This is the category of the project mobile home.

We bought a real big bus :-)

Hi together.

I’ll not talk about the ‘not time’ bla bla today. :)

There are news :-) Last time I wrote about the new plans. That we moved back to Germany and that we want to convert a bus into our flat on wheels.

Our first choice was a Polish Autosan bus. Because they are still working on the roads and slowly they get replaced. Therefore they are cheap in buying and there are still tons of cheap spare parts. But on the other hand we have to bring first the bus to Germany. Then I spoke with a man from the DEKRA (one of the German MOT companies). He said that he can’t say anything without seeing the bus. But we didn’t had any particular bus yet. So, we didn’t got any clear information. Only that it would be smarter to first convert the bus and then to come to make the full big check up and registration in Germany. … Just what if he will then find out that here is something and this has to be done and here we need a special check up … which will cost all in all 3…, 4…, 5… thousand Euro. A full check up for a bus can cost between 500 and 5000 Euro (I just guess now… maybe even more). And this after its converted and our money is in it already. Quite a huge risk.Since we got the idea with the bus conversion I am registered in a ‘RV Bus’ Forum. In this forum are people which are same crazy as we are (some less, some more). :-) So I can get some good tips and can ask some stupid questions. Also there is a category in this forum where the member post links to advertisings, which they found in the internet, when someone is selling a (RV) bus. So always when someone is selling his bus in eBay or anywhere, they post a link to it. Even from the neighbour countries. And I am quite curious and check this advertisings as well sometimes. To see what it possible, to get ideas and to see what is on the market.

man535_3One day someone found a RV bus. A MAN 535. I liked it straight away. From the first moment it was special. Unfortunately its straight visible that it is an RV and not a bus any more. Some windows are closed and partly with bull eyes now. So from outside you can straight see that it is not original any more. But it has personality… it’s 45 years old and the charm of the 70s.
And also inside it’s quite unique. I love how it is inside. The converter made it as open as possible. Not like in a normal camper… everything full of furnitures and you get claustrophobic. Here is a lot of ‘air’ to breath. And still everything in we need. Couch, table with 4 ‘chairs’ (original seats), kitchen, bathroom and bedroom. Wooden floor. And my view went also straight to the wooden stove… how awesome is that? Imagine to stay in the winter in the snow and in the evening you sit on the warm stove and through the huge bus windows you watch the snowy landscape and the frozen lake in front of you. In my imagination is this awesome!

I think you have a guess already… this bus was to awesome to just let it go. Especially because it have the ‘H’ numberplate (antique car status)… which means 190 Euro tax per year, instead of 1000 Euro. Plus also a cheaper insurance. Then the bus is registered in Germany already and have new TÜV (MOT)… also here no stress anymore. Many advantages… ‘too’ many advantages… THIS is the bus.
And then everything happened in no time at all. I wrote the seller and asked him some first questions. He wrote fast back and said that there is no rust on the main parts. The wooden stove is legal. … I called him. We were talking for an hour. I was still excited… even more now.
We spoke also about a viewing appointment. He said that he have time in 3 weeks. Before he is busy, he said. Also I had plans on the next weekends already. So we decided to meet in the weekend in 3 weeks. (That was on Wednesday.)

Another problem was that this bus was way more expensive then the Polish bus. That went far beyond our savings. We wasn’t that far yet with saving money. But it is THE bus. And the bus is ready converted. The would save us (beside the H numberplate) some money and time.
I asked my house bank … more just for fun… and of course they have no option to help me. A four-figure loan to buy a car / living plave… no, forget about it. Without job… big laughing. Even I am 15 years a loyal customer there. Never had problems with the bank. Also explaining the situation… the I just came back from Cyprus and about the bus, etc… like talking with a wall.
Luckily I still have friends. And sometimes even someone who can help in such situation. (Thanks mate!!!)
So, the financial situation was saved… yeah! :)

man535_1All good now… isn’t it? Yeah, yeah… or?
I informed the people in the forum that I want the bus and that they shall not go after it. Of course they asked if I saw the bus already and if I made a deposit already… just to make it sure. And I had to answer that I spoke with the seller and that we made an appointment in 3 weeks… big laughing in the forum.
They said that I shall hurry up. The first one who will put the money on the table will get the bus. (I mean the people in the forum wouldn’t take it, but the advertising is public in the internet… everybody can see it.) And they were right… panic came up. (That was friday)
Then a new member joined this forum and straight in its first post it was asking if this bus (MY bus) is good and that they talked with the owner already the bus is sooo cool… my nerves were raw. (Saturday…)
I couldn’t reach the seller. … I got panic that again someone else could be just a bit faster then we are (like the 2 times when we wanted to buy a mobile home… they bought it just minutes before us… and we talked with the seller before already… same situations). Sunday evening I reached finally the seller. The baby was still available. I explained him the situation and luckily he was off on Monday. So now we made an appointment straight away for Monday.

