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Thread: Open Source Pop up camper design/build

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Hood River
    Posts
    90

    Default Open Source Pop up camper design/build

    I have been lurking for a a while and watching most if not all of the builds over the last couple of years. Now it's time to get serious about my own build. I would like to try to treat this as an open source design/layout and see how it goes. The idea is if you have an idea for a system/part of a camper you can submit it on this thread and I will use it/modify it to fit my goal of the ideal camper for my family and our activities. I will build the camper and document it here and everyone can see what works and what doesn't.

    Let's get started with my base vehicle and what I have in mind:
    The base vehicle is a 2007 Dodge 2500 mega cab, 4x4 diesel with a soon to be picked up UTE flat bed. I am building this camper with the 3-5 day camping trip mainly with some longer (2-3 week) trips in mind. I have a family of 3, but soon to be 4. We surf, ski, mtn bike, kayak (ww), hike, camp. The idea that I have been wrestling with is a pop up camper that sleeps the 4 of us has a cook top, sink, fridge, heat, and battery power to run some lights, computer, dvd player. Other ideas that have surfaced over the years are: outdoor shower, awning, and a clothes/boots drying closet. I would like the kids bunks to stowable, either fold up to the wall or be suspended from the ceiling and stowed against the ceiling. The main thing is to have enough space to get in out of the cold and get changed for whatever activity we doing. We don't have a microwave at home so I def. don't want one in the camper, we will use this thing for weekend warrior type trips so ease of packing/unpacking is important. We have tons of recreation gear that we take with us (kayaks/bikes/surfboards/kites) so a rack will be important (maybe roof, maybe on the back). We are not super clean so ease of cleaning will also be important (ie: hose down ready).

    So at this point I am obviously in the design stage and I am planning to start the build at the end of the summer. I am a mech. engineer with CAD/CAM experience, I own a CNC router with a 6'x12' work envelope, I have a fair bit of experience with composites and mold making and I am learning about woodworking. There are lots of decisions to be made and this is where I think getting tons of input will result in a good build that others can use as well.

    Thanks and let the ideas flow....
    '07 Ram Mega Cab 4x4, 6.7L cummins, UTE flat bed, 275/80/20 Continental MPT81's

    '01 BMW F650 GS, dakar wheels and suspension, lots of touratech crap

    '09 Ibis Mojo SL

    '98 KTM SC620, FCR 41 carb, tagged in OR- FOR SALE

    '04 Suburban with '07 Duramax Drivetrain and running gear

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    vancouver B.C.
    Posts
    106
    Hello Bahndo,

    I wrestled with that very thing how to sleep four friendly people in one pop up camper. Having recently purchased a Provan Tiger with the pop top, I have to say that I find the floor lay out close to perfect. It really seems to be a nice blend of useable space with enough windows to make it seem bigger than it really is. I would highly recomend sitting in one to get a feel maybe try looking at the floor plan on line to use as a base.

    thats my 2 cents.

    Ed

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Oxford, FL
    Posts
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    Subscrided!
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    07 Toyota FJ Cruiser Sold/Traded
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  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Boulder, CO
    Posts
    936
    Firth the biggest question is construction style I'd say over layout planning. I'm doing a foamcore with hand laid fiberglass skins, its time consuming... but will probably yield the lightest structure. As you open up the weight options you can do different things. Wood, fiberglass, aluminum all have pros/cons but if done properly all will function.

    If you're thinking monocore composite based take a good look around to see if rhinocore or someone will do the panels because the handmade ones are taking me far longer than I would have expected and unfortunately with the growing family means my project is dragging out. Having commercial panels would have been a ton faster. Another thought that has crossed my mind the other day is building a frame with fiberglass pultrusions similar to a traditional aluminum framed camper, bond prefab FRP skins over this and do a little hand fiberglass work on the corners to close the seams and smooth it all out. Mock up your interior and chase your wires on the inside then cut tight fitting foamboard for the gaps and glue them against the skin and framing which should stiffen it all up further. For the inside panels I was thinking double sided foam tape (that 1/16" thick x ~1" wide stuff) maybe with some perimeter fasteners might be interesting because that tape is pretty sticky and would let the inner panel add some structure but still should be able to be peeled off if really needed for chasing a new wire or something.

    If you can weld aluminum you can obviously go the more traditional route there.

