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General Information

Hello,
Here is a very brief overview of how we made our bed adjustable for height and angle. The main reason for bothering with this was so that we could adjust the bed so that it would be level (for sleeping) when the van was not level. A good example of this is if you were parked on a suburban street where the road slopes towards the gutter (or curb if you prefer) for drainage. In our conversion, this meant your head becomes lower than your feet which, is not the best for a pleasant night sleep. With the 6" actuators, we have a little over 3 degrees of angular adjustment. It might not sound like much but it makes a huge difference to comfort

Start with 4 of these:
IMAG2281.jpg

and 4 of these:
51WSptA0qgL._AC_SL1100_.jpg


We then mounted one actuator (with ball head rod-end attached) on each corner of the 2.5"x2.5"x3/16" angle iron bed frame. Each Actuator was rigidly mounted to the sidewall of the van using 8mm Nutserts. I do not have any great images of this as it was -15 degrees Science (+5 degrees Fake) when I was fabricobbling this together and my phone kept shutting down.
IMAG3249.jpg IMAG0006.jpg IMAG0005.jpg IMAG3433.jpg

In practice:
Two actuators are extended (e.g. two that are on the end of the bed where your head goes)
As they both go up, the ball head rod-end allows for the change in angle of the frame between the moving end (head end) and the non moving (feet) end. Still with me? I just read back what I typed and realize that it is difficult to comprehend and I built it and have seen it work!

Here is a picture taken looking at one of the head end actuators when it is down. In this position, the bed is parallel with the van floor
20200221_132148.jpg
and with it up/extended. In this photo, you can see the angle. The head end of the bed has now rotated +3 degrees away from the van floor
20200221_132252.jpg

here is another picture trying to show the angle change that the ball head rod-end has taken up with the actuator fully extended
IMAG0578.jpg IMAG0577.jpg

Depending on which direction the van is listing (down hill, up hill etc) you can extend any of the actuators to eliminate the unwanted bed angle


So, after all that..... was it worth the effort?
I'd say yes. It has been a nicety but certainly not a necessity. Being able to make the bed level for sleeping without having to level the van has been very handy, especially at trailheads or suburban streets. The added bonus is that by extending all 4 actuators, you raise the entire bed 6" which makes accessing the underside of the bed (for battery or water system maintenance) just that bit easier.
Would I do it again?
Probably, yes. I had a bit of time to ponder the van build as a Calgary winter forces you to down tools more often than one would like, especially when you can only work outside. This gave me time to think and (perhaps) let my imagination run free. Once I thought of it, I had to give it a go!

I hope someone understands what I am raving on about....

Gallery

Comments

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Can you tell me a bit about those straight spherical bearing things that you attached to the actuators. I'm trying to set up the same system in my van. How did you attach those to the actuators? And do they provide enough movement to handle all the weird bed positions?
 

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Can you tell me a bit about those straight spherical bearing things that you attached to the actuators. I'm trying to set up the same system in my van. How did you attach those to the actuators? And do they provide enough movement to handle all the weird bed positions?
Hi dtwigs,
Apologies for the delay in reply, I just saw your message.

The spherical bearing things are essentially a ball joint with a male thread on one end and a female thread on the other. In my application, I drilled and tapped a hole in the top of the actuator and screwed the Male end of the spherical bearing thing into the actuator. The bed frame was then bolted to the Female end of the spherical bearing thing.
The quality of the units I purchased (as shown in the link above) is not great. I used them anyway as I had no idea if the concept would work or not. If it worked but they failed, I'd get better (more industrial quality) ones. So far, they have worked fine.
They offer more angular movement than I can achieve with the length of actuator I have. A longer actuator would give a larger range of movement but you have to allow for the top of the mattress when the bed is angled. Having recessed wall panels helps with allowing for the mattress when the bed is angled though (as with most things), a compromise is the best solution. In my application (which we have used full time for a year), the 100mm actuator worked well.

A couple of other points though:
We only ever alter the angle in one plane, that is, we only extend two actuator pairs (both head actuators or both left hand side) actuators at a time. This prevents twisting the bed frame and eliminates multiple directions of force on the actuators and mounting brackets.
We also only adjust the bed when it is unloaded (not in use) as the motors in the actuators are only rated to move about 75kg of weight. Once they are set to the desired angle, they can be loaded with no issue.

Good luck with your build!

Dave
 
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