Never worry about starting a campfire again! You can easily prepare your own quick lighting emergency "char cloth" with just a tuna can, T-shirt, and a your barbecue grill. Essentially the video describes making a quick and dirty DIY gasification stove -- like the ones many backpacking survivalists use to cook food -- but the focus of this project is simply to get at the valuable leftover charcoal without the (slight) added complexity of designing an efficient camp stove. But if you already have a gasifying camp stove -- like the SoloStove or another homemade version -- you can now add versions of "char cloth" to your emergency kit. (I love the cotton balls idea!)
Want fresh ideas for simpler more economical ways to cook when you're living off the grid? Look into the cheap and powerful homemade backpacking stoves used by inventive campers like this guy. They're made to be easy to assemble from common items in your recycling bin for just a few bucks at most and run off alcohol or free wooden twigs you find lying around. All in all, much quicker and more efficient than setting up a whole campfire just to boil some water!
Have a clean sink wherever you go! In this video Travis from 2brothersadventures shows how he turned a few ordinary Home Depot buckets into a clever and sanitary foot-pump-activated camp sink that even saves your greywater. Note: It was inspired by this brilliant Instructables design.
If your phone is dead and you can't find your plug in charger, BUT you have a cordless drill lying around, you can hack it to recharge your phone battery. Grant Thompson shows a clever way to hook up the drill to your phone so that with just a bit of hand cranking, you can be back in action -- hopefully before your arms tire out! I personally carry a hand crank emergency radio with a USB hookup for precisely this purpose. It's definitely nice to have in a pinch. But the other "obvious" thing that occurred to me was that I could also just recharge my cordless drill by running it backwards -- let's say by pedaling a bike. Hmm... I know some viewers are saying to themselves... "Why the heck would you be in a situation where you have a cordless drill, but NOT have access to a phone charger?" If you're asking this, then you're totally missing the point. The "takeaway" from this is that IF YOU HAVE A DC ELECTRIC MOTOR, YOU CAN MAKE A BATTERY CHARGER. An electric drill is a particularly strong motor, but even something like a battery powered fan can be made to charge a battery. Provided you have a stash of "gear" or tools around, you probably have an electric motor you can repurpose. If you ask me, that's a pretty powerful realization.
Boondockers -- Why take up space in your camper with a permanent shower stall that you use once a day!
Watch to learn how LoveRise has used a few parts from Home Depot to make an easily removable RV shower stall. Besides the shower curtain, the key ingredient to this system is a water heater drain pan that you can buy for $12-15 and stow away when you’re not using it. The optional battery powered spray gun she uses is no longer available, but there are others available. Of course to make this system work, you don’t necessarily need the water heater drain pan. Any shallow tub that’s wide enough to stand in would do the trick. As for the hot water — the best tip I take from her video is that heating "shower water” doesn’t need to be any more complicated than boiling 1/2 cup of water on the stove and adding it to your container of cold shower water to warm it up. For a "shower" — How about the Simple Shower...? It's a specially-made shower head that screws onto the end of not only any 1-Liter or 2-Liter bottle, but also to a Platypus-style flexible drinking bottle. The price for the simple shower is about $12 plus shipping. It’s still only available at a few retailers, so the most convenient way to get is to Buy the Simple Shower on Amazon
Check out the "Pedal Powered Prime Mover" running a TV! This design outperforms typical bicycle generators because it's based on a flywheel and eliminates intermediary components. It's also easy to build, and you can buy plans on David Butcher's site.
Did you know you can make your own gasoline? Not much, mind you -- and I wouldn't advocate chopping down trees to do it! But as a teaching exercise, MrTeslonian shows you in this video series how one can inexpensively turn dead wood into refined gas that can run a car by capturing all the fuel gases in the form of crude oil and refining into whatever "fossil fuel" you like. Totally fascinating!
Did you know that for about $30, you can make a great water filter that can remove up to 99% of contaminants? All you really need are a few 5-gallon buckets, some plastic pipe and fitments, and 3 grades of filtering media: fine sand, regular sand, and gravel. This 3 part video will show you exactly how to construct not only the bio-sand filter, but upgrade it to incorporate a carbon filter to remove some of the few common contaminants that bio-sand filters miss.
Here's a fantastic slideshow of a commercial quality homemade slide-in truck camper handcrafted with plywood framing from 'spidersfrommars'.
The frame is constructed from 1/2" birch plywood, with ample large holes cut out to decrease its weight. A layer of 1" styrofoam is applied, and aluminum sheeting covers it all. It also features a lightweight curved roof and built-in furnishings. (Note: The video oddly cuts out halfway through promising more to come.)
