Author Topic: Living in a van and a big thank you!  (Read 6578 times)

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Offline WooferHound

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Re: Living in a van and a big thank you!
« Reply #15 on: August 11, 2012, 08:51:08 PM »
Interesting reading there MadScientest
Guess you don't have steady internet access since you haven't logged in after posting the original thread. Hope your not in trouble.

I've slept in a car a whole bunch of times, but I cant recall ever living in one. Just so happens that I have an extended Cargo Van so I am almost there in case my wife gets even more unhappy with me.

I was working with a band in West Monroe Louisiana back around 1984 and we had some times where we were making very little money. The band manager was renting an old movie theater and I decided to stay in the projection booth and try to just buy food (think Phantom of the Opera here). I was living on $10 a week and eating sandwiches made on a Presto-Burger electric grill. It wasn't too bad, I had free electricity , TV, water and a place to poop.

Then the manager couldn't afford the utilities anymore and it all got cut off. so I started stealing electricity from the the air conditioner for the hardware store on one side of the theater. and getting water from a water faucet behind the cities Crime Lab on the other side. I got drinking water in a water cooler and flush water in a 5 gallon bucket.

A fairly interesting time, eventually moved back home to Alabama and got a real job as a stagehand.

"Good Luck" to you and I'll try and give you some tips on how to live cheap in a confined space . . .



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Offline WooferHound

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Re: Living in a van and a big thank you!
« Reply #16 on: August 11, 2012, 10:05:32 PM »
Ahh the memories . . . it's all coming back to me now, living in the theater . . .
MadScientest, I know that you don't have AC power available but I did.

There was a place across the street that was making ice, I was buying blocks of it for $1 and it would last 4 days in the chest cooler that I had. I had all the Bologna, Cotto Salomi and Spaghetti sauce in a jar that a few dollars could buy. That presto burger grill was working so good.
http://www.amazon.com/Presto-Burger-400-Watt-Nonstick-Hamburger/dp/B0017UO77E
I was making toast, french toast, hamburgers, sausage, eggs, and other tasty stuff on it.

Had a hotplate and made spaghetti noodles with it, added sauce from the jar and cut up some bologna into it, cheap to make and has staying power as food. In the winter the hotplate doubled as a room heater. I made a lightbulb heater, it was a 100w bulb inside a tin can. I could put a can of food on top and it would be ready to open and eat in a little more than an hour. Just stir and munch.

In today's money I think I could eat minimally and decent for about $25 a week using these same appliances.
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Offline Norm

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Re: Living in a van and a big thank you!
« Reply #17 on: August 11, 2012, 10:11:56 PM »
slept on a rack something like that for 4 years sometimes drunk....(USN)
only rope and canvas and 2 inch? mattress......
I guess a ship is kinda "off grid" when underway?  :)

Offline birdhouse

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Re: Living in a van and a big thank you!
« Reply #18 on: August 13, 2012, 11:32:54 AM »
steve- 

bummer about the situation, though it seems you're making the best from it! 

do you have a mailing address?  or any way you can get mail?  was thinking of sending you a hospitality package!

adam

Offline Watt

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Re: Living in a van and a big thank you!
« Reply #19 on: August 13, 2012, 11:35:38 AM »
steve- 

bummer about the situation, though it seems you're making the best from it! 

do you have a mailing address?  or any way you can get mail?  was thinking of sending you a hospitality package!

adam

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Offline Rover

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Re: Living in a van and a big thank you!
« Reply #20 on: August 13, 2012, 03:01:03 PM »
Steve,

I just got back in town. Really sorry to hear about the situation. Since you don't live that far away, if you need anything PM me. With what's going on my life right now I can't offer you housing at my place. But I may have some gear etc that may help, lots of camping stuff, coolers, stoves  etc.. Too bad I just got rid of the boat (I know you didn't need to hear that)

feel free to PM me ,

Rover.
 
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Offline ghurd

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Re: Living in a van and a big thank you!
« Reply #21 on: August 14, 2012, 07:50:59 PM »
Some gas stations "inventory" ice bags, as in a 2 pound box of 1000 bags intended for ice.
If a bag broke, it looked like it was stolen.
I "heard" sometimes they will sell a cooler full of ice for $1 as candy to cover inventory lost to shoplifters.
That was back before UPC codes on everything... never know.

