Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Roving Home World Tour - "Thank You, Taiwan!"

Determined to keep this blog pure and true, I have refrained from posting general nonsense about my stay, here in Taiwan.  However, not too long after my arrival, I suspected that something or someone must have seen to it that I spend time here before sealing up the walls of my van.  This place rocks!

Wandering through the markets of Taichung, the city I've called home since November, I have feasted my eyes on the most wonderful and amazing gadgetry and gizmos for 12volt systems.  First of all, LED is king on this island, with fluorescent tailing at a close "second."  

This market is a long alley loaded with vendors of anything and everything you can imagine in the world of tools and hardware.

There's the spring guy, yes, just springs.  There's the wire guy, the tool guy, the pulleys and chain shop, "Nuts And Bolts Are Us," and my favorite, the chicken lady, where you can choose your live bird and bring it home ready to cook.  By the way, I wouldn't recommend watching the process of slaughtering a chicken, for if you're not inclined already, you may turn to the ways of a vegetarian.

My Bounty

This is a momentary switch.  When activated, it will either close the circuit or open it, depending upon how you wire the screws on the back side.  I searched for something like this, back home, to no avail.  The Internet had slim pickings as well, but low and behold, the market is full of these babies.  They're great for sliding doors and cabinets.  

Once that spring is depressed, the switch will react.  

Another variation

And, it just goes on.  I'll be placing these behind every cabinet door in The Roving Home - energy efficient task lighting at it's best.  

When I open a cabinet, a light inside will pop on.  No need for flipping switches in the dark, and energy conservation will be as tight as possible.  

Now, on to the electronics district!  

You're looking at four shelves of electronic meters.  I've never seen such a gathering!

These stores carry every electrical switch imaginable.  

I found these for around 50 cents a piece.  Back home, if I were lucky enough to track these down, they'd be about 3 bucks.  Believe it or not, these aren't readily available at Radio Shack or Frys or Auto Zone in the staggering quantities you can find, here - bins of them in aisle after aisle within the stores.  All this stuff is designed for use in the high tech consumer toys they make here. 

Now, if you remember way back during the infancy of my grand van-building scheme, I manufactured a wall sconce out of LED ribbon, some wood and plexiglass.

Once again, I tried to find some nice architectural supports that would hold that plexiglass away from the wood with a finished look.  I've seen exactly what I want, featured in glass signage in building lobbies, all over the place.  But to find those little chrome supports is like finding a needle in a haystack.  And, I couldn't get them online, either.  They're some kind of coveted item that only designers get access to.    So, I had to use threaded bolts and some dumb looking dome hex caps from Home Depot that you see in the corners of the light fixture, pictured above. 

Badda bing!

Picked them up in four different sizes, just in case!

And now, the moment you've all been waiting for...

One of the greatest challenges of this whole thing, for me, has been the selection and proper installation of lighting fixtures.  Illumination can make or break any architectural creation, no matter how big or small, because it sets the mood and the comfort level, especially in an environment that's going to be dark most of the time.  I need the lighting to be right!  

So, after much testing and hoopla surrounding my previous lighting selection, I'm proud to say that none of that is going to work!  

Yep, I'm ditching, all of my previously purchased ceiling fixtures.  I'll probably be offering them for sale, deeply discounted, very soon.  

None of it will suit my purpose as well as what I've found, right off the shelf, at Home Depot, Taiwan.  I almost wept when I saw it.  My translator couldn't care less, so I was on my own, standing there in the middle of a store with people who can't understand a word I was saying.  But, then again, none of what I was saying would be discernible to an English speaker because my words were smothered beneath sobs of joy.  

I proudly introduce to you the 12 volt, 5 watt, pivoting eye, recessed ceiling light fixture complete with a frosted lens that focuses the beam while offering a nice tapered "fall off" of light at a most pleasing color temperature of 3000k, and has a structural depth of a conveniently compact 1.5 inches !!!!  Yes, there is a God, ladies and gentlemen!

I could pinch myself!  

As a matter of fact, these fixtures might just be too bright.  Imagine that.

Excuse me?  Never fear!  Look at what Taiwan has to offer in a 12 volt LED dimmer switch!  

Just over six bucks!  Ridiculous.  Bought eight of those, too.  

The fun will be over in June, when The Roving Home assembly line kicks back into gear.  My girl and I have made the laundry list of travel locales several pages long, already.  Sheesh, I'm going to have to get crackin' fast so we can have a proper summer vacation!


