Camping For $25: Thrift Store Hacks To Keep Cozy

A hacker is somebody who’s always thinking creatively to solve problems, usually using what they have on hand. Sometimes that means using a 555 to build a CPU, and other times it means using a dead flashlight to start a fire. In the video below the break, [Kelly] shows us a series of hacks you can use while camping in the woods for a night to keep you warm, dry, and well fed!

[Kelly] started his camping trip not in the woods, but rather at a local thrift store. Instead of packing along hundreds of dollars in gear, his aim was to keep costs low. Very low. With some searching he was able to find a blanket, cooking utensils, rope, knife, tarp, and several other camp necessities for just $25.

A good campfire is a necessity of course, and [Kelly]’s full of great ways to start a fire even if all you have is a lighter with no butane or an old flashlight with dead batteries. The purpose of the video is to show how anyone can get their bush craft on even when all they have is a few dollars and a little know-how, which he generously shares. And after watching, we’re sure you’ll agree that he met his mark.

Will you raid the local second hand store before your next camping trip? After seeing this video, you just might! And while you’re there, make sure to grab the things you’ll need to make your own camping-friendly French press so you have some good coffee while you’re out camping in your… uh… Corolla?

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Jet burner and close-up

$7 Tent Heater Provides Comfort On A Budget

At Hackaday’s Minnesota office, we appreciate central heat and hot coffee because the outdoor temperature is sub-zero in Celsius and Fahrenheit. Not everyone here has such amenities, and families living in tents could use heater help. If you live somewhere inhospitably cold and have the resources (time being the most crucial), please consider building and donating alcohol jet burners.

Alcohol burners like these are great for tents because if they tip over, they self-extinguish. You can fill them with 70% rubbing alcohol and they’ll heat a small space, and if running on denatured alcohol, they can be used to cook with. They won’t do you much good outdoors unless you have significant wind protection, as the tiny jet is likely to blow out. The first time you light one, you must heat the coil with a lighter or another heater to vaporize incoming fuel, then it can sustain itself by wicking fluid up from the reservoir jar. Relighting after a tip or accidental gust only takes a spark since the copper is already hot.

If you came for a hack, note how they fill the small tubes with salt funneled through a condiment cap before bending them. Sure, there are springy pipe bending tools, but who doesn’t already have salt and tape? Keeping humans warm is crucial, but heating metal takes a different approach.

Thank you for the tip, [cyberlass]

An Atari ST running a campground reservation system

Atari ST Still Manages Campground Reservations After 36 Years

“Don’t fix it if it ain’t broke”. That’s what we guess [Frans Bos] has been thinking for the past few decades, as he kept using his Atari ST to run a booking system for the family campground. (Video, embedded below.)

Although its case has yellowed a bit, the trusty old machine is still running 24/7 from April to October, as it has done every year since 1985. In the video [Frans] demonstrates the computer and its custom campground booking system to [Victor Bart].

To be exact, we’re looking at an Atari 1040STF, which runs on a 68000 CPU and has one full megabyte of RAM: in fact it was one of the first affordable machines with that much memory. Output is through a monochrome display, which is tiny compared to the modern TFT standing next to it, but was apparently much better than the monitor included with a typical DOS machine back in the day.

Since no campground management software was available when he bought the computer, [Frans] wrote his own, complete with a graphical map showing the location of each campsite. Reservations can be made, modified and printed with just a few keystrokes. The only concession to the modern world is the addition of a USB drive; we can imagine it was becoming difficult to store and exchange data using floppy disks in 2021.

We love seeing ancient hardware being actively used in the modern world: whether it’s floppy disks inside a Boeing 747 or an Amiga running a school’s HVAC system. Thanks to [Tinkerer] for the tip.

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Mobile Sauna For On-The-Go Relaxation

While it might be nice to imagine owning a cabin in the woods to escape from society, complete with an outdoor sauna to take in the scenic views of nature, most of us will be satisfied with the occasional vacation to a cabin like that. For those trips, or even for long-term camping trips, [Schitzu] and a group of friends thought it would be nice to be able to ensure access to a sauna. For that, they created this mobile, timber-framed sauna that he can tow behind his car.

The sauna is built out of a combination of spruce and Douglas fir, two types of lumber with weather-resistant properties. For an additional layer of protection, the frame was varnished after assembly. The walls are filled with baked cork for insulation, and heat is provided by a small wood-fired oven placed in the corner of the sauna with a stove pipe plumbed through the roof. Performance of the sauna shows good design too, as it can heat up quickly and performs well in all of the tests so far. The final touch on the mobile sauna was to finish the roof with some solar panels in order to gather some energy for long-term camping trips and also to ensure that the roof was protected from rain and weather.