So next morning I sat in the car and drove 500km through the republic to see a bus, which I maybe also buy the same day. That feels a bit strange. I mean how often do you buy a bus?

man535_2I arrived and … there it was, the MAN 535. Almost like on the pictures. Not soo beautiful. It became rusty spots everywhere (seems like the pictures were a bit older). Looked a bit worse for wear.
But inside… the charm… awesome. Like on the pictures and better. Dirk – the seller – was showing me the bus. We also checked the ‘basement’ (the storage rooms underneath) and of course we also checked the engine (not that I have any idea about it). What can I say? The bus is rusty here and there (and more). But its 45 years old. In my humble opinion nothing really bad. (I hope I am right.)
We also took a small test drive. Dirk drove, because I don’t have license yet. Also here I can also say my inexperienced, humble opinion. But it ‘sounded’ ok for me. The engine was running smooth and there were no strange noises in the bus. Also the shock absorber were smooth.

So after 3 hours of showing and talking I decided to risk it and to say yes. I bought a bus. Unbelievable but true. :-D Stupid. Or? No… not at all. Because it is not a bus like people imagine it when I tell them ‘I bought a bus’. Then the people imagine how they sit in a normal public transportation bus. … Ok, the bus did the same years ago… but now its something else. Now it is a flat on wheels. Outside private transportation vehicle, inside full living flat, with all you need to feel home.

I hope that the bus will come next week to us. I can not drive it myself yet. So I asked Dirk and he is so kind to bring the bus all the way here. I need to make first a truck driving license, before I can drive it myself. And yes, I need only a truck driving license, because the bus is not registered as bus anymore, it is registered as RV / Camper. And because its over 3,5 tons (actually over 7,5t), I need a truck driving license. I will start that next month. And when our new baby is here on the courtyard, then we need to work, to make money, to adjust it to our wished and needs. Even its basically ready to go, it is not like we want and need it. There are still a lot of things to do. We want to make the bed to swing-up, that we can access comfortable and use the full (new) storage underneath. Therefore 2 wardrobes can and will be removed. With this new space we enlarge the bathroom. A composting toilet will find its place in the bigger bathroom and the shower is moving into its own cubicle. A L-couch needs to be build. Also with storage underneath and big enough to function as guest bed. Solar on the roof. Electric needs to be renovated. A generator needs to be included in the system. LED lights needs to be installed.

But first of all we need to take everything out, to make a renovation on the bus itself. The rust needs to be removed and the metal prevented from new rust.Yes, sometime things happen so quick. Nothing is as stable as the change… someone said once. :)

But at least this case is closed now and isn’t bothering anymore (our mind and nerves). We have a bus and home now. I just hope that the rust is not much more as it was visible… then we will be happy with our home on 4 wheels. :-)Stay tuned… it will become really fascinating here now. (If you like, get my newsletter (on the right side or here) to be always informed when I publish a new article.)

Best wishes
Gordon

Good Bye Cyprus – Hello new plan.

Hello together.

Sunset in Cyprus

Sonnenuntergang im Nikosia-Tal

After 2403 days I left my adopted home again. 6 1/2 years in a different country (and then on an island in the Mediterranean) is what other people just dream about :-) But I had several reasons to leave the island again. The main reasons are that new plans arrived, that Cyprus is a small island(!) and live there is also not always sunshine. Plus I was almost the last one from our friend circle core. All others left earlier already.
And some more reasons.

6 1/2 years are quite a long time. I’ve learned, saw and experienced a lot in that time there. So much that I can’t put everything in one article. All this experiences and memories would fill up a whole book (or several). (Even I would love to write down this book, to stop the forgetting.)
I had wonderful times and really bad times. As live is. Nothing is only good or only bad. And I don’t regret that I moved on the island that time. I’ve learned so many valuable things which raised my horizon.

I was living in a country where they don’t speak my mother language (and I survived :) ). I speak, understand and write now (more or less) fluent english (not perfect, but ok). Greek… well, lets not talk about that :-/ But I speak a few more words Polish, Russian, Italian, Spanish and French now.

