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Old 01-02-2015, 20:10   #1
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Respect

Hello all.

I've been lurking here for a year or so, mostly over on the Electrical: Batteries, Generators & Solar forum.

I am very impressed with, and have much respect for, the quality of writing, and the extent of the knowledge that members here so readily share.

I cannot claim to be a boat owner yet. My father owned a Monk 36' troller for 2 decades, and when I was young, had access to a 14 foot Mckee craft with a Suzuki 40 HP to tool around the back bays in NJ for fishing, commercial clamming, and of course playing at the end of a tow rope on various implements.

I am in my mid 40's now ,and have tried to keep life as simple as possible. A surfer since 11 years of age, I've always kept close to a large body of water. My early 20's, I came into a modest sum of money I did not deserve, and it took me a while to realize I was better off spending it travelling.

By the Spring of '98, I sold or gave away most everything, and put tools and surfboards and electronics into a prepaid 5x10 storage unit, and flew out of LAX, as I had been living in San Diego for a few years by that time.

32 months later, a different man stepped foot back into LAX, having been south of the equator for most of that time. Mostly surfing, and travelling fairly shoestring style by Van, Sedan and hoste or busl through 8 and 10 month tours of South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, but with some Costa Rica, Fiji and Hawaii thrown in as well. Best thing I've ever done with my life but there is guilt and a lack of confidence for not having earned the money which made it possible.

Fairly lost at upon my return, I bounced around the continental 48 for a few months visiting friends and family, and then bought a Van with the last of the remaining undeserved inheritance in mid 2001.

This Van has taken me coast to coast at least 12 times since then, from as deep as the tip of Baja to the Olympic Peninsula, and NJ to Florida, and many points in between.

I have lived in, and from, this Van for most of the time in between, and most of that in San Diego County with an inexpensive private level legal parking spot, and with access to private bathroom facilities. I make my living as a finish carpenter, doing mostly small jobs for friends acquaintances and referrals from them. I am still trying to accumulate as little as possible, without incurring debt, or even credit for that matter. I've no desire to own land or a stick and brick dwelling.

The Old Dodge van is now in very good mechanical shape, as the only original wearable parts left on it are the rear leaf springs. I had the Engine, transmission, and rear axle rebuilt by professionals, but I've done everything else myself. The Interior is extremely comfortable with everything but a flush toilet or Shower. It is a Miniature land yacht, and work van, workshop, and office, bedroom kitchen, Home and travelling freedom machine.

I don't like to admit this as I know how it appears to others, but I have no woman I need to keep happy, and no dependents to care for. I love the freedom I have, but living loveless is not always so easy to deal with either, and I figure as long as I am living on Wheels, I will be single.

So it goes.

I also do not seem to be able to relate to most women who live in Southern California, and am not really looking anymore. I really feel like an outsider here, and just accept that, as I am not a people person, nor gregarious. While I do live here, it does not really seem like I will for much longer. I expect to move on somewhere else when California's water woes come to a head. I've stayed out here for the weather, and how convenient it is to be a surfer here. I do not think the waves are all that great here, and they are certainly overcrowded with lot of greedy people. But, they are consistent, and when I need to go surfing to clear my head, there is usually something to ride, and since I am good on a longboard, I can have lots of fun even in small conditions.

Having a safe level legal parking spot, the bathroom, and enough loyal clients makes it possible to live this simple life.

I am quite good with DC power, and hope to get better. I really enjoy optimizing system efficiency via proper ventilation and perhaps oversized wiring. I love doing things right the first time and researching how to best accomplish that. Finances don't always allow that luxury.

I have 200 watts of Solar on the Roof and a Vitrifrigo 12v compressor Fridge that I never have to worry about. I basically live on no more than 65 amp hours nightly, averaging about 60% of that, on just 1 single group 31 flooded battery. I have another group 27 AGM battery that I can also cycle at the turn of a Blue Seas 6007m manual switch, or 3, but usually it lives life as a fully charged engine starting battery.

