Improvements & Upgrades to the FIGJAM bucket evap. cooler

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Improvements & Upgrades to the FIGJAM bucket evap. cooler

Post by BrotherNomad » Thu Oct 08, 2015 12:37 am

This is a thread to share ideas for improvements & component upgrades to the FIGJAM 5-gallon bucket evaporative cooler (I work to be technically correct). Also share pictures and details of the customized 5-gallon bucket based evaporative coolers you have built.

My second 5-gallon bucket cooler consists of upgraded components. The computer fan I built into my first cooler was not effective, so I added an ultrapowerful variable speed 12v fan to the second one. I plan to replace the computer fan on the first cooler with this:

Warning: As of October 7th, 2015 this popular 12v pump listing is low on stock, no idea if or when they will have more of these. Just sharing so people aren't dissapointed clicking though a dead listing a year from now.
http://www.ebay.com/itm/Ultra-Quiet-Min ... 3cd9bd0e15

I also plan to add standard 12v plug to the second cooler like the first.

For my second burn I spent too much time handling water for the bucket cooler. Tonight I came up with the brilliant idea of taking a FIGJAM bucket cooler and adding resivoir caliber capacity by means of a second bucket. The "resivoir" bucket has no evaporative holes or padding, just the pump. This can be considered a "stretched" 10 gallon version of the FIGJAM bucket cooler. The advantage of a two-bucket cooler is the lower buckets lid is removed and the upper bucket nests into the lower for storage and transport. Depending on how crafty the builder is with sealing, both buckets where they meet could have a watertight seal for even more water capacity. This principle is adaptable for even larger resivoir containers, the only limit is the pumps head (how high a pump can push/pull water up) and how creative the builder is! The reason for this is to fill the bucket once or twice during the week and save the precious time on playa for having fun!

I came up with another brilliant idea. Take a fishing bubbler, the kind fishermen use to aerate the water bucket containing their catch. Like this one (there are cheaper bubblers made, however if you can spare the change pay more upfront for this great quality and long lasting 12v bubbler) Place the stone end of the bubbler on the bottom next to the evaporative cooler pump and place your bubbler intake pump in a cool, dry place. Prevent a potential issue with dust by wrapping the bubbler pump or intake portion with a bandana, single layer of t-shirt or washcloth.

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Re: Improvements & Upgrades to the FIGJAM bucket evap. coole

Post by BBadger » Thu Oct 08, 2015 1:19 am

I saw a friend's design with the bucket reservoir under the top bucket. Seemed like one of the better innovations that wasn't just some version of more powerful components (pump, fan).

I'm surprised that there isn't a CFM rating for that fan you got, though at 48W it seems pretty beefy. Mounting that fan might be a problem though, and using traditional computer fans is often easier. There are some pretty powerful 120mm fans that can pump around 200CFM. What you might want, however, is to just have more fans with wider ducts so that you're not constricting the flow and making the fans work harder.

Something else to consider is adding a forced-exhaust fan to your camping rig. The goal with the evaps is to actually move a volume of air though your residence, not just humidify the area. Forcing the air out instead of relying on vents (and the pressure from the intake) can help with this.
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Re: Improvements & Upgrades to the FIGJAM bucket evap. coole

Post by unjonharley » Thu Oct 08, 2015 10:26 am

Not much new here..

I put the cooler in a lawn basket.. Cut intake and output holes in a foam cover.. Added a cheap dash mount fan to the six inch intake "dryer tube" from the outside air,. Added an output tube to direct the air onto me.. I run this rig inside the van while traveling... Did not need the extra intake fan while the van was moving.. Sure helped when waiting in line..

Two elbows from the irrigation dept. (home Depot) and a clear tube.. Will make a water-level view sight. The elbows are threaded on one side and shaped to hold a tube on the other.. Thread the elbows into the bucket (add Goop) One at lower level one at high level slide the tube onto the elbows.. $1.95...

My water pumps are two $8.00 fish tank pumps.. Scored a lighter plug in voltage selector.. The pump are about 4-5 volts..

Don't over kill a good cooler.. The above intake could be used as a exhaust assist
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Re: Improvements & Upgrades to the FIGJAM bucket evap. coole

Post by Canoe » Thu Oct 08, 2015 12:31 pm

That fan is designed to run in open air. Before you go any further, you may wish to learn about: fan pressure, CFM through various duct sizes, CFM through holes and CFM vs. turbulence through holes (intake holes in the bucket cooler). The first may also explain to you why your choice of computer fan did not work as well as you expected. (Many first time bucket cooler builders think they can use any computer fan, or any with the same or higher CFM, and wonder why their cooler sucks.)

