My decision to live in a camper is a multifaceted affair. Equal parts choice, experiment, and manifesto. It is driven, in some regards, by a desire to understand the science and psychology of what is possible, and what is necessary in such an endeavor. In many regards, however, it is nothing greater than a choice to live simply. The details of all this will be scattered throughout. I have decided to share this experience with the world, so here we are. There will be little to no chronology to many of the early posts, as I am starting this documentation part way into the journey. There is much to write to bring you up to speed. So, off we go...

Thermostat Update V2.0

This is just an update on some thermostat happenings of late. I recommend reading the original post to get up to speed. DELAY CIRCUIT I have mentioned elsewhere that I maintain a temperature of 40°F overnight while I sleep. I find that to be a great temp for sleeping, and for saving on propane. It's a bit rough for getting ready for work in the morning, though. I tried keeping it at 50°F overnight when I started getting a steadier income, but realized just how much propane it takes to get an extra 10 degrees. I decided to add a delay function to the system. I did not want to futz with the complexities of a programmable timer circuit, especially since the RTC chip is not known to be [Read more...]

The Jedi Light Trick

I have grand schemes on setting up a solar powered LED lighting system in the camper, but until the money and motivation magically align, i'm just making it up as I go. All of the light fixtures in my camper are old and cracked and falling apart. The central most light fixture died completely recently, and I made do without it until now. Years ago (January 2012) I built an infrared light switch (programmed with Arduino and housed in an Altoids tin) to control some halogens I no longer use. I stumbled across that old circuit today and decided to repurpose it. I wrote about the original build back then, if you care to read the details. It has the schematic (EagleCAD) and Arduino code attached [Read more...]

Keeping Warm, Part One: My Thermostat

UPDATE: I've added some features! See Version 2.0 HERE   Now that the northern Maine temperatures have finally crept above 40°F on a regular basis, I decided it's time to talk about how I managed to stay warm this past winter. I'd like to start things off with my thermostat. There is a lot to say here, so i will devote the whole post to it. Other cold beating techniques will be discussed in part II. Why Build a Thermostat? "You know, you can buy a digital thermostat at Lowes for $17?" I got some version of that response from almost everyone I spoke to about my idea of building my own. The thermostat that came with my camper was working just fine. I didn't need to build one, [Read more...]

Water Always Wins

From a small space colony on Mars, the 10th incarnation or Dr. Who once proclaimed that “Water always wins”. Similar words have been spoken by many, and how true they are. Usually this phrase is in reference to the forceful nature of water. Be it the quick and powerful decimation of a tsunami, or the slow and persistent relentlessness of a river carving a canyon. For the homeowner, it refers to the nagging inevitability that ALL roofs eventually need repair. Water will always find the tiniest of flaws and proceed to reek havoc. I’ve certainly had to repair a significant amount of water damage from the moment I purchased my camper, and I continue to find small leaks as time goes on (In fact, [Read more...]

Squirrel – It’s What’s for Dinner

My audience is going to get divided here. Some of you are outdoorsy, meat eating country folk. Some of you are vegan. Some of you fall somewhere in between. For my non-meat eating constituents, please read on (if you haven't stopped already), theres a bigger story here about an accidental experiment, and the lessons it taught me. For the record, I am not a fan of killing animals (I ate a vegan diet for an extended period, but got away from it for a plethora of reasons that are beyond this post). I have absolutely no issue with folks who hunt (legally), it's just not for me. I do currently eat meat, however, and I find that a tad hypocritical. It bothers me to think that I don't want to [Read more...]

The Saga of My Water System

For a full year prior to moving into the camper, I lived without running water. I lived on a third floor, and carried the water up 6 gallons at time. For much of that time, water was available on the second floor, so I only had one flight to climb. In a nutshell, I was used to not having water on tap. For that reason, I was not in a big hurry to jump on the water system. Despite being pretty handy, I avoid plumbing like the plague. It has never agreed with me. I stuck with my big blue jug/dispenser for a while, but it was clunky to operate and doing dishes was always a mess. As the camper became more "home like", the desire for a more managed water system took hold. My water system has seen [Read more...]

Meet My Camper – Part II

dodge front corner

If you haven't already, you may want to read part one of this series. My water system was quite a challenge. I have been through a couple of incarnations already. I have a 50 gallon external freshwater tank that is entirely exposed to the freezing temps. A solid block of ice is very difficult to feed through a pump. I installed a smaller tank inside, and replaced the pump. I still had concerns of the water line freezing, so I reconfigured the system again. I will document the details in post dedicated to the water system. The wood in this thing was in rough shape. Being an older camper, the wood is actually wood, not some cheap laminate. Refinishing is certainly an option, but being a [Read more...]

Meet My Camper – Part I

dodge side

I live in a 1977 Dodge Sportsman. It is a class C motor home, powered by a 318 V8 engine. I purchased it on May 29th, 2015. It had been sitting around for a few years, and it was quite a mess. It ran, barely. A good portion of it was in decent shape, and I was told that everything worked. The price was low, but I was on a pretty limited income. I really didn't have any money to put into repairs, so I was leery of what I was getting myself into. My dad thought it was too good to pass up. He has quite a collection of materials and tools I would have access too, so I took the risk. Below is an overview of my work to date. I will post more details in separate posts, with pics. At first, each [Read more...]