DIY Truck Camper

Open source truck bed camper for the masses.

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A fully open source, custom DIY truck bed camper. The purpose of this project is to create a very practical truck bed camper that the average hand and power tool user could make. This is a very complex project, but will yield a small, comfortable, and fun mobile home that can be taken anywhere your truck can traverse. In keeping with the open source spirit, I will be granting access to all of my notes, thoughts, plans, diagrams, and instructional materials for this project. I hope to eventually create the ultimate truck camper guide here on so that all can enjoy. Check for Google Docs links further down the page that I am using to compile all basic notes and thoughts regarding this project. Simply follow the link, refresh as needed, and enjoy.

I had considered buying an old truck camper, but that would set me back a few thousand dollars to get one that isn't falling apart. Plus, the weight of those things would require me to do significant work to my 34 year old pickup truck. Work that I could do myself, but cannot afford to do. This led me to the thought of buying a truck bed cap and converting it into sleeping quarters. I decided I wanted more space and a bit of comfort. I settled on building a truck camper after saying to myself "How hard can it be?"

I am finding that it really isn't that hard. I understand the logistics of it, and am putting in a solid process to get it going as quickly as possible.

I will be sharing ALL knowledge gained, either in logs, or by request, as I understand the value of it. I support open source, and will be uploading my final design plans for anyone to use. All trucks are different, so my plans will be for Chevy trucks with beds measuring 69 by 100 inches. Basically older, 8 foot beds, maybe some newer ones.

I am designing this to be a slide out camper. I could pull it out the back and onto a custom built stand if needed. In order to have it slide out, I will need to sacrifice some space between the wheel well arches and the front of the bed, nearest the cab. These will basically be channels that will allow it to slide in and out. I am considering putting hinged panels on the inside that will allow me to access this space for tool storage.

I am framing the walls out of 3/8 inch plywood, with a 1/2 inch plywood roof. The walls will be framed similar to a house for strength and simplicity. The front of the cab overhang is going to be made angular to help with the aerodynamics and looks.

The cab overhang will become a bedroom, with LED lights, roof vent, and front and side windows.

The roof may be used for strapping things on, as well as a deck, hence the 1/2 inch plywood roof, and extra reinforcement.

I have yet to decide on the interior, but I think I want a wrap around sofa, a small TV, a small computer workstation, propane heater, vents, cabinets, counters, propane stove, and MAYBE a sink with small water supply.

All feedback is appreciated, and I will be glad to share any thoughts or knowledge. My goal is to create an open source process for creating truck campers, refine it, and watch everyone go.

  • New Light Day: RGB LED Strip

    Dustin01/17/2022 at 15:57 0 comments

    I got tired of the limited lighting options in my little camper, so I finally went and got a 16 foot long LED strip with one of the remotes. I mounted it on the ceiling, running from the end of the sleeping loft, all the way to the back wall, then doubled back, into the bathroom, and ended it there. I can now choose my color and brightness levels. I didn't run the light strip into the sleeping loft as it already has a light and I like it dark up there. I found it quite handy to have the main light extend into the bathroom as well. No longer do I need to turn on the crappy old bathroom light at night, and blind myself. I can turn the main strip on red and lowest brightness and have a pleasant and consistent lighting throughout my living space. I still need plenty more lighting to film i the camper, but I at least have an every day light source I enjoy using. I got this strip from Home Depot for about $30. I wanted a custom controlled strip of NeoPixels, but didn't have the time or money just yet. I plan to do all custom smart home stuff in the future, and some of this equipment will end up unused. I can always find a use for things or just give them to people who need them more than I do. In the future I plan to add more lighting, and make it video recording friendly. For now, I will stick with my LED strip.

