One of the issues that I have while camping in HBC at Sun-n-Fun & Oshkosh is that the heat at night can almost unbearable in tent. It sometimes takes several hours before the temperature comes down to a tolerable level to sleep comfortably. My usual choices are to just suck it up or to drink until it doesn?t bother me anymore! While the second option is OK occasionally, I really do like to enjoy the show the next day.
This year, I decided to try to do something about it by building something to knock the edge off of the temperature in the evenings. My major goals are as follows:
- Portable and light weight. I don?t want something that is too big to easily carry in the plane
- Utilize multipurpose items. I want to try to utilize things I already bring or can at least replace something I already bring
- Easy to power in HBC
- Provide directed temperature relief in the tent when needed
- Last at least 3-4 hours until it naturally cools down
Keeping these in mind, my first thought was one of the portable ice chest air conditioners that are out on the market. The problem with this solution is that it requires a lot of power. I would need to bring a car battery with me along with the necessary recharging devices. But it did give me an idea.
I decided to work off of some of the numerous homemade ice chest Air conditioner designs floating around and modify that to meet my needs. Here is a photo of the proof of concept I threw together last night:
It is a basic Coleman 28qt ice chest with a USB powered fan ($8 at Fry?s) drawing 500ma. I ran it yesterday evening about half full of ice utilizing my 20,100mah battery for 5 hours. I was really surprised how cold the air was coming out. Since I was just mucking around and didn?t have a temperature probe, I estimate that the temperature coming out was 45-50 deg, while the temperature in the garage was in the 90s. At the end of the 5 hours, most of the ice was gone, but the air was still cool coming out. The battery showed no signs of depletion.
It looks like the concept meets all of my wants:
- The entire contraption minus ice only adds a couple of pounds to my total usual packing items
- I already bring a portable battery pack to charge my phone and Ipad at night and I can utilize the empty ice chest to store items in the plane for the trip.
- I usually charge my battery back in HBC daily while everyone is out and about and ice has always been readily available by the wonderful hosts.
- It was definitely cool enough to knock the edge off for sleeping
- The first run only started with a half load of ice and was still producing cool air at 5 hours with minimal impact to my battery.
With this proof of concept done, I am actually going to run a few documented tests showing the actual exhaust temperature and ambient temperature starting with a full ice load over a period of time. If this all works out, I am going to build a complete unit with some better fans and a real lid.