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TheHops

TheHops

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Another quick update today! My PRP seat covers finally arrived (they took 6 weeks from order to arrival), and I couldn't resist getting them installed. I'm very happy with how they turned out. Admittedly, install was...a bit of a pain. It was mostly time consuming, and involved contorting my 6'4" frame in to positions I probably shouldnt have attempted, but here we are.

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I originally considered the Bartact route, but after seeing how many options PRP offered and after reading great reviews, I decided to pull the trigger, and I'm glad I did. I went with a black tweed interior (butt and lower back), with a black cordura exterior (stress areas, such as where you slide off of the seats) and a black vinyl backing, with red vinyl accents at the shoulders. I'm blown away by the quality, and their price was better than Bartact for my specific needs.

You may notice in the pictures that the center console cover looks a bit...saggy. I recieved that about three days ago ahead of my seat covers. I informed PRP of how it looked and sent them pictures, and within the same day they got back to me saying they'd forward my concern and pictures to the heads of production and customer service. The next day, the department heads contacted me saying that they'd rush an order for a replacement back to me free of charge. Big shout out to Aileen and JR at PRP.

That should just about wrap up my interior mods. The only other interior mod that I have planned is a HAM radio install, but that's pretty low priority since I have my inReach for emergency contact purposes. As usual, more to come!



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TheHops

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Alright, so...I've decided to go pretty much an entirely different direction in regards to the solar setup. The setup that I originally had planned is still a great idea, in my opinion, and I wouldn't hesitate to point anyone in that direction. With that being said, when I really sat down and started planning out how best to mount the flexible panel to the top of my rooftop tent (which is supposed to FINALLY arrive on Tuesday...super stoked), I kept coming up empty on an option that really worked for me..

-I considered drilling the top of the tent and mounting through the four panel eyelets, but that's a big ouch on a brand new unit of that cost, and I don't want any potential water intrusion issues.
-I considered using a sh*t ton of double sided tape, but there's no guarantee it would hold at high speeds or for long term, and would make eventual removal a pain.
-I considered a high-strength 3M spray on glue, but that would essentially be a permanent solution and if the panel went bad I would be screwed. Either the tent or the panel would be destroyed upon removal.

I toyed around with a couple of other ideas, and combinations of the above, but nothing really sat well with me. So, I threw away the whole idea and came up with what I believe will be a much more elegant and effective solution. I will reuse all of the groundwork that has already been laid, such as the charge controller, wiring and input. I'm actually really excited about the new idea, and can't wait to get to work on it, and to share it here, as I don't believe this solution exists on a Gladiator yet. The mounting solution will be a combination of a (repurposed) existing product, and a bit of light custom fabrication.

Hopefully, I'll have all of the necessary parts by the end of the month. Stay tuned!
 

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Why not stick with the RTT top but do a temp mount and remove it while traveling and install it when camp is set up. Use bungee cords or glue on steel plates to the roof top and magnets to the solar panel.
 
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Why not stick with the RTT top but do a temp mount and remove it while traveling and install it when camp is set up. Use bungee cords or glue on steel plates to the roof top and magnets to the solar panel.
True. That's really not a bad idea. It's not exactly what I'm looking for though, and I figure with something like this I want to do it right the first time.

The goal is to have it be as convenient as possible. Almost mindless to operate. It probably sounds trivial, but I only want to have to utilize the quick-disconnect when switching from expedition mode, back in to daily driver mode--not every time I set up or tear down camp. Pulling the panel out of cargo, climbing up to mount it and routing the cable to the connection (and vice versa) would add an extra 1-2 minutes on each end of camp, potentially in poor weather. Again, I know it doesn't sound like much...but with an iKamper, that'd be doubling to tripling my setup time, and creating a potential problem if I forgot to stow it.

With what I'm planning now, I'd be looking at about an extra 10 seconds of effort on camp set up and tear down to deploy/stow the panels, and they would maintain their quick-disconnect/removability as desired. Also, I'm looking at nearly quadrupling my solar output.

Appreciate the input/ideas!
 
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My new RTT finally arrived! Initial impressions are great: Fantastic build quality (feels very solid), great quality on the coating (I went with the "Rocky Black" line-x version), and the packaging was great. I placed my order on August 17th, and it arrived today, October 15th, so they were almost spot on for their estimate of 8 weeks of delay at the time I ordered.