  • New Heater: Electric Oil Radiator

    Dustin01/17/2022 at 15:40 0 comments

    After months of using an old space heater in the camper, and it's loud fan keeping me up at night, I finally upgraded to a simple 1,500 watt electric radiator. I chose the cheapest one because I'm cheap, and also because it's the only one that was entirely mechanical. I have 3 computerized heaters that plug directly into a wall socket, but they shut off after 10 hours, regardless of settings or conditions. I hate this fact, as I'll go to work my 10 hour shift and come home to 3 heaters that have been off, and a cold home. This radiator has all mechanical controls and just stays on until you turn it off. I really enjoy such simplicity, and find it hard  to find these days. This radiator is also nearly silent. I run a small blower fan to circulate the warm air coming off the heater. It seems to heat better than the old forced air heater, and I suspect that this has to do with the thermal mass of the heater and that it radiates heat in all directions, as opposed to just forcing it out of the front.

    I was hesitant to buy another 120 volt AC heater as I plan to go off grid, but there will be times when I will be at a camp site and would appreciate the silent gentle heat. If I end up never using it, I will simply give it away to someone who could use and appreciate it.

    Overall I do recommend the radiator type heaters, as long as you don't expect it to heat instantly, it's a great choice. Slow, gentle, quiet heat that fills a room. Much like the old radiators. So far so good.

  • Kitchen Range Hood

    Dustin12/31/2021 at 21:19 0 comments

    I love cooking. It saves me money, and I can make whatever I want and have full control over the quality. I use a portable induction cooktop and cast iron to cook with. It works very well for me. I even make hot drinks in a stainless steel french press on the induction cooktop. Cooking makes heat and vaporizes water. Makes everything hot and moist. In the winter I don't mind so much. In the summer it makes me not want to cook inside. The 1973 camper I'm currently staying in used to have a working range hood, but there's an electrical problem now,and I haven't felt like tearing apart the ceiling to figure out why. Bummer. It's winter so I don't mind so much. Except when I burn stuff...

    For my upcoming camper build, I decided I want a proper range hood. Seeing as it needs to perform many jobs, as I ask of most of the things in my life, this means it won't be like a normal hood. I'd like it to be powered by 12 volts DC directly so it can run from the battery bank. That means either buying anything RV or marine specific hood, buying standard AC hood and replacing the fans, or building custom. As I enjoy building things and being picky, I'll go with the custom option. For this I'll likely go with aluminum or copper sheet metal and rivet it together with nice copper rivets and solder the joints. For fans, I'll go with small car radiator fans for power and reliability, and run them through a motor speed controller for precise speed control. I'll mount the entire thing with noise and vibration in mind to make the whole thing less annoying. I want to use it as a general ceiling vent fan, so I will likely mount the fan/s as high up as possible and add a vent to the front face that can pull air right off the ceiling and vent it out. I do like the idea of using standard parts, so I'll try to write instructions for installing normal stuff. Should be as simple as changing some cabinet dimensions and morning points. I still need to sort out filters for grease, but I've got an idea. I can just take some steel screen door material, make a few layers with the mesh rotated, and sandwich them together in a simple frame. This should stop everything being coated in a gross layer of grease. Using copper, radiator fans, marine grade electrical connections, and waterproof electronics would actually allow me to rinse out the entire thing. Maybe I'll just spray some soapy water up in it and power wash it it? Maybe not, but building it with that in mind would leave me with something I'd never have to worry about getting water damaged. I'll tie the hood into the smart home system and allow control of fan speed, direction, and the lights. For lighting I want to go with some sort of color changing LED strip lighting. As I plan to use the entire camper as a filming studio, lighting is important to me. I'm also considering fire suppression controlled by the smart home system. I'd integrate the hood as well to turn off the fans if there is a fire. Best not to fan the flames. For the vent itself, I think I'll go with a solid copper drain pipe if I can find it, and a standard cap for something like a house roof vent or wood stove vent. Or I may make my own from copper sheet. I love copper and want to use it wherever I can. I'll make the camper shell first, then when the hood is done I'll cut the hole in the roof and install it. I'll be ok the roof fairly often as I 0lan to build a deck up there, so I don't want a bunch of ugly cheap plastic. 

    That's my current plan for the range hood. Overbuilt, over powered, overly bright, smart, safe, practical. Probably going to be a massive pain to build, but I suspect I'll be able to pull it off. The single most expensive part is likely to be the solid copper if I go that route. 

