Dreadlocks outfitting of InTech Discover

dreadlocks

Well-known member
I guess I shoulda started this sooner, purchased in April 2018 I got a NOS Discover Flyer w/Dual Tipouts before they got discontinued.. it was love at first sight, I was a bit distressed at first because after 10 months of searching and a few rental trailers later my wife and I had finally found something we both agreed on just before I laid my eyes on this trailer.. suddenly I now hated that old one, so how would the wife take it? 24h later she was in love with the Discover too.. yeh, I got the right one.. both Wife and Trailer :)

One of the things I really liked was it was just the basics and I could tweak it for our needs very easy.. neither of us wanted any plumbing/shower/bathroom, we needed to sleep 4+, Carry 2-3 dirt bikes or other toys, setup and teardown quickly for overnight stays wherever we wanted, and have Air Conditioning so we can take our well behaved pups to (mostly national) parks that wont let em on trails and such.. We looked at all the smaller toy haulers on the market, appreciating the open space and simple nature compared to most travel trailers.. Having 2 young sons born in Colorado I wanted to fill their adolescence up with grand adventures and this is our base camp for the next two decades.

We really enjoy dispersed camping in the Rockies, its really the best camping there is IMO.. so having some good clearance, tires, tandem wheels with independent suspension and the roof bars to protect the aircon and solar panels just make that all the easier.. early in the season even easy forest service roads can feel like jeep trails.. and while I dont intend on hitting any crazy trails w/the trailer, I want to get close enough or started on down em before we pull the toys out the back that can handle the more hardcore tracks in Colorado.. so I wanted something built extremely well or it was not going to survive long, and being completely aluminum box framed all the better..

So lets begin, this will be my comprehensive build log.. I expect it to go on for years, but right now is when all the best stuff is going on.

First some pics of it setup at various camps this year, we bought it in Minnesota, very first night was a KOA camp because we had just driven all day to get the camper and were totally beat..


Then we went to Mt Rushmore, unfortunately stayed in another KOA.. it was pre-season and everything was closed but their gates were open so its where we laid our heads.. had enough koa for a while now, thx.

First trip was with friends to Lake Pueblo with some friends for a reptile event that had been canceled at last moment but we still all went.. didnt grab any pics, but it was hot already, the battery was not up to the task of the basics and our 8 month old and Pyrenees didnt like the heat all that much, so first big purchase was a Honda 2200i..

First good trip out was Memorial day we went to Pitkin Colorado and found a nice site and then drove the Audi over the then closed Cumberland Pass, had a bunch of fun that day.

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Fishing Pole holders were one of the first mods, and an industrial trash bin.. I havent figured out storage/sorting so here's the mess inside
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After this we camped outside woodland park at the same campground my parents took me to when I was a kid for fathers day, this is the only pic I took:
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more right after.. trying to chronicle its progress in order.
 
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dreadlocks

Well-known member
I installed a Victron battery monitor right away because we kept coming back to camp with a dead battery and I had no idea its condition or status

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the little dot to the right of the battery monitor is where I needa drill a hole for the Solar MPPT Display sometime in the future.. Wife didnt even notice, when I pointed it out to her she thought it had came that way.. thats how we do it.

Unfortunately I quickly learned the battery was ****, cracked it open to find this pathetic thing inside, its like 60AH and I already ran it flat so many times its not taking much more than 50AH charge:
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Now that I could see the draw on the battery, I quickly realized that the fridge was not going to work.. it drew far too much power, I'd stick with the old ARB fridge.. or so I thought, this was about to fail on us and we didnt know it yet.

Started researching battery solutions, and then I was walking through the camper and the lights blinked out on me.. Searching the problem I found this:

I contacted InTech and they said it'd be best to contact Progressive Dynamics, I showed them the video and the agreed to quickly provide a replacement.. since by this time I had decided to go LiPo I asked for an upgrade to their Lipo center, with more circuits and breakers.. score.. just gotta deal with this issue for a little while before they get it to me and I can get it installed.

