Zamp Solar Install

It has been hard to peel away from parenting duties to work on the Sportsmobile.  Parts have piled up over the past few weeks, but we are slowly making our way to getting them onto the camper.

Sportsmobile, Dodge, Pop Top, Zamp Solar

After looking through our existing solar set up, we realized we had a cheap generic solar charge controller and a heavy aging panel (about 40 lbs for the panel).  While it works, we were looking at upgrading our solar set up to a higher quality set up that will protect our house battery (proper charge profiles, temperature shut off).  Our goals were to: 1) add a panel to the roof of the van using our existing square bars, 2) make the set up light enough so the penthouse top would not be difficult to lift, 3) make it easily removable (so we can carry our paddle boards), and 4) make it expandable. Continue reading

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Weekend Brew- Sierra Nevada Pale Ale Clone

We picked up on beer brewing about a year ago. It was one of those rare weekends where we had nothing planned and wanted to do something different. Since then, we’ve brewed several batches of beer and have moved from extract to all grain brewing. With the supply of our summer cream ale dwindling, we started planning for another all grain batch. We had an extra vial of White Labs California Ale yeast left in the fridge from our last brew batch and decided to make a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale clone and use the yeast. Since the Sierra Nevada Pale Ale is known for its crisp taste, we figured this would be a crowd pleaser around Thanksgiving.

We used an all grain recipe found on brewersfriend, along with some additional notes found on a northernbrewer forum.

Since our yeast has been stored in the refrigerator for a couple months, we prepared a yeast starter Tuesday night for the yeast to multiply. Our typical yeast starter recipe consist of:
4 cups of water
1/2 cup of dry malt extract (DME)
1 vial of liquid yeast

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Using an old growler from Black Market Brewing Company as the yeast starter

We combined the yeast inside a sanitized growler once the water and DME combination came back to room temperature. It’s important to let the yeast acclimate to room temperature before pitching it in the water mix to avoid temperature shock for the yeast.

I picked up the rest of the brewing materials 2 days before brewing. In all, the recipe called for 10lbs of malt, 4 oz of hops and 1 vial of liquid yeast. Continue reading

MYOG: Simple DIY Ultra-light Sleep Pad

Quick and Dirty
Cost: $20
Time: 15 minutes
Difficulty (1-10): 1

What You Need
1/8 or 1/4 inch Closed Cell Foam (CCF) EVA Grade Foam Pad
Utility Knife / Exacto-Knife
Ruler / Measuring Tape

DIY Sleep Pad, Ultralight, CCF

Usually when we head out to back country in the winter, we take insulated inflatable pads. Often times, the ground is so cold that the air passes through the pad.  Over time we learned that inflatable pads typically don’t provide a strong barrier against the cold ground in the winter.

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MYOG: Sawyer Squeeze Modification – Making the Bags Last Longer

Quick and Dirty
Cost: $35 (including filter)
Time: 15 minutes
Difficulty (1-10): 1

Materials
Sawyer Squeeze filter
Eyelits/Rivets
Cord

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The Sawyer Squeeze is an excellent ultralight filter.  At 3 ozs, it adds very little to any pack and had endless options.  When we first switched to the Squeeze filter for our 3 season trips, we noticed the lamination separating from the bags and the bags began to fail.

To mitigate the problem, we modified our largest bag to be used as a gravity filter.  While the Squeeze is slower as a gravity filter, the weight savings and reliability more than make up for the wait time.

There are much simpler ways to do this, such as using tape, but we wanted to make the modification as reliable and clean as possible.

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Rookie Homeowner Mistake- Back Yard Renovation

When Louis and I bought our first house 2 years ago, we knew the yard needed some work. We put off this tedious task for as long as we could and opted to camping and traveling. Can you blame us?

To get ready for our wedding celebration (a year after we officially married), we looked around the backyard and discovered Dakota had killed all of our grass with her pee.

DSC_0673

What our grass used to look like…

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