Why a bubbler? I use them for lift-pumps for aeration and supplemental circulation in a small salt-water aquarium, but that bubbler only provides 0.198 CFM for a huge 2.4A draw. Compare the surface area of bubbles-to-water vs. surface area of water flowing over the bucket-cooler's filter media. And the heat put into that air flow by the air pump.

Keep in mind that design goals for on-playa use include: low power usage, low maintenance, few points of failure. What you're intending to play with could be fun to play with, but much easier (and reliable) to spend a fraction of that time putting water into the bucket and use the saved time exploring BRC.
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Re: Improvements & Upgrades to the FIGJAM bucket evap. coole

Post by BrotherNomad » Thu Oct 08, 2015 10:01 pm

"Something else to consider is adding a forced-exhaust fan to your camping rig." I am planning to acquire a roof fan, no money for it right now.
unjonharley wrote:Not much new here..

I put the cooler in a lawn basket.. Cut intake and output holes in a foam cover.. Added a cheap dash mount fan to the six inch intake "dryer tube" from the outside air,. Added an output tube to direct the air onto me.. I run this rig inside the van while traveling... Did not need the extra intake fan while the van was moving.. Sure helped when waiting in line..
...
Don't over kill a good cooler.. The above intake could be used as a exhaust assist
Can you share a picture of this intake system? I imagine the same thing.

I imagined after I woke up today having a water level sight indicator, but connecting the tube to the upper elbow down into the resivoir bucket for a water return, that is if you can't seal the lower bucket so it functions as a tank. the lower fitting could be used as an fill up tube connected to another pump for interruption free refilling. The reason for the upper bucket having still water without a pump is so you have a place for mud to settle. This year I had the bucket cooler running during the dust storms and I had mudwater by weeks end. The upper bucket water is the settling point for most of the playa mud. Or one could drill holes lower in the upper bucket and have more surface area for more cooling.

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Re: Improvements & Upgrades to the FIGJAM bucket evap. coole

Post by asr9754 » Mon Oct 12, 2015 5:01 pm

What does the bubbler do for the evap cooler?

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Re: Improvements & Upgrades to the FIGJAM bucket evap. coole

Post by FIGJAM » Mon Oct 12, 2015 9:27 pm

How timely!!!

I just got back from Az. decomp and there was a self described brilliant engineer that was eager to meet me and show off his radical improvements to my design.

No holes on the side of the bucket.

He reversed the air intake so the fan sucked the air through a retractable hose with a small bilge fan stuck in the end.

He used a 3D printer to make a gizmo that would force the air out of the bucket through 6, one inch holes on top, that surrounded the intake hose.

The fan was 3"s and moved 100cfm or less and used 4 amps just for the fan.

We were both a little drunk and he insisted that because he got 5% cooler temps that his design was better.

The physics of evap cooling are well established.

I tried to point out that most people don't have a 3D printer and that moving half the air with twice the power of the original design wasn't an improvement even if he was getting this mystical 5% extra reduction in temp.

His friend almost had to hold him back.

He couldn't tell me the cfm of his fan (it was in his design sheets) or the pressure it created.

He came back at me with the same question and I gave him the specs for my fan.

Even after 45 minutes he would not be convinced.

Like I told him, "have fun with your designs"!!! :lol:
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Re: Improvements & Upgrades to the FIGJAM bucket evap. coole

Post by Meat Hunter » Mon Oct 12, 2015 9:44 pm

I am with 100% you FIGJAM.

Just like that big computer operating system company (that comes out with a new operating system every 2 to 3 years) new and advanced does not equate to better or in most cases, not even a measurable improvement.

In my opinion, in most cases it is a step backwards and much less user friendly.
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Re: Improvements & Upgrades to the FIGJAM bucket evap. coole

Post by Elderberry » Tue Oct 13, 2015 8:06 am

Meat Hunter wrote:I am with 100% you FIGJAM.

Just like that big computer operating system company (that comes out with a new operating system every 2 to 3 years) new and advanced does not equate to better or in most cases, not even a measurable improvement.

In my opinion, in most cases it is a step backwards and much less user friendly.
Except I think they finally got it right with their latest version.
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Re: Improvements & Upgrades to the FIGJAM bucket evap. coole

Post by unjonharley » Tue Oct 13, 2015 8:31 am

Kill a spider with a D 10 Cat..