  • Managing Overwhelm

    Dustin12/31/2021 at 15:06 0 comments

    Overwhelm is something I struggle with regularly. I always have. It's something I need to actively manage to avoid stalling out on projects. This camper project is the design and building of a very specialized home, on a small scale. The small scale helps with reducing material costs and labor, but creates its own set of challenges. One of the biggest challenges is just in making the countless decisions needed to complete even the simplest of steps. The first decision was to make a truck bed camper in the first place. This took me years to come to, as I was not sure how I wanted to live my life. I did not want to invest in something that I wouldn't enjoy or use. The decision to make a truck bed camper opened up many smaller decisions. What materials? How to work with them? What brand and quality level of tools needed? Corded or cordless? Heat sources? On and on it went, for a few years now, and on and on it shall go. 

    Now that I've decided on PMF(poor man's fiberglass), which is canvas and wood glue, I can start planning out all of the other features of the camper. Even deciding what color to paint it is taking a while to make. I'm quite good at coming up with many ideas, just not as good at narrowing it down and committing to one. Knowing I hate being too hot, I've decided on lighter colors and large shade awnings. I'll likely paint it white and silver. The roof will have a sitting area, which will have solar panels to cover it when not in use, and some sort of pop up shelter when in use to keep the sun off the roof. Easy enough. 

    Historically I've been terrible at both decision making, and long term thinking. Lately I've been really focusing on the long term outcomes and it's helped me tremendously. There's the impatient part of me that just wants the camper done as fast as possible. That means a bare bines camper just so I have a place of my own and the freedom to travel. The long term thinker in me wants to take my time and do it right. This led me to another realization: I'm so far behind on technology, yet I love and use it regularly. The newest game console I've ever owned was a PS3 slim I bought new in 2013. My laptop is the same age. My tv is from 2006. I've never had anything nice in my life, until I recently started buying myself new tools. While watching a video on smart home technology, I realized that I will eventually want to implement proper smart home technology in my camper. I may spend years living in it, and may keep it for decades. I might as well build it exactly as I want it. This decision has got me thinking about smart home technology in a way I never have, and immediately overwhelmed me. I'm not sure what all I'll use, but I'll likely start by making the camper easy to modify and repair. I'll build wall panels that mount to 1x2 inch wall studs that will be built onto the shell walls. This leaves a nice gap behind the walls for cabling and pipes. It will take longer to design the various panels and cabinets to accommodate this, but ensures I can upgrade later as I go. I've never seen a camper with easy access to things in the walls and ceilings, and it really bothers me. They're built fast and cheap, with repairability as an after thought. I plant to run extra wiring in the walls for things like high speed networking, door, window, and hatch sensors, various indoor and outdoor environmental sensors for things like light, temperature, humidity and sound. It would be quite nice to decide I need to run cabling for another solar panel and be able to unscrew a few panels and oil the wiring through, instead of destroying half the camper. The decision to run extra cabling everywhere leads to another important decision: what type of cabling to run? On the old camper I rebuilt and updated, I used a 7 conductor sprinkler cable to hook up the trailer lights. These ran through the ceiling and were subjected to possible water and abrasion. They're direct bury cable meant to be underground. Thinking ahead, I...

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  • Making Curves

    Dustin12/27/2021 at 15:55 0 comments

    I've been thinking on this for a long time. When I was planning on working with wood it was fairly simple. Make a curved frame and bend thin plywood around it. 2 inch thick foam is different. It won't curve so easily. I've got to decide on methods for getting nice curves without weakening the foam too much. 

    The first thought was to use a knife and straight edge to cut partially through the foam and remove the material between the two cuts, which opens a relief that should allow the foam to bend. This would require the cheapest tools, and should work fine. My next thought was to get a pottery tool that would cut along the bottoms and sides at the same time, removing the entire strip at once. I doubt such a tool is robust enough for the task, but I could make my own tool from steel, make it height adjustable, sharpen and harden it. Adding a heating element to this would also help it get through the foam, but would likely ruin the temper on the blade. I would likely go this custom route for a production setup, running many hot cutters side by side to make all relief cuts at once. I prefer to use standard tools and methods when possible though. My next thought was to just use my circular saw to cut shallow lines into the foam. This should work just fine, but due to the thin kerf of the blade, it would likely take many cuts. On the nose cap, which might be 5 foot wide or more, this would mean many little cuts and likely dull the blade rather quickly.

