Updated Electronics goodies

I’ve got my center console worked out for the time being. In the picture above I have from top to bottom:
Pioneer CD player
Radio Shack cheap CB radio
Coleman 800 watt RMS 110 power inverter
Yeasu ft-2800m 2 meter ham radio
First aid kit

The hole in the top above the CD player is reserved for switches in the future. I hope to wire up some lighting and other goodies with the ARB style rocker switches.

Over the years I’ve realized that if you travel on the freeway in the winter time a CB radio is a huge asset. To be able to communicate with truckers offers up valuable information, especially in storms or during accidents, many times in the past I have been able to find out what is going on up ahead. This can be important for finding a bypass to an accident, or even stopping at a small town to wait out a storm rather than sitting on a closed freeway.

The power inverter is more than adequate to run my laptop and our small portable DVD player at the same time. Often times I’ll need to do this when I am using a truck stops wi-fi, so the kids can keep busy watching a movie while I surf for directions. Other than this, I don’t really have anything else at this time to run that’s 110v. I’m sure that it will come in handy at some other point in time.

The 2 meter ham radio is a useful tool as well, because I can get weather, traffic and other types of information with it. It’s also my backup communications, since it has a pretty good range and calling for help with it when the cell phone doesn’t work may come in handy someday.

I found this first aid kit in Provo at Uncle Sam’s Army Surplus store. I like the contents, because it has a great bit of lots of things I use every day. I also like that it’s in a mini-pelican case type of thing, water proof and solid. The contents may change with time, but I’m sure the case will still be around for years.

Monterey Bay Aquarium

We spent day two in Monterey at the Aquarium. This is one of the coolest places ever. The last time I visited the Aquarium I was in the second grade, and I had some great memories of it. This trip was even better than I remember.

The Aquarium has several interesting displays, with the sea otters taking the lead for the most popular, of course. I found the Jelly fish the most intriguing, personally. The kids enjoyed the petting section, where they got to touch the stars and other cool things, but they also loved the shark tank.

It wasn’t nearly as busy as I thought maybe it might be, but it may have just been the fact that it’s not summer yet.

Monterey Bay Whale Watch

Today we went out on the “Sea Wolf II” for a cruise around the Monterey Bay, and we sure did get lucky. The seas were flat, the winds were calm and the whales were good. We left off the dock at 9am and got back in around 1 pm. It was just the right amount of time to be out. Even though it was a nice day out, I wished I would have brought heavier clothes for the family. Once again, we see that being on the water will take the heat right out of your body.

We ended up seeing three different humpbacks, which was pretty amazing, and I would have been happy with just that. After we found them, we moved over and came up on a real treat. A pod of transient Orcas! It was a great show. They were playing, pushing babies up out of the water and having a good time checking out our boat. A a couple of times they even swam right under us, giving all a good view. It was quite and experience for everyone. I was hoping to see some dolphins, but we got a pretty good show and I can’t complain.

The Monterey Bay Whale Watch crew was outstanding. Very on the ball and helpful. There were a couple of people who got sick, and the crew has very sympathetic to them, keeping a close eye on them the whole way.

It was my son Eli (3 years old), my daughter Mia (8 years old), my mom Bev and my sister Jessica on this trip. Eli did get a little bit sick, but I think that was mostly due to the fact that he couldn’t really fallow what was going on. He kind of lost his mind for a bit, then took a nap for about an hour. After that he had a good time and got to see the “big scary, cool, killer whales”. Mia handled the boat just fine, and had a great time. Jessica got a bit sea sick and kind of just hung out most of the way. She did hang in there and I give her credit for that. Many didn’t fare as well as she did. Of course, mom did great and had a good time. I would like to note that at 3, Eli was a bit too young for this, and Mia at 8 was having a great time. I think next year Eli will have a better time doing this type of thing.

If you ever make it down this way, I highly recommend this trip.

Tomorrow we go to the aquarium!

A few additions to the van

Over the last several days I’ve been busy working on the van, getting ready for the summer camping season. So far, I’ve wired up dual batteries, an air compressor and a fridge. Things are coming along very nicely!

The wiring kit is from Warn Industries, after getting the box open I found out that it is actually for atv’s! The good thing is, that the only part that wouldn’t work is the battery box, so I replaced that for $15 at the local Napa auto parts and now I’m good to go. It only took about 2 hours to wire up, and the system works perfectly. When the ignition is on both batteries are in series, being charged by the alternator (a 95 amp factory unit) unless the main battery drops down below 12 volts, then the relay shuts off the auxiliary battery. When the ignition is turned off, the two batteries are separated so that I can run the fridge or inverter without worrying about being able to start the van up later.

Finding a 12 volt air compressor worth anything for under $500 is pretty hard. After a bit of research on Pirate 4×4 I found a compressor made by Puma that was 12 volt. Puma is a pretty big name brand in compressors, so I was glad to see that they made a 12 volt version. The cost was around $300, and it came with a 1 gallon tank as well. I was originally going to separate it and hard mount the compressor in the engine bay, as well as mount the air tank under the body. After a bit of thought I decided to keep things together. What I did instead was wire up a cord for it, then make up a connector so that I can disconnect it and use it in other vehicles. I found some solid connectors that look like they should hold up good. I’ll do a full function test on the compressor and write a review here in a few days.

I’ve been drooling over other people’s 12 volt fridges long enough. After some solid research I decided to buy an Edgestar 63 quart model. At $400, the price was right and hopefully it will hold up. It’s well built, and seems to look like it will be ok. I’ve got it wired up the same way as the compressor, a cord that goes to the cool connectors I’ve got. I’ll write a review on this after I get a chance to use it a bit.