Installed my original cooler into the defunct air conditioner system in the van..
The system runs along the roof.. The only part of the air conditioner used is the distribution fan.. Just have to open a slide window.. Working on a vent cover.. Got two bees in the open slider.. No thank you..

Now I will have to make one for the trike.. Plug and play and all that, you know
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Re: Improvements & Upgrades to the FIGJAM bucket evap. coole

Post by BrotherNomad » Tue Oct 13, 2015 8:03 pm

I don't plan to overengineer my bucket coolers, just improve upon them so they're set and forget by only having to fill the water once. For someone with a larger trash can cooler, you could have your water resivoir be a 55 gallon drum, just have a sock on the return tube to act as a basic mudwater filter if the 55 gallon drum is going to be your drinking water.

A GAMMA SEAL lid on the lower bucket would make the bucket sealed so you could have the upper bucket have capacity like it was stand-alone. Or you could use the regular HOME DEPOT lids if you are good with beading RTV Silicone gasket maker. The main goal of this stack bucket improvement is either more holes in the upper bucket for more cooling or more water capacity for less filling, with the entire system taking up only 1/3rd more space than a single bucket in storage and transport. You could even duplicate the lower bucket on this setup for weeklong capacity, a 3 bucket stack cooler. This would requires a bigger or more powerful pump capable of triple the head as the original FIGJAM single bucket cooler (how high is the pump capable of lifting water). This to me looks like a very creative design for people to get the same cooling and/or capacity as a larger trash can cooler with the packabiliy of two or three 5 gallon buckets.

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Re: Improvements & Upgrades to the FIGJAM bucket evap. coole

Post by maladroit » Tue Oct 13, 2015 8:59 pm

FIGJAM wrote:I tried to point out that most people don't have a 3D printer and that moving half the air with twice the power of the original design wasn't an improvement even if he was getting this mystical 5% extra reduction in temp.

His friend almost had to hold him back.

He couldn't tell me the cfm of his fan (it was in his design sheets) or the pressure it created.

He came back at me with the same question and I gave him the specs for my fan.

Even after 45 minutes he would not be convinced.

Like I told him, "have fun with your designs"!!! :lol:
Who is this guy? Did he even know he was talking to The FIGJAM? I'm an engineer with great solid modeling skills and a 3D printer, and even I know better than to tinker with a good design or to throw too much cash and energy consumption into a tiny performance improvement.

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Re: Improvements & Upgrades to the FIGJAM bucket evap. coole

Post by BrotherNomad » Wed Oct 14, 2015 12:27 am

Instead of a 3 bucket stack, put the two resivoir buckets on the ground with the evaporative bucket cooler placed on top of one or in a pyramid formation. This way one could get away with their original pump, no need to upgrade with less head. I desire to build this now, and test the resivoir idea now so I can have the kinks worked out by playatime.

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Re: Improvements & Upgrades to the FIGJAM bucket evap. coole

Post by Canoe » Wed Oct 14, 2015 5:09 am

BBadger wrote:... Something else to consider is adding a forced-exhaust fan to your camping rig. The goal with the evaps is to actually move a volume of air though your residence, not just humidify the area. Forcing the air out instead of relying on vents (and the pressure from the intake) can help with this.
Great if you want to create a negative building envelope pressure and suck hot dusty air in through any cracks instead of having the evap-cooler's positive pressure exhaust through the vents and any of those cracks. You can do push-pull, but you've got to get the pressures and CFM exactly right. Difficult to do, costs money, uses power. At the CFM evap-coolers are pushing, correctly sized vents are appropriate to the task. Want a dust/furnace filter over them (to prevent blow-back), then V the filter and/or make the vent(s) bigger.

If you can install a passive roof vent up high, without compromising your structure and have it dust and water resistant in a big dust storm, then it will exhaust the hottest (highest) air in the structure so it's not sitting up there and radiating heat down.
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Re: Improvements & Upgrades to the FIGJAM bucket evap. coole

Post by unjonharley » Wed Oct 14, 2015 8:29 am

Canoe wrote: If you can install a passive roof vent up high, without compromising your structure and have it dust and water resistant in a big dust storm, then it will exhaust the hottest (highest) air in the structure so it's not sitting up there and radiating heat down.
A rigid dryer tube with the damper (wind flap) would do the trick..

The aluminum would soak up the sun heat to make the inside air rise faster..

