There’s no doubt that Volkswagen’s offerings in the 1960s and early 1970s were the hippie cars of choice, with the most desirable models being from the Type 2 line, better known as the Microbus. And what could be even hippier than
converting a 1973 VW Microbus into a solar-electric camper?
For [Brett Belan] and his wife [Kira], their electric vehicle is about quality time with the family. And they’ll have plenty of time, given that it doesn’t exactly ooze performance like a Tesla. Then again, a Tesla would have a hard time toting the enormous 1.2 kW PV panel on its roof like this camper can, and would look even sillier with the panel jacked up to maximize its solar aspect. [Brett] uses the space created by the angled array to create extra sleeping space like the Westfalia, a pop-top VW camper. The PV array charges a bank of twelve lead-acid golf cart batteries which power an AC motor through a 500-amp controller. Interior amenities include a kitchenette, dining table, and seating that cost as much as the van before conversion. There’s no word on interior heat, but honestly, that never was VW’s strong suit — we speak from bitter, frostbitten experience here.
As for being practical transportation, that just depends on your definition of practical. Everything about this build says “labor of love,” and it’s hard to fault that. It’s also hard to fault [Brett]’s choice of platform; after all, vintage VWs are the most hackable of cars.
Continue reading “Solar Powered Camper is a Magic Bus Indeed”
Sometimes you need a good sweat and if you’re like [JoeCMorgan] you can’t be bothered travelling to a sauna, it needs to come to you. He took care of that problem by building the SaunaVan.
Many moons ago, SaunaVan started life as a Vauxhall Combo van. At some point it was abbreviated from a Van to a trailer. You can’t tell from the picture above but this van no longer has a cab up front. Like many trailers, it eventually became a storage unit, which is how [Joe] found it. He cleaned out the old tires, tents, and detritus, and started planning out a mobile sauna. The van’s interior was already stripped, so the first order of business was to cut a hole in the front wall of the van. The hole became a steel “nose” which housed the chimney. All this allowed [Joe] to place his 1920’s Husqvarna stove as far forward as possible.
The van’s gas tank was cleaned out and became a water reservoir, complete with a pump that is safe to use with water. A shower placed outside allows for a quick cool down after a hot sauna. The biggest job was building the interior. [Joe] measured out the wheel wells and cut panels to form the interior walls of the van. Some fiberglass insulation between the wood and the outside wall ensured the van would stay nice and toasty. [Joe] put in some pre-finished flooring and added benches to cover the wheel wells. The benches hide storage for wood, and the wiring for the van’s sound system. Speaking of which, your sweaty friends won’t be happy without some tunes so [Joe] added speakers and a radio. Check out the video after the break to see it all in action. This thing is just begging to be parked next to the Carpool DeVille.
One thing [Joe] didn’t mention was a fresh air intake, which is vital on a setup like this. We’d also add a carbon monoxide detector just to be sure combustion gasses don’t build up inside the van’s body.
The first firing of the antique stove was a complete success. The newly christened SaunaVan’s temperature got up over 90°C (194°F)! That might sound hot to some, but it’s not far outside the norm for a sauna. The low humidity helps keep things comfortable, but we wouldn’t recommend staying inside for more than a few minutes.
Continue reading “Creepy Van Parked Down the Street is a Nomadic Sauna”
Sometimes you need to sleep where you’re not supposed to. In this case, [MisterE] wanted to cut the costs associated with his climbing trips. He took a 2001 GMC Savana cargo van and turned it into a stealthy mobile living space. The project is from back in 2008 and we almost waved off from featuring it. But when you start to look at all of the creative space-saving solutions in the hack we think you’ll agree it’s worth a look.
Since he’s a climber that means time in the mountains, which can be quite cold. The sides and floor of the van were insulated to about R19 before the build work itself started and there’s a small wall-mounted heater. For comfort, a fouton was a must for sleeping but also for its double use as a sofa. For style the only choice here was bead-board to cover all of the walls. There is a small kitchenette that is mainly just a sink (we’ve seen running water in vehicles before). A couple of extra batteries power all of the electronics: audio, laptop, etc. When asked, [MisterE] confirms that he added hidden storage areas for his more pricey gear. Total cost on the project came it at $11,500. About nine for the van and the rest for improvements.
He mentions he blew an inverter because of grounding issues while starting the van. As long as he turns it off before start-up he’s fine. Shouldn’t there be a better way to build protection into this? Please leave a comment after the break and let us know what you’d do differently.
This teardrop camper is more about the angles than it is the curves. That makes construction quite a bit easier. But it’s not only the shape that catches our eye. This one’s built to last and has some nice amenities like a built-in sound system and a galley in the rear storage area. The project is quite old, but a good hack like this one is really timeless.
Head on over to the Desert Dawg website for a project overview. This proves to be quite a different build than the teardrop project from last week. The frame of the trailer started it’s life hauling around a boat. The long nose was cut and the cross pieces welded in place to form the final footprint for the camper which is large enough for a queen sized mattress. In addition to comfortable sleeping, the kitchenette revealed when you lift the back hatch will make cooking on the go a breeze.
They needed a place to stay on road trips and at music festivals. This teardrop camper certainly fits the bill. And it’s got a look that will make you proud to unfold yourself into the parking lot every morning.
Starting from a flat frame the camper skeleton was built up using plywood sides and cross pieces to help support the sweeping roof. It was then covered with 1/4″ Birch plywood which has enough flexibility to follow the contour. Inside you won’t find much in the way of frills, but the entire floor is a 4″ thick foam mattress which is a lot better that camping out. There’s a dome on top which can opens for ventilation and a hatch on the rear to carry some extras along on your adventure.
A spaceship simulator sounds fun. But a spaceship disaster simulator is pure win. Members of the London Hack Space poured their hearts and souls into this build which they call the LHS Bikeshed. Now they’re taking the show on the road, letting attendees of Maker Faires all over the UK try their hand at beating the
Kobayashi Maru disaster simulation.
The real question is how do you take your simulator on the road with you? You build it in an old camper (or caravan as the Brits call it). The towable sleeping quarters were gutted to make room for the well-crafted command center seen above. The demonstration video also shows off some bulkhead doors which open to reveal a wiring mess that must be fixed to prevent a disaster. Not only does the physical build really sell the concept, but the audio and video produced for the simulator look fantastic too. The link above is a recent post, but you should dig through their archives see multiple steps during the project build.
It makes us thing we should keep going with our VW Bus hacking.
Continue reading “UK Hackerspace builds mobile spaceship disaster simulator”