Intro: Camper in a Box
DIY Camperbox for a mini MPV
With the Camperbox you can make within minutes a mini camper from a mini mpv. The camperbox has all the ingredients for enjoyable camping. You can sleep in the car on a foldable duo bed. So, passing the night in a city or in the wild is no problem.
Making the box is fun and using it is even better. Just with common tools and some wood- and metal skills you can do it; provided that you have a suitable car. With this Instructable I hope to encourage you to make your own camperbox. Not much space is needed. I made the box on a surface of 10 square foot (10 sq. ft. atelier). In an open veranda all the building was done. No workbech is needed. I used only a small table with a vise. So, minimal conditions for maximum results.
- A kitchenunit with gas cooker, gas bottle and space for pots and food.
- Jerrycans with tap, a kitchen sink, space for plates cutlery and cups
- The lid of the box can be folded down as kitchen table.
- A 12V diy fridge and a 12V powerunit with 3 sockets and 1 USB port.
- Storing space for a first aid box, pull rope, lamp, oil, air pump, etc.
- Storing space for 2 foldable chairs and a foldable table.
- A foldable bed soil of 1.90m by 1.12m. The matress is 2m by 1.20m.
- The Camper Box size is 1.12m wide x 0.7m deep x 0.40m high.
I drive a Renault Kangoo from the year 2001. It's family from the Citroen Berlingo, Volkswagen Caddy, Fiat Doblo, Ford T Connect, etc. The idea of a camperbox is not new. You can buy this kind of boxes for between 1500 and 3000 euro by different companies through Europe. There are also private persons making there version, most without building plan. This 'Camper in a Box' costs about 200 euro, exclusive content; cooker, fridge, chairs, etc. Everyone can buy that equipment depending money and taste. You can freely customize size and partition of the box. It took me about 2 weeks to make the camper box but this includes the making of a video, foto's, and a step by step building guide.
Step 1: In the Beginning
A flightcase construction is strong, light and easy to build. In the beginning you need to measure the right dimensions of the camperbox. Do you have an other mini mpv; dimensions can differ. This project shows more the construction steps and the way the case is put together. I made the box of lightweight birch multiplex board and alluminium angular profile. All is nailed together with pop rivets. The back and front side, the left and right side and all the partitions are placed between the top and bottom board. That is easy to measure and to construct. Sawing the board I left to the professional of the diy market. Take care inside the box I use different thicknesses board. Put first bottom, left, right and back side together. Then make all the partitions with kitchen devices. All is open and easily accessible. Next make the top side and then the trunk lid at the front side. The cuttingplan pdf for download.
Step 2: Camperbox Construction
Cutting aluminium profiles is precision work. Use a pair of compasses, square, level, scribing iron, caliper, big and small metal saw, a course and a fine metal file, blind rivet pliers, electric drill and jigsaw. Pre-drill first the holes in the alu strips before drilling in the wood. Round the sharp edges with a file that is save and looks nice. Foto's and video showing the process clearly.
Step 3: The Kitchen Drawer
The sides of the kitchen drawer are of 10mm thick multiplex. Make the width of the drawer according to the width of the gas stove. Use construction glue with screws for strong connections. Connect the tray guides first on the side's and then fix the drawer in. It is a nice sound coming from good rolling slides. Keep some space above the stove for a support beam. Having a wind shield is more comfortable and save. Check the pressure regulator and the flexible gas tube before installing.
Step 4: Making the Layout
The question is; what is important to carry with you in the camperbox? That is a question of personal taste and needs. So, you have to buy first the parts before making the lay-out. In my case I choose for 2 jerrycans with tap, 2 plastic bowls for cleaning and washing, 2 chairs and a small table. Because the camperbox is deep, you can easily put 2 jerrycans and bowls behind each other. The chairs I had to shorten a bit. The storing space behind the fridge is accessible from the back, as the rear seat is folded down.
Step 5: The Fridge
I decided to make diy fridge with door and good isolation. It is fun to hack a consumer product and customize it. I took the top of a 12V cooling/warming box and placed it in the back of the fridge. Styropor foam at 4 sides and at the door and you got a 'real' fridge. Only the sound of the closing real fridge door is missing. Important is the beer stays cold on hot days! I covered the styropor with thin isolation material. This is easy to clean by liquid spillage. Important is the outlet for the hot air from the cooling unit. I made a tube to an opening at the right side. A foto shows below the cooling unit the black tube. First you have to cut a hole that fits the unit.
Step 6: The Bed Base
The bed base are 2 boards between aluminium T- profiles. You have to cut the 3 pieces for each side. Connect first the piece's on top of the box, then the first bed soil board of 2 by 4 feet can be made to measure and folded out. Then the second board can be installed. When you watch the foto's and video you see the folding system. It was the part what took most of the finding-out time and was made within an hour. It is good to round sharp edges from wood and alu profile. A flat air mattress on top of the bed base is the last I can use. The bed base is supported against sag by strips. The construction uses simple methods to save weight by using thin as possible board.
Step 7: Conclusion
The only part missing are the curtains to blind the windows when sleeping. This is for later. For a good and save air refreshment during night I placed an air in-outlet dome on top of the car. With an electric fan mounted at the dome more fresh air can circulate. The test with the camperbox was positive. When passing the car you even don't see the box is in. The total back window is free even with some luggage on top. My wife followed 'the making of' with interest. Also the process of publishing an Instructable she followed over the last days. I got a good response of friends who like to have one but missed an appropriate car. Using a tent in combination with the mini camper is recommendable, it extends the camp space and protects for sun, rain and wind. I think I keep this box in the back of my car, that feels now like RV-ing all the time. Any place where my car can come is a potential camp place. Travel light; use a camperbox.