The DIY World Store

Make your own solar panels for $1 per watt
Get the book
The Complete DIY Solar Panel Book

Help us keep posting valuable experiments.

Posts Tagged ‘emergency preparedness’

PostHeaderIcon RV Maintenance And Pulling Out Junk

It has cooled off again recently after three very hot and humid days last week. This week we have had highs in the 60s and lows in the 40s. I am happy that I still have my fireplace hooked up. I have spent most of my free time cleaning out the new RV and removing junk. I am also lubricating all moving parts on the windows, door and locks, trying to get all the old access panels opened and cleaned out.

Nights have been better for sleeping with lows in the 40s and waking up to 50 degree mornings inside the off grid camper. The days have been cooler as well and more tolerable.

I am working on a demolition job this week so the cooler temperatures are a very welcome change.

The garden is growing very nicely. After all the rain we have had, the plants are all growing fast. Especially the potatoes are growing faster then I can keep the plants covered. I have only pulled a total of three weeds out of my raised bed gardens so far. That is an advantage of using pure compost. There are no weed seeds and the only thing that grows in it is what you plant yourself.

I cleaned out the glove box and storage compartments above the drivers area in the cab looking for an owners manual for the RV. No luck, but I did find a GM manual for the motor and chassis. That is a bonus at least.

I finally got the large outside storage compartment opened up right outside the main door of the RV. Inside I found a lot of propane hoses and connectors. I also found a nice antique Coleman propane camp stove that will probably still work.

A package arrived from fellow youtuber “darfirst”. Inside was a special hand washer for laundry. This is a professional hand laundry washer with vacuum action. This thing is supposed to clean laundry even better than a washing machine if used correctly. He also sent me a propane gauge to tell me how much propane is left in my fridge. And a nice package of chocolate almonds. I love both chocolate and almonds, so that is a very nice treat. Thank you “darfirst”.

Since I am working in demolition this week, I am not getting very much done on the off grid homestead, but I will keep plugging away at it.

Please donate to help keep The Off Grid Project going: Donate

Join me every Monday night for a live chat show. You only need a computer and internet to join. Go to

PostHeaderIcon Another Hot Day Working On A Generator Trying To Get AC

Today was a hot one again. After months of cold and running my fireplace every night, it is a shock to the system to have such heat suddenly. So I am working on an old generator I got cheap a year ago and trying to get air conditioning going in my off grid camper in the forest.

Last night was a bit cooler so I did not sleep too bad, but it was very short. After answering comments on youtube until nearly 1am, I went to bed. I was awake at 4 am and up just after 5 am to start the day. I wanted to get a head start before the heat set in again.

It was supposed to be a rare sunny day so I took my laundry down to the creek to wash in the cooler morning hours. Since I am hand washing with a plunger and bucket, it is a bit of a workout.

I also washed out my swimming pool filter housing that I found in the forest. I am going to make a drinking water filter out of it.

I got to hang my clothes on my new outdoor clothes hanger. I am impressed how rugged it actually is. It holds a lot of clothes as well. You could dry clothes for a whole family on it easily. Since I have not washed my clothes in a few weeks, I had quite a load myself. It has been raining almost every day so I never got my clothes washed until today.

After hanging my clothes, I set up my old Coleman camp stove on an old Coleman folding camp table frame and cooked my breakfast outside. It was too hot in the camper already at 10 am to cook inside. I had a nice breakfast of turkey, eggs and cheese. I get deli meat and cheese ends for $1.99 a pound. It makes a nice breakfast with some eggs. I cooked it all in my cast iron frying pan. I love my cast iron cookware.

This morning I went “shopping” in my forest shopping mall and found some nice goodies. I got a small cast iron skillet which I will use for open fire cooking. I dont like to use my good indoor cast iron on an open fire. I got a couple heavy hammers, some antique augers and some old files. I also found some old hatchet heads laying around. I pay my landlady for the scrap price and we are both happy. Since she slowly takes stuff into the scrap yard, it would be stealing to just take stuff, so I buy what I find off of her. This applies only to usable metal stuff. She has piles of stuff she hopes to sell at garage sales one day. Any junk that was tossed in the junk pile in the forest if fair game, on the other hand.