Honestly I coulda fixed it my self w/my soldering iron, but hey I got a warranty and I wanna use it.. lil things like this I'm not mad about, I'd rather they show them selves early than later.. and at this point I had already thought about ripping the power center it came with out for something bigger.. I need an extra slot for another set of 15A breakers, for fridge and electric heater hardwiring, and I need more fuse slots for all the DC stuff.
 
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dreadlocks

Well-known member
Next up I installed a small 600W microwave, with two small boys whom are picky lil brats and wont eat anything I cook on a camp fire this simplifies life alot, mac and cheese in 2mins instead of 15-20 and no dishes to wash up.. I got some plastic cups for boiling water in a hurry for tea/hot chocolate and I dont mind firing up the genny for a little bit every now and again.. also the Microwave makes an awesome bread box, keeping my buns from getting crushed after someone digs through the food..

Actual consumption is about 900W, and with no digital display and analogue knobs I should be able to run this off a 1000W Victron Inverter if I dont feel the urge to use the generator at that moment.. like pulling over in a park and making a quick lunch for the kiddos.

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Mounted a paper towel holder to the bottom, and then realized I kicked it so far out from the wall its got a HUGE dead space behind it thats begging for me to put something there.. I know..

Used Broom Holders to mount flashlight and umbrella, if yeh gotta go to the bathroom night or day, gotta have these at hand.. Magnetic spice holders grab onto the microwave.. its the only thing magnetic in an all aluminum trailer.. and put some good ole bear mace on a quick access mount, high enough the kids wont reach it til they can use it.

Going to take that mounting apart here soon, and when I do I'll paint the lumber black..

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on the other side of the door I mounted a medicine cabinet, for feminine products, medicine, toiletries and basic medical supplies.. used magnetic hooks on bottom for hanging stuff, put a magnet in the bottom of a box of tissues to keep em on the top and then fixed a magnet inside the door for holding keys and misc stuff.. an old car first aid kit velcros to the side and is packed full of bandaids and minor stuff.

At the back I figured out a good way to pack..
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Got a cargo bar for a big moving truck/trailer, was too long and cut it down.. truck cargo bars were not long enough.. with all the weight I'm putting in the front, I have some capacity for some load in the rear to reduce my tongue weight.. We also got a rug for the dogs and baby, the floor was a bit too hard and industrial for em..

Pulled my old GMRS repeater in an ammo can out of mothballs, dusted it off.. mounted it to a board that slides in perfectly behind the microwave and can be bolted down.. here's an early prototype, since then I've added a 3rd 2m radio, a diplexer, a GPS receiver, APRS Tracker and Raspberry Pi for future use.. it definitely looks like a ramshackle ham shack contraption now.
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I took the antenna off my old trailer and mounted it to the roof bars on this trailer to see how it did before I started drilling holes in the roof.. well it did poorly, broke on the first few trips.. I replaced it with oen that had a spring and fold over but I bent the spring, so its getting moved to the ladder side so I can see it in drivers mirror and I can quickly climb ladder and fold it down if needed.. glad I test drove with it mounted before running the wiring.. top of antenna is about 13ft tall, trees are not nice at that height.
 
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dreadlocks

Well-known member
We went out one more time to the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, the only year you can camp off pikes peak highway.. was a total blast:
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Next I got the LiPo Battery, LVD, Main Battery Cut off and the new Progressive Dynamics power center installed
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I went with LiPo for lots of reasons, I started a separate discussion for it here: https://www.expeditionportal.com/forum/threads/lifepo4-install.196461/

Mostly I wanted more capacity, less weight, and faster charging times so I could run generator less and build a fairly large solar charger (350-600W) capable of filling it up completely with only a few short hours of direct sunlight.. which is what I get in the Rockies unless I go above treeline our out to the desert.. Right now the plan is a pair of Panasonic HIT 330W Solar panels in series for 116V DC and a Victron Smart Solar 150/45 controller, in direct sunlight it'd fully charge a depleted battery in ~4h, which should provide me with an abundance of power in even the toughest conditions.
 