    A final thought, unless you're doing something far different than what the current manufacturers are making getting a shell from them may be a good bet unless you have a fair amount of time.
    GONE[2003 Dodge 1500 quad cab 4x4 5.7L Hemi auto w/ ride rite air springs and 1999(2000?) Hawk]

    2007 Dodge 2500 quad cab 4x4 5.7L Hemi auto soon to have: SLOWLY progressing Home built foam core fiberglass skin pop-up camper


    I've got extra 14ga red and black SXL wire, $18 for 100' coil shipped if interested PM me.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Hood River
    Posts
    90
    ed604- Do you have any pictures of the interior of your tiger? which model is it?

    pods8- Thanks for the input, I have been watching your build from the beginning- keep up the good work. I also have a growing family and I am not planning on rushing through this build. This is one reason I want to have solid design and plan in place so that I can use my time most efficiently. I can weld aluminum but I am leaning towards a composite shell because I would like the shell to have some curves to it to match the lines of the truck. If I go this route I will cut the mold pieces on the CNC. The main reason I am not going with an "off the shelf" shell model is I really don't like the ones that are available. The exception of course is the XP shell but it is a bit spendy for just the shell. I am not totally ruling it out but right now I would like to see what we can come up. Once the design is done and I have a good estimate of the overall cost then I can make that decision.
    '07 Ram Mega Cab 4x4, 6.7L cummins, UTE flat bed, 275/80/20 Continental MPT81's

    '01 BMW F650 GS, dakar wheels and suspension, lots of touratech crap

    '09 Ibis Mojo SL

    '98 KTM SC620, FCR 41 carb, tagged in OR- FOR SALE

    '04 Suburban with '07 Duramax Drivetrain and running gear

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Boulder, CO
    Posts
    936
    Are you wanting a soft side popup or overlapping hardwalls?

    When you say mold pieces are you thinking you'd build a fully smoothed out female mold that you'd then build your camper into or you mean core pieces that would be incorporated into the actual structure?

    Talking about pultrusions more some common sizes are box in 1"x1/8", 1 1/2"x1/8", 2"x1/8", 2"x1/4". Angles in 1"x1/8", 1 1/4"x3/16", 1 1/2"x1/8", 2"x3/16", 2"x1/4". Channel in 1 1/2"x1 1/2"x1/4", 2"x9/16"x1/8". If looking at those I'd probably shoot for a 2" thick wall camper personally but 1" or 1 1/2" would also be feasible. For building you could "tack" things together with quick set epoxy/adhesive on the butt joint. Then add a fillet or some gussets to the inner wall areas, finally hand lay fiberglass around the whole thing and across outside/inside faces the joints that don't have a fillet/gusset (a well bonded exterior skin will also help on that side as well). That is what was kicking around in my head, obviously getting a couple pieces to play around with, put together, and test would be required before going full bore to make sure the strength of joint is there and the time it takes to make a joint isn't too prohibitive.
    GONE[2003 Dodge 1500 quad cab 4x4 5.7L Hemi auto w/ ride rite air springs and 1999(2000?) Hawk]

    2007 Dodge 2500 quad cab 4x4 5.7L Hemi auto soon to have: SLOWLY progressing Home built foam core fiberglass skin pop-up camper


    I've got extra 14ga red and black SXL wire, $18 for 100' coil shipped if interested PM me.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Lawrence, KS, USA
    Posts
    138
    This should be an interesting build. Subscribed and can't wait for updates.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Hood River
    Posts
    90
    Pods8- Smooth female mold but that's just one idea. I have been leaning towards a soft side pop up but I am not totally sold one way or the other. We live in the NW so we see lots of moisture. I had originally been think hard side with no pop up but after seeing bullet XV build (also an Oregonian) I have been swayed.
    '07 Ram Mega Cab 4x4, 6.7L cummins, UTE flat bed, 275/80/20 Continental MPT81's

    '01 BMW F650 GS, dakar wheels and suspension, lots of touratech crap

    '09 Ibis Mojo SL

    '98 KTM SC620, FCR 41 carb, tagged in OR- FOR SALE

    '04 Suburban with '07 Duramax Drivetrain and running gear

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Boulder, CO
    Posts
    936
    Quote Originally Posted by bahndo View Post
    Pods8- Smooth female mold but that's just one idea. I have been leaning towards a soft side pop up but I am not totally sold one way or the other. We live in the NW so we see lots of moisture. I had originally been think hard side with no pop up but after seeing bullet XV build (also an Oregonian) I have been swayed.
    Hmmm, for a one off a female mold is quite an undertaking but could get passed on if someone else was interested? Don't let it discourage you on that just keep in mind building a smooth mold is going to take time/supplies.

    Soft sides in the NW never bothered me in terms of moisture issues, I just thought my FWC looses too much heat for efficient winter camping so I wanted to go 2" thick foam walls all around. Hopefully that'll mean I can keep a warm camper all day long at ski slope parking lots for the kids to run in/out of in the future w/o cycling the heater constantly.
    GONE[2003 Dodge 1500 quad cab 4x4 5.7L Hemi auto w/ ride rite air springs and 1999(2000?) Hawk]

    2007 Dodge 2500 quad cab 4x4 5.7L Hemi auto soon to have: SLOWLY progressing Home built foam core fiberglass skin pop-up camper


    I've got extra 14ga red and black SXL wire, $18 for 100' coil shipped if interested PM me.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    North of Superior
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    4,972
    Quote Originally Posted by pods8 View Post
    A final thought, unless you're doing something far different than what the current manufacturers are making getting a shell from them may be a good bet unless you have a fair amount of time.
    x2

    That is what I did.
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