  1. Glad to see you're back on this! I hope you get the some export contacts for all those items. It might be a thriving import business for you. I see a gap in Class B or C RV's that are designed for remote working people like "To Simplfy" Glenn. They're mostly geared for recreation rather than remote working.

  2. Funny, I just looked at your blog last night, wondering if maybe the RSS feed wasn't working right and I had been missing some good stuff. Glad to see you haven't lost your fire! And you're right about the beauty of energy efficient task lighting in the cabinets. My Chinook has 12v LED rope lighting in all of its cabinets that is triggered by a similar mechanism. It's not something I would've thought would be a big deal, but now I wouldn't want to live without it. Looking forward to seeing how you put all these items to use come June!

  3. Sweet finds over there! Still looking forward to seeing the finished product when you get back. Still admire the attention to detail in your plans!

  4. Michael - Don't think I haven't considered the export thing. But right now all sights are on finishing this thing upon my arrival home. There probably aren't any working vans in large quantities out there because of the lack of demand.

    Glenn - Industrious minds think alike! Glad you're well. Looking forward to the notes on the solar install.

    Mark - I appreciate the nod. Thanks for checking in! And, don't they say that it's the little things in life that matter most?

  5. Heya! I was delighted to see a post from you pop up on my reading list this morning! Man, it's great that you're finding all those goodies for your project. I can hardly wait until you're back home and elbow deep in the project again.

    All the best,


  6. Les -- Me too, believe me. This place is an RVer's paradise. You just wouldn't believe the stuff that's here at the consumer level, ripe for the picking.

  7. I just found your blog from Glenn's and I read it all in two days.

    You've inspired me greatly, now to embark on educating myself on all the intricacies of making my own build/conversion (electrical, framing, plumbing, etc.), of which I'm almost entirely ignorant!

    Looking forward to having you back in the states, man!

  8. Nexbot -- You may be surprised at my level of ignorance prior to this undertaking. I've certainly learned to swim after tossing myself into the water, head first.

  9. I put you on my blog sidebar so that I could check it often to see when you'd be back to blogging about your endevours. I was so freaking excited when I saw the post this morning! Welcome back home and please keep us all involved in every detail.

  10. Soyprincesa2 - I am greatly humbled by your admiration and I wish I had more to report in the coming days, but I am still in fact out of the country. In late June, I hope to clear the cobwebs from the truck along with my brain, and pick up where I left off (If I can still remember where the heck I was on everything).

  11. I've read several conversion type blogs, but the one that I could relate to the most was yours, since I also live in So Cal and don't have any plans to leave it soon. I also like your attention to quality and your sense of style, something so many others lack. But MOST of all, I enjoy the attitude with which you approach things. Your positive, can-do attitude is contagious and worth 1000 how-to type write ups!

    Not sure how busy you are out there, buddy, but I'd love to read more updates/posts while you're there. Everything from parts discoveries to plans or ideas would be great.

    Take care.

  12. Happy to see your post! I, too had just checked to see if you had posted anything yet and wondered when you would :o) I haven't been online much so I just now noticed this post...I'm soooo jealous of all your goodies! Those lights are perfect and I'm so hoping you can share their part numbers and exact names for each of item you posted about here? I can imagine it's just awesome seeing all that electronics stuff there :o)))

  13. Nexbot -- Thanks for your kind words. I too have slogged through many blogs solely for their information and not necessarily for entertainment value. I figure if one is going to make an effort to throw a blog out into the universe, then he should at least try to be interesting. I'm glad you appreciate my effort.

    Ezrablue -- Thanks for checking in! When are you gonna get crackin' on your rig, again? I've been looking forward to the progress. The lights you are referring to are brought to us by our friends at "Neo-Neon." I honestly doubt you'll find these in the U.S. They're called "LED 5W Bling Color." I kid you not. I'm going to do a series on what the locals affectionately refer to as "Chinglish." It's the charming misuse of English words in everyday signage and advertising that the people of Taiwan have grown to love. It's the most remarkable thing you can imagine. I'm going to do a coffee table book on "Signs Of Taiwan."

    -- coming soon to a screen near you.

  14. Great to see you posting again Rob! Can't wait till you are back in the country building that awesome creation again! Those are some excellent finds you came up with over there too. Much fun ahead!!

    97 Roadtrek 170P "Taj Ma Trek"

  15. Mike,

    I always appreciate the kind words. I'm very much looking forward to hitting the shop when I get back. I know my girl is itching for a proper road trip in that thing. It's going to be full steam ahead, come July.

  16. Hey Rob -- it's June! We want updates!!

  17. I'm so close! Only two weeks away from departure. I can hardly believe this journey has come and gone. Weird. Such is life.