Making foldable window shades from Low-E foil-faced foam

Low-E window coverings that will fold up.

We made some window shades for our van a while back using Low-E. They work great but they are a pain to store. We decided to make them fold so they’d take up less space.

We tried stitching them with a sewing machine, melting them with a soldering iron, just smooshing them together, but the best overall technique was to use a hot iron on the fold lines. This is how we made it work.

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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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