I do have easy access to 118vAC, yet still cycle the group 31 as much as possible, but I do not let it go more than a day or 2 without getting to float mode when the solar and alternator cannot keep up with the loads. I prefer to use grid power as little as possible, and make my solar panels earn their keep. I do use a Meanwell RSP-500-15 Adjustable Voltage Switching Power Supply as my grid powered battery charger. It will provide upto 41 amps at any voltage between 13.12 and 19.23. I removed the miniature potentiometer on the circuit board and soldered wires to it for attaching a 10 turn 1k Ohm potentiometer for easy and precise voltage changes. Extra 60 and 80MM Noctua fans on the casing keep it cooler and quieter. Large extra heatsinks will soon be added to the aluminum casing adjacent to the transistors to promote longevity.

I do equalize the flooded 31 at 16volts with it, but I can also accomplish 16V at the battery terminals by resetting my solar controller's voltage settings, if I have at least 6.5 amps of Sunlight for 2 hours coming in, after the battery reaches 'full' charge.

I've upgraded cabling from the alternator and have seen as much as 110 amps from a 130 amp rated alternator. While I have a 400 watt PSW inverter and an 800 watt MSW inverter, I try to use them as little as possible in favor of DC to DC car adapters wherever possible. 45 amp anderson Powerpoles have replaced Ciggy plugs for devices over 4 amps.

Before I left travelling overseas, I had learned how to design and shape and laminate Surfboards, and also learned I did not want to do that for a living. After I returned, I learned from some friends (RIP, B.K.R) how to Build a Hollow Wood Surfboard, and in turn taught them everything I'd learned about properly shaping laminating and sanding and finishing foam/fiberglass surfboards as well as their shape/design. I'd learned how to work with epoxy, mostly System3 products, but more recently have been using less expensive surfboard specific epoxies for repairs and for making Wooden fins. I have almost enough western red cedar to Build another HWS and hope to start this project soon. I still am designing the shape in my mind, as it will be a shortboard to last me the rest of my days.

I still ride that first Hollow Cedar Shortboard I made, 13 years later, and I call it Old Faithful. I've made 6 other Hollow wood surfboards since and had to relearn that I do not want to try and earn a living making surfboards, and still own each board I made despite having built a few that I intended to sell. My most ridden HWsurfboard is a 9'7" traditional style soft railed single fin round pin longboard I built in the summer of 2003, which I try to surf traditionally, walking the board for perfect trim, saving the tail only modern style of surfing for my shortboard. We've shared many a blissful moment together, and I very much enjoy riding such a beautiful surfboard I made myself. It always gets a lot of comments and compliments and a bit more attention than I am comfortable with at times.

My Screen name of Sternwake, came to me one day when surfing, when I realized I had been unconsciously paddling hard to get initially acquire speed, than backing off a bit, then waiting for my own slight wake to catch up to me, and help propel me forward. Subtle adjustments of pressure to chest, stomach thighs and knees, and adjusting paddling effort and stroke length and depth, allow me to harness and cultivate my own stern wake, to help keep a higher average paddling speed for less effort. Once I became aware of how I had been unconsciously doing this for years, I started figuring out ways to better utilize it and cultivate it, to catch more waves, and ride them better. Weighing 220 Lbs and riding a 25 LB stiff surfboard 9'7" long, allow me to create and harness my stern wake more than a lighterweight surfer could. I can often catch waves without even paddling by utilizing the buoyancy of my board and correct timing and often get compliments for how easy I make it look.

This woodworking of Hollow Wood Surfboards was among the first woodworking projects I've done, and have since, really taken to woodworking, and highly enjoy it. I really have been enjoying making cabinets or Bartops with exotic tropical hardwoods or other precision woodworking, but I've also had to earn the day's next meal or just keep a client happy via other, less desirable to employ skills, such as sheetrock or plumbing, painting or refinishing of surfaces.

In 2006, I worked in a boatyard in San Diego for a few months, moving up quickly and learning a lot, but the toxicity of the environment, along with some other factors like the low pay, an arrogant corner cutting boss, and a long commute, signaled my end there, when I thought about it deeply while pushing a longboard, sanding thickened vinylester resin, thickly applied to a one-off hull.