Places with ice machines know the machine makes ice 24/7/365, and 90% of it it just melts to dilute the sewage for the facility processing it.
Never hurts to ask.

Offline MadScientist267

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Re: Living in a van and a big thank you!
« Reply #22 on: August 15, 2012, 10:37:48 AM »
Thank you guys for all the support. It means a lot to me.

Also, I appreciate the offers for the help. I'm ok for now, and tight on space, but I will keep you guys in mind if I find myself in a real bind. ;)

Yes, its difficult to get on here regularly, power is of course scarce and I have to be picky and choosy about what I use when. Tomorrow is looking like a decent day of sun, so I may be a able to get on here and give some more of the details of day to day life. The job prospect is looking up just a bit tho, so my luck will of course be that the two will collide, and of course, well, priorities. ;)

I will go ahead and address the concern that is apparently on more than one of your minds; the oil lamp. I actually have 3 devices that use combustion to operate. A stove, heater, and the lamp. The van "came with" a carbon monoxide detector, so I'm good there. I don't run anything without the windows open to some degree anyway, and I don't go to sleep with them on either. As for the smoke detector, not sure why this would be necessary since I would always be awake and present when using these devices...? Unless someone can think of something I'm missing. If I'm still in the van when winter comes, I will preheat the van with the heater and then use the overwhelming supply of blankets and such that also came with the van.

The only other reason I can think of to have a smoke detector is for the wiring, but that doesn't seem prudent either; fuses are appropriately placed with the exception of one right at the SLA. It's fuse is downstream a couple of feet in the meter box, but is the first thing the battery sees when it gets there. There are also several diodes in place (primarily as isolation to prevent cross charging/discharging), but of course have the effect of keeping shorts isolated too. And they are rated 6A, so if something were to go wrong and they were the weakest link for whatever reason, there's a good chance that they would explode and disconnect the problem before it gets worse. Not necessarily, but probable.

Well that's it for the moment. I'm using my phone to type this, which can be frustrating to say the least, but when I have enough surplus power, I'll get on with the laptop and do some more updates, as well as the day to day stuff. I also have a couple new toys I'll share.

I can be found on IRC more often than replying on the forum because I have an IRC client installed on the phone, and the chat is shorter and easier (tho slower than a computer) to yap with.

Until next time,

Steve
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Offline dang

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Re: Living in a van and a big thank you!
« Reply #23 on: August 15, 2012, 11:35:07 AM »
Ahem, think you have problems now? Oh sure, its nice and dreamy cozy in the Burn Ward at the hospital, good drugs too....

I *DO* have gaps in my life from a friend, a teacher and friend-of-the-family dying from smoke inhalation.

I know offhand of four houses/apartments getting burned out by a single errant lit cigarette.

Run, don't walk, to WalMart and pick up a smoke detector... AND INSTALL IT.

No more of this 'I'll always be awake... " crap, thats circular logic worthy of enough buffalo chips for everyone.


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Offline Rover

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Re: Living in a van and a big thank you!
« Reply #24 on: August 15, 2012, 03:48:54 PM »
Unrelated to the possibility of death.

Steve,
I do have a lot of good camping gear / junk that you can either sell or use. I won't be using it.... I prefer hotels etc. This stuff is literally taking up room in my attic. (camping stoves, 13x13' Kelty tent, etc ) .

Just pick it up.

Rover
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Offline madlabs

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Re: Living in a van and a big thank you!
« Reply #25 on: August 15, 2012, 04:04:10 PM »
Mad,

I'm with Dan, in a big way. None of the crispy critters/stiffs I've seen intended to die. My offer of a detector still stands and you can pay me back in the future if you want to. But I'd be paying my own karma debts, so I'd rather you didn't worry about it.