(Mother Earth's) design was to surround the collector tube with a clear tube.. This would stop wind chill factor..
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Re: Improvements & Upgrades to the FIGJAM bucket evap. coole

Post by BrotherNomad » Tue Oct 20, 2015 8:27 pm

"A rigid dryer tube with the damper (wind flap) would do the trick..

The aluminum would soak up the sun heat to make the inside air rise faster..

(Mother Earth's) design was to surround the collector tube with a clear tube.. This would stop wind chill factor.. "

What is this type of system called so we can look it up?

Today I modified the upgraded FIGJAM bucket cooler and tested the return tube design with pump in resivoir bucket, I had water overflow from the upper bucket because the return tube was not returning the same amount of water as the pump tube. For those who is OK with drilling a small hole in the bottom of their bucket cooler a little larger than a 3/8 tube for return water, and a same size hole in the center of the lid of their bucket cooler, this is cheaper and a simpler design. The hole in the bottom of the upper bucket can always be plugged with tape if you want to go back to single bucket mode. The reason for simply not building a bigger bucket cooler with more capacity is I already invested in the FIGJAM bucket coolers, and I want packability and modularity. If I had another closed 55 gallon drum I would just use that as the resivoir tank for the cooler with the 2 bucket coolers on top.

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Re: Improvements & Upgrades to the FIGJAM bucket evap. coole

Post by A-RockLeFrench » Wed Oct 21, 2015 12:33 am

BrotherNomad wrote:"A rigid dryer tube with the damper (wind flap) would do the trick..

The aluminum would soak up the sun heat to make the inside air rise faster..

(Mother Earth's) design was to surround the collector tube with a clear tube.. This would stop wind chill factor.. "

What is this type of system called so we can look it up?
Google solar chimney.

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Re: Improvements & Upgrades to the FIGJAM bucket evap. coole

Post by unjonharley » Wed Oct 21, 2015 3:08 pm

A-RockLeFrench wrote:
BrotherNomad wrote:"A rigid dryer tube with the damper (wind flap) would do the trick..

The aluminum would soak up the sun heat to make the inside air rise faster..

(Mother Earth's) design was to surround the collector tube with a clear tube.. This would stop wind chill factor.. "

What is this type of system called so we can look it up?
Google solar chimney.
So, There is a name for it... I built one for a tin shed in the 70's..
Used black stove pipe, semi ridgit plastic and two sets of crochet hoops
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Re: Improvements & Upgrades to the FIGJAM bucket evap. coole

Post by Ratty » Wed Oct 21, 2015 4:32 pm

Unjon,
So, There is a name for it... I built one for a tin shed in the 70's..
Used black stove pipe, semi ridgit plastic and two sets of crochet hoops
It figures that you've built one. This coming from a guy that puts a flat tractor tire back on the bead with carburetor cleaner and a match. KABOOM and it's half filled with air and ready to pump it up.

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Re: Improvements & Upgrades to the FIGJAM bucket evap. coole

Post by BrotherNomad » Tue Nov 17, 2015 11:26 pm

I tried the 2 bucket stack, upper bucket the original cooler with lower bucket as resivoir. It actually cooled better than when it was a single bucket in San Jose heat. I guess the improvement was the air inside the upper bucket adding more aerated surface area to the pads, even with same amount of holes as before.

How many gallons of capacity would it take in a dry year to only have to fill the resivoir once during the week?

I am thinking instead of having to hookup six 5 gallon buckets next year, I could have a gravity powered refill system. I am imagining external container(s) of water placed above the bucket cooler, which has a tube connection with a gravity "float valve" inside (when the valve is submerged it will close, when it's dry it will open). This is great for those who don't want to modify their FIGJAM 5-gallon bucket cooler. Has anybody experimented or built an evaporative cooler with a gravity valve so as to automatically top off their cooler with no electricity or complicated intervention?