    My very next thought was to get a small cordless Ryobi router and a straight cut bit and just carve a big channel out using a straight edge as a guide. I could clamp the straight edge down, run the router along it really fast, and get a nice wide channel of any depth I want. The router is already on my list of tools to buy and will be useful for many other tasks. I could use it to cut channels for wiring and plumbing, cut window and outlet holes, square up or round edges, and carve various recesses for things like switch panels and hinges. This is the route I will go when I start construction. I can get a router bit that carves angled sides and glue the channels shut to hold the bend. This assumes a suitable router bit can be found, but I suspect it won't be too difficult. I'm quite excited to own my first router, even if it's just a tiny hand held battery powered router. 

    That covers the bending of a large panel quite well. As for getting rounded corners, I may just start by cutting them off with a knife and sanding until they're round. Being such thick material, it should be easy to carve and shape as needed. I have worked with foam and carved it before. It goes surprisingly smoothly once you have the process down. 

    The more I think about how to work with this foam, the more confident I become in the design. This will also take me one step closer to working with fiberglass, as it's the precursor to fiberglass. I will likely make another version of this camper with foam and fiberglass in the future. Either to live in as an upgrade, or sell. I've had a dream of starting my own camper company for a while now, and this is the first step. Campers are a fairly easy stepping stone to boats, which is where I really want to be. I've already rebuilt a camper, I'm designing a custom one here, and I have sailed a very small sail boat already. I plan to build to marine standards as much as possible on my campers to get practice before I move to the west coast and start looking for boat work. 

    The next big challenge facing me is how to make the cab overhang strong enough. I'll do a separate post on that one. I've got some interesting ideas to ponder. 

  • Basic Tools Required

    Dustin12/26/2021 at 00:04 0 comments

    I know I just added a log a few seconds ago, but I've got another topic I can cover here fairly easily. The tools required to build this camper should be easily accessible, multi purpose, inexpensive, and easy to use. This is a project for those of fairly low skill levels after all. The shell will be made of foam board, covered in canvas, wood glue, and paint. Working with these simple materials is quite easy if done properly. I suspect the most intimidating part will be cutting and securing such large panels. Most people do not work with 4x8 foot panels of any material. The foam is one of the easiest sheet materials to manage. 

    Foam cutting is quite simple. Ideal tools include a tape measure, circular saw, large straight edge for the saw to ride against, chalk line to mark the lines, shop vac for cleanup, safety glasses, carpenters square, and a dust mask. The absolute simplest toolset I'd consider using is a chalk line, tape measure, carpenter square, foam knife, safety glasses, dust mask, and shop vac. I have a everything listed above already, so I'm ready to go there. 

    For working with the canvas fabric, I'd go with a rotary fabric knife(disc shaped blade that rolls over the fabric for a clean cut), chalk line, large straight edge of some sort, and a very large table. I'd build a table especially for this project and just use it for other things in the future. Full sheets of MDF with 2x4 legs, held together with pocket screws and wood glue would give you one gigantic table with a smooth surface for cutting the fabric. Another option. Would to be lay it on the ground, hit it with a chalk line, and either cut with scissors or a utility knife. I'll build a table or two as I'll need them later, and I already have a rotary fabric knife in my leather working kit. The point of spending the extra time and effort on these tools is to make the work as easy and pleasant as possible. I don't like working with massive sheets of fabric, so it's worth it to make an 8 foot by 8 foot table with a super smooth top to work on and buy a special knife. The Fabrice could also be hung upright and a knife drawn down through it for an easy cut. Or scissors while it's hanging. Many options. I highly recommend running all the canvas through a commercial washer and dryer at the laundromat to get it nice and clean and remove folds and wrinkles. The fuzz that I've pulled out of the rough canvas could cause adhesion issues with the glue, and the wrinkles and folds will be ugly. 

