Barn Door for JK factory hardtops


Expedition Leader
Back to the solar topic...

If you release the rear stops, the panel slides out and can be deployed on the ground if that's better for the location and angle of the sun.



Expedition Leader
When I bought the HF solar panel and charge controller I also picked up their Solar Panel Connection Kit (, $11.99). It wasn't expensive and I figured something in the kit might be useful.

The kit:

  1. LED charge indicator. Basically an led with an SAE plug. Useful I guess for troubleshooting.
  2. Dual two pin keyed connector. Useful to power something with a compatible plug, although perhaps at some risk because the output of the solar panel isn't a fixed 12v so if the device it's plugged into can't deal with overvoltage it might be a problem.
  3. Female 12VDC power port. Useful for gadgets that plug into a standard power outlet; same caveat about the voltage though.
  4. Male 12VDC power plug. If it's plugged into a non-switched power outlet (always-on outlet), it may be useful to charge the vehicle battery.
  5. 12VDC power cord. A long extension cord. Not the thickest gauge wire, so there will be some power loss using it. More on this below.
  6. Positive and negative battery clamps. Could clamp directly to the vehicle battery to charge it, or to charge the battery of the Jeep next to you.

The other day I showed the extension cable I made; it's 16-gauge copper wire. I did a test to see what the losses in that extension and the HF extension are to know it the HF extension should be used to extend the distance the panel can be set from the Jeep.

I used my volt/amp test rig and the constant current drain resistor pack I made at the beginning of the project.

Without any extension, the resistor pack drew 4 amps.

Through my extension the current was 3.9 amps, so a 100 milliamp loss. Acceptable.

Through the HF extension, the current was 3.6 amps, so a 400 milliamp (4/10 amp) loss. Not ideal, especially in overcast conditions where the panel might put out less than 1.5 amps - that loss could be 1/3 of the output of the panel.

Conclusion - the HF extension is fairly high loss so probably not good to extend the distance of the panel except in high sunlight conditions where the panel output will be 5-6 amps and 400ma won't be significant.

I don't know if I'll ever have a need for any of the adapters in the HF kit but they all fit in a small MOLLE pouch that can hang on the front of the battery cover/behind the back seat so since that's unused space I'll keep them there just in case (seat is tilted forward a bit for the photo).

I'm basically done with the solar project now, the only thing left to do is replace the rollers with ones with stainless ball bearings - the inexpensive rollers I used have steel bearings which will rust pretty quickly. I've ordered rollers with stainless bearings and expect them next week.


Expedition Leader
Review: Auxbeam 3" 9600 lumen LED pod lights

I received an email from Auxbeam the other day asking me if I'd like to review some new LED pod lights they've got ( This image is from their web site:

A typical low beam headlight is 700 lumens (1200 for a high beam) and these are advertised to be 9600 lumens - 8x brighter than a high beam, almost 14x brighter than a low beam. With that brightness in such a small package, I thought these would be very interesting to try out, so I agreed to doing a review and the lights arrived yesterday.

Here's what's in the box - two pod lights, a bag of hardware, two alternate yellow lenses, a wiring harness and a large Auxbeam decal. There's also a set of instructions, but they're the wrong ones - the instructions are for a light bar and have nothing to do with these pod lights. Instructions for these lights aren't really needed - installation is very simple and the included wiring harness is pretty much foolproof.

The light pod housings are substantial aluminum castings and serve as the heat sinks for the LEDs. The mounting brackets are powder-coated steel, and one thing I like about them is that they can be angled so the pod can be mounted on an angled surface.

One angled surface they can mount to is a Wrangler windshield frame. Many other lights would require a separate bracket, but these can angle enough so the light can be bolted directly to a windshield frame bolt (more on that in a moment). I'm holding one of the pods in place against the LJ windshield frame in this photo:

The wiring harness is well thought out - it's excellent and very complete. Each leg is about 10' long, so it's hard to imagine a situation where it won't be long enough. In this photo the harness is laid out on the floor and the light ends are at left, the engine compartment end is in the center and the cockpit end is at right.

The battery end of the harness includes a relay, a fuse holder with a fuse, and large spade lugs for connecting directly to the battery.

The cockpit side of the harness includes an illuminated round rocker switch and a disconnect plug which should allow the harness to pass through a smaller hole in the firewall than would be necessary to pass the switch through.

For a the first mounting test, I installed them on my LJ's windshield frame. The TJ/LJ windshield frame has several different bolts these could attach to, but I decided to attach them to the uppermost bolt holes above the hinge for best clearance of the light beam from the hood. In this location, the base of the pod mounting bracket interferes with the windshield seal, so I made up simple spacers from 1/4" ABS.