Interested in making a cheap AC inverter out of parts you can often get for free? If you happen to have a broken UPS backup computer power system lying around, you could possibly turn it into a cheap power inverter for your camper. Uninterruptible Power Systems are often thrown away when their battery goes bad. Once they do, you could simply replace the dead battery with your RV's deep cycle battery and enjoy a high quality inverter that typically includes 5V USB power in addition to several standard AC outlets. (Note: Non-sine-wave AC output by cheaper UPS inverters may not be suitable for all devices. For quickly charging your laptop and mobile electronics, it should do fine, but for continuous power, beware that it could cause problems, so be sure to read the UPS manual. If you're concerned about this, check out his next series on how to make a sine-wave inverter. )
Need ideas for quickly generating warm shower water? Watch this amusing video showing a simple system using a water pump and heat exchanger coil. While it could certainly be improved upon with some easy modifications that would help it both heat up faster and be much safer, it's a great illustration of creative thinking, and a simple demonstration of exactly how an on-demand hot water system works. It would be interesting to see something like this installed more permanently... Perhaps even running off of a small wood-burning rocket stove?
Can you use your pee to start a fire? You'll know after you see this! If you like survival and fire-making techniques, this video is a must see! [Mobile Rik Notes: I totally didn't expect it was going to be about this. Nothing mysterious, but NOT something I ever would have thought of!]
Do you need to disinfect a few batches of water to make them safe to drink? You can do this easily by setting a few bottles of clear water out in the sun for the duration of the day (or over two days if it's 1/2 cloudy). This method, called SODIS (i.e. "SO-lar DIS-infection"), uses the sun's UVA rays to effectively kill bacteria and viruses. One requirement is that the water in the bottle be clear enough to read through. If you're starting with dirty water, you should strain it through a clean cloth and let it settle first. (Note that this method won't actually filter the water -- it will simply kill pathogens. But there are easy ways to filter water, using a quick sand filter or, if you have a more permanent stationary installation, a biosand water filter.)
The Biolite may be the coolest backpacking stove ever! This nifty wood-burning biomass camping stove not only allows you to heat your dinner without carrying around a fuel tank -- it burns the twigs and wood chips you find lying around -- It's also a heat-activated DC generator with USB charger. A descendent of the efficient "rocket stove" design, BioLite also makes a larger home version. (You might compare it to the Solo Stove Wood Burning Backpacking Stove, which could be considered its immediate commercial predecessor, just without the phone charger.)
Here's an interesting and simple DIY slide-on truck camper design.
Tontotralman (who points out that he's NOT a carpenter) built this one-person slide on truck camper to fit inside his 6' truck bed with the tailgate shut. There's no cabover, but he still managed to fit a raised sleeping area inside. It's built on 2x2 framing with OSB panels, and 1-1/2 styrofoam insulation. The interior is oriented sideways, with a sideways 6.5 foot wide bedroom area over a storage compartment, and front entrance area with storage cupboards on the left and kitchen area on the right. On the outside he has some storage space between the walls and the bed, and a small electrical hookup. I like the split door idea that allows easy access. Part 2 shows the finished body with corner trim, ceiling vent, water storage, the completed kitchen area (which looks much like a home kitchenette). Part 3 shows the aerodynamic nose attached as a cabover extension to be used for lightweight storage in the future. He also explains the split door that allows for an exit when the tailgate is up. A highlight of Part 3 is his upgraded version of a "redneck air conditioner" made from a fan and an ice cooler and upgraded with copper coil and water pump.
Wanna save a ton of money on your solar energy system? By buying individual cells and soldering them together into a panel, you can make your own custom panels for just a fraction of what you'd pay retail. This is the first video in a series in which he takes you through every step to turn the cells into a working solar panel.
Want a way to filter water to near tap-quality for free? Without spending a dime, you can construct a very effective bio-sand water filter from a recycled 2-liter bottle that removes over of contaminants. Followed up by solar water disinfection (SODIS), you can easily produce safe drinking water with no cost whatsoever.
Here's a really awesome DIY Slide On Four Wheel Camper Style Pop-Up Truck Camper RV by 'notesfromavagabond.' It's built on an aluminum frame he welded together himself and includes a few innovative features, such as a fold out room and a simple roof-lift mechanism.
(Thinking about building your own truck camper? (You can build them out of wood, too!) If you haven't yet, check out my article on How To Build Your Own DIY Truck Camper RV)
Are you looking for a way to purify your own drinking water in an off-grid or long term boondocking situation? LDSPrepper reviews several popular filtering systems. Notably, most filtration systems require you start with pre-filtered tap water, so they're near useless in a boondocking situation when all you have available is river or pond water. His summary includes a clear winner. (Note: Since he is reviewing only expensive commercial filters, he does not include an inexpensive DIY bio-sand filter.)
Getting Solar Panels? Don't make these easy mistakes! You've probably seen at least one of these solar products recommended by DIY enthusiasts pretty much everywhere. But is it really a bargain? For LDSPrepper it was an "$800 mistake". Not because it was necessarily low quality, but because in terms of minimizing space and dollar per watt, you can easily do much better by shopping around. Do you want to know the best way to really save a lot on solar panels?
Need a quick backup battery for your phone? You can make one of these backup phone chargers from just a 9V battery and the guts of a dollar store car charger. I found this particularly clever because it's not obvious that to charge a 5V device, one might take a part a 12v charger and substitute a 9V battery -- but it's the the dollar store electronics that do the voltage matching. Very nice.
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