In 2007 I drove to North Florida for a few months, and did a lot of woodworking and refinishing on my uncles 65 ' aluminum hulled sailboat. Afterwards I gutted my van again and rebuilt the interior for more comfort and storage and utility, adding the solar and compressor fridge, then drove back to San Diego in 3 days. Then into Baja the next day.

Up until early 2008, I used to spend several cumulative months a year, a few hours south of the border In Baja on the Pacific side, but then crystal meth infiltrated the small fishing villages and ruined the vibe. Some of My Mexican friends went downhill quickly, lying and stealing from me and causing many other unpleasant experiences, and I've not returned since. I do miss Baja, but have not had the confidence to return.

Anyway, in the future I'd like travelling more round the US for a few months, earning and saving money, living simply from my van and then go travelling outside the US for extended periods. It would be great to have some woodworking, or perhaps DC electrical jobs on boats or RV's to fund my travelling and life, in different parts of the nation, living legally in my van somewhere. All while I search for a new home base, as Southern California is not where I will remain for much longer for many reasons.

I'd really like helping a good honest person finish their woodworking, electrical or even Fiberglass projects in return for pay and a safe legal parking spot, and perhaps a bathroom. I don't like urban camping, and try to avoid doing so, but I also have an aversion to paying for accommodation. When I do spend a night outside my van, I tend to worry somebody might break in and steal tools or my electronics and generally invade my space. I call it Vanxiety.

I'd like to spend more times in places along the coasts, up to a little ways inland, to get a better feel for an area, compared to just driving slowly through on my way to point B from point A, wherever those might be.

One day I can see myself living in a modest boat, but as of yet, don't feel my boating skills are adequate for what many of you are capable of, and my mini land yacht will have to suffice for now. I joined this forum because of the quality of knowledge here, and perhaps to make some contacts so I can learn more and deepen my skill Set and to earn an honest simple living, doing quality long lasting work, and continue living a simple life.

I've only contributed to 2 threads on the electrical forum so far regarding compressor fridges and ventilation, and will mostly be an observer/reader here, rather than a confrontational arguer. I am kind of a private and respectful individual, slightly reclusive, and do not do any traditional social networking like facebook, twitter, or instagram. For many of my lifelong friends, this is their primary means of staying in contact, and I feel a bit sad so be drifting apart because of my lack of facebooking, and the lost art of a returned phone call.

I do tend to get too wordy when typing replies, but try and be thorough with the things I do have experience with.

Anyway, if you made it this far into my introduction, thanks for reading, and I hope to perhaps one day be an asset to this forum.
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Old 01-02-2015, 20:43   #2
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Re: Respect

Wow!!!

As a fellow southern CA resident myself, let me be the first to congratulate you on a level of self awareness, intelligence, perceptiveness, world travel and simple living that I've never encountered in anyone else in CA.

As for the inheritance, I wouldn't be bothered by it in the least, good things happen to good people. If you haven't done anything bad, there really isn't any reason to feel guilty about a bit of good fortune. At least you put it to good use instead of up your nose or in your veins, as so many other people do. "A fool and his money are soon partying" is a common saying, for good reason.

I read the part about your solar panels and electrical setup with interest, but didn't see any details about your solar controller. What brand is it? There might be some room for an increase in efficiency there, hard to tell for now.

You've led a very interesting life! Far different from most of the drones or moles that work in cubicles with a mortgage, wife and 2.3 children (I've met a few of the .3 children after they grew up, still about .3 LOL) whose lifetime goal is grandchildren and paying off the mortgage. While it's not for everyone, I still think it's envious how simple and mobile your life is!
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Old 01-02-2015, 20:49   #3
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Re: Respect

Howdy Sternwake and Welcome Aboard!

I read your interesting introduction.

I am sure with your experience you have many stories to tell.

200w on the roof of your van sounds good. "Urban Camping" is growing in popularity and you sound like you have your rig set up to be almost self-contained and all solar.