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Re: Improvements & Upgrades to the FIGJAM bucket evap. coole

Post by unjonharley » Wed Nov 18, 2015 7:39 am

BrotherNomad wrote:
Killing a nat with a elephant! House swamp coolers have float valves.
Find them on the net
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Re: Improvements & Upgrades to the FIGJAM bucket evap. coole

Post by ygmir » Wed Nov 18, 2015 7:54 am

unjonharley wrote:
BrotherNomad wrote:
Killing a nat with a elephant! House swamp coolers have float valves.
Find them on the net
or a sealed container, and use vacuum to adjust water level and flow.
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Re: Improvements & Upgrades to the FIGJAM bucket evap. coole

Post by asr9754 » Wed Nov 18, 2015 2:44 pm

"How many gallons of capacity would it take in a dry year to only have to fill the resivoir once during the week? "

Reckon about 1/3 to 1/2 gallon of water per hour, obviously it's quite variable depending on air temp and the specs of your fan and other components, but that's a good starting point. X how many hours you plan to run it (also variable, depending on daily weather and your Burn habits, napping, etc. Safe bet, a few hours per day. X how many days you're on playa, except first and last day, you'll probably be too busy setup/teardown to do much napping. Run those numbers to get an estimate of your water quantity.

I dig your idea, However, trying to design a "Fill-it-Once-And-Forget-About-It" system might be a fools errand. Many things go wrong on playa, things get knocked over, clogged w/ dust, wires get shorted out or unplugged....I suspect you will be checking on your cooler once a day regardless. It really takes 10 seconds to pour water into the swamp cooler. If you bring a funnel, you don't even have to pop the lid off, just use the funnel in one of the side holes. Also, people generate ice melt and cooler water thru out the week, so you can use that in the cooler rather than haul a big extra batch of water on Day 1. That's just my 2c, take it or leave it obviously, and good luck!

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Re: Improvements & Upgrades to the FIGJAM bucket evap. coole

Post by Captain Goddammit » Wed Nov 18, 2015 5:52 pm

I agree with this. There's such a thing as over-thinking it.
I have the fuel filler on my M/V below the deck where you have to pull up the engine hatches to get at it. That's intentional, so I have to get in there rather than forgetting al about everything and not paying attention to what's going on.
Really, how hard is it to dump a bucket of water in the cooler now and then?
If God, er, uh, Figjam had intended these things to have crazy huge water tanks, he would have spoken and it would be done.
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Re: Improvements & Upgrades to the FIGJAM bucket evap. coole

Post by unjonharley » Wed Nov 18, 2015 6:06 pm

If you want a little better cooling.. Take a look a Figjams Pod cooler.. I holds much more water and has a better fan.. You can even cool a beer or two in the holding tank.. It will cost more.. But you get what you pay for..
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Re: Improvements & Upgrades to the FIGJAM bucket evap. coole

Post by Captain Goddammit » Wed Nov 18, 2015 6:57 pm

Hey, get back on the wind-on-playa thread!
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Re: Improvements & Upgrades to the FIGJAM bucket evap. coole

Post by FIGJAM » Thu Nov 19, 2015 5:35 am

Creating a big tank to keep your cooler supplied with water is fine, but the idea of the design is to be small and portable for people that don't have room in their transport for something bigger.
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Re: Improvements & Upgrades to the FIGJAM bucket evap. coole

Post by BrotherNomad » Sun Nov 22, 2015 12:20 am

unjonharley wrote:If you want a little better cooling.. Take a look a Figjams Pod cooler..
Is this the trash can cooler?
FIGJAM wrote:... the idea of the design is to be small and portable for people that don't have room in their transport for something bigger.
I have room for a 15 gallon or more resivoir tank. I am planning more improvements to the two bucket coolers I built. Seperate on/off switches for the pump and fan, thermostat or 12v timer for on/off. I don't know much of anything about gravity float switches/valves.

I plan to go fulltime in this van eventually. I don't see the space for two buckets coolers for the van. I am in the envisioning stages of an underfloor evaporative cooler/ventalation fan using a standard milk crate with some kind of basin inside for the water circulation. Pads with wiring to hold the pads against the walls, with a couple of high powered computer fans or the tornadofan for cooling. Individual switches for fan(s) and pump inside the van. The idea is I have a permanent setup for evaporative cooling and ventalation.

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Re: Improvements & Upgrades to the FIGJAM bucket evap. coole

Post by Popeye » Sun Nov 22, 2015 1:50 am

[quote= I don't know much of anything about gravity float switches/valves.
[/quote]

You have one in your toilet, lift the lid on the back and you can see how it works. They are really pretty simple and since there are so many of them pretty cheap.
nobody wants to live in a world with only one flavor...

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Re: Improvements & Upgrades to the FIGJAM bucket evap. coole

Post by FIGJAM » Sun Nov 22, 2015 6:04 am

The unicooler is 8"x30"x24" and has a fan on one side with the pad/intake on the other.

Holds about 7 gallons of water, and can cool up to 3000 cubic ft.
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