Instructables

Camping Lighting/Sound System

A simple yet elegant lighting system used for when camping and you are short on propane lanterns. I also have an inverter and a speaker system hooked up, for camping "necessities".

All is powered off a deep cycle 12 volt battery I got cheap at Costco.

The battery lasted almost the entire 3 night camping trip, pretty impressive considering we ran the speaker all day long, and the lights burned into the wee hours.
 
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Step 1: Run taught support wire between trees

I happened to have a decent sized spool of steel wire laying around, so I cut it in half, then tied 2 ends to a length of twine and wrapped it around one tree. I then took the remaining 2 ends of the wire and wrapped them around some nails I had implanted into a tree on the other side of the campsite. I tied them around a couple pieces of firewood to provide tension on the lines. I wrapped one of the nails in a couple layers of electrical tape to prevent voltage leaking into the tree.

Step 2: Wire it up

I initially hooked up the jumper cables directly to the steel wire, but I found out it offered WAY too much resistance to run anything past a couple of feet. I needed some copper to run along the steel support wire to provide a better path. I had a spool of wire on me that happened to reach most of the way, so I sliced it in half, and peeled back the insulation in about 10 spots per run to attach to the steel. For the remaining length, I had a piece of lumex about 7 feet long to make the remainder.

So the run was battery>Jumper cables>Lumex>copper wire & steel support

I also wrapped one of the jumper cable ends in electrical tape to prevent shorting (I have yet to install all this into a box with a fused distribution block)
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shadowopal4 years ago
NICE! I'm actually looking to do a battery setup that will power my guitar soundboard for outdoor events with no outlets. Thanks for this start. It's sad to see people bashing you for your information. This is useful for many purposes and not just ruining camper's lives. But, some people can't think outside themselves.
Gimpy (author)  shadowopal4 years ago
I'm rebuilding the speaker side of things, probably this weekend. A new battery just came in (deep cycle gel type) and I'll be building the speaker as a single unit, probably with an ipod dock, A2DP receiver, and a few input jacks. I'll post here when I do. This battery was a big wet lead acid type, and doesn't like being turned around, etc... I've done some damage to it for sure (but I still have it). For powering various electronics, there are good DC-DC converters now that weren't around 5 years ago, and that makes projects like this easier. I'll be using those for ipod connections etc when I re-build. Good luck with your setup. For guitar effects pedals, I seem to remember them all taking similar voltage, so you may be able to get away with just plugging them all into a battery, but it might be worth it to put little voltage regulators, not sure. Ask around,
PCfreak Gimpy1 year ago
be sure to post the speaker rebuild, id love to see it
do you have to use a deep cycle battery, could you use a regular auto battery?
chippy3 years ago
Dang you camp in style!
If someone is considering this consider using a class D amplifier (aka "digital" ) as they are much more efficient (use less battery) than tradition designs. Also when selecting you speakers consider the sensitivity rating. Typically in the 80-97 dB range, a 3db increase in sensitivity is equivalent to a doubling of perceived sound output for the same amount of power!
For a lightweight option consider a battery powered amp (such as the one offered by partsexpress), running off AA batteries it fits in your hand and will power a speaker with 15 watts for about a day.
To go further consider a transducer/exciter that you attach to a piece of foam core/ poster board. Not high fi and not much bass but backpackable! (yeah, I have been thinking about this for awhile)
player27563 years ago
This is very cool. I love halogens and how they are 12v. Just a suggestion though, get a old track light and connect the halogens with actual connectors. Much safer, and cleaner.
shadowopal4 years ago
Yeah. I'm putting an inverter into the mix and plugging the pedal into that. It's a Digitech Vocal 300 http://vocalistpro.com/product.php?name=Vocal300 for my mic. I wish they would have built a battery option into it. But, no. So, I have to figure it out. And I have very BASIC knowledge of wiring and such. so, it's slow going unfortunately. But, thanks again for the start here.
Gimpy (author)  shadowopal4 years ago
The input of the pedal is going to be DC, almost without doubt. What pedal is it? PM me, I bet it can be made to work without the inverter. Check out http://www.instructables.com/id/Build-A-Power-Supply-For-Your-Guitar-Pedals. You don't even need the first bit, with the transformers and rectifier if you are building off a battery.
kendo5 years ago
All you need now is attach solar cells to recharge the battery during the day so you can camp a lot longer.
twocvbloke5 years ago
If you used bright LED MR16 bulbs, your batteries would last far longer than with actual Halogen bulbs... :)
gilbert20485 years ago
Brilliant idea would like to set up my own light string just abit more water resistant
hypercube336 years ago
I'm almost forced to follow suit for lighting, but I plan to do a much more elegant method that will only light up my tent and my cooking area, when i want it to. I'd rather not fark around with gas lanterns that burn a different gas than my stove, or go out and buy more stuff that I need (all I need are the lights, @ $4/ea vs $40 for a camp lanturn, plus gas) The battery powered lights for camping look like shat anyway!
just dont ground the amp to the battery
CAbeachguy7 years ago
RE:Bob thebuilder. I've gone to Burning Man for 11 years straight. BM is ALL about sustainability (and creating a community) and making SURE that the 'scape is the same when you leave as when you arrived. Yet, people bring up gas/diesel generators and all sorts of other means (solar, propane etc.) to allow them to power anything from a boom box to a PA system...in the middle of the desert. We DON'T want to stay in the city (at least for that long weekend), we want to get out where things are wilder, whether it is a dust-storm, 110 degree heat, monsoon rains or whatever. I'm guessing that all Gimpy wanted to do was get AWAY from the city for a weekend as well; yet he wanted a minor few of the creature comforts of modern life, like lighting and music. WTF is so wrong with that, or the creative way he went about? Bob...Don't ever show up at Burning Man or we'll roast you over the VERY high powered nitrogen/diesel/propane spit we take up there to cook with. Lay off Gimpy and go back to your TV; or SecondLife.com where all is as you want it.....