    For working with the wood glue, I recommend some sort of paint roller. Not sure what kind yet, but I suspect a foam roller would work well here and leave a fairly even smooth finish. To prep the foam panels, there exists a special roller tool used by bee keepers that has little barbs on it that would rough up the foam very nicely. The tiny holes in the foam allow the wood glue to get into the foam and act like tiny nails to bond the canvas to the foam. A good bond is very important to ensure strong and reliable panels. As the building materials in this construction method are an environmental nightmare, it's important to build it to last. If it has to be disposed of some day, it should be built to last many decades and earn it's keep. By that time, it may even be possible to safely recycle the entire camper. 

    To hold the panels together and enforce them, I suspect bamboo skewers would do nicely. Shove them deep into the edge of a foam panels, leaving enough out to be pushed into the other panel where the two meet. Perhaps some wood glue on the skewer to hold it tight. The majority of the strength will come from the canvas and wood glue, but have the frame strong enough to hold it's shape during covering is important. I'll have to do testing and research to find a good way to hold everything together. 

    For the covering and painting, I'd use standard exterior paint, paint rollers and trays, Titebond 3 wood glue, and heavy canvas drop cloth. Rough up the foam, sand...

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  • Massive Design Changes

    Dustin12/25/2021 at 23:36 0 comments

    I've been thinking more about this project lately. Mostly because I'm currently renting a truck camper and love it, even though it's stationary. Partially because I want to stop renting a truck camper and start owning one. One I built exactly as I want. I've started a new job that will have me restoring antique tow trucks for a private collection. It's pretty nifty, much like the trucks. My first project is to rebuild an old dump truck bed that's been sitting in the shop for a year and is in the way. I need to finish it so I can pull a truck in and start restoration. I've learned and practiced many hours of grinding, welding, basic steel fabrication, and project management. All good skills to have. It's given me the confidence to really start tackling bigger projects as I know my methods are good and my ability to learn new skills is where it needs to be. 

    Working with steel made me want to build a steel framed camper until I watched a camper build series by one of my favorite internet folks Robert Dunn over at Aging Wheels. His series playlist can be found here. It's a fun series where he builds a terrible camper and immediately shows me exactly what not to do. It's all good though, as he freely admits it's terrible and eventually tears it apart. Well worth the watch for anyone interested in building a camper. His main complaints were water damage, weight, poor aerodynamics, it being hideous, and it being too small. I thought about all of these points for about 10 seconds before deciding I just need to do this right, instead of being lazy like I wanted to. I was going to build it out of 2x2 construction lumber, pocket screws, 1/8 inch plywood, and wood glued canvas covering. This would work, but would also rot over time, be heavy, require many fasteners, and be rather expensive. I'd also need to buy a ton of insulation anyway, so why not cut out everything but the insulation? I had already bought many of the tools and fasteners to build such a camper, but I can use them for other things later. Tools like my cordless circular saw will be useful for the new design though. 

    For this new design, I decided to go with something incredibly light, strong, fairly cheap, and that can be made entirely water tight. It's a foam board composite made with solid foam board insulation covered in heavy canvas drop cloth, which is then coated in wood glue, then painted with exterior paint. I've actually seen a teardrop camper built like this that looks like it came straight from one of them big factories that makes the over priced campers. The difference between home made looking and professional looking was mostly in the finish. She had sanded every layer and did everything right to leave a clean smooth finish. Looking professional is very important as many campsites have rules against older and home made campers. I'll still run into the problem of my truck being nearly 40 years old, but I'll be restoring it as I build the camper. It will look very good. I plan to put a strobe light on the roof, reflective strips on the bumpers, utility lights, and a winch that can be mounted front or rear to turn it into a proper service truck. This would let me take road side assistance calls for extra money and fund travels and adventures. The goal of this project is to make something affordable, using common tools,materials, and methods, that can be built by fairly unskilled people. PMF(poor man's fiberglass) is a proven system for making lightweight and strong shelters. Foam board with canvas, wood glue, and paint. It's surprisingly durable and very light. I've watched a series where a man made a few test pieces and torture tested them. The results were incredible. He'd only used thin foam, bed sheets, and Titebond 2 wood glue. I plan to use 2 inch foam for the floors and walls, with 4 inches of foam for the ceiling, with a curve in it so I can mount solar panels on the roof and walk on it. I'll also use the Titebond 3 wood glue for it's better thermal...