I'll likely be putting up a video walkaround once I actually have a means to mount it. My RSI camper shell is supposed to be in in November, which is what the tent will live on top of, so I'm looking forward to that.

To-do list for the near future, in rough order:
  • Order/Install bed rails in preparation for camper shell
  • Receive/install Frontrunner over-cab rack (I may test fit the tent over the cab prior to the arrival of the camper shell)
  • Finalize/implement solar setup
  • Order over-shell Frontrunner rack
  • Receive and install camper shell
  • Install over-shell roof rack
  • Complete satellite lighting setup/wiring (left facing and right facing underslung white LED flood lights), and roof rack marker lighting (LED amber sides, LED reds rear) install/wiring
  • Rewire dedicated 12v fridge port from behind rear seats to the bed
  • Install Dometic fridge slide
This is the most expensive portion of my build to date, so the mods will likely slow for some time after this. Also, I'll actually get to start using the Jeep for the purpose that I bought it for, so I'll be less concerned with modifying. Once the above list is knocked out, I will be planning several weekend or week long trips to shake down the setup in order to determine if anything is missing.

Stay tuned!

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Look forward to hearing your impressions of the Skycamp Mini. :like:
 
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Look forward to hearing your impressions of the Skycamp Mini. :like:
Oh, I'll definitely be sharing. I've been wanting an iKamper since their early kickstarter days, but couldn't afford one at the time. Being in between builds, I figured now was a good time to sell my trusty old CVT tent of about 5 years in order to upgrade. I'm very excited to start racking up some nights in this tent.
 
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No major updates, but I took the tent out today to weather the fabric. I've had it opened in the garage since receiving it, letting it air out. Today is a nice day, so I'm following iKamper's instructions on initial care.

The fabric is a poly-cotton blend canvas, and supposedly achieves peak waterproofing after being soaked and dried three times. As you can see, the fabric is highly hydrophobic. Leaks inside were minimal, mainly through the zipper up top where water pools a bit on the window. With that being said, this is *without* the rain fly installed, which covers the entire top portion. I had to remove it in order to get the fabric wet, and I anticipate zero issues with it installed, which is the configuration that I will run it in 100% of the time.

I really like the fabric itself. Though it doesn't feel quite as durable as my previous tent (a ruggedized CVT), it seems to be much more breathable. Initial impressions are great, and I can't wait to start spending nights in it. I'll continue to update accordingly.

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It sounded like today was going to be the nicest day for us here this weekend, so I took the time to do some pretty extensive rewiring and engine bay organization.

All of my wires that were ran in to the cab through the door jambs have been pulled, and rerouted through the floor drain holes. Unfortunately, I discovered some nasty leaks associated with that wire routing. The water was not getting through the seals, rather it was using my own wire loom essentially as a waterslide, riding it down through my door, in to my trim, and settling in the carpet. Luckily there was no water intrusion anywhere other than at floor level, but I knew I had to fix that. Truthfully, the drain holes seem to be a much easier route to run. I can't have the plugs in place though, so we'll see how watertight this option is. If it becomes and issue, I may end up drilling paths in the plugs and sealing around the wires with silicone sealant.

Along with rerouting, I reorganized the electronics. I thought it was alright before, but it's much better now.

Before:

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After:

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More improvements coming!
What are the 2 black switch like boxes next to the sPod in the cleaned up wire pictures?
 
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What are the 2 black switch like boxes next to the sPod in the cleaned up wire pictures?
50 amp circuit breakers. One for the sPOD, and one for my 600W inverter in the cab.
 
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Big update with my big idea. I call it: The Super Secret Solar Setup, henceforth referred to as SSSS. :rock:

The remaining primary parts for building the SSSS came today. After much research, this is what I've pieced together:

Two Renogy 100W panels, with 20ft 10 gauge MC4 extension cables, and two y-connectors in order to run the panels in parallel (pictured while test fitting for width on the roof).

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A set of Frontrunner below-rack table slide brackets.

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And a set of slides from a company I found in Australia. Rated for 220 pounds, and designed with fully sealed roller bearings impervious to water, dust and grit.

