LED lantern comparison – we did so you don’t have to

Five lanterns to test out in the van.

We bought five different types of LED lantern to test out which worked best in the van.

We found that we needed a couple of small lanterns for when we want to get up in the middle of the night rather than switching on the main lights inside the van. Because they are portable, we also use them outside the van when we’re hanging out after dark.

Here’s a list of what we tried, and which worked best for our needs…

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How corrosive is DEF fluid, anyway?

Black corrosion on copper cable from DEF exposure

When we last filled up with DEF (Diesel Exhaust Fluid), we poured a little into a plastic tub and threw in various pieces of metal. DEF is corrosive, but we wanted to find out just how bad it really is.

No surprise that zinc really reacts with DEF fluid, but the copper wire turned black with surface corrosion faster than we expected.

The biggest reassurance from this experiment was that tinned copper cable showed absolutely no reaction to the DEF fluid.

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Keeping the shore power plug clean and dry

ViewTainer used to hold 15A shore power plug

We’ve been using freebie plastic protectors on the prongs of our 15 Amp shore power plug, but we keep on losing them and the plug is beginning to corrode from the gunk that gets sprayed on to it underneath the van.

We found a squeezable storage container called a ViewTainer. When you squeeze the sides, a slit in the top opens up. When you release, it closes again.

The container is meant for storing small items like screws, but it works really well for our plug.

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Upgrading the stock Sprinter stereo – overview

Grille from old stereo system

The Sprinter’s “Audio 15” stereo system has an interface from the mid-90s, and speakers that sound like they are made from wet toilet paper. Sane people would just replace the whole lot, but we experimented with keeping the head unit and seeing what a difference good speakers would make.

When that didn’t give us quite enough improvement, we swapped out the head unit for something that produces clearer sound and connects better with our phones.

This is an overview of the different articles we’ve written about our attempts to get good sounds inside the van. If you’re trying to do the same thing, start here.

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Adding an aftermarket stereo head unit to a Sprinter

Aftermarket stereo cable wiring harness construction

We gave in. Even after changing out the front speakers and adding a subwoofer, the Audio 15 stereo that comes as stock in newer Sprinters was just not up to the job.

We chose to replace it with an aftermarket unit from Sony that has Apple Carplay and Android Auto so that we can use our phones to provide navigation and music through the stereo.

The swap-out wasn’t hard, but there are a couple of sticky points along the way. Read on for the details.

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Sprinter antenna replacement and repair

How about a shark fin antenna instead of the stock one?

We’ve already written about how flimsy the Sprinter’s antenna (aerial) is. We’ve repaired ours before after snapping off part of the housing when we caught the mast on something.

This time, we needed to remove the antenna from the roof to really glue it back together properly. Here’s how we did it, and some other options if you can’t make the repair work.

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Adding a subwoofer to the stock Sprinter stereo

Pioneer subwoofer close-up

The stock Sprinter stereo doesn’t have great dynamic range. It does relatively OK in the high end because it has separate tweeters, but the door speakers just aren’t big enough to reproduce low frequencies very well.

The head unit doesn’t have a dedicated subwoofer output so you have to get creative if you want to add better bass. Here’s how we did it.

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