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  • Audio and Entertainment System

    Dustin12/24/2021 at 14:45 0 comments

    Lately I've been listening to music constantly. I have an old Vizio sound bar that a neighbor gave me that I use for music in the camper I'm currently in. It's ok but not great. It's got Bluetooth and is also hooked to my TV which is run by a Raspberry Pi 400 running OSMC. I love it. It's helped me decide on the infotainment system for this build, after a few years of debating. For the audio, I'll be going with standard car audio equipment. I wanted to run a proper surround sound system, but don't want a system dependent on an inverter. Car audio is all 12 volt DC and tolerant of weird voltages. Inverters are another point of failure and I want my music to go on uninterrupted. I'll likely get a 4 or 6 channel system and place speakers in different areas like the kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, and outside. I'll use a marine grade speaker for the bathroom so I can listen to my music in the shower. I also want individual volume control on each speaker, which I have to sort out still. I may be able to find a system that would let the main computer control that. Speaking of which, I've decided on that as well: Seeed Studios reTerminal. It's a Raspberry Pi Computer Module 4 powered industrial all in one terminal. It's got GPIO, so I can design hardware for it based on my PiCarts project. It's got a nice 5 inch touchscreen, which is perfect for running OSMC. With HDMI output, I can also connect it to the main tv. Having a media center always on and ready just makes me happy. I know there is Home Assistant integration, but I haven't played with it yet. I may go with Z Wave and just use the reTerminal as my entire central control hub for the camper. I'll route it's audio out to some sort of nice care audio receiver, which will power the speakers. This would give me the option of hooking whatever I want up to the audio system as well. The reTerminal should also be getting a battery pack add on, which would make it portable so I could use it anywhere I've got the camper's wifi. I could unclip it from the wall and take it to bed with me to watch a movie. I think it's an excellent device and can't wait to get one. It's nearly $200, which I can't spare right now. I'll need 2 of them as I plan to install one in my old pickup as well. I'll likely run Android Auto on it or a full OS if I need it to integrate into the custom truck controllers I plan to build. Either way, I've decided on the main platform and can start designing the camper with that in mind. It feels so good to just know what I'm doing and not have to be making the decisions all the time. I like the freedom to make my own decisions, but it gets exhausting and slows things down. 

  • Steam Heat

    Dustin12/07/2021 at 04:39 0 comments

    I found myself rather chilly in the test camper with it being 22F outside tonight. I made tea before bed time and remembered the steam was quite nice and really warmed the place up. I have an induction cooktop in here and a stainless steel french press I used daily for heating water. I ended up filling the french press, setting the desired temperature to 260F, and putting a fan in front of it, to blow the steam into the sleeping loft. It's gotten quite cozy in here now, but the moisture is bringing out the smell of "old" in this camper. It's nearly 50 years old now. Sturdy, but a little bit crusty. 

    In addition to wood, electric, and diesel heat, I think I'll add a bit of steam to the equation. With a cast iron kettle on an induction cook top with automatic temperature and timer controls, I can just fill the kettle, turn it on, and go about my business. This will work best with wood and electric heat sources, but I could also force the hot air from a diesel heater through the water before it enters the room. I just also realized that I can capture the waste heat of the diesel exhaust by submerging the pipe in water and heating the water. Perhaps a copper coil and a radiator are in order. It's a shame to waste the immense heat of the diesel exhaust, so I will have to try it out down the road. 

    I've accidentally solved a few of my heating problems today, so I'd call that's good day. One step closer to a better life in a home built with my own hands. 