PR227 years ago
You guys like to get away from civilization, he likes lights and music. So what? Camping is about doing something you enjoy. He enjoys doing his thing, you enjoy doing your thing. That shouldn't be a problem. He shouldn't do something that makes the trip less enjoyable for him because if you were the one camping it would be more enjoyable for you. You aren't him, He isn't you. Leave him the heck alone already.
jj3274057 years ago
i dont know why everyone is giving you so much hell over this, i personally like the idea and when i go camping i take along with my huge tent, a tv, vcr, fridge, toilet, coffee maker, almost the whole house but SO THE HELL WHAT, i like to be comfortable and i like to be outdoors and if thats what i like why should someone rag me for it, and i was just camping last week at a campground and every tent camper there had tv's, microwaves, and i even saw one with a milk crate sitting on the outside of the tent window with an air conditioner on it, but anyway your idea was good and it gave me NUMEROUS ideas to work on. Thanks
bobthebuilder has responded with uncalled for aggression and should possibly get himself out to the woods for a wee walk to calm down, but the description of jj327405's idea of camping makes me cringe. The above post describes a vulgar display of conspicuous consumption that is a true enemy to nature AND the development of creative intelligence. An attempt is made to support this position, gauging personal ethical rights by implementing everyone else and saying they are all doing it (ie the A.C. on milk crate and such). That is no way to support or prove anything, It only proliferates the mindless consumer society where no one is personally accountable for their actions, only a mass of immoral sheep pointing at everyone else and saying, "But they're doing it too!" (if sheep could talk). It confuses me that you find any happiness in transporting the contents of your house to the woods and sitting in front of the tv. I wonder do you stare transfixed to nature programs whilst in the wilds? Or do you sit proudly in the comfort of your tent watching fly-on-the-wall docusoaps showing poor saps going about their daily work in the city? I like sport, but could happily do without the screaming fans while deep in the outback. switch it off.. you'll probably sleep more soundly and your kids, should you have any, will thank you when their older. The instructable is well described and has very nice pics but does describe a basic lighting contraption and amp/speaker system better suited for a workshop or out-building rather than a tranquil forest.
static7 years ago
Sheesh! I suspect bobthebuilder may one of those campers who's RV generator who we have to listen to most of the day , so thy can enjoy the comfort of AC, so why don't they stay at their AC home? wires wrapped around a tree are as temporary, and no more destructive than a campsite cloths line is, bob is digging for something to bellyache about here. Long distance anonymous threats are,IMO the act of a "punk", and there are old punks as well as young ones Another mentioned LEDs, they have their place,but may be a bit wimpy in the application. Anyway the man was using what he had on hand. I suspect the first campsite battery power "light string" appeared when someone took a construction site string camping. Gimpy's instructable was his independent implementation of something old, but it' there to give other's an idea to build one. The first I have seen on the web, so great job Gimpy. s.
Stop Picking on Gimpy, His ideas Awsome. I alwayse yused to take crap camping He has revolutionised camping and all you mocking him should zap yourselves
lemonie7 years ago
You're lugging a large 12v battery with you? LED lighting would be less weight (& current), but perhaps a 'colder' light. Then again you could use headlights (assuming you drive there)
Ian018 years ago
You took your soldering iron with you?
cpf Ian017 years ago
Dont travel without it!
Net7 years ago
Creative idea. It did exactly what you wanted it to do. Nice job. "The greatest feeling in the world is being right" Expressing your own opinion is fine, but for you rude commenters of this guys' use of his creation shows just how selfish and uncaring to other humans you really are. Try speaking your opinion with respect next time.
darksinder7 years ago
Very nice setup for being thrown together with what you had along, I like it! As for the proper camping lecture, bobthebuilder is the only prick that I see here.
tnraven7 years ago
My god bobthebuilder. Get over it. For starters, trees are alot more resilient than humans. If you were to hammer a nail into a human, and not puncture any vital organs, yes, they'd be fine. They'd heal. So will the tree. Get a life.
wperry17 years ago
Im all about back-country camping with minimal amenities. That's my preferred method of camping but car camping is a whole different animal. When I go car camping I usually bring something for light and a small boombox to play softly while sitting around the campfire and I have never had a neighboring camper complain. It's surprising how well the outdoors eats up low volume music. it seems to me that the ligting system here would actually create far less light pollution than those ever-popular propane lanterns, I stopped even bringing minen a while back because it is too damn bright and I find that I am annoyed when one of my camp neigbors leaves one on late into the evening.
geeklabs7 years ago
the point of this site is to read and learn, and to re-apply the knowledge. forget all this elitist opinion and bickering. i learned a thing or two from this gig, and may re-apply it to decorate my living room, or even my backyard.
traviscs2k8 years ago
enough is enough.
gonzofu8 years ago
Hey, I don't mind how you camp, if you bring lights or a stereo. Usually when I car camp I let the car stereo run for a little bit.