I also found a nice frame for an outdoor work bench. There were two metal frames for a work table. I will use some pallet wood and make myself a nice work bench for cutting wood or repairing small engines.

Speaking of small engines. I wanted to get a generator going to run my camper air conditioner. It is so hot out and I get a headache from the heat. So I spent the better part of the day working on my old generator. I attacked the job with all my strength. I actually got the old generator running – sort of. The gas tank was full of some strange sludge, rust, gas and water. I had to drain it and then wash it out well with water.

This left me with the problem of getting the water out of the tank. I put it in the sun and placed a satellite tv dish in front of it to concentrate the suns rays on the tank. I had coated the dish with aluminum foil to reflect the sunlight better. This worked pretty well and in a few hours I had a good, clean gas tank for my generator.

While the tank was drying I was working on the old generator carburetor. The whole machine had been badly treated and neglected. I also had to tie down the engine mounts which were broken. I added an inline fuel filter to protect my newly cleaned carburetor.

Then I poured gas into the fuel line to try the generator out and it ran. I was excited.

When the gas tank was back on the machine, it fired right up and ran. But the choke is loose and flops around. I will have to fix that later.

In the late afternoon a sudden thunderstorm came up and I had to run like a mad man and take down all my half dried clothes and put away my tools and the generator. It was a mess and I literally ran around the place getting stuff inside. I started pouring rain just as I finished. Not too long after though it stopped and I was able to work on the generator some more.

The carburetor was leaking gas, so I had to pull it back apart and adjust the float level so it would stop flooding. This is no easy task on a rusty old carb that is partly siezed up inside. The retaining pin for the float is frozen in place so I had to carefully try to bend the float with it in the carb.

I also made a carburetor fuel bowl gasket out of a cardboard box to keep dirt out and the gas in. This needs to be replaced with a better gasket later when I find something. But it works for now.

When the generator was running well, I ran into town to get some gas and an air filter. After filling the tank the generator ran well. Except for the floppy choke, that is. But I will fix that.

I ran a cable from the generator into my camper and tried to get my air conditioner working but had no luck. I am not sure which AC wire goes to the air conditioner. It got dark out so I had to call it a night and put things away for today.

Hopefully soon I will have AC out in the forest on hot days.

Please donate to help keep The Off Grid Project going: Donate

Join me every Monday night for a live chat show. You only need a computer and internet to join. Go to

PostHeaderIcon Now I Have No Vehicle But Finished My Chicken Tractor

My truck broke down on the way home from church last night about 20 miles from home. I had to get it towed home. Now I have no vehicles at all. But the good news is I got my chicken tractor finished today and have some very happy chickens “free ranging” out in the meadow.

Last night on the way home I was driving happily along and suddenly my truck just shut off. Just as if you turned off the key. It would not start again. There is a broken wire somewhere between the battery and the ignition switch. Or the relay is shot and might need replacing. Either way, I need to fix it.

Today I got a tow. Fortunately the guys put the bill on my tab and added it to the total for bailing out my car. I have my truck home where I can work on it myself for free.

While I was waiting for the tow truck to arrive at the main road out side my dirt lane, I checked the mail box and found a new package. It is from Jarrrod, a fellow youtuber. He sent me two packs of Starbucks coffee and two packs of fine roasted almonds. These are two of my favorite things. Thank you Jarrod!

The sun finally showed itself for a few hours today. This was a nice break from about ten days of clouds and rain. It was also HOT out today. In the low 80s out. This is so strange since we had 50s and 60s up until yesterday. I never know if I should have firewood inside and my winter coat ready or have my summer clothes out.

My solar batteries were quickly topped off. Thank you to Northern Arizona Wind & Sun once again for the awesome MPPT solar charge controller. And thank you again to the guys who got me the batteries. And thanks again to Jon for the inverter.

