3DRobotics IRIS Quadcopter
We’ve been looking at quad copters for a few years to help with our unique video capture requirements. Until very recently they’ve been expensive, very challenging to build, and not user friendly. In the last year a few options have come to market that promise ease of use and a low entry level cost, and the IRIS from 3DRobotics is one of them.
This Quad comes fully assembled and ready to fly, so you just add your compatible GoPro camera and you’re off & flying. They also have kits that include a GoPro Hero 3 and fully articulating gimble to give you the best video shots possible.
The absolute best feature of the IRIS though is it’s auto-pilot functions, specifically the Follow Me feature. When paired with a compatible transmitter, the IRIS will follow you (more importantly your vehicle) at a desired altitude and distance automatically. No flying needed! While the 15 minute estimated flight time isn’t perfect, we see a big future for quads like this in the off-road video world.
ArkPak Battery Box
If you’re interested in a battery power solution for your Toyota Cruiser, Truck, or SUV, or a solution for emergency or trailer use, the Australian made ARKPak Battery Box has finally hit the US shores!
The ArkPak is a 12V battery charger, a portable power source, a battery management system, a jump-starter and a dual battery system all rolled into one. It delivers both 12V and 120V power via a built in 150 watt inverter and 6 amp battery charger. Depending on the battery you add to the system, you can get up to 3 days of 120V power or 7 days of 12V power (depending on usage of course).
Simply add the battery of your choice (the higher capacity the better) and a suitable charging solution and you’re good to go. The system can be charged from your vehicle, from a 12V home charger, or via solar panels. We’re looking at using an ArkPak based system to build an emergency solar generator for under $1000. It’s normally priced over $500 for a kit that includes the ArkPak, a 12V DC Charger, and mounting bracket, but ArkPak USA has discounted it to $399 for the time being.
We contacted ArkPak about this article and they even offered our readers a special deal: use the code TCT5014 to save $50 off the price. Here’s the catch: that code is only good from Jan 6th through the 14th, so if you want one now is the time to get going!
FJ Cruiser sPOD
FINALLY! The sPOD is available in an FJ Cruiser flavor!
We saw the prototype of this perfect little switch and relay system during CruiserFest last September, and it really fills a need! In addition to their award winning super-easy-to-wire sPOD fuse block, the FJ Cruiser version is available with a fully plug & play switch bank for up to 6 switches.
If you’d rather use the stock FJ switch block, simply wire the sPOD to your switches. There’s also a 2nd Gen Tacoma version available as well. Other Toyota options are currently in the works.
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It was time for graduate school, which meant a more reliable and efficient vehicle than my worn out Silverado was needed. After a brief search for a car, I realized I needed an SUV. Having some prior experience with 4Runners, I set my sights on one.
A 4th gen was chosen since they felt more robust than the older models and, after some interweb scouring, several were located nearby. However, few were within mileage and price constraints. About this time 5th gens were hitting the scene and my aunt, knowing that I was looking at 4Runners, devised a scheme in to get herself a new model and help me with a deal on her ‘03. After a little more searching around, the decision was a no brainer and I was to be the proud new owner of a mint Limited with a stack of maintenance docs as thick as my textbooks.
This past summer I took the test to get my amateur radio (HAM) license. One thing that interested me about amateur radio was APRS, or Automatic Packet (Position) Reporting System. APRS basically uses radio waves to transmit data automatically at various intervals. The information transmitted can include many different items, but one bit of data often transmitted is GPS coordinates. This location data can be very useful to keep track of others in your group, or for someone at home to monitor your off-road location. http://aprs.fi/ is one online site that shows recent APRS user locations. Information of local APRS users can also be shown on your radio or on an attached GPS device.
There are a few schools of thought when building a capable, useful off-road trailer. Some choose to go very basic, using their trailer as little more than a cargo carrier, while others go all-out with built in kitchens, showers, and entertainment systems.
Regardless of how you intend to use a trailer, the basic upgrades are usually the same. Of course storing basic camping gear such as food, accessories, clothing, and camp gear is a given, a few other essentials are usually on the list of upgrades.
I will be the first to admit that there are few things in life I find as rewarding as settling down to a great meal after a day of exploring the backcountry. I will also admit that the first meals Krista and I prepared in the field were less than stellar. I was inexperienced cooking in the wilderness on a camp stove. I had grown up camping with Dutch ovens and had no idea what I was doing when I went to purchase our first stove. Over time I began to realize that not all camp stoves are created equal, and most have been purposefully designed for certain segments of the outdoor market.
Photos by: Monte Nickles, Ben Springli, Mike Digirat
Hello TCT Readers! Some of you might be very familiar with this great adventure The Epic from the last issues of Tacoma Magazine. Some of you however are new to this tale. It’s great that it’s all finally come together so we can now share our adventures amongst our fellow Toyota brothers. That said, allow me to fill in the new guys as to what is going on.
The Epic is the name for the two week long expedition over the states of Wyoming, Montana, and Colorado. Over a thousand miles and 20 trails during this epic journey! We had people join us as far as Washington and Arizona.
Jeff Williams and his 16 year-old son, Blake, have embarked on a rebuild and restoration project that will enable Blake to enjoy a very capable off-road 4Runner. Jeff wanted something durable that was fairly easy for Blake to modify and work on. Jeff’s brother, Mike, is also involved in the project. The Williams family has a long history working with Toyota products. Jeff owned a 1983 Toyota SR5 4X4 pickup truck for 19 years that had over 300,000 miles when he parted with it. Over the years, Jeff has related his memories in that truck to Blake. These truck stories inspired Blake to look for a first generation Toyota to call his own. Jeff currently owns a 1983 Toyota FJ40 (in fairly stock condition)—a vehicle that exemplifies the simplicity and durability of the early/first gen Toyota trucks.
After a week in Ouray exploring the San Juan Mountains with the Manley off-road trailer mounted with its CVT tent, I was hooked on the convenience of the rooftop tent when overlanding. This got the wheels turning in my head on how to transform Blue Betty into a rig fit for multi-day overlanding explorations. First step taken toward this new phase of the truck’s life was to find a way to mount up a rooftop tent. Without a place to store a trailer and knowing I’ll be tackling some harder trails on my journeys, I knew a bed rack would be my best option for what I needed.
Some of you may know me from my other build Wikid. I still own her and she is resting happily in my driveway, until I decide what direction I will take her.
Last fall, I had no intentions of buying a new FJ, but then the new colors were announced. I saw a few pictures of the 2013 Trail Teams and thought the color was interesting. After I found a few pictures of it I decided I needed to see one in person, especially since it seems colors and computers can vary quite a bit.
I contacted Camelback Toyota to see when one showed up, then got the call and drove down to see one. I still wasn't planning on purchasing, but after I saw it that all changed. December 12th, 2013, I took delivery of my New 2013 Cement TT edition. It didn't have the upgraded stereo, but that was actually a good thing, since it would be taken out almost immediately.