Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Stuff I like

I don't like buying things. Due to the rush that I was in to start this project, and how green I was, I bought a bunch of stuff that now I think I shouldn't ought to have bought. However, a few things, I'm totally happy with-- delighted, even-- and would recommend to anyone:

1) SuperBrightLEDs from . I got the recessed light fixture and it draws so little current that even when I turn off the power mains on my solar controller, the light is still lit, just off of the drain current from the controller! I had to put an actual off switch in there for it. It's as bright as about a 20 watt bulb and uses no electricity to speak of. US$20.

2) Nalgene bottle for peeing in! It was US$9 at Sports Authority. It's brown. It's got a wide mouth and you can't tell what's in it from looking at it. Thanks to whomever on the vandwellers list suggested it.

3) Hand-cranked drum pump for biodiesel, $80 from Whitecap in San Francisco. I was recommended a 110v motorized pump, but it didn't work and needed to be primed. The hand pump works just fine and I don't have to plug it in or prime it if the drum goes empty.

4) Igloo 5-day cooler. This thing really does keep everything cold for 5 days. Very, very nice. I added a faucet bibb to make it easier to drain-- I can open and close the faucet. I am going to have a metal shop fab up an icebox to put in there, connected to the spout, so the water doesn't get into the food and so I can drain it without tipping it over.

5) Isocryanaurate insulation (from Home Depot). This stuff is light, not too expensive, and it insulates very well (both sound and heat). Easy to work with and cut.

6) Old Linksys WRT54G router running OpenWRT. Love these things. You can use the wl utility to scan for open AP's, it shows the S/N ratio of each, and then iwconfig to pick an AP to associate to. I will write a script to do this automatically, and will customize it to flash LEDs showing how many open AP's are around as I drive.

7) Kyocera solar panels-- I got an 85w and a 130W. And Concord Lifeline AGM batteries-- I got two 220Ah batts. And a Cobra 2500W inverter. This combination gives me enough juice to run the laptop, a 110v LCD, the Linksys, and a bunch of USB-powered accessories, for as long as I can stay awake, every night.

8) Ryobi power tools with the 12V car charger. If I work with the sun shining, I can do tons of stuff and charge up the batteries as I go, all powered by the sun.

9) Nasuha aluminum tape with the backing paper. This stuff rules! It'll stick anything to anything, and seems impervious to temperature, condensation, or moisture. Highly recommended for vandwelling.

10) Colman single-burner propane stove! These things rule! They are hotter than a regular stove, I've found. Gotta be careful not to burn stuff. And they're so efficient! I bought a single canister of propane FOUR YEARS AGO and I'm still using it today. Same canister! It sat for many years unused, but I've been using this canister every day for cooking dinner, for months now, and it's still showing no signs of slowing down. I love my Coleman stove.

I've got some other good accessories and tools/toys too, which I haven't used enough to comment on yet. But the above feel to me like good, smart purchases, and I'm happy I bought them.

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