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Old 03-29-2020, 11:18 AM   #1
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Join Date: Feb 2020
Location: Wisconsin
Posts: 5
Default JDP MODs #1

Since we are self quarantined I have time to write up some of the mods I have made to our 2015 Sprinter based Winnebago ERA 70X. At the bottom is a link to pictures of all of these mods.

1. Added 200 watts solar to the roof. 2x100w HQST panels 26Ēx36Ē I picked these because of the size. When mounted side by side they just fit between the standard roof racks. I used 1 1/2Ē aluminum angles from the lumber yard to make the mounts. 1/4Ēx20 & 5/16Ē x 18 nuts and bolts for all but some of the mounts are 3/8Ē x 16, use nylon locking nuts where possible. I made my own homemade ďTĒ nuts from 1Ē x 1/8Ē steel strips drilled and filed to accept carriage bolts which were them tack welded on the back side to stay in place. Spray painted all steel pieces to resist rust. Pictures show the mount as well as the wire routing down through the rear door. Waterproof connecting box was almost too small, I had trouble fitting the 10 Amp fuse inside. You want it as close to the panels as possible. Two panels in series is about 42v at 6.5 amps into the Windy Nation MPPT charge controller. I used about 25 ft of Red and Black 10ga wire inside of a ďnon-splitĒ wire loom. This was hard to find but necessary to keep the water out. You might substitute a different wire that combines the two wires in a sheath and does Not require the loom and is UV stable. You can see in the pictures how I clamped the wires and routed it down behind the door and into the body through the existing rubber gasket for the door lights. I punched a hole in the rubber and pushed the loom through. Be careful if you pull the gasket off the body, it has a plastic piece inside that snaps into the body. Mine was brittle and broke some tabs off. I put connectors just inside the body at this point so it could be taken apart just like the factory wiring. It also made running the wires easier. Run another piece of loom down through the body and along the floor into the channel that leads to the under seat wiring area. More fuses and connectors here to combine the portable panels prior to connecting to the MPPT charge controller. Our trip just before the virus sent us home was 10 days and the batteries stayed charged just with the two panels on the roof. We didnít boondock much (one night on Natchez Trace and 2 nights at Lake Somerville Texas) so no need for the portable panels.

2. Added 200 watts of portable panels with tilting frame also of aluminum angles. Note holes in angles to adjust. I found apps for my phone to give me the optimum angle, another to set the angle on the panels and a compass to point the panels at the sun. The center square tubes are not required, they are from a previous mounting system I was using to track the sun (it worked just too hard to set up and take down). Note standard plug on side of van next to the shore power plug. Iím not sure what these are called. You can buy them in bulk (Male and female on 10 ga wire) and I used them a lot, like in the body as noted above. This was the best spot to get access inside to the electrical area under the seat. Be careful with the location to avoid problems inside. I used a step drill and worked up to the right size to fit the plug. Note inline Fuse on MC4 connectors close to the panels. We have about 50 feet of #10 AWG wire in two different lengths with MC4 connectors to allow moving the panels to a good location with minimal wire length. At the van I use a converter I made from short pieces of wire to go from MC4 to this plug. Inside the portable and roof panels are combined in parallel to get 40v at +/- 13 amps into the MPPT charge controller. On a sunny day Iíve seen it pumping 20 amps into the batteries. It should easily charge the batteries by noon on a sunny day. Extra fusing inside also protects the system and wires. I also added a timer relay between combiner and controller triggered by battery input to the charge controller, just to make sure the panels are not connected unless the battery is connected first for 30 seconds to allow the charge controller to boot up. Last year we stayed 5 days in Glacier NP with just the portable panels and no hookups at all. Only started the Generator a few times to make coffee.

3. I bought 8 COB lights (about 5/8Ē x 7Ē) and used 6 around the rear doors to provide light when working in the back and storage area under rear seat When the doors are open. Wired behind trim panels and to a switch under seat at the rear end of the wire channel. I also put two 12v lighter sockets here for cell phone and CPAP power. Cob lights are great for hooking up the trailer or toad.

4. I added plugs on each side of the dash for our cell phones. I did this by hard wiring a 12v-5v 4 port USB hub behind the dash wired to the power supply to the radio. If you want it on all the time pick a different source. Use whatever USB cord you need for your devices and route as needed through the dash. I ran one out of each vent to use with phone hung on magnetic vent mounts. Two more come out of the tray on top of dash for dash cam and a spare phone full of MP3 music files (Bluetooth connected to Head Unit). I use my phone for GPS and this keeps it charged on long drives.

5. Switch on dash. We were having trouble with the head unit and had to pull the fuse on occasion to reset the unit. I always wanted to put a switch on the dash to turn off the power so I didnít have to pull the fuse. I could not find a switch that fit. At least one under $50 from MB. Someone on one of the forums sells a holder they make and insert a standard switch into for about $18. So I thought I would see what alternative I could come up with. I popped out the blank plug and marked off the hole I needed with a scratcher (knife). Then drilled a few holes to get a small saw blade into it. Rough saw out the shape keeping inside the lines. Use a variety of files to widen the hole to fit the switch. Since the top of the blank is curved and the switch is flat you can enlarge the hole to counter sink the center part of the switch to lay flatter if you want. Not quit stock but OK in my book. Switches were about $1 ea. In bulk on Amazon, and it took about 15 min to make start to finish.