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dreadlocks

Well-known member
So after Pikes peak we took most of July off camping and celebrated my youngest son's first birthday.. but before the month was up, we took a long weekend and went to the great sand dunes national park.

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Then we headed to Kansas and spent a weekend there for my Father's 60th birthday, it was a surprise and having a place to stay that was not my parents proved to be the key to success.

In Sand Dunes it was hot enough we realized the fridge was not working, I started paying closer attention to it and found that it was only running for a few moments, pulling several times more power than normal and then shutting down.. it works fine on AC, so at home packed with cold food it was insulated well enough we didnt notice it on weekend trips.. but in the desert it was hot enough that our drinks were warm by Saturday.. the old ARB fridge had a rough life, went through lots of storms mounted eternally to my 4x7 trailer til the display stopped working years ago.. now its going to just be a beer fridge in my garage since it still works on AC power.. I may get motivated enough in future to take it apart and try to fix it, but I dont have the time or desire now.

We had no problem filling the 60qt to capacity, beer takes up space eh? and since our dogs insulin requires reliable refrigeration my wife offered to buy me a new fridge so we decided this time to go with an Engel 80qt, which is kinda what I wanted to get originally but it was far too big for my old trailer.

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The 120VAC side got its own AC circuit so it wont get powered by a hardwired inverter down the line.. I bolted it to the floor w/some turnbuckles also. The harmonics on this big boy were pretty bad, I could feel it running and it was quite loud.. then I shoved our door mat under it and it became nearly silent and I could not feel it through the structure anymore, so I put a rubber mat under it and now its just an unobtrusive hum.. just slightly louder than the ARB but I think that'll even out once I got it loaded up, with two empty metal baskets in it they can rattle together.

While I have the circuit panel out again I decided to hardwire in a 1500W ceramic PTC heater, it also got its own circuit and installed near the front door on the cabinets.. the heat strips in the AirCon were not all that great and very loud for as little heat as they put out.. so space heater will be primary AC source, and heat-strips secondary if its just really damn cold.. this is nice and quiet, puts out a very good amount of heat.

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Now that summer is about over I'm thinking about heat, right now I'm saving up for a Propex HS2800 Propane heater to go down by the battery.. then I'll get a big roll of Reflectex for insulating the popouts.

In the meantime, I got all this radio gear to put back together and install.. so that'll be the next project, moving the antenna from passenger to drivers side.. and figuring out how I wanna get the coax inside, I'm super weary about puncturing the roof, another reason I love the roof bars.. last thing I want is a leak, and with plans for a backup camera and solar I'm thinking of taking some EMT conduit, painting it black and running it down the front drivers side and into the battery compartment.. then I can expand to whatever comes up in the future (spotlights eh?) and wont have any holes in the roof.

Also going to start planning further for putting a counter top where the old fridge was, installing a sink & soap dispenser into it then adding a water pump, drain and cabinets for food storage under the counter top.. promised my wife she'd get her sink and wouldn't have to wash dishes in the dirt anymore.. there might be enough room to put an outdoor on demand water heater too.
 
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dreadlocks

Well-known member
So the turnbuckles were a failure, that swing arm in the engel just started vibrating the trailer again.. I could hear it running outside and I went in at night and it was unacceptable..

so rubber bunjee's it is (21in), back to being nice and quiet without a buzzing in my feet.. thats what bothered me most honestly, I knew it'd piss me off in bed.

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Took the antenna down and went to move it to the other side, saw a bunch of scratches on the roof bars from trees and decided I needed to fabricate a better mount that puts the base/connecting points down a lil lower.. this way when I fold it over the attachment piece is not above the bars.. So that got delayed a little bit while I make that part..

But I'm wiring up the radio package behind the microwave, put in a switch panel and starting to run some wires.. I cut a notch out of the plank where the heatsinks all line up and will wire up a small fan on the bottom side to force some air through em.

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5v transformer is going to power the 6 handheld docking station/charger you see on the shelf above.. the pelican case behind that holds even more radio gear..