The sauna is designed for two adults to sit in, but it will also accommodate a single person to lay down and sleep (presumably when not using it as a sauna), so the entire trailer actually makes a fairly capable mobile camper too. With the addition of a panoramic window, anyone can take in the sights as well as someone with their own permanently-located sauna could, which is a win in all of our books. If you’re looking for a mobile sauna that’s a little more discrete though, be sure to check out this one which is built in the back of a white panel van.

Disposable Rocket Stove Keeps You Fueled In The Wild

Don’t know about you, but we can’t start the day without coffee and a shower. If you were to drag us on some overnight trip into the wilderness, we could probably forego the shower for a day, but we will be a grumpy trail mate without some kind coffee, even instant.

Yes, if you were to get us on an overnight outdoor adventure, we would insist on bringing along a couple of these little disposable, self-destructing rocket stoves, if for no other reason than that we can have some coffee without having to forage for a bunch of firewood and build a whole regular-sized campfire. Don’t worry — we’ll share the water because there’s plenty of time built in. Per [smogdog], these Swedish torches will boil water in 20 minutes and burn for 60 — that’s enough time to make a coffee, a bowl of soup, and toast a single marshmallow before the fire consumes the scrap wood.

We love the use of bike chain as a burner to raise up the pot for fire ventilation. But our favorite bit has to be the dual-purpose packaging. It’s nice-looking, it’s informative, and it’s paper, so you can use it as a fire starter. Failing that, [smogdog] has a backup fire starter system — rubbing alcohol in a small spray bottle. Unwrap a protein bar and check out the demo video after the break.

Tired of the same old, boring trail foods? How about flat-pack pasta that morphs into fun shapes when you boil it?

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Something’s Brewing Up In The Woods – And It Looks Stunning

Caffeine fuels the hacker, and there are plenty of options to get it into your system, from guzzling energy drinks to chewing instant coffee pellets. But let’s take a nice cup of coffee as input source, which itself can be prepared in many ways using all kinds of techniques. In its simplest form, you won’t need any fancy equipment or even electricity, just heat up some water over a fire and add your ground beans to it. This comes in handy if you’re camping out in the woods or find yourself in a post-apocalyptic world, and in case you still prefer a stylish coffee maker in such a situation — why let an apocalypse ruin having nice things? — you’re in luck, because [Andreas Herz] designed this nifty looking off-the-grid coffee maker.

The design somewhat resembles a certain high-end precision coffee maker that even fictional billionaires approve of, which [Andreas] created in Fusion 360 and is available online. The device base is made from brass, wood, and silicone he cast from a 3D printed mold, while the glass and ceramic parts — i.e. the water tank and coffee pot — are simply store bought. [Andreas] opted for fuel gel as heat source, which burns under a copper coil that acts as heat exchanger and starts the actual brewing process. It took him a few attempts to get it right, and in the end, a coat of black exhaust paint did the trick to get the temperatures high enough.

This may not be the fastest coffee maker, as you will see in the video after the break, but choosing a different fuel source might fix that — [Andreas] just went the safe(r) way by using fuel gel here. But hey, why rush things when you’re camping or having a cozy time in a cabin anyway. Now all you need is the right blend, maybe even your own, made with a camp stove coffee roaster. Of course, in case of an actual apocalypse, you may not have easy access to a CNC router or 3D printer, but then there’s always the option to build an espresso machine from salvaged motorcycle parts.

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A French Press You Can Take Out Camping

There’s many a hacker that considers coffee a necessary fuel, without which, little work can be achieved. This applies whether in the office or traipsing around in the great outdoors. For the latter situation, [Poehls05] developed a robust French press that’s well suited to field use.

Typically, a French press consists of a plunger assembly which moves within a glass vessel. This is fragile and unwieldy for throwing in a backpack. Instead, in this design, the plunger assembly is harvested from an existing press and repurposed to fit within a sturdy Nalgene water bottle, designed specifically for overlanding.

The modifications involve cutting the existing press plate into three slices, and reassembling with hinges so it may fold. The plunger rod is then modified to make it possible to tilt the press plate relative to the rod. These modifications allow the plunger to be slid into the narrower neck of the Nalgene water bottle, and also enable the plunger rod to work with the original screw-down lid. In this configuration, the bottle is no longer water tight, but can be converted to normal use by swapping a regular lid back on top.

With the changes in place, the plastic bottle can easily be used in the same manner as a regular French press. Simply fill with hot water, allow the grounds to steep, and then press and pour. It’s a great way to make high-quality coffee in the wilderness, and one that may prove popular with hackers who don’t wish to give up the finer things when out and about. We’ve also featured tricks to make the most of hotel coffee, too.