But don't drive nails into trees. You shouldn't be out there if you can't tie a <a href="http://www.iland.net/~jbritton/tautlinehitch.htm">tautline hitch</a>. Seriously. Or get a friggin' bungie cord.
Gimpy (author)  gonzofu8 years ago
I admit, I didn't think too hard about the tree, please read my reply below. Next time, no nails, I promise.
(removed by author or community request)
Gimpy (author)  bobthebuilder8 years ago
"What an immature, uneducated, thoughtless little prick you are. If you want noise music and light, STAY IN THE CITY." What closed minded, bleeding heart you are. As I've said, I do enjoy the minimalist camping. I hope to go out later this August in a boat to a completely disconnected location. I've DONE it, I LIKE it, but this was NOT THAT TRIP. We wanted to stay up late and listen to Pink Floyd. We like camping, nature, etc, but wanted a couple amenities of home at our site. Again, we were away from other campers (most of whom were in RVs with microwaves and TVs anyways) and we turned our speaker off (or at leased down to a minimum) at around 10PM. Please don’t preach you’re version of camping as the only and best way to do it. Ok, I admit, I might have used a truckers knot to tighten the line (and I did use twine on the other side of the span... if I wrapped steel wire around it, then there would be a short circuit) But the stainless steel nails I used were easier. Sorry, but I don't believe that the tree suffered from it. I pulled the nails when I left, including some I found on there when I got there. If I did permanent damage, please, enlighten me. “I fervently hope someone with my liberal, understanding and forgiving attitude comes across you in the woods the next time.......” So do I, they sound like my kind of people. I’ll blend them a smoothie. If my setup is disturbing their site directly, I’ll make any changes necessary. Of course if they start preaching about how I’m not camping “the right way”, my friends and I will kick your elitist butt off our site, laugh about it, then forget, and mellow out to “The dark side of the moon”
Saga8 years ago
Yeah this would be great for Burning Man, Reggae on the River, places where the camping areas are like lively little towns at night (Shakedown Street comes to mind). I am going to a music festival this weekend and am trying to figure out how to rig up my bicycle to spin an alternator to recharge a battery so I don't have to constantly run a generator to power lights or other power hungry junk.
slacy8 years ago
It's not camping if there's electricity involved.
kd1s slacy8 years ago
Oh phoey! Actually when I think about it my more enjoyable camping experiences have been with no water or electricity at the site, and a good 5-10 minute hike to the bathroom.
I go camping to get away from all the noise of the city etc. You bring all this get up with you out to the woods when you really should just party at home or in your garage and let the little woodland not have to listen to your music. This is why I took up backpacking so I can get away from this crap but it seems to be getting harder and harder to do... *sigh this isn't camping!!!
I agree. Light isn't such a bad thing but the noise would be. Sometimes the sound of nature is what one wants.
So let me get this straight: if you are goind to enjoy nature, you shouldn't listen to music or provide yourself with light? That seems a little close-minded to me. Everyone camps in a different way, but I guess like a lot of outdoor activities, there are those who are elitists about it and believe their way is the only way. Personally, I like to camp in an ultra-light fashion, carrying none of the amenities of urban areas besides maybe a book or two, but that doesn't mean I walk around acting better than other people who don't do it just like me. And your comment that "it seems to be getting harder and harder" to camp without being around other campers' noise is nonsense. I've never have a problem getting away from other campsites. You must be going to crowded roadside sites or something.
Gimpy (author)  Eric Stanton8 years ago
I totaly go out to the woods to get away from city life. I love the woods, nature and all that stuff. I totaly enjoy the nature stuff, without any amenities. But this wasn't that trip... We had 3 camp sites, decently far away from any other campers. Mostly it was so we could pack up at night and not stumble in the darkness. We went on day hikes swimming in the lakes and whatnot, so I DO apreciate what you are saying. But I like to spoil myself every once and a while. It's a good thing
Personally when I go camping, it is all about bringing nothing, an instrument and a notebook are the most unnessacary items I take along, and I love it that way. However you should respect peoples opinions, sure that is a different kind of camping but is none the less.
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