Anyway, good luck and enjoy your time spent here.
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Old 01-02-2015, 20:52   #4
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Re: Respect

Sternwake -
I would also like to congratulate you -
on the use of the word "I" (or variations thereof) approximately 110 times +/- in one post.
Not a great recipe for developing communications with others.
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Old 01-02-2015, 21:00   #5
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Re: Respect

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Originally Posted by FSMike View Post
Sternwake -
I would also like to congratulate you -
on the use of the word "I" (or variations thereof) approximately 110 times +/- in one post.
Not a great recipe for developing communications with others.
OMG. Give a new poster a break.
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Old 01-02-2015, 21:27   #6
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Re: Respect

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Originally Posted by FSMike View Post
Sternwake -
I would also like to congratulate you -
on the use of the word "I" (or variations thereof) approximately 110 times +/- in one post.
Not a great recipe for developing communications with others.

Interesting that you noticed that. What I noticed is how you started your sentence.

Maybe it's unavoidable, perhaps it's just part of our vocabulary, and an essential part of what in essence, was an autobiography. One which I enjoyed reading and I'm looking forward to reading more about his adventures, if people don't scare him off with their overly critical replies to his posts.
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Old 01-02-2015, 21:41   #7
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Re: Respect

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Originally Posted by socaldmax View Post
Interesting that you noticed that. What I noticed is how you started your sentence.

Maybe it's unavoidable, perhaps it's just part of our vocabulary, and an essential part of what in essence, was an autobiography. One which I enjoyed reading and I'm looking forward to reading more about his adventures, if people don't scare him off with their overly critical replies to his posts.
Yep. Respect.
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Old 01-02-2015, 22:01   #8
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Re: Respect

Hmmm.

Didn't notice how much I do indeed use this word in my posts. Thank you for pointing it out. Will make efforts to reduce its occurrence in the future.

As someone who dislikes the preponderance of narcissism in our society, me makes for quite the hypocrite.

---
Thanks for the welcome.

A BlueSky 2512i is the MPPT charge controller employed. The IPN Pro Remote allows changing of voltage setpoints, as well as counting amp hours with some unknown degree of accuracy, but it is better than just a voltmeter.

A Kyocera 130TM framed panel is in parallel with a Unisolar pvl-68 panel which was added 5 years after the initial solar install. The Unisolar pvl-68 has ~20'( one way) of 10agw to charge controller, the Kyocera ~ 20' of tinned 8awg to charge controller.
~ 2' of 4awg goes from charge controller to Blue Seas battery Switch. 12' one way of 2awg cabling go from battery switch to flooded battery (in engine compartment). ~3' of 2 awg go from battery switch to AGM battery located under floor behind drivers seat.

There used to be group27 flooded Deep cycle Crown batteries under floor behind drivers seat, but difficulty of watering them led to 2 sets getting low on h20 and premature failure. Later, the flooded was moved to the engine compartment for easy access to cells and AGM located underfloor. This is my first AGM.

The Kyocera framed panel can be tilted 90 degrees toward either side of Van, but rarely is. The Unisolar is one of those flexible butyl backed adhesive panels, which is adhered to my raised conversion van style fiberglass roof. It is not really a turtle top fiberglass roof, and efforts to keep it from looking like a camper van were employed, as much as possible when there are solar panels visible on the roof.

Most people never notice them.
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Old 01-02-2015, 22:17   #9
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Re: Respect

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Originally Posted by FSMike View Post
Sternwake -
I would also like to congratulate you -
on the use of the word "I" (or variations thereof) approximately 110 times +/- in one post.
Not a great recipe for developing communications with others.
Dude really? That was totally dick.
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Old 01-02-2015, 23:20   #10
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Re: Respect

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Originally Posted by Sternwake View Post
Hmmm.

Didn't notice how much I do indeed use this word in my posts. Thank you for pointing it out. Will make efforts to reduce its occurrence in the future.

As someone who dislikes the preponderance of narcissism in our society, me makes for quite the hypocrite.

---
Thanks for the welcome.