Mounting on a bolt hole below the windshield hinge (or on the windshield hinge bolts of a JK, or on a commercial windshield mount bracket) won't require a spacer. Here are the details of the TJ/LJ spacer, they're very simple to make:

The drawing above can be printed at actual size to serve as a template for making the spacers (that's what I did).

When you consider that a separate, extra-cost mount won't be required to put these on the windshield frame, I think the need to make up a simple spacer to mount them exactly where I want isn't too much to ask.

For a quick test I connected the wiring harness to the battery and the lights; I left the harness draped over the cowl for this test:

The Jeep's lights in the photo above are the high beams and you can probably see that the pod lights are brighter than the headlights, although a shot like this in the daytime isn't really a good way to test the pods.

For real testing, I'm mounting the pods on the roof rack - this rack is used on both the LJ and the JKU so the lights will be there for whichever Jeep the rack is on at the time. I wanted to mount the pods on the vertical bars on the front of the rack basket so I made up a clamp to mount them. It's pretty simple, a couple of pieces of 1/4" flat aluminum with two holes drilled in each, and two bolts. The front piece of aluminum is to space the back of the pod housing away from the bar and the provide additional support for the Auxbeam mounting bracket. I also drilled two holes in the Auxbeam mounting bracket to accept the bolts.

Again, making up a couple simple pieces of flat aluminum is a simple task and avoided the need to buy separate, extra cost light mounts for the rack.

After dark I set up a quick test. I set my bicycle about 100 feet away from the Jeep. Left to right - low beams, high beams, LED pods:

The camera was set to manual exposure and manual shutter speed, so all of these photos are equivalent.

For their small 3" size, these lights pack quite a punch. They come with an excellent and easy to use wiring harness and the mounting bracket is versatile and was easy to adapt to my specific needs. I'm impressed.



There are times when the tent will be erected and the sun is behind the tent, putting the panel in the shade. A simple option for that would be to have the panel be removable. It could then be placed on the ground; it comes with hinged legs to prop it up at an angle.

I'm inclined to go with the under-rack slide-out and have it be removable to set on the ground when necessary because that requires the least hardware, but I think the pole mount is a viable idea as well.

Makes sense to me.
To quote Albert Enstein - everything should be as simple as possible ...... but not simpler


Expedition Leader
When I designed the Trail Kitchen, I made it a modular design so it could be configured/outfitted as needed with options like a sink with running water, a power panel to power the fridge, optional tabletops and more. An enclosure was one of those options:

The enclosure has a PALS/MOLLE grid on one side and mounting holes for a Rotopax, which can be used as the water supply for the fridge:

The pandemic and a few other issues prevented MORryde from getting to the enclosure option but they just sent me a few photos of a preproduction enclosure:

It's got the same features as my prototype, plus it's adjustable in height to fit closely to fridges from, for example a Dometic 35 QT (those in the photos are 35's), up to an ARB 50.

They haven't given me a release date, but I expect it will be soon.


Expedition Leader
Road trip coming up... today SEMA Show badges for me and my spouse (I say that because her badge says "spouse" on it) showed up in the mailbox.

Will anyone else here be attending?

The last two shows MORryde borrowed by JKU for their booth but this year they've got their own Jeep so I'm off the hook, I can just enjoy being an attendee.

If anyone wants to tour the SEMA halls, see who's exhibiting and follow links to the exhibitor's web sites, SEMA provides an interactive floor plan:

While at the show I'll post photos of things I think might interest people.


Expedition Leader
I will be attending vicariously through jscherb and ‘spouse’. Look forward to the pics. 👍
Many "spouses" may have to attend vicariously in the future because they've implemented a new policy for spouses - I had to upload our marriage certificate before they would approve her badge. I guess they've had a lot of abuse of the spouse badges - people signing up their non-industry friends as spouses just so their friends can get into the show (it's still an industry-only show).

And there's now a chance I'll have to attend vicariously, a family thing has come up for that week that I may not be able to avoid. I'm hoping they won't overlap and I'll still be able to attend the show but I won't know until next week sometime.


Kodiak Wrangler
Many "spouses" may have to attend vicariously in the future because they've implemented a new policy for spouses - I had to upload our marriage certificate before they would approve her badge. I guess they've had a lot of abuse of the spouse badges - people signing up their non-industry friends as spouses just so their friends can get into the show (it's still an industry-only show).

