Preparing for launch

Nov 30

Preparing for launch

Yesterday was Thanksgiving and, with that, another of the big pre-launch milestones has passed. Our countdown is at T minus 32 days. We’ve been planning our new adventure for over a year now and we are just about a month from taking off. Shit is getting real! Our final shakedown trip will be to Vasa Park for the month of December and we are heading there on Tuesday so now there are only a few days left to figure out what we need to have with us, figure out where it is going to go and get it all into the trailer. In addition, we have this whole Christmas thing coming up and another few weeks of work before I transition to a “remote employee.” There are a couple of very nice things about spending the month of December at Vasa.  First, we can discover things that we forgot while it is not that hard to go back to the house to get them. Second, we can keep the trailer plugged in and heated as the temperatures drop into the twenties (or lower!) over the next week. I’m looking forward to figuring out what cold-weather camping is like while we still have the option of bailing back to the house if it gets too cold. Plus side: it doesn’t take too long to heat up 200 sq feet. Over the past year, we have done a huge amount of work to downsize from two houses and a storage locker to one house, a storage locker and our Airstream. Even with lots of donating, selling and trashing huge (sometimes embarrassingly so) piles of possessions, we still have a fair amount of stuff that we are leaving behind when we take off. It will be interesting to see how that all feels when we come back to Whidbey Island after this first journey but for now, it is very nice to not have to rush through another round of downsizing in addition to the rest of our preparations. So now our clothes and miscellaneous possessions that we’re bringing are starting to go into their storage bins.  I signed up for the Millenicom hotspot plan that gets us 20 gigs of cellular data at a...

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Harnessing the power of the sun!

Nov 28

Harnessing the power of the sun!

After lots of discussions and research, and also after being tired of the batteries always being dead on the trailer after a few days of non-use, we decided to add a solar panel to the top of the Tardis. We went with a Zamp 150 Watt panel and the updated Zamp 4 stage controller. Now I’m reading up on all of the details of this new addition. I am glad to be able to actually tell how much power we’re using and how the batteries are recharging. This will definitely be useful information once we’re out on the road. When we’re traveling and not plugged in at a campground, I expect we will be using power faster than the solar panel can regenerate though it should definitely work as a battery extender – making the batteries last much longer than they would without it and keeping them topped off while we’re rolling. We also have a portable solar panel that we can plug in if the one of the roof is too shaded or if we just need a bit more power while we’re camping. We also installed a couple of MaxxAir II covers over the Fantastic Fans so that they can stay open even when it is raining and we needed to move the cellular antenna to install it but with these changes, I think we have everything in place for the start of our trip – at least on the roof. Pictures coming as soon as I remember to take them...

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Antenna installation success!

Nov 11

Antenna installation success!

It took a lot longer than expected, but I finally got both the WiFiRanger Sky and the cell booster antenna installed on the Tardis. As we learned in the previous post, there’s a lot of structure inside the Airstream so running wires doesn’t really work over any particular distance. In the end, the solution was to mount the Sky on an aluminum box so that the I can route the wire coming out of the bottom in a different direction. Then run the wire on the top of the trailer closer to the location of the roof locker and then bring it into the roof locker through the hole I drilled previously. For the Laird cellular antenna, I made a little stand out of some aluminum that raised it up a little so the wire could also go along the roof and go into the trailer with the wire from the WiFiRanger Sky. After some caulk and rivets, both units are firmly in place. The Sky is mounted over the hole that I drilled previously (hey, if the location was good then, it’s good now) and the caulk I used as adhesive and sealant fills in that hole. I thought about building a similar stand for the WiFiRanger Sky as I made for the cellular antenna, but I worried that the extra size and weight of the box might be problematic.  Plus, I needed to patch the hole that I drilled previously, so win-win! After running the wires into the trailer and completing the mounting on the roof, I hooked the Sky into the PoE (Power over Ethernet) adapter and checked our WiFi signal – sure enough the network SSID I had configured popped up.  Success! Next I plugged the antenna wire from the Laird antenna into the Wilson Sleek cellular booster and powered that up.  When I placed my Verizon MiFi into the cradle, the signal jumped from 2 bars to 4 bard (I didn’t check the actual db values, I’ll do that next time) but that is a significant increase in signal. Success #2!   I still have a couple more tasks to complete.  The wires are not yet taped down to the roof (I plan on using...

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