These three things really improve my quality of life here. The batteries get topped off very fast when the sun shines. I have only 600 watts of solar panels, but the batteries soak it all up fast with the MPPT solar charge controller. It makes such a huge difference. When the sun shines, within a few hours I have power to burn.

I took advantage of a day of no rain and finished up my chicken tractor today. I got the wheels on and installed the doors. Then I pushed it out into the meadow and transferred the birds into their new home. They are some very happy birds now I have to say. Now they are “free ranging” and eating natural foods. Each day I can move the whole thing, birds and all, to a new spot for them to eat fresh foods.

Tomorrow I hope to figure out what is wrong with my truck.

PostHeaderIcon Freezing Cold Again Water Flowing Out Of The Boiler Its A Mess

This is a very strange year with cold temperatures and no end in sight. It has been cloudy and raining for the last 5 days now and it looks the same for the next ten days. I am using my fireplace constantly but I am having a lot of trouble with the boiler spurting out water all over the place. What a mess.

Last night was in the high 30s with a high today of maybe 50, if it gets that high.

I am burning some of my broken pallet wood in the fireplace. It burns hot and very well. Almost too hot. The wood is very dry and well seasoned. I think that due to its being heat treated, it burns nicely too.

The only problem is my limping along boiler heating system. It keeps spurting out water on me. I urgently need to change the system over but I am constantly using it. How am I supposed to tear down a system and rebuild it when I am using it all the time?

Tonight is supposed to be below freezing. In mid May. That is crazy. My plants need to be covered or I will loose them.

I got a care package this weekend from Geraldine, who follows my videos on youtube. She sent me a long power cable to a camper, which I can use for my survival camper solar power connections. It is a heavy gauge wire, which makes it good for solar. She also sent me a bunch of alcohol wipes, some almonds (yum), a pack of bungee cords which are very useful and some other things.

Thank you very much Geraldine for the useful items and the special gift.

I have been watching my Kill A Watt meter all the time now to see what kind of power I am using in here. So far I had used about 300 watts total by Sunday morning. It is good to know what I am using all the time.

Now I need to find the same thing for my 12 volt side. That would be great to see my total power usage each day. Wonder if they make those meters for 12 volts.

Last night I had to wrap up the windows with blankets and reflective film again due to the extreme cold. It was very cold again last night. Just like winter again.

I use car sun screens, the stuff with foil on one side, to cover the windows. It reflects the heat back into the camper.

This morning my fireplace boiler was dumping water all over the place. It just seemed to be emptying itself and there was nothing I could do but let it burn out and freeze. Tonight is going to be below freezing, so it is going to be a rough night if this things does not stop dumping all the water out.

I need to rebuild this system right away, but I need the heat all the time.


Part II

Yesterday I decided to work on my lawn mower to combat ticks out here. After removing multiple ticks from myself and two from inside my camper I decided to cut the grass down low in the meadow. Ticks love to sit on high grass and wait for something to brush up against the grass. Then they hitch a ride and look for nice place to dig in and bite.

Sometimes they fall off and look for another perch to wait for a victim. Two of them were in my camper this weekend. They must have fallen off my clothes inside the camper.

I found a free lawn mower in the road side a couple weeks ago and brought it home. I pulled it out and poured out the bad gas. It was a dark yellow. I pulled off the spark plug wire and pulled the starter rope to see if the coil was good. I saw a nice spark.

Then I removed the air filter and sprayed a bit of carburetor cleaner into the carb and let it sit a few minutes. I followed this up with a bit of gas in the carb and pulled the starter rope. The engine fired up and ran a few seconds.

I pulled the spark plug and gave it a cleaning. Shot a bit more carb cleaner into the carburetor and poured in some good gas. The machine ran well. After putting it all back together I went out and cut the grass in the meadow around my garden and the solar panels. Short grass does not give ticks a place to wait for you to pass by. They love the taller grass. This does not totally eliminate the ticks, but it helps some.

So now I have a nice running lawn mower, for free. It looks like it was hardly used. There is no rust and the pain is nice and new looking.

Now I need to get that generator running while I am in engine repair mode.

It never got above the 40s yesterday. It was a cold, dark and damp day with some short bits of rain now and then.

