Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Wireless Camera/GPS

Meet Frank, our wireless backup camera/GPS system with a few other goodies. We purchased it from http://www.4ucam.com after searching for a system with this dual functionality. The install is not entirely done as there is still an additional component I have left out for now. It came with a 4 sensor parking system that detects objects behind the rear bumper and shows their distance on screen up to 4' away. I will install that part of the system soon, but for now, Frank spends most of his time in GPS mode occasionally being asked to show me what's behind us.

Frank is a small little guy, but quite adequate. His 4.3" screen has an amazingly clear color picture and the speaker is definitely loud enough and adjustable. He doesn't seem to have an option to change which voice he uses (A French Lady) but it is decent and pretty entertaining. The mount in the picture above is one I made quickly out of oak combined with the hardware from the suction cup windshield mount Frank came with. The suction cup mount would have had Frank sitting right in the middle of my field of vision and not worked well at all.

Using the parts from the suction cup mount makes it so I can easily adjust the display angle and has turned out to be a good move. The Oak mount is angled toward the drivers seat a bit as well. I still have to do some sanding and stain it but it works well for now.

This isn't the camera that comes with the standard unit. I decided to upgrade so I could use the same mounting location and holes from our old hard wired camera. The only wires that had to be run for this install were to supply 12V power. The power to the camera is activated by a switch on my dash so I can turn it on while driving down the road and see who is behind me. It also could have been run to the reverse light circuit to turn on only when backing up. The camera transmits immediately upon recieving power which causes Frank to display that image instead of GPS or any other function he may be in. When the power to the camera stops, Frank goes back to what he was doing.

We were really impressed with the GPS function of this system. It displayed every little farm road and detail of our route with extreme accuracy. When a destination is entered, it tracks miles and time left, warns you far in advance when you have to turn and seems to know every shortcut. We had fun trying to confuse him in a parking lot, but most of the time left his voice off. The automatic switch to a night driving mode with the more appropriate dark screen was a nice surprise. Another nice surprise was the accurate MPH display which confirmed our speedometer is in fact off by 4 MPH. There is an option also to warn you when you are over the posted limit which it seems to know for every possible road. I turned that option off quickly!

There is one strange but entertaining anomaly that we experienced on the trip out here to MN. Since Frank recieves signals from wireless cameras, we had a few images on our screen that didn't exactly belong to us! In our 1700 mile trip, we had video security cameras display on the screen 3 times and another backup camera on a passing truck shared it's view. Not a defect, but interesting anyway.

I really think for the money invested, about $540 total after shipping, Frank has turned out to be a really excellent deal. This price includes the parking sensor system and original round camera not yet installed. There is also some additional functionality I probably will never use which includes an MP3 player(our stereo already handles that) and the ability to show images/video which our netbooks do much better already. I will show details of the parking sensor installation when it is done as well.

Exact model information is here:

The upgraded camera is model #9901T found here:

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Small pothole of sorts in our road.

Yep. that's a hospital logo. I am hanging out in a nice private room for a few days taking IV antibiotics to deal with a little bout of pneumonia. The CF I have makes this a not terribly uncommon situation. I pushed myself working on Taj the last few days before we headed out here to Minnesota, then the destination driving right after it was just a little too much. No more of either from now on(pushing or destination driving that is)! From now on, we are going for a bit more of a relaxed travel pace.

At any rate, I just wanted to give a little update so you all knew where I was. This might be a good time to get some of the blogs I have been putting off done though! Hope you are all enjoying life these days, it is a very precious thing!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Proud Uncle & Aunt!

This a picture of Tory the day after running her first 26 mile marathon! She is my Sister Traci's Daughter and has always been really quite amazing. About a year ago she decided she wanted to run the Grandma's Marathon in Duluth MN and started training. Up to the day of the marathon, the farthest she had run was 13 Miles. She completed all 26 miles in a time of 5 Hours and 15 minutes. Heidi and I are very proud of her as is the rest of the family! I just wanted to share this with everyone hoping she might inspire you the way she does us!

Well done Tory! We love you!!!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Really, a whole year?

Yep, it has in fact been a whole year! It has been a wonderful, interesting, happy year spent being married to a very wonderful woman! Tomorrow, June 20th is Heidi's and my first anniversary! Yay! Many more to come! I am a very lucky man!

We just arrived in Minnesota on Thursday to visit with family and do some exploring for a couple months before we head on to the East Coast and then down South with many stops along the way. In the next few blog posts, I will be sharing the details of our trip out here and many of the mods we finished on Taj right before our departure from Washington.

Thank You to all of those following our life and journey here, we are honored to share it with you!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Eagles at Freshwater Bay

This afternoon when returning from the store in Port Angeles, Heidi and I decided to go past Dad's place about a mile down to Freshwater Bay. We were pleasantly surprised to see 3 Eagles right by the boat landing. Within just a few minutes of watching them, they were joined by 4 more! Pretty amazing sight! We could only catch 5 of them close enough together to get into one shot while the others flew overhead. We thought it would be fun to share the moment! Enjoy!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

A Van with a pancake on it's head!

Strange blog title huh?! That is the description Heidi and I have always had for the style of van in the image above. We always keep our eye out for other B's on the road, kinda like our version of "slug bug" but with less pain and more laughter! The van above is the new rig of our friend Mark who is really an excellent photographer as can be seen here:


Mark, doesn't agree with our description of his van stating that it would be more accurate to describe it as a "Van with a shuttle docked on it's head". Well yeah, I guess, but it just wasn't really working for me ya know?!

Enter the bunny! I am sure most everyone has seen the bunny right? The bunny with a pancake on it's head has been an internet phenomenon for years! It's typical application: "I don't know what else to say so here is a picture of a bunny with a pancake on it's head!" I will spare you that particular bunny as he has gotten more than enough cyber "ink" already. Instead, here is a picture sent to me that has completely changed my perspective!

Mark wins, "Van with a shuttle" it is!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Why cork for Taj's floor.

Since I mentioned the cork floor now installed Taj, there have been a lot of questions. I will do my best to answer them here. As you can see from the picture, there is an interesting texture and a lot of character to the cork flooring. Heidi and I both think it is really beautiful, but the reasons go much deeper than just looks.

Cork is considered to be a renewable and sustainable natural resource for others who feel like doing their part to be environmentally conscious. It is available in many different patterns and colors to suit about anyone. The color and style we chose is called "Chunk Mocha". We purchased it from Fairchild Flooring in Port Angeles. (Some of the nicest people ever!)

In a vanhome, cork has some properties that make it especially appealing! Because of it's cellular structure, it has a very shock absorbing quality and feels soft and comfortable to the feet. That same structure is responsible for giving it great sound dampening and insulating qualities. Cork has been used in public buildings since the late 1800's. It is very durable and survives well in heavy use.

The more interesting aspects of using cork in a van is related to it's natural anti-allergenic properties that make it a better choice than almost any other material to me. Due to a waxy substance in cork called Suberin, it repells insects, mites and mold and it is also very well protected from rotting when left wet for long periods of time.

Installing it was pretty easily done. The manufacturer said no glue was necessary as the panels snap together. I used glue anyway. I asked about using an underlayment but was told it was not necessary due to the insulating properties of the cork. We installed it directly on the original 1/2" plywood subfloor in Taj. If anyone has more questions, please don't hesitate to ask.