I found new friends from many countries. Friends from Poland, Ukraine, UK, Germany, Latvia, France, Hungary, USA, Russia, Cyprus, Greece, Sweden, Spain and other countries. Good friends. And I am glad to met each of them.
It was quite interesting to find out the differences between the nations. Also to learn the one or other word in the other language (even I am not a language genius). I think the most known words bei foreigners in German are:

  1. Scheiße! (almost everbody knows it)
  2. Ja / Nein
  3. Guten Tag.
  4. Hände hoch. Nicht schießen.
  5. Ein Bier bitte.
  6. Wie geht es Dir?

I can look back on awesome memories. For example our camping trips (especially to Karpaz in the north).
I started diving in Cyprus and one of the most awesome dive was in the sunken church in the Kouris dam. But also the wreck of the Zenobia and all the other approx 100 dives (till now).
All the photographing trips with other friends which are into photographing. We found beautiful places and made also beautiful pictures. :-) And actually I started proper photographing in Cyprus as well.
In the last months Ewelina “convinced” me to go climbing with her. Also this I started then in Cyprus.
And all the great meetings with my friends are great memories for me. Doesn’t matter if swimming/diving on the beach or BBQ evening at home. Every meeting was great.

2400 days are a loooong time. I would love to write about everything here… about love and hate, friendship and disappointment, from good and bad times… but I have neither the time nor the memory for it right now. And on the other hand they are my experiences and memories… for you it would be probably boring.
I am very glad that I made this experiences… even I would love, from my perspective now, to make some things different. Unfortunately its never going back, only forward.

And that is another main reason why I left Cyprus. I have a new plan now. Actually I decided 3 years ago already to leave Cyprus. But I couldn’t find a place where I wanted to live. Back to Germany was not an option. But I also didn’t had any other place on this earth in mind where I would like to live for a while. And like this the time was passing and nothing happened.

Gordon in AndorraIn the summer 2013 I went with a young lady for a road trip through west Europe. We drove in 9 weeks over 9000km through (almost) all countries in west Europe. And this gave me a lot of good and positive energy. But it should took another few month until I realized that this is what I want, what I need to be happy. Traveling… constantly… a lot. I think I am not made to be somewhere longer on one place. I love to see new things, new places and to explore the world.

And this is now the plan. To build a flat on 4 (or more) wheels and then to be home wherever we just are. Just like the motto “Home is where the heart is.” … or something like this :-)

The opinion of the people which we told the plan already are spread far. People which travel by them self or which have a ‘different point of view’ understand us and would do it them self, if they could. Many other people don’t understand it, think we are irrational … till that it is insanity :-)

In general we get to hear that we should think about it again. Unfortunately also from people which are important, like family (slowly they should know me :-) ).
But the plan is made and we will do it… at least we will try.

And we are not fully naive. I mean we don’t want to drive around a beg or something like this. We will have a working live as well. Just that we will live in a flat on wheels. And our desk will be as well in this flat. Our electricity will come from batteries, which will be charged by the sun (or – if the sun is not shining for a while – from a generator). The internet we will get from a satellite or mobile networks.
In our flat will be a proper bed, a proper bathroom (yes, with shower, toilet and sink), a proper kitchen and a proper living room. Just a bit smaller then a normal flat.
Our flat will have a 3way heating system (warm water through a diesel heating and a stove) and an electric floor heating as backup. It will have a air condition for the hot summer days. We will have running water (ok, maximum 1000 liter, then we need to refill). Drinkable water will come from bottles, as in most of the other flats as well, I suppose. We will even have electricity and internet.

I was thinking a long time how to do it. First it should be a camper. A bit adjusted and converted.
But then I was ‘suddenly’ not alone anymore. Ewelina was suddenly with me… well, not so suddenly :-) And with her 2 cats… and it become more complicated. But she was fine with this plan and even liked it as well. So the question was not ‘Yes or No’. The question was ‘How’. And we were both thinking forth and back how to do it. We even started to run around to check camper. It was small… but must work out somehow, we thought.

Until… yes until one day a crazy idea crossed our way. We found (I think it was accidentally… or not…) a converted bus. I mean a proper bus. And in a proper bus is a lot of space. Nothing with 1m² bathroom any more and 5m² for the rest of the flat. No no, here is a lot of space. Approx 20m². And it can be quite cosy.
So we were asking Google what is possible and what other people did already. And we found out, it was not an individual case. There are more crazy people which converted a bus to a mobile home. From very simple to absolute luxury. Most of them did it by them self, but some hired a company. Especially in America it seems to be a trend. But also in Germany is a community already for it.