6. We always carried a cooler for water and soda. The problem was getting ice every few days. I found reviews for the Alpicool C40 (+/- $300) on line and thought I would try it. After checking the dimensions I thought it would fit perfect behind the driver seat. It works perfect! It comes with a 12v plug (cigarette lighter size) and a 120v brick converter. You can adjust the temperature via the menu and also set a low voltage shutdown so you donít run down the starting battery. I installed a lighter plug in the driver seat base wired to some positive lugs and ground point under the seat. You have to remove the seat to do this. I left the wires long enough to pull through the hole in the foam under the seat if you have to change the fuse. The location of this plug is very critical to avoid the stuff inside the seat base. Use a step drill to make the hole large enough. My step drill was not quit large enough so I used a round file to enlarge it to fit. Since this is connected to the chassis battery I set the shut down voltage to 12.2 volts. This seams to work for about 24 hrs (at lowest temp setting) which works most days as we drive or hook up to shore power and plug in 120v when parked. You could wire it differently (to coach batteries) if you want. One added benefit we found out is if you crank the temperature way down you can actually us it as a freezer. On our first trip after getting this we were gone 10 days and everything stayed frozen the whole time. It may use less power (amp Hrs) if you keep it on a normal cooler level.

7. This is my favorite mod yet! - The built in Jensen sound system plays DVDs but only at a low resolution. I always wanted to play Blu-rayís and connect a PC to the TV. I found a small PC that just fits in the wall behind the TV. The one I used was a ZOTAC. This was one of the cheapest versions as it was a test, but it seams to work fine. You may want a higher end version if you intend to use it for business. I wondered how to get power to it since it runs off of 19v DC @ less then 2 amps. I found a 12v to 19v buck converter that fit the bill. It just about fit behind the metal hat channel that hides the wires coming down between the windows. I had to grind off some of the cooling fins to make it fit. I wired into the 12v + and - wires in the channel to the TV. It is switched with the TV by the switch under the cabinet but that works since you need the TV as a monitor anyway. The output side get a barrel connected that fits the Zotac. Make sure you get the +/- correct! The standard mounting bracket that comes with the ZOTAC worked to mount to the hat channel. I did have to drill new holes to fit the channel. Four self tapping screws is all it took. Be careful where you put the holes to stay close to the edges of channel and install the mount so the hooks are pointed up to keep the Zotac from falling. You donít want to harm any wires or converter inside. An HDMI cord connects to the TV. I mounted it as low as possible to hide it behind the TV. Make sure you switch the TV to PC mode to get the picture to fit. Use a wireless keyboard and mouse with USB adapter. This unit is all solid state including the hard drive so very low power drain on your batteries. The icing on the cake is I got a USB portable DVD/Blue ray player that can set on the counter when we want movies. We connect the WiFi to a hotspot on our phones to browse the internet and do emails or browse forums! You can set up the table in the rear and set on the couch and work in comfort.

8. I donít know if you would call this a MOD or not but I added a 12v 4Ē fan I scavenged from an old computer in the seat box where all the electrical stuff is. I was worried about it getting hot in there. I used a hole saw to drill a hole in the back side of the seat box right above where the MPPT charge controller sits. I wired it to a relaY that is controlled by a temperature controller I bought off Amazon for about $18. I set the temperature to turn on/off at 85 degrees. When it gets hot the fan kicks on and blows cooler air directly over the controller and at the inverter Iím installing. I may add a second fan later near the front blowing out if I think it warrants it. I still need to put a grill on it. No picture of this in album.

9. This is not really a mod just a repair. The porch light started to lose LED light segments so I eventually wanted it replaced. I had trouble finding one but finally found one at that ended up being an exact replacement. Sorry I donít have the model numbers. It was about $40 but since it was an exact fit I got it. Itís hard to get the original off without scratching the paint. Pop the chrome cover off. Itís on there good but donít worry too much about breaking it if you already have the replacement. Take out the screws. The underlying frame is stuck on with some strong glue/sealant. Just work slow and try a plastic putty knife. The wires are sealed in the hole in the body with the same stuff. I was afraid to pull to hard on them so I went to the inside to see what I could see. The hardest part is getting to the wires inside. I had to take the carpet ceiling down in the cabinet to get at the wires to splice in the new ones. Remove the wood pieces on the edges that hold the ceiling up. I cut the carpet and cardboard backing along one of the folds. You then pull out the minimal fiberglass insulation and you can see the wires. I used some gorilla tape on the back side of the cardboard to repair the ceiling. Put the wood strips back up. Not perfect but at least itís inside of the cabinet. If you can figure out how to get that cabinet out you are better then I am.

That all of the mods for now. Iím still working on putting in a Inverter and hope to add some lithium batteries this fall or when ever we can travel again after this virus thing is over.

Link to pictures below-

2015 Winnebago ERA 170X
2016 Smart Car on Trailer
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Old 03-29-2020, 11:59 AM   #2
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Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: New Brunswick, Canada
Posts: 8,678

Thanks for sharing your work and ideas
Two bikes on sliding cargo box: & 1997 GMC Savana 6.5L Turbo Diesel Custom Camper Van Specifications:
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computer, lights, solar, usb

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