Ramblings of an Extreme Man

Camper Reno – Requirements definition and high level design


Being the socially awkward engineer that I am I know that the best method to kick off any time consuming, knuckle scraping endeavour is to first define the requirements. There’s no use swinging a hammer if you don’t know what you’re trying to achieve by swinging.

I spent some time thinking about how the camper will be used, which will be mostly for weekend getaways and occasional week/month long roadtrips. I then listed what I thought were important requirements to fit the intended use, below. Some of these were inherent to the existing structure.

1. Self sufficiency – Enough water, food and battery power for up to two weeks away from civilisation

2. Sturdy – It needs to be able to withstand the rigours of four wheel driving by a hack driver that tends to rely on the conservation of momentum method of four wheel driving

3. Outside kitchen – Camping is no fun if you’re cooking inside

4. Ability to sleep up to 4 people – usually only 2 people will sleep in the camper, but occasionally it may be up to 4

5. Quick to setup – the camper usually takes under 5 minutes to setup

6. Ability to be taken off the ute – it usually takes a little over 5 minutes to take the camper off the ute

With the requirements defined I then started the design. Requirements 5 and 6 were already satisfied by the existing structure and didn’t need to be further addressed in the design stage. From a high level design perspective I decided the camper needed the following things to meet the outstanding requirements:

Req 1, Self sufficiency:
– 80 liter water tank
– 80 liter fridge freezer
– at least 200 Amp hour of deep cycle battery to run the fridge and lights
-approximately 300 watts of solar panels to recharge the battery. I already had 140w of solar panels and found this wasn’t quite enough. It’s no fun if your battery goes flat and your beer gets warm
-usb, 12 volt and 240v outlets to recharge phones, laptops etc
-ability to recharge the battery from the cars alternator while the car is running
-ability to recharge the battery from AC mains power
-a guage to determine the amount of water remaining
-a guage to determine the capacity of the battery remaining
-a shower to assist relationship harmony. I’ve found there’s a strong positive correlation between the number of days since I’ve had a shower and my girlfriend having a headache before those moments of outback amour

Req 2, Sturdiness:
-Aluminum framing for the internal structure using plastic joining sections. These are called connect-it by some hardware stores or qube-lock by others
-gussets for reinforcement at important joins

Req 3, Outside kitchen:
-A fold down bench on the outside of the camper that opens into a storage area for stoves, pots, cutlery, herbs and spices etc
-lighting to cook in the dark
-a water tap plumbed to the water tank

Req 4, Sleep 4:
– Seats and table that could be folded down into a second bed

Next up, onto the detailed design


2 thoughts on “Camper Reno – Requirements definition and high level design

  1. Have you worked out the optimum number of days not to shower Andrew? is this why old people don’t shower?


    • I guess that depends on your use of the word optimum. If you’re looking to optimise the free time you have by not showering and as a result not having to engage in time consuming outback amour, then I think it approaches infinity.


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