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Tactical Advance

Star Citizen Gaming Camper Van Build

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Background

 

From a very young age, I was always disassembling electrical items to see how they worked.  My Dad worked at an electronics company and sometimes brought me stuff to play with and break in some cases.  Over the years I also enjoyed working on cars I did a full engine rebuild on my old BMW it took me 3-4 weeks with a Haynes manual, a garage would of taking 1-2 days lol but I did it and kept the car for a further two years.

Over the last 2 to 3 years I’ve been working with 18650s these were the original batteries that were used in the first Tesla and can be found in pretty much 95% of laptop batteries on the market today. 18650’s got the name from the dimensions 165mm x 50mm one of the advantages of using 18650s is how much power they can store in such a small package.

 

The Plan

To build a campervan that I can travel around Europe but have all the same amenities that I have at home.  The most important part of this van for me will be power and lots of it.  I’m going to build a 7 to 10 kW 18650 Power Wall that will fit in the van this will give me the ability to power everything at 240V including my gaming PC, this will allow me to continue making videos, playing games and travelling wherever I want to ago.

To ensure that I had enough power I’ve run my room off power meters to show me how much power I draw from the sockets over weeks and months, I estimate I could constantly game for 30 to 40 hours (an unlikely scenario).

The van is more likely going to be Mercedes Sprinter MWB High-top

 

  • running hot water
  • underfloor heating
  • diesel heater
  • 2 water tanks underneath the van
  • toilet and shower
  • fridge
  • 400W of solar

 

One of the challenges of this project will be charging the packs, the 400W of solar might put out anywhere between 4 to 20amps depending on the sun so as a side project I’m going to build a DC to DC converter that will give me the ability to charge the van from any EV charging station should only take 10 minutes for 80% charge. I also will be using a split charger from the engine's alternator to charge the pack when I’m using the vehicle.

 

To date

I’ve been working on this project for just over a year now and there are some reasons for that building a Power Wall from individual batteries take some time. The power wall will use just under 1000 batteries, over the year I have bought old laptop batteries on eBay as they pop up, I spent around £250 this includes the black holders, to put this into some perspective to buy lithium batteries with the same capacity that I’ve got you could expect to pay 5-6K. I will be building a 24V pack.

 

Laptop batteries

 

IMG_20180924_233425.jpg

 

Although you make a huge saving there is a lot of work to be done with 1000 batteries before you can use them they will need removing from the black housing that they sit in. Each battery will need testing for capacity and battery self-draining. There is a tester on the market called an Opus, simply place the batteries in the charger it will charge the battery the Opus will then discharge the battery and give your reading of capacity for example 2000mAh, you then write this on the battery.  To test self-draining you just check the voltage of the battery after 1 month and if the voltage has dropped over .3 volt remove it.

 

Opus Charger

 

IMG_20180924_233415.jpg

 

 

Batteries can vary from anywhere between 1000 to 3000mAh unfortunately buying laptop batteries is a little bit of Russian roulette on what mAh you get I set a target for my power wall of 2100mAh.

 

Speed up the process I built my own charger and used an IMAX B6 DC Charger.

 

Homemade charger

 

IMG_20181214_230243.jpg

 

 

Top shelf under 2100mAh middle bottom over

 

IMG_20181017_212231.jpg

 

Today I’ve tested just over 1300 batteries and creating a 7S pack not soldered yet. 7 packs each pack is 4.2 V that will give me a 29.4V pack. New images soon.  I changed the packs to 4 across.

 

IMG_20190206_212614.jpg

 

This post will be updated as I go

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