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Old 10-24-2006, 02:43 AM   #1
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connecting to the house battery

I am lacking some very basic knowledge I think. I feel like I can wire things together, connecting red to red, black to black and all that. BUT, and try not to laugh, how do you connect it to the battery?

My batteries are in a box with a little door that you open from the outside of the bus. There's a big black cable - that leaves the batteries and goes into the bus through a hole in the box.

When I go climb around and open up the console by the driver's seat and look under the dashboard, there's a huge mass of wires going every which way (and some going nowhere) but nothing gives me any clue how to add something new.

I'd like to add a cigarette lighter-type outlet to plug stuff into, and I got a CB radio that needs to be directly wired somewhere. But where?

I've stared at wiring diagrams for hours, but bus wires are not in clean, neat straight lines, and there's WAY more colors than red, black, white. Not to mention that some wires are just cut off and others are cut off and then twisted together. What is THAT all about?

I don't want to give up though. If I can just wire my little cigarette lighter socket and install it somewhere myself I will be SO happy.

Any idea how to do this or where to learn this stuff?

Mona
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Old 10-24-2006, 01:25 PM   #2
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The first thing you need to ask yourself is how will the devices be used. The CB likely would only be used when the key is on, but the cigarette lighter....well...I don't know. I kind of like vehicles where it works even with the key off, even if you do run the risk of drawing the battery down dead that way.

Ok...so here's the easiest way. You might want to thikn about this for the cigarette lighter just because some devices plugged into them can draw a lot of power (more than factory wiring is a lot of cars can handle). Quite simply, just run a new wire from the positive terminal of the battery up to it in the appropriate gauge for the length of the run and draw. There is no need to run a ground all the way back to the battery. Simply ground it to an unpainted metal surface near the outlet.

Now the slightly more complicated way and the way my veggie oil fuel pumps and CB are wired in. I'm hoping your bus is similarly wired. Behind the switch panel you should see a wire from just about every switch running to one giant solenoid. Simple run the positive wire for the CB to this and again ground to the body somewhere. That will make the CB turn on and off with the key. You could also use any unused switch in that penal for wiring stuff up. One side of the switch wiring will go to the solenoid while theo ther side is where you can hook up your positive wire. Thisi s how my veggie oil fuel pump is wired in. It never runs without the key on, but then I can also turn it of once the veggie oil gets flowing or if I'm running on diesel.

The final way I can think of is to run the new wire up from the battery up to your own relay. Then run your positive wire from this to the device. To switch it on and off, run a really light gauge wire to that solenoid mentioned above and ground out the other side. This way you can have the correct gauge wire for the load of whatever you might hook up while still having the convenience of a keyed connection.
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Old 10-24-2006, 02:19 PM   #3
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My CB has a built in weather radio which could be handy to be used without the key. It also has an intercom that lets you yell at people outside (not so handy that people can use it without the key)
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Old 10-25-2006, 05:06 AM   #4
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ok, I know I can be incredibly dense so let me clarify, I can attach a wire right to the battery post where that big cable is? Do I just stick it underneath the cable clamp thingy, winding it around the post so it doesn't jiggle?

Can I drill another hole in the box the battery is sitting in - through to the inside of the bus? Or do I need to try to thread my new wire through the hole that's already (originally) there?

And, after I attach the positive wire to the positive battery post, then I just need to attach the ground to an unpainted metal part on the bus? What happens with the negative wire?

I guess I need to read a book on basic wiring. I don't think I'm getting it because I just don't know enough of the basics yet. Drat. I really wanted to wire in a plug to plug stuff in.

Mona
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Old 10-25-2006, 05:38 AM   #5
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In a perfect world, you'd have dual terminals, but you don't. You can get cool little adapters that go on the posts that allow the main cables to still clamp on to a stub while giving you a threaded terminal for extra stuff. Another option would be to put a ring terminal on the wire and put it under the nut on the stud calmp for the main cable. Putting the wire on the stud and just clamping it together would work, but is pretty booty fab IMHO and will only lead to problems down the road, but it certainly is an option in an emergency or to test out your wiring before buying an adapter.

You certainly can drill a new hole in the battery box. Just be reasonable in choosing the size and location and make sure there isn't anything behind where you're drilling (no, I've NEVER hit a fuel line that way). Make sure you use a little slip in rubber grommet on the edhes of the hole to prevent chaffing. These are widely available. At the very least, cover all the edges with electrical tape. If the wire is going to be exposed to the outside elements, it never hurts to put some wire loom around it. Again, the cheap split plastic stuff is everywhere.

Finally, an explanation of the grounding. Negative and ground are used to describe the same wire so don't get confused there. DC wiring on the vehicles is cool in that even though different points on the system have different voltages, they use the same reference voltage...that is...the ground. Ok...nevermind...scratch that...getting complicated. The long and the short of it is that everything metal within the bus acts as a giant negative wire. After the current goes through the device (like your cb), it goes back to the battery through the chassis. It sure saves a lot of wiring. I would be willing to bet if you followed that big negative wire on your battery you would find that it just connects to the frame somewhere. All those weird metal straps you see connecting the engine to the frame or the body to the frame are ground straps meant to help the current flow even easier. About the only time you'll ever see a wire running directly to the negative terminal on the battery is when it's something REALLY high drain like a winch, plow hydraulic pump, offroad lights, etc.

Interestingly enough, AC current like your house uses also uses a common ground...namely the ground! In the event of a surge, short circuit, etc...anything where the ground wire becomes active....the current travels back to the generating plant though the earth itself, hence the term "ground."
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Old 10-25-2006, 05:42 AM   #6
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BTW...there are a TON of basic wiring guides out there that are worth a look. Phrannie's Poop Sheets is an excellent start. Just take your time. It's a lot of information coming at you fast.

http://phrannie.org/phredex.html
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Old 10-25-2006, 12:35 PM   #7
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Oh WOW!! There is hope for me yet! Thank you so much. NOW things are starting to make sense. Your descriptions are EXCELLENT.

I was afraid to drill a hole from the battery box into the bus because of that "escaping gasses" thing about batteries that I read on the forums. And it's so good to know about all those cool clamps and adapters. This is going to be great.

I'll DEFINITELY check out that book, too. Thanks so so so much!

Mona
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Old 10-27-2006, 11:21 AM   #8
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First thing you should ALWAYS install before anything else, is a fuse!
Never connect anything to the battery without a fuse right next to the battery, or close to it.
Prevents a burning bus.........
Always fuse the RED/POSITIVE side. And remember that the longer the run of wire, the more voltage drop (and wire heating) you will get. Keep your leads short, heavy, and properly connected and protected against corrosion.
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Old 10-27-2006, 12:40 PM   #9
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Eeeee - good to know. I think I'll get a book and read up before I burn down my bus or fry someone, including myself. Lots of important things in the details.

Thank you so much for the info! This is the most amazing forum.

Mona
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