Autosan H9-20 der Polnischen Marine Quelle: http://pl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autosan_H9

Autosan H9-20 der Polnischen Marine
Quelle: http://pl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autosan_H9

And then the questions came… Which bus shall it be? MAN, Mercedes Benz, SCANIA, Margirus Deutz, etc. The list is long. Quickly we realized that we need a bigger wallet. Ours is to small.
But also therefore is a solution. A risky one, but it is a solution. And the solution is to buy an “old” polish Autosan bus. This ones are just sorted out everywhere in Poland. It means they drove until now on the street. They are very cheap in buying and there are tons of spare parts. Also the maker is still producing spare parts.
Problem on this story is that this bus was never registered in Germany. Not a single registration here. This can be a problem with the registration here. Also with the MOT. Spare parts only in Poland. If something breaks down… I will not think on it right now.
But… its a better price range. So, lets cross all our fingers and hope the best. :-)

Also regarding the converting are we not so naive. We know it will be expensive. Thats why, getting the bus, getting hopefully quick the German papers for it and then converting… piece by piece. Earning money and continuing working on the bus. Until our camper is ready or we run out of nerves :-)

It will be a huge project, yes, that is clear. We know that. But what would be the live without challenges? Would be boring, isn’t it? And as I said, slowly the people should know me. :-D
I love this idea. If we manage it until the end or not. Ich can only learn. I need to take care of the bus and learn how it works (mechanic). I need to make a truck driving license, which is also learning. I need to find out how heating systems are working and need to build one. I need to learn about electric stuff and need to arrange all the electric stuff in the bus (with solar, generator and all this systems). I need to build the water system. Also gas… or I leave this part to a professional guy… better maybe :) And more, much more. I will need to learn so many things with this bus project… things I will need also later in my life.And for sure it will be not a second boring next year! :-D For now I need to go to the nice guy from the DEKRA (like MOT) and to talk to him. What I need to think about and what they need. Like I said, this bus was never registered in Germany. Everything new for them. Who knows what differences they have between the systems, which nobody knows yet.
And when this is clear and nothing big can happen there, then I pick up Ewelina in 2-3 weeks in Poland and we will check straight some buses. And hopefully the right one will be between them already. So we can buy one straight away. :-)

That is the plan for now. I hope I can give more often an update now. Just smaller :-)

Until then
Gordon

What am I doing with Arduino and Raspberry Pi?

Hello.

My Facebook disciple know more already then my beloved blog reader. A few days ago I posted the following pictures in Facebook:

The description was:

Da bomb is in da house… and working quite fine :)
What is that, beside of a beautiful piece of art of colored wires and electric stuff.
Of course it is not exploding :) It is a small stand-alone measuring station. It contains:
1x Arduino Pro Mini -> The micro controller which is processing all the data
1x Power supply -> No cool e-stuff without a bit electricity
2x Photo resistor -> to measure the amount of light around (of course, both give different values… ^^)
1x DHT11 -> Measures temperature and humidity
1x DHT22 -> Measures temperature and humidity as well… the newer model of the DHT11
1x LM35 -> Measures temperature… I fucked it when I mistaken plus and minus :( It is still sending values… but useless ones.
1x MQ-2 -> Measures the amount of smoke/lpg/co gas in the air.
1x 1.8” TFT with SD card -> To display the values and it is also writing all data in a log file on a sd card for later processing.
So far… will be continued…  :)

So… why do I play around with it?

An Arduino is a micro controller. Actually a micro controller on a board with some more stuff, to make it easier to work with it for the people. It got invented from Massimo Banzi and David Cuartielles (and named after a pub… yeah yeah :) ). David Mellis developed the programming language for it. The whole system is open source. That means everybody can see the sources, how it works. That’s why there are also copies of the original Arduino available and even you could solder your own one. It’s a quite easy way to get in touch with the micro controller stuff.
But lets have a look to another kind. As I mentioned in the headline already, there is also a ‘Raspberry Pi’.

The Raspberry Pi is similar to Arduino, but also different. The Raspberry Pi is more a micro computer then a controller. He consist a 700MHz ARM processor (the same CPU architecture as in mobile phones), 512MB RAM, etc. As operating system is usually Linux installed. Here is one big difference, the Raspberry Pi have a operating system, the Arduino doesn’t.

So, what does it mean now?

Both boards have GPIO pins. That are connectors on which we can connect sensors and such sttuff. One sensor is for example the DHT22… a sensor which is measuring the temperature and humidity. I can connect this sensor now to the Arduino and the Raspberry Pi. A small program written and it will show me the values of the sensor.

