Wednesday, December 10, 2014

North Padre Island in Pictures

So this is my addition to the pictures galore of the North Padre Island, beautiful and peaceful location at least in December. I loved every day of it, even the one day the cold front blew in and scared us off from the waterfront. With no further words, here is my favorite boondocking so far ;) North Padre Island National Seashore.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Life's a Beach, Padre.

A few additions to the Beast..
Most importantly of all: I finally have an inverter installed. This baby came straight from the hard working folks in China, unfortunately all American versions were well outta my price range. For the low price of $299.00 and free shipping, we now have power in the RV for all of our 120 V appliances and powered by our battery bank that powers the a/c.

2500 Pure Sine wave inverter, just roughed in and testing.

To connect this inverter directly into my power, I had to fashion what is called a murder cable, basically an extension cord with 2 Male plugs on it, so you just plug it directly into a power outlet. This in turn powers all of the outlets and appliances on the same pole in the circuit box. We are setup with 2 poles, so I created 2 cords that plug into 2 different outlets, and hence power my entire RV.  I tested it and it handles the load of the Washer/Dryer, Microwave, the wife's hairdryer(which takes more power than anything else), and the all important Keurig.

Murder Cables fashioned by me

Also, the way my RV is wired, the 12 V charger plugs into one of the 120 volt outlets, so when I have my inverter powered on I am also providing power for all of the 12V circuits in the rig as well (this is all of the lights, pumps, stairs, and a few other things I'm surely forgetting.)

So, the inverter was really the last piece we needed in order to Boondock and be off the grid completely. I no longer need a power cord when visiting my cousins house to prevent my 12 V batteries from draining. The Solar now keeps everything charged either directly to my 48 V bank of batteries or indirectly thru the inverter, to the charger to my 12v systems.

Okay..If you are still awake after the boring electric stuff, onward to our first Boondock trip: Padre National Seashore!

It's about a 450 mile drive directly from Plano Texas to Padre, but we broke it up into 2 days and stopped at my favorite halfway point, Snook Texas. From there we finished off the remaining 250 miles the next day to Padre. At the entrance gate I went ahead and purchased my Annual National Parks Pass for 80 dollars, which will let me into all the National Parks in the country for a year for "Free". After that I pulled into the visitor center to see what the 'grocery' section had as far as necessities, picked up a couple 6 packs of Coors Light and drove to South Beach. We drove down about 5 miles, passing just a few campers and continued maybe a quarter of a mile past the sign that warns only 4x4 vehicles recommended.
This is our site, no one within miles of us either way.

View to the left

View to the right

Our camp and fence setup

View from the front door

From the dunes(Only point to get a bar or 2 of EDGE network)

Sunrise the 2nd Day

The Neighborhood watch

The 2nd night a cold front blew in FAST, and we relocated off of our beach as the Tide was coming up fast.
After a little scouting the next day I found the RV/Campgrounds. It was still primitive, just gravel parking lots with a bench, but it had grass and some protection from the winds that came constantly off the coast. Plus we enjoyed meeting many of the full timers that were enjoying the Beach. The beach was maybe 100 Yards directly in front of us, easy to access via the handicap access pier/boardwalk thing. For 8 bucks a night, it was worth the piece of mind of not waking up buried under sand. Plus some grass for the dogs to utilize(though it had a million burrs).

Our new site

The experienced folks did start getting me pretty scared by the 4th day, as we had not prepped the Beast for the hardships a beach can do to a rig. Specifically they recommended an uncoat sprayed on before coming to help stop some of the rust. Having never lived in the north where they salt the roads, this was new to me and had me a bit worried. My new grill after 1 day the screws were already rusted, who knows what was going on under my rig.

Enough for now, on that note I'll give you guys the birds. Please keep in mind with the sun out in full force I could no see any of these pictures on my phone as I took them, I just pointed and shot blindly.

Friday, November 7, 2014


A quick sneak peak at what we've been up to with the Beast.

Ripped out the carpet and foam.
Built my own saw table

My table allowed me to slide boards in and out and remain secure,
so I could use the circular saw with good precision.
Roughed in flooring, still needs glue and trim.

Dinette area. Wire still needs managing.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Snook, Solitude, and Solar

So this last week I took the Beast down to Snook, Texas to do the Solar work at my Uncle's farm. Since he was away on vacation, it was pretty much The Beast, some donkeys, a dog named Fritz, and myself.

First things first, I needed water. I didn't feel like driving the 200 miles with the extra 800 lbs of aqua in my tank.

Filling the 100 gallon tank up water

The front yard.
Since this was taking forever, I took some pictures of where I would be doing my working and sleeping the next few days.

Pretty sure I'm the first one to ever sleep in the workshop
Nestled in among the tractors and tools
Had to unfurl this mighty satellite one more time before removing it to make room.  As well as the HD antenna behind it and the fan vent to the back right.

Over the next few days, my cousin Jason and I got to work on the solar install. We managed to get most of the panels installed before the weekend hit and he had to run off to some fairs and such showing some old tractors. But we did finish the seven hardest to place ones, leaving just a few for me to finish.

First 4 panels on front glued and screwed on

Framework for 2 of the panels in the back right
I took to the road back to Plano Texas early Saturday morning and subjected the build to a 80 mph wind test on I-45. Happy to report that none of the panels blew off! I stopped and checked at a couple rest areas along the way to make sure nothing was amiss as well.

This Sunday I completed the Solar install, building a platform for one panel in which the cords all connect and go down into the electronics cabinet below. I also hooked up five of the panels to test out the supply to the batteries. They were putting in about 5 amps at 95+ volts.  Once I connect the second set, it should be up to about 10 amps. I may have to juggle this around a bit to optimize my amps to the batteries.
The OCD among you might want to just ignore the panel in the lower left...there was just no other way.

Late today some MC4 connectors I had ordered arrived which allowed me to create the cables I needed to connect the 2nd set of five panels. Unfortunately the sun had gone down so I had no way of testing if they were working as I planned or not. I have to wait until tomorrow. Once the test is complete I'll do the wire management and secure some of the hanging wires.

In other news, the interior of the RV got a bit of an upgrade. The uncomfortable leather got replaced, though we did save the old covers. Here's the transformation: