I love Violet the campervan. She is perfect, yet I’m always modifying her. I guess that is the way many relationships are… both constant and changing at the same time.
Although her main “bones” were forged at Wayfarer Van Conversions in Colorado Springs in 2018, I have been adding and subtracting to her build since that time. Some of the changes that I made that I thought would be great actually turned out to be ho-hum, while other changes that I thought would be so-so turned out to be great additions.
I understand that what works for me may not be someone else’s cup of tea. However, I offer the following as an idea springboard for potential new van builders. You may disagree with me; you do you.
Violet is constantly changing so it is likely that she will be further modified as time goes on. Her most recent addition is a Moodshade, but it isn’t mentioned in today’s post. Why? Because I haven’t set it up yet so I don’t feel that I can share my honest opinion.
You will also note that I’m not including any links. I’m not interested in making a few pennies by being an “affiliate.” I’m just trying to spread the gospel of the wonders of life in a van.
Let’s look at some of the good and the less good changes that have been made to Violet the campervan.
These are just a few of the modifications that I have made to Violet the campervan. It is my hope that it will help new van owners decide on some of the additions that they may want to make.
One of the best parts of adventuring in a van is that you can camp anywhere, including isolated BLM and national forest land. Unfortunately, this often means you are boondocking in less than ideal cell coverage places. Even when using a cell signal booster, it is not uncommon for me to have a single bar, and that signal is only present when I’m seated in the van’s cab area.
Luckily, there is a fantastic fallback for information and entertainment- radio. I have never been in a location where I couldn’t receive multiple AM and FM stations. Of course, I have a car radio, but I don’t use it when the engine isn’t running as I have fallen asleep in the past while listening. I don’t need the hassle of waking up with a dead car battery 20 miles from the nearest town.
I converted my camper van in 2018, and my previous solution was to carry a portable radio with me. This option works great when used outside the vehicle, but reception is impossible inside the van’s signal-blocking metal cabin.
I have left my cargo door open and placed my portable radio half in and half out of the van. At other times I have precariously perched my radio next to the driver’s side window to eke out a scratchy signal. Neither solution is ideal.
Yesterday I installed a better option, a secondary car radio that runs off of my house battery. High-end aftermarket car radios are expensive, but basic models are surprisingly cheap. Over the last few years, radios have been redesigned where almost all of their circuitry can be placed on a single IC chip. This has reduced their price, and it has also allowed fancy features to be built in at no additional cost. These features include large station storage presets, loudness compensation, equalization controls, and the ability to play MP3 files from a flash drive. Most of these inexpensive radios feature Bluetooth, so you can stream from your phone. Many also have a remote control option (either a little RC or a phone app).
You can buy these radios for under thirty dollars. In addition, you will need to buy a second outside radio antenna. Small speakers complete the setup and can be repurposed or purchased. The photos below will outline my simple DIY process.