  • Heating and Cooling Options

    Dustin12/06/2021 at 04:18 0 comments

    Climate control is one aspect of this project that has proven very difficult to finalize designs for. There are two extremes, and countless options in between. The first extreme is doing nothing. No active heating or cooling. The second extreme is to add all the usual energy hungry appliances and rely on them year round. Having lived with both, I prefer to have full climate control. That being said, I understand exactly how much energy that requires, even for a small space. Having built an off grid camper already, and designed the solar system, I know what it took to hear and cool that thing. The energy requirements were immense. In Ohio we have extreme weather. Winters can be well below zero for days or weeks on end, with power outages lasting as long. Summers are quite hot, but the humidity makes it dangerous when your body just can't cool down. 

    Im currently living in a truck bed camper to prepare for this camper build. I've had air conditioning the entire time, and it's the only reason I could be in here when it was hot. It's dangerously hot without it. This camper was built without AC, but it's still dangerously hot without it these days. I have a propane furnace, but don't use it because it needs a thorough cleaning and is expensive to run. It also outs so much moisture into the camper that it runs the risk of rotting from the inside. Still, it's nearly 50 years old and going strong. I just wouldn't want to be without a power hookup in this thing. 

    Dealing with cold weather is easier for me than hot and humid. Heating is going to be a combination of electric space heaters for on grid backup heat, a small wood burning stove for off grid heating, and a diesel heater as the primary. As much as I hate burning fossil fuels, I do know that a diesel heater is quite efficient and effective. They're also cheap at under $200 USD for an 8Kw(kilowatt) portable model with 4 outlets and 12 volt DC input. It can be run in or off a vehicle and moved as needed. It has a thermostat and is fully automatic. In comparison, electric heat is expensive, and puts a massive load on the electrical system. I can't cook and heat at the same time, even with my induction cooktop and cast iron. The maximum energy I can get from electric heat on a standard household 120 volt outlet is 1.5Kw. it barely keeps up with temps above freezing. Compared to the 8Kw of the diesel heater, it's quite anemic. Diesel has the advantage of being able to run extended periods of time on battery power. Even if all power goes out, I could take the starting battery from my truck and run the heat to get me through for a while. 

    My favorite heating option is wood. I love a wood fire and the nice dry heat. I've heated a very large home with wood and it's just the most comfortable and comforting. For this reason I will be sign for a wood stove in my camper. When all other systems fail, a wood stove is still an option. The problem I have with this is that the fuel takes up a significant amount of space and can be hard to find out in the desert where I plan to go soon. I'm considering looking for wooded land near the mountains, which would solve my wood problem. I'll carry a small stash of emergency wood with me as I travel. 

    I want to mention heating from battery power. Unless you have a collosal lithium solar battery, it isn't viable, even in the sunniest of locations with massive solar panels. If money,weight, and space are not limited, it can work very well. I created a 12 volt DC furnace on the off grid camper build. It was a metal pipe housing two 300 watt solar dump load air heaters. They could heat that camper, on slightly chilly evenings, but drew so much power as to be a burden. The battery bank in that camper was 300 amp hours, or about 3,240 watt hours of usable capacity, if memory serves me right. Let's call it 3,000 watt hours. That means it could supply 300 watts, for 10 hours on a full charge. That's plenty to run half of the heater through the night....

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Enjoy this project?



frolickingdirtchild2000 wrote 08/21/2017 at 03:08 point

not a problem.something to think about for skinning your build when you get to it you could do redneck fiberglass or poor mans fiberflass. You glue the fabric to the outside of your build then soak paint into the fabric. Its been used to create some resilient trailers and other toys. Depending on the type of paint used you could have a long lasting truck bed camper.

  Are you sure? yes | no

frolickingdirtchild2000 wrote 06/10/2017 at 15:33 point

HI jJefferson

looks like a good project have you started building yet? Hows your truck running?

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Dustin wrote 08/20/2017 at 22:13 point

Sorry for the ridiculous delay. Haven't started building yet, due to lack of resources(money, time, energy). Have been doing a lot of brainstorming though over the past year or so. My truck is running better than ever with the Chevy 250 cubic inch straight six. I need to tune and adjust the engine, as well as redo all the brakes and shocks before I will be comfortable hauling something like this trailer around. Those upgrades and repairs will have to come first, delaying the camper construction, unfortunately. Thanks for the interest and inquiry!

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