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Perhaps from there, you all can deduce where I plan to take this project: The SSSS is a below-rack (the rack over the cab), 200 watt solar panel slide, on a quick-release mechanism. These panels will be bolted together in the middle in order to make them a single rigid panel. Those will then be bolted to the slides on each side, which is then bolted to the Frontrunner table brackets, which will finally bolt beneath my (soon to arrive) Frontrunner roof rack, between the rack and the roof. The panels will be held in place by a Frontrunner locking mechanism that can be padlocked when not in use.

I was able to test fit and measure all of these components today, and with the resulting measurements I'm confident that I can make it work, so here are my findings.

According to Frontrunner, the available space between mounting feet is approximately 46 1/4". At the widest points, my setup is 45 3/4" on the dot. Length isn't much of a factor, as there is plenty of space, but it is approximately 41 1/2" from front to rear. Height comes in at well under 2 inches, so they will slot beneath the rack just fine.

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Fitment was my primary concern, and with these measurements well within spec, I don't foresee any issues now. As far as function, I will have them pull out forward, over the windshield/hood in order to maximize distance from the tallest object on the Jeep (the RTT at the rear). They should also throw a bit of shade and help to keep the cab a bit cooler. At 14 pounds a piece, supporting the panels with minimal flex at full extension, on slides rated for over 200 pounds at half extension, should work out just fine. With current measurements, I expect the panels to be within 3" from flush with the front of the roof rack, so at full extension I should get about 93% panel exposure with the sun directly overhead. That is more than enough power to keep my battery topped off running a fridge 24/7, charging gear, and using lighting at camp at night.

I suck at drawing, and photoshop, otherwise I'd work up a concept. I have never seen this setup on a Jeep before though, so I'm excited to implement and test it. I've seen something similar on utes out in Australia, but not exactly like this. I think this will work out much better for me than my initial idea of mounting on the RTT.

Here's everything laid out together and in place. This is looking at the left side of the assembly (slide out to the top left of the picture, with cords routed towards the back of the vehicle to the right of the picture).

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I have a lot of hardware to pick up this weekend so that I can start getting things buttoned up ahead of the arrival of the roof rack. I'll update again once I have a working slide!
 
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Progress update--I have a working solar slide! Well, sort of. All modifications are complete and it is assembled as intended, but I won't actually be able to truly test it until my roof rack comes in and I am able to mount it, because the whole assembly basically floats in between the outermost rails, so they need to be fixed in place for it to operate. I did a rough test last night by holding the assembly up, maintaining inward pressure (essentially bear hugging the whole thing) and having someone pull the solar panels outwards, and it worked just fine, so there shouldn't be any issues once it is properly mounted.

Nothing crazy needed to be done as far as modifications. The only hiccup was experienced off the bat, where there was insufficient clearance on the back side of the solar panels to line up my nyloc nut. To get around that, I had to drill a larger "access hole" in the side of the panel just beneath each mounting hole. The holes aren't visible anyway with the slide brackets bolted to the panels, so not a huge deal there.

I started off by drilling and attaching the inner portions of the slide assembly to the bottom of the panels. I lined up all of the pieces, and just marked with a paint marker, drilled a small pilot hole, then hit it with a larger bit to accommodate the stainless steel hardware I picked up. The panels are aluminum, so I used stainless hardware everywhere in an effort to limit corrosion.

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Once that was done, I drilled out the Frontrunner table slide to bolt up the outer portion of the slide assembly. This was simple, as the two slotted together nicely. Just like before, a quick hit with the paint marker and I started drilling.

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The last phase was bolting the panels themselves together in the middle. From the leading edge of the panel, I measured every 6" out to 36", and marked the side of the panels centerline, to accommodate 6 stainless bolts. The panels are, maybe, 2-3 mm from flush, so I'll probably end up pulling the bolts out, and drilling the holes out slightly larger to give it that extra bit of adjustability. It won't limit the function at all, but just knowing it's there will bug me, I know.

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All in all, I'm very pleased with how it turned out. I'll probably end up affixing some small rubber stoppers/isolators either at the rear inside of the tracks, or a single larger one up front, because based on measurements I'm expecting the front of the panels to be about 3 inches away from flush with the front of the rack, and I need it more or less flush so that I can lock/isolate the panels while driving. I will wait until my rack arrives though to make that adjustment. I'm looking forward to getting it mounted up for an actual test run next month when my rack arrives.
 

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