Field Repairs

There I was, getting work done online when suddenly my “Smokey Da Van” WiFi network disappeared. My WiFiRanger Spruce router had shut off. I hoped it hadn’t bricked like my first one did. Soon I realized that it wasn’t the router, as the interior light I had rewired to the house batteries was also not working correctly. It turned on but glowed dimly instead of lighting up brightly as it should. I had an electrical issue.

I pulled out my electrical tools, specifically my multimeter, and began troubleshooting. Power to my three switches by the side door was fine, all reading about 14 volts as it should be while my solar panels charge the battery. Yet the voltage at both my router’s power plug and at the interior light was 5.8 volts. I removed the interior light and wiggled the ground wire. The light got bright again briefly but soon went dim. My problem was a bad ground on this circuit.

So I grabbed some leftover black wire and made a new ground. My outside lights still worked fine, so I tapped into that and ran the new wire in between layers of the fiberglass roof to the interior light. I crimped on the proper connectors, hooked it up, and the interior light worked perfectly once again. I measured the voltage on my router’s power plug before reconnecting it, and it was back up to 14 volts. I plugged it in and the router works perfectly once again.

You don’t have to be mechanically or electrically inclined to live on the road, but it helps. In this case, my knowledge, tools, and spare parts enabled me to fix a problem that took out my internet router in about half an hour of work. Some say that a captain should know every nut and bolt (and in this case, every wire) of their ship. Because I wired up my van’s house electrical system myself, I have that knowledge, which is why I was able to troubleshoot and repair the problem so quickly, at no cost, without having to drive to a store for parts.

I should also point out that the ground wire that went bad was part of the wheelchair van conversion wiring. All of the wiring I added myself worked fine and wasn’t the problem! It’s not the first piece of dome light wiring that’s gone bad in this van, even before I got it, which is why I bypassed it all and wired up my own in the first place.

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