And there's now a chance I'll have to attend vicariously, a family thing has come up for that week that I may not be able to avoid. I'm hoping they won't overlap and I'll still be able to attend the show but I won't know until next week sometime.

This year they have added SEMA IGNITED on Friday, with the evening event free for attendees and $20 for the public, or $90 will get a Friday pass to the trade show and evening event for the public (unwashed masses).


Expedition Leader
Solar project updates:

- The v-slot bearings I used for the solar panel slide are not stainless, so I ordered stainless bearings a few weeks ago. They arrived the other day so as soon as I get a chance I'll swap the plain steel bearings for the stainless ones.

- For my recent trip to Florida in the LJ I carried just the fridge (not the full Trail Kitchen) and moved moved the kitchen battery over to the LJ to power the fridge (and to serve as a backup battery in case the main Jeep battery had a problem). I wasn't using the roof rack or the new solar panel on this trip but what was really nice about moving the battery is that all of the electronics and storage for cables for the solar system is attached to the battery cover - all of the supporting stuff for the solar system moves with the battery cover.

I wasn't thinking of this when I sewed the battery cover with the PALS grids on it, but I'm very glad I made it that way. Makes moving the kitchen and solar from one Jeep to the other very easy.


Expedition Leader
Overland Outfitters sent me a few preproduction and new production products to test. I've been using a preproduction version of their Tailgate Accessory Panel for quite a while and now it's in production:

I've had a fire extinguisher hanging on a preproduction version; the production version looks the same but I'll swap the new one on when I get a chance just to verify everything is ok with the production version.

They also sent me a bunch of preproduction Roll Bar Buddies to test. There are two versions - a pocket version and a "tactical" version. They plan for the production ones to be all black, but just to see what they'd look like in a different color they sent me two in tan. I'm including the tan ones in the photos below because it's easier to see the detail on those than on the all black ones.

The pocket version has two 7" x 3" x 1.5" pockets. They're perfect for sunglasses, masks, tools and many other things.

The Tactical version is intended to hold a tactical flashlight, two pen-sized items, and two other items in pistol-magazine sized pouches. In this photo I've got a Leatherman multitool in one pocket and a Swiss Army Knife in the other and the pocket flaps are open.

The tactical version also has a strip of PALS webbing to hold a small MOLLE pouch in the event that a smaller tactical flashlight is used (photo below).

Checking them out in my JKU...

The tactical version with the same items and the pocket flaps open to show the tools and a photo with the flaps closed:

In this photo a smaller tactical flashlight is in the holder and a small MOLLE pouch is in the center:

I tested the prototypes of these in a JL at the Jeep dealer a few weeks ago and they worked fine there; they also work great in my LJ (I'll post photos of them in the LJ in my LJ thread).

I've got a few small suggestions for improvements before they go into production but they are small changes so these are very close to production-ready.


Expedition Leader
In the earlier post about the Overland Outfitters Tactical Roll Bar Buddy two flashlights are shown - a large one and a smaller one. The large one I've had since 2019 (I reviewed it here then) but I just received the smaller ones. When OO told me they were about to send me some preproduction Roll Bar Buddies to test, I got in touch with AuxBeam and asked them if they had any new tactical flashlights that would go well with these. They suggested these: Seemed like a good fit so I asked them if they would send me two to test.

One nice feature these flashlights have is a USB port (micro USB) for charging the battery. In this next photo it's just completed charging from my laptop. The light turns green when it's charged, it's red when charging.

Also in the photo above is the correct battery - the flashlight doesn't ship with a battery (I suspect because of regulations restricting shipping of products with Lithium-Ion batteries), so the buyer will need to source a battery themselves. It's a standard 18650 battery; these can be found on eBay and many other online sources if you can't find them locally (I couldn't find them in my small town so I ordered them from eBay).

The flashlight has three modes:

- One click of the power button: bright
- Second click: half power
- Third click: "SOS" strobe mode. Could be useful as a warning flasher for roadside troubles.

The lens slides in and out to focus the beam narrow or wide; a nice feature.

The AuxBeam web site lists the brightness at 800 lumens, which is pretty bright, especially for a flashlight that only lists for $11.99. I did these two photos after dark - the camera is set to manual exposure mode so both photos accurately depict the before and after illumination. I set the manual exposure to approximate what I was seeing with the naked eye:

Then I turned on the flashlight:

I like these flashlights. They're compact, very bright, very affordable, conveniently rechargeable through USB (and they fit very nicely in the Tactical Roll Bar Buddy :)).