Jonathan
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Offline MadScientist267

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Re: Living in a van and a big thank you!
« Reply #26 on: August 15, 2012, 05:16:28 PM »
Wow, you guys are serious about this... :/

The budget being what it is at the moment, I'm holding out for now. You'll be happy to know that your message has sunk in however. With the exception of using the heater this morning, I haven't used anything requiring combustion recently. I ran the heater to drive the relative humidity down so I could get more of the water that spilled the other night out if the carpet. Of course, in that case, I was actually outside the van for each "pulse" of heat (about 5 minutes each). There's no way I could have tolerated the conditions inside. CO is a minimal concern when the temperatures are above heat stroke levels. I monitored closely from the front window both visually and with my hand to keep things within reason.

I'll promise tho to not use any of them with me inside until I have a detector installed.

So, I guess that being said, I concede I would be in danger, and close by saying I believe the phrase is "It's not actually paranoia if something is truly out to get you." :D

Steve

 
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Offline MadScientist267

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Re: Living in a van and a big thank you!
« Reply #27 on: August 20, 2012, 08:39:44 AM »
Well, after working on 3 days with a non-existent/useless photon supply, I have had to give in a little and do some battery to battery charge transfer. The SLA was getting, staying, and headed further toward the damage end of the SoC scale, and I didn't want to stress it more than it already has been in the past. As it is, there is somewhere in the range of a 25% capacity loss, taking it down to 9Ah or so. A little bit of abusive charging alternating with less than full sitting conditions have made their dent.

Normally, I would consider this "cheating", but I have put several amp hours of charge into the van's battery at one point in time or another via PV, and I'm not taking anything out that hasn't been put in this way at some point. Even though a fair percentage of the juice for this particular transfer came from the gas tank, the charge did not initiate out of necessity, just a coincidental side effect of driving the van.

So, as far as I'm concerned, I haven't violated the boundary, and this is all still 100% RE powered. :)

If the sun ever comes back out, after everything is full again, I will light the laptop up and put up more of those pics I promised, and get into the day to day thing in detail.

Until then,

Steve
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Offline MadScientist267

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Re: Living in a van and a big thank you!
« Reply #28 on: August 28, 2012, 02:33:46 PM »
Minor update -

Been working on everything from aqua to zen, and have found one "donation" request that would be highly useful...

A line driver or preamp that has a gain of maybe 10 and is of course stereo. Only requirements is that it needs to be a power sipper (kinda inherent anyway) and run on a single ended supply from 11 to 18V or so...

Ideally would have an input level, gain, and output pots. I don't need it in a box, I'll take care of that. Should be trivial for someone that might even have the parts laying around in a junk box. The less noise the better. :)

Other than that, I've got everything set up. The smoke/CO detector will be installed soon, and I have a PIR sensor that I plan on using with the existing "CO" detector (doesn't appear to work, or at least I can't trigger it without hitting the button, which says nothing of the sensor inside). That bitch is loud as I don't know what and a few seconds blast to any curious individual in the middle of the night would spook him off for sure. >X-D

I tend to sleep with the side door open at night for airflow, but its of course risky. The PIR unit I have has a remote on/off, so its all set to go ;)

Got all the batteries full today, even managed to do limited equalization on the vans cranker. I got a bunch of new pics and will put them up very soon! ;)

Til then,

Steve


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Offline WooferHound

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Re: Living in a van and a big thank you!
« Reply #29 on: September 05, 2012, 06:57:29 PM »
Back in the early 80's I was driving a truck for a Bar Band that played in the SouthEast states. It was me, a 50 lb dog and an 18 foot, 6 wheel box truck. Most nights I stayed in a motel room with the band, but on a third of the nights I would end up sleeping in the cab of the truck with my dog buddy.

I was great at spotting Store signs that had a 120v AC outlet on them. After awhile I knew of one sign in every city that I would sleep at. I would pull up afterdark and after closing and run an extension cord out to the sign. Once inside the truck it was split out to a TV/Radio, Cooking appliances, lights and fans. In the winter I had a heater too. The big thing when doing this was Not Blow the Circuit Breaker, cause it could not be reset and I might be discovered stealing their power.

I did this over about 3 years time and never once was discovered sleeping in somebodys parking lot. These days there are a lot less signs that have power outlets on them (or I don't notice them), but I'm not sleeping in a different city every few days either.
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