Here's a shot of me soldering the Kenwood TM281 up for a data cable
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This is the campers 2m Radio, it'll do APRS mostly.. when I add a TV to the camper I want an input that will display a map w/APRS locations.. this way if I go out hiking/fishing/hunting/biking/canoeing/wheeling/backpacking etc with my sons momma bear can monitor our progress from base camp.. it can function as an iGate if the tow vehicle or any of our phones have data connectivity, otherwise it'll digipeat our low power handheld trackers.

Next up I gotta drill 2 holes in the drivers side for the RF coax bulkhead and GPS antenna.
 

dreadlocks

Well-known member
@FlipperFla thanks, yeah I guess I havent said much about it... its a 2014 Diesel Q7 Prestige w/Air Suspension, Adaptive Cruise Control, 17 in Porsche Cayenne Wheels and 245/65/17 BFG KO2's... with air bags maxed out I have about 14in of clearance under it, if you look at very first picture and the pictures on Pikes Peak you can see the difference between its lowest setting and highest setting... Its been getting ~13-16mpg @ 70mph on flatground, 10-14mpg in mountains.. Trailer Capacity is 7klb, TV Capacity is 6600lb.. I'm not sweating the 400# variance as the Touareg has a 7700lb rating w/identical drivetrain.

I'll take it in to get "fixed" by VW soon, then take the cash and retune the engine/transmission, open up the exhaust and put a frontrunner slim line roof platform so I can mount a full size spare, led light bar, and a dual band antenna.

All this outfitting is being done in preparation of a big road trip to Alaska in the near future.. and I'm thinking of joining a local SNR/RNR/ARES team for volunteer work.

@ad_bfl the RPI is acting as a wireless bridge for the APRS TNC, it connects to the hotspot in the TV when driving and acts as an iGate, it also provides packet radio console over bluetooth.. and will eventually drive a display showing an aprs client (Probably YAAC or KDE Marble)
 

FlipperFla

Active member
Thats just plain Bad Ass! You dont see that everyday. Bet it turns some heads when you pull into a campsite. Very nice trailer also. Just got into ham so your way over my head, but im a quick learner. I was a broadcast tech, more video than RF so I appreciate the help.
How is the wildfire situation? We are heading out your way in a couple weeks. We will be in Co. Spr.....BuenaVista/Salida.....Lake City.....Creed....then wing it maybe Wyoming then S. Dakota. Last year we were going to fly out in Sept. Had a Jeep reserved. Basically the same trip. The flight was at 7:00 and Hurricane Irma hit our place at 3:00 and that was the end of the trip. Really excited! Prepping for months for this try.
 
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dreadlocks

Well-known member
well I see it every day, but yeah.. It gets some looks, however I'm used to it.. before this my previous expedition rig was a Diesel Golf that I was the only owner of.

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Had Tow Bags on the back, loaded it up with about 1000# of gear for ~1500# total and 150lb on tongue and got an amazing 36mpg @ 75mph.. you can see the antenna for my GMRS repeater mounted to it, the flexible 50W panel was later replaced with a framed panel mounted to the bars sometime after this pic.. I was not very good about taking pics of this rig apparently.. held all our tent gear and with 2/3rds of the rear folded it still held my crew in the car (2 adults, 1 child, 2 dogs)

About the time we decided to have a 2nd kid, VW offered me nearly all my money back on a 4 year old 65k mile vehicle and I decided it was time to upsize everything since I had nearly paid it off.. Got a good deal on the Q7 because the premium on diesel engines vanished after the emissions scandal, and with the big cash payment its actually cheaper than the Golf was when I bought it.. there was a short time where people lost their minds and nobody wanted these fine vehicles and value fell out, its recovered a bit but still not like it was.. My dad wants a Diesel Merc Sprinter for his retirment and I looked hard in 2014 and nothing was within his means, but now were having trouble trying to decide which one would be best for him.. oh how the tables have turned, and its quite sad.
 

dreadlocks

Well-known member
Added some night lights, they consume 0.18A and are wired to a dusk-dawn sensor so they will turn off in the morning even if we sleep in.
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My dogs were hesitant to get in at night, this should help.. Going to add a few more red LED's inside, probably one inside the fridge too.

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