We had a freeze warning for last night so I got two dollar store drop cloths. They were labeled as “Tarps” but they are thin like a drop cloth. Never, never buy these junk things. Look at the video below and look at the label. Do NOT ever buy this junk. It took me 30 minutes each to open them up. They were stuck together and tore easily as I tried to coax them apart. What a stupid job.

I finally, after an hour, got my garden plants covered with somewhat tattered drop cloths and left them for the night, hopefully protected from the freeze to come.

I got a very large, heavy box from a company called Mr Beams and opened it up. To my delight, I found a box packed full of LED lights for my off grid camper. Plus inside were two solar battery chargers for all types of batteries. That is awesome!

And they sent me some very high quality rechargeable batteries to power the LED lights with.

I got a few motion sensing stairway lights, some motion sensing under cabinet lights, a couple ceiling lights, and three outdoor motion sensing spot lights. Two of them come with a remote control. This means when that nasty raccoon comes hunting my chickens, I can just push a button and have a spot light out there to see him.

It will also be nice to have light in the forest when I come home late at night. In the forest at night it is really dark. These lights will really improve my off grid living environment.

I already installed one of the motion sensing stairway lights under my fridge where I have all my electrical connections and fuse box. I am often working in there and struggle to get a flash light pointed in the work space properly. The stairway light now sits there and waits for motion. When I put my hand in there to work, the light comes on and I can work in perfect light.

These lights come with a couple switches inside to set some options. You can set a sort of night light, labeled “glow” which is always on and gently glowing. When you pass by, they light up fully. You can also set the time the light stays on. I left mine set to 20 seconds. When I am working in the electrical box, the light will stay on due to the motion. When I am done, it will shut off in 20 seconds to save the battery.

Thank you Mr Beams for these awesome lights, batteries and chargers.

Plus, Mr Beams has decided to pass on the kindness to all of you out there. You can enter this code for 30% off your purchase: OFFGRID30

Please donate to help keep The Off Grid Project going:

PostHeaderIcon Rain Rain Rain And A New Surprise

It rained all day today and was quite dark outside so my solar batteries got drained a bit. I worked out in the rain anyway and made another raised garden bed. Today I got a new surprise for the off grid solar camper.

This morning was dark and raining. My solar panels were only putting out about an amp or two of power. My batteries started to drain so I shut all my devices off and shut down the inverter.

I went outside to work in the rain for a while and tore apart some more wood pallets to build another raised garden bed. I also filled the raised bed with compost so it is ready for planting.

I have some seed bombs, which are clay balls filled with seeds. The box claims that each seed bomb will cover a square foot of space with mixed herbs. You just toss one out and let nature take over. There are 6 seed bombs in a pack. Since it was raining, I tossed out all six onto one of my raised beds. I am not sure how this is supposed to cover a whole foot of space, but I guess we will see.

The plants I put out the other day are doing very well. The vine plants are visibly growing larger since I planted them. A few onions and garlic plants have broken through the surface of the ground already. This is amazingly fast.

Yesterday a package arrived in the mail from Antenna Deals. It was an amplified HD TV antenna with a range of 150 miles. It has a built in motor and a remote control to turn the motor around for best reception. Since I live in the forest, they figured this antenna would serve me well.

During an especially hard period of rain, I decided to set up the antenna and try it out. I was sort of excited because I have not had any TV in about 12 years. The instructions looked too simple, but the assembly of the antenna is very simple. It went together very easily and within minutes I had TV reception!

I had the antenna sitting on the couch for testing, pointing upwards, but it worked anyway. The instructions say to test the antenna inside before mounting it outdoors. With the antenna just sitting inside, I got 10 high quality channels. That is pretty amazing, for sitting in the middle of the forest.

I plan to properly install the antenna if the rain ever stops. Right now we are looking at rain for the next 4 or 5 days. I cant wait to get this thing set up properly.

This is a very awesome antenna and I look forward to seeing its full capabilities.

Thank you to for this incredible antenna. I will be watching full HD TV in the middle of the forest.