choice.

I also have a weird hum/buzz that comes from the battery only when connected to the inverter and it's enabled. Above around a 20A or above load from the inverter and the battery stops making that noise. Thanks for confirming the voltage meter behavior, can check that mostly off the list.
 

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Discussion Starter · #135 ·
Based on the voltage data, I'm pretty sure that's what's going on. Just a "didn't think of that" design choice, I'm pretty sure. 🤷‍♀️

No buzz on mine. Sounds like loose wiring / bad connection. I know I've had trouble getting those Andersons ALL the way plugged in sometimes. Or could be a not-great crimped end - Anderson or other side.
 

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Based on the voltage data, I'm pretty sure that's what's going on. Just a "didn't think of that" design choice, I'm pretty sure. 🤷‍♀️

No buzz on mine. Sounds like loose wiring / bad connection. I know I've had trouble getting those Andersons ALL the way plugged in sometimes. Or could be a not-great crimped end - Anderson or other side.
Spoke to BigBattery support a few times over the past 3 days.
1. confirmed from their higher level support person (referred to by the lvl1 tech as an engineer) that batteries in parallel will cause all voltage meters to turn on when only 1 is turned on. This is expected behavior as we assumed.
2. when I passed along the suggestion that they power this display from the enable signal from their switch, so that only batteries that have been enabled actually light up, he seemed to react like "why didn't we think of that" and said he would pass this along to the "technical team" for a future improvement.
3. he also confirmed that each switch needs to be pressed to actually enable each battery, even if the display lights up.

Regarding my buzz from the battery only when the inverter is enabled and idle, he couldn't refute that the buzz is coming from their battery after I sent them a video of it, but said he hasn't heard of this problem before. Since both of my batteries individually connected behave the same way, also with their cables or with mine, I agreed to replace the inverter with a new version (same model) and see if it goes away. If not, they will try to replicate in their facility and we'll go from there. Fairly positive experience with them so far.
 

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Electrical: install relay control board

View attachment 161376

We had a few circuits of 12VDC that need to be on/off controllable:
  1. The Air Lift compressor would sometimes turn on in the middle of the night.
  2. The heat-pads for the water tanks and batteries probably shouldn't be ON all the time (even though they have temp controls).
  3. Main air compressor should probably be OFF most of the time.
  4. Upcoming outside flood lights need a good switch (high powered)
  5. The secondary water tank pump shouldn't be on all the time
I'd hacked a switch onto the old fuse panel for the Air Lift. It looked terrible. We were pulling fuses for the rest of the stuff. Not ideal and not something to explain to a friend who might borrow the rig.

So... relays and a relay control panel seemed ideal. Turns out they start pretty cheap. Considered ones that cost up to $1000. Considered building my own with RPI / Arduino. Decided to try the $110 unit that looked like it might work. Here we go!

Here's the fuse / relay panel on the top and the new 6-circuit fuse panel below it. Funny how everything seemed to fit / work best in an upside-down position. Typical.

View attachment 161377

It is up and running. Man, that took a LOT more time than I expected.

To replace the old fuse panel, I needed to disconnect every wire and cable (and label them) from the old 12-circuit fuse panel and then re-cut the mount plate that it was on. Once I re-cut it and centered things the way I thought would look best, I realized I had stretched the 1/0 cables from the batteries to the 200A breaker to their limit in the first install. And now they wouldn't reach the bit more I needed. Sigh. Re-build those cables.

Then noticed some connections that were loose on other wires and/or cables. Ugh. Oh, yeah... ran out of the right connectors and did a "temporary" setup on them (aka "terrible version of permanent") and forgot about that. Okay... re-terminate most of the #2 and #4 cables. Re-terminate a bunch of the wires since their heads didn't fit right in the new connectors. Get it all connected on the new panel. Moment of truth. It worked first try. I love it when that happens.

Then had to get the switch control side mounted somewhere user-friendly. Sigh. Yeah... I've been ignoring this. So might as well do it right. Disassembled the cabinet above the fridge and added a new panel section and mounted the Cerbo touchscreen, heater control, relay control, and tablet. Since the don't all have a clean flush-mount option, I did them all surface-mount. Came out pretty good - at least by my "function over form" mindset.

Clearly some work to do: labels aren't complete on the fuse/relay panel or the fuse panel. Labels on the relay control board are just temporary. Need to figure out how to make them look good AND to dim the lights down a lot. And still mounting and routing everything behind the UI panel. And need to build a clean outer panel on the lower cabinet to hide away all that electrical stuff that no-one should ever have to see or touch (much).

Relay board works great for $110 so far.
Sorry to reply to an old post but what is the larger display at the top here?
 

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Discussion Starter · #138 ·
Spoke to BigBattery support a few times over the past 3 days.
1. confirmed from their higher level support person (referred to by the lvl1 tech as an engineer) that batteries in parallel will cause all voltage meters to turn on when only 1 is turned on. This is expected behavior as we assumed.
2. when I passed along the suggestion that they power this display from the enable signal from their switch, so that only batteries that have been enabled actually light up, he seemed to react like "why didn't we think of that" and said he would pass this along to the "technical team" for a future improvement.
3. he also confirmed that each switch needs to be pressed to actually enable each battery, even if the display lights up.

Regarding my buzz from the battery only when the inverter is enabled and idle, he couldn't refute that the buzz is coming from their battery after I sent them a video of it, but said he hasn't heard of this problem before. Since both of my batteries individually connected behave the same way, also with their cables or with mine, I agreed to replace the inverter with a new version (same model) and see if it goes away. If not, they will try to replicate in their facility and we'll go from there. Fairly positive experience with them so far.
Thanks for sharing your findings, @PNW_Camper. Funny that either they never tested that or it didn't occur to them that it's a dump setup. 😏

Hoping that buzz goes away. Seems unlikely to be two batteries doing that... but I'm unclear how the load could be causing the batteries to buzz, either. 🤔
 

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Discussion Starter · #139 ·
Sorry to reply to an old post but what is the larger display at the top here?
All good! That's a Victron Cerbo GX 50 display. In the Victron world, there's a "brain" concept referred to either as "Cerbo GX" (for the current pre-packaged version) or as "Venus OS" (which can be loaded on Raspberry Pi or other ARM systems).

It's a pretty nice prepackaged setup for managing electronics, water tanks, temps and humidity, plus relays, motors and other stuff. It's not as fancy as the PicoMarine setup nor anywhere near the full marine stuff; but it's not as expensive either.

The display setup I'm using on it has much improved since that photo:
Rectangle Font Screenshot Parallel Technology
 

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All good! That's a Victron Cerbo GX 50 display. In the Victron world, there's a "brain" concept referred to either as "Cerbo GX" (for the current pre-packaged version) or as "Venus OS" (which can be loaded on Raspberry Pi or other ARM systems).

It's a pretty nice prepackaged setup for managing electronics, water tanks, temps and humidity, plus relays, motors and other stuff. It's not as fancy as the PicoMarine setup nor anywhere near the full marine stuff; but it's not as expensive either.

The display setup I'm using on it has much improved since that photo:
View attachment 165548
Thanks, I am going to use a Victron setup and was looking at this. I like the tank levels. What did you have to put on or in your tanks for that? I wish it could read the gas tank level of the van too.
 
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