So, one board is enough!?

In general yes. But it is always a question of what we want to do.
With the Raspberry Pi the possibilities are much bigger, because we can make a lot more with the board as just reading sensor values. We have much more storage available. We can install software and have even a GUI (graphic user interface). We can write emails, texts, we can program and much more. Its a full computer, just a bit limited in its resources. But therefore it consumes more electricity.

I mean ‘consuming more electricity’ is relative here. 3.5 Watt is usually not worth a word! But if you want to create (for example) a stand alone weather which have a battery as power supply, then is 3.5 watt a very bad consumption and the weather station will not even run 1 day. Here is a solution needed which is running with as less power as possible. And here comes the Arduino in the game. That is his strength. Doing a job (like reading sensor values) and consume almost no electricity.

Why do I get in touch with this strange stuff?

Don’t worry, I didn’t went to become a bomb builder;) (Hello NSA… and again a match with a keyword… congratulation! ;) )
Well, some know that I have a new project in my head. I want to travel around with a camper. To do so, I need to take my work with me. That means internet and electricity in the camper. But power will be very limited and my current computer have a consumption of approx 200 watt. So, this one is out of the game. I need a more battery-saving alternative is needed. Then I ‘met’ the Raspberry Pi. It was clear that this small computer can not replace a working station, but it can be used to do at least some of the job. 3.5 watt is a good number for a 24h server. Even 3.5 * 24 is also 84 watt per day – in the theory – but I hope in praxis it will be a bit less, as the RPi is slowing down in times of not usage. I just testing it with a 10.400 mAh battery.

ArduinoBut I guess the RPi will be quite busy with all the task I have in mind for it :) As following:

  • NAS with external SSD
  • Local web server for development
  • Automatic connection control system for internet sources (Sat-DSL, WLAN, GPRS, etc.)
  • Desktop for internet, watching movies, programming, etc.
  • Central data processing unit for decentralized Arduinos with their sensors (weather sation (somewhere outside), camera modul in the front of the camper, motor sensor, gas sensro, etc.)

The are the rough tasks which the poor little guy needs to do.

I also need to note that I am testing the little PRi already and I need to mention that I am absolutely positive surprised. The little guy is not that weak as I thought. (Always with the consumption of 3.5 watt in mind… CPU without cooling!). The GUI is running properly. Also movies running with VLC. Icedove (the Linux version of Mozilla Thunderbird) needs a few more seconds, until its loading my several thousand emails. But then its ready for use. LibreOffice (like MS Office) the same. There are even games for the Raspberry Pi. I tried Mindcraft for a while and it is running smoothly.
As I said, with the hardware in mind, is this little computer a technical marvel.

And the Arduino joint my ‘tool box’ when my play instinct got activated. :) This stuff is so awesome for me now, that I can’t stop playing with it :) Real addiction factor! When you made your first circuit, the first script is written and transferred to the Arduino and the LED really starts to blink… then you feel a bit like god… ‘This LED is blinking now because I wanted it!’ :D
And then further… measuring temperatures, lighting up LEDs, reading light intensity (is it night, how strong is the sun shining, etc.), reading GPS coordinates and showing on a map, flame sensor (is it burning?), noise sensor, displays to show information, … and much more. The possibilities are almost endless. With a bit of creativitiy is it possible to make some really cool projects.

And in MY endless creativity (*cough*) I have the following projects in mind (in the camper).

      • Weather station with sensor for temperatur, humidity, air pressure, light intensitiy, Geiger-Müller tube, GPS, etc.
      • Camera module in front of the camper, which is making a picture every hour and is uploading it when internet connection is online)
      • Gas sensor at the gas bottles, in the kitchen and at the heating. Also gas sensor for the gas which the thieves like to use.
      • Connction to the engine electronic. For example to read the error buffer of the engine computer. Its not with every car possible… will see.

I think to remove the doorhandles and use instead a key card / fingerprint reader to open the doors. Instead of a key. The would confuse some thieves. ;)

 

Of all this data I want to make my own little black-box. But primarily I want to store this data in a database and put it online that everybody (who is interested) can see the data. (GPS data for security reasons with a time delay, of course ;) ) But that is all still up in the air. At the moment I still play around with both boards and try to build some stable systems. To test and get experience with it.

So, if you want to have a look at the micro controller world, then check out Arduino and / or the Raspberry Pi. I can highly recommend both systems. Is fun like hell and not hard to learn at all.

Best wishes
Gordon