5 VDC USB to 12 VDC

The new  lithium-ion mini jump-starters on the market  are a convenient way to have a jump pack and power supply  stored in your vehicle.

Most of these fit nicely in a glove compartment or center console.  In addition to having clamps for jumping a car battery,these battery packs have USB ports and some have  adapters for a laptop .

One item missing is a female cigarette plug .  While most electronics use some sort of USB interface for power there are still some that use a cigarette plug.

A simple Internet search revealed a 5VDC USB to  12VDC cigarette plug.


A quick test with my Fluke and sure enough  there is 12 VDC.    This will be perfect for using my XM portable radio out at the camp site .



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12 VDC Crock Pot test

I like using my crock pot on occasion. When at a truck stop I saw a 12VDC crock pot. What the heck. Yesterday I decide to test it out and make chili. 1lb, chopped meat, can of pinto beans, can diced tomatoes, red wine and chili mix . I plugged the crock pot into my Arkpak . Set and forget.

After six hours the temp was 170F and and the battery was at 11.9 volts and 50%. At that point, I plugged in the battery. At the 8 hour mark the temp was just over 200F and ready to eat.

I stirred the chili three times during the cooking process. I also did the test in my garage so the air temp was in the 50’s. I could have done the same thing on my pressure cooker in 20 minutes. I can see using the crock pot in a base-camp situation when one would want to dig in to something after a day exploring.


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FJ-60 Side Table

I often thought that having an easy to set up table would be handy on short trips for lunch as well as many other uses like cocktail hour.

I was daunted by what wood to use. I had thought of plywood, but even treated I was afraid of the plywood de-laminating over time. I also thought plywwod would be heavy.  I knew Tembo Tusk used bamboo on their tables. The bamboo wood would be weather resistant and not too heavy.

I did a search and found a company that made what I was looking for but  at $495.00 I knew I could do better.

I had made couple of small sidetables for my M-416 so I knew what parts I needed.  The question now was where to find a piece of bamboo wood for the table. My friend Kirk come up with the answer when prowling  Walmart for bargins.  In the hardward section was a top for a toolbox a bamboo top and the perfect size.

Not being satisfied with Walmarts low low prices I went to Amazon and found the same top for less and two day shipping.

I was able to make the whole project  for less than $100.00 ;much better than $495.00.

The rail fit naturally into a groove on the rear quarter panel of my FJ-60. Any flat surface on a vehicle will do.  I used HD double sided tape to affix the rail. It has been a couple of months and the tape is holding well so no need for screws.yet. The height is perfect for a stand-up table  and sets up in a moment. I have found that after driving,  a quick rinse with water will help the two rails mate easily.

The parts list is below and cheers.
Side table kit

Bamboo table top

Table kit

Table Kit

Table top

Table top


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My FJ-60 in Toyota Trails magazine



Toyota Trails magazine has a “Trail Rigs” section in each edition.  I sent in a write up and some photos and was selected to be published.



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Remote lighting system and 12VDC power supply

My friend lives in Florida and I wanted to make her a remote lighting system and 12VDC power supply for power outages.
Tractor supply had 14” Flambeau dry boxes on sale for 50% off and I picked up two. I took one of the boxes to Batteries Plus and found that two 20 amp hour deep cycle batteries that fit in the box with room to add outlets and an integral charger.
The build was very simple. I wired the batteries in parallel, drilled for the outlets. I put in two cigarette lighter plugs and a dual USB plug. I found the switched voltmeter on Ebay and it fit perfectly inside the case.
I had an old Black and Decker 2 amp charger that fit perfectly inside the case. Rather than opening the case to plug in the charger I found the NOCO Genius GCP1 Black 13 Amp 125V AC Port Plug on Amazon.
Next up was lighting. I found a tripod for $18.00 and a 50 watt light for $10.00 on Amazon.
The power pack was able to power the LED light for 40 hours. Below is the supply list.IMG_20151219_171006026 IMG_20151219_171043710 IMG_20151220_110204603 IMG_20151220_174952294 IMG_20151221_135250635 IMG_20151221_135256752 IMG_20151228_231342476 IMG_20151230_205856632 IMG_20151230_205930695



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Camino del Diablo February 2015

I’ve been remiss on keeping up with my posts.  Now I am trying to catch up.  My friends and I planned and went a on an extended trip to the Camino del Diablo in Southern Arizona.  Since I was writing an article I really could not write about the trip until the article was published.  The trip was great with fantastic scenery and great traveling companions. I’ll add more pictures to this post.

Here is the link to the article.  I hope you like it and appreciate your comments.  Highway Men Camino del Diablo







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Alamo MTN Mar. 1, 2015

This past Sunday, a small group of us went to Alamo MTN.

The weather was perfect for such a trip.  On the way out, we stopped to find a Geocache.  For most of our group, this was their first experience with this activity.  Lucky this cache was an easy one; we found it and logged it.

A pickup drove by and stopped to chat.  The driver was the Ranch Manager of one of the ranches. The ranch he managed consisted of 230 sections; 230 square miles.  We chatted about the wildlife and listening to this gentleman speak about living out there made me envious.

At the cattle guard, before the parking lot, we met John and Camille. They were out with their new Cricket camper.  They were gracious enough to show us the camper features and mentioned that there were more art on the back side of the mountain.  I told John about the trip we make and hopefully  they will join us on one of our trips.

No trip to the mountain is the same and this time was no different.  As we started to make out way up the hill, I had my GPS set to take me to the closest panel.  As I was picking my route through the rocks and cactus I was keeping a general bearing towards the panel but scanning the area with my binoculars. I saw a rock with art and checked my GPS and did not see any previously marked panels close by.

This was the start of finding 27 new panels.

All these panels were west and lower on the hill than all the previously discovered panels.  The first one was covered with snakes, a frog , cross, bear claws and other symbols.  Next up was another rock with several symbols most notably a man in a box.   The next rock was dominated with a large cross.

Pam’s sharp eye revealed some pottery shards on the ground.  The small pieces still had the color that was applied to the pottery.  Nicole’s Geologists eye spotted numerous pieces of chert that had been worked and chipped.

We spotted a hole in the ground and speculated what lived in there.  I took a peak into the hole, from afar and spotted a badger looking right back at me.  This was the first time I saw a badger in real life.

Once again Alamo MTN did not disappoint.






Pottery shards

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