A BlueSky 2512i is the MPPT charge controller employed. The IPN Pro Remote allows changing of voltage setpoints, as well as counting amp hours with some unknown degree of accuracy, but it is better than just a voltmeter.

A Kyocera 130TM framed panel is in parallel with a Unisolar pvl-68 panel which was added 5 years after the initial solar install. The Unisolar pvl-68 has ~20'( one way) of 10agw to charge controller, the Kyocera ~ 20' of tinned 8awg to charge controller.
~ 2' of 4awg goes from charge controller to Blue Seas battery Switch. 12' one way of 2awg cabling go from battery switch to flooded battery (in engine compartment). ~3' of 2 awg go from battery switch to AGM battery located under floor behind drivers seat.

There used to be group27 flooded Deep cycle Crown batteries under floor behind drivers seat, but difficulty of watering them led to 2 sets getting low on h20 and premature failure. Later, the flooded was moved to the engine compartment for easy access to cells and AGM located underfloor. This is my first AGM.

The Kyocera framed panel can be tilted 90 degrees toward either side of Van, but rarely is. The Unisolar is one of those flexible butyl backed adhesive panels, which is adhered to my raised conversion van style fiberglass roof. It is not really a turtle top fiberglass roof, and efforts to keep it from looking like a camper van were employed, as much as possible when there are solar panels visible on the roof.

Most people never notice them.
Wow! You certainly used nice thick cable for all of your cable runs! Some of them seem kind of long for a van, but I trust that you had no other choice and know what you're doing based on what you have already done.

I wish my life were as simple and uncluttered as yours, it gives me something to look forward to!
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Old 01-02-2015, 23:46   #11
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Re: Respect

I agree the wiring runs seem a bit long, but the goal was to keep them hidden and protected, so they take a bunch of 90 degree turns in route to the charge controller. The junction box on the framed Kyocera panel needed to be on the back of the roof, and the same with the back of the unisolar where the mc3 leads exit that panel.

The cables were twisted together fairly tightly in an attempt to reduce RFI from the charge controller, which likely added 3 feet to the one way length.

Rereading my initial post, the use of "I" and variations there of, could certainly be reduced.

Thanks for the defence.
However, his point is valid and I do appreciate being made aware of it.
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Old 02-02-2015, 00:04   #12
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Re: Respect

Sternwake, I enjoyed your introduction. Welcome to CF .

As for the use of the word 'I', nothing was excessive given this is the 'Meets and Greets' section where you are supposed to introduce yourself. I can't see how anyone can possibly do this without use of this word. It's also unavoidable when expressing any personal opinions, which is what all of us do here (hopefully most in a friendly manner). Just go for it .

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Old 02-02-2015, 00:20   #13
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Re: Respect

Welcome Sternwake,
It seems to me that you used the money VERY well... on a voyage of discovery - both internal, & external. One doesn't run across many folks like you, who aren't consumed by the lust for ever more material goods, or who sell off their souls, piece by piece, in order to "fit in" to the rat race.

On finding a legal place to park, especially one with bathroom facilities & such, you might query some marinas about doing such a thing. Especially by virtue of offering them cash, such that it's off of their books. And that you pay for X amount of time, prior to moving on
I'm guessing too, that such techniques would work in other venues. Such as, an acquaintance made mention of the fact that when similarly travelling, he would approach a maid at a hotel at around checkout time. And that for a small gratuity, he'd get a half an hour or so to clean himself up.

Might be worth a try. And if/when I pick up a vessel of my own, you're the kind of guys I'd appreciate doing/assisting with a lot of the upgrades & such.

Thanks for sharing your tale.
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Old 02-02-2015, 02:01   #14
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Re: Respect

Quote:
Originally Posted by FSMike View Post
Sternwake -
I would also like to congratulate you -
on the use of the word "I" (or variations thereof) approximately 110 times +/- in one post.
Not a great recipe for developing communications with others.
Any respect I ever had for you completely evaporated with this incontinenece. Old man.
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Old 02-02-2015, 08:23   #15
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Re: Respect

Sternwake -
It appears my inner jackass made an appearance.
Please accept my apologies.
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