Home » Someone Turned A Police Scissor-Lift Surveillance Van Into The Ultimate Camper With A View

Someone Turned A Police Scissor-Lift Surveillance Van Into The Ultimate Camper With A View

Scissor Lift Camper Ts5
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If you want to camp out in a vehicle, a van is a great choice. You can throw a mattress in the back and hunker down for a good night’s sleep. If you prefer being entirely too conspicuous, you could get an ex-NYPD surveillance van with a crazy hydraulic lift and camp at altitude, letting the breeze gently rock you to sleep. Sounds fun, right?

Camping YouTuber Mavrik Joos, aka Mav, sourced a Ford E-350 van that allegedly served with the New York Police Department. At least, that’s what the shadows of former stickers seem to suggest. This is no covert surveillance van. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. From a distance, it’s easy to spot the huge modified top on the rear of the vehicle. It’s an enclosure for the scissor lift platform installed in the back which carries a “sky capsule.”

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

[Ed note: I remember seeing these around New York during protests and big events. I was clearly not clever enough to see their best use case, which is a camper. – MH]

It’s basically a mobile surveillance tower that can be raised high up in the air to give law enforcement a better view of an area. To pack in that assembly, the van’s roof sits at 10 feet, 6 inches high when it’s all retracted. It means you have to be a little careful of low-hanging power lines and the like when driving around.

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Joos took the 4×4 van on a trip to the Adirondack Mountains in upstate New York. With just 5,200 miles on the clock, he reports that it runs like a dream. He then steps through the process of getting the van set up to deploy its aerial surveillance pod. The back of the van hosts a ton of batteries and hydraulics to run the scissor lift, which can loft the surveillance box a good 30 feet into the sky. Setting everything up is quite an involved procedure.

Stabilizers are deployed to keep the van level.

Once the various auxiliary power systems are switched on, it’s necessary to extend the stabilizers at each corner of the vehicle. This is crucial to stop wind forces toppling the van when the pod is extended. A switch in the cabin auto-levels the vehicle, with Joos double-checking the positioning with a bubble level. Once the van detects that it’s sitting appropriately level, the scissor lift can be extended into the air.

There’s no way to enter or exit the pod while it’s up in the air. Thus, travelling solo, Joos has to enter the pod on the ground, using its internal joystick control to raise and lower the scissor lift as required. He notes the risk of getting stuck in the air if he gets things wrong. Regardless, at height, the van offers something too good to resist—an absolutely stunning view out over Lake George and the mountains that you simply can’t get on the ground.

Pretty tasty view. Pretty tasty. Credit: Mav/YouTube

According to Joos, the van reportedly cost on the order of $250,000 to fit out before it was eventually deemed surplus to requirements by the NYPD. It still retains its deployable video cameras and other surveillance equipment from its former life in law enforcement. The cameras are controllable in pan and tilt via an Xbox 360 controller.

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The vans were built by Terra Hawk, LLC, and are equipped with sliding windows for taking in a nice breeze if you fancy it. Hilariously, there is also a tiny little scoop-style anemometer that hangs beneath the surveillance pod, which helps monitor wind levels for safety reasons. A wind meter inside the cabin allows the occupants to monitor the conditions and take action if necessary.

The best thing about cooking at altitude is that you don’t have to worry about getting rolled by bears.

Joos spends the night in the van, and even cooks dinner up there. He prepares a meal of mushroom gnocci with instant potatoes, which looks a darn sight better than most camping meals we’ve ever had. It’s got very little to do with the van, of course, but it shows there’s plenty of room to move in the surveillance pod if you can prepare pasta from scratch, right? In any case, if you’re cooking with fire in such a pod, remember to keep the windows open for good ventilation. Joos also notes that by cooking at height, threats like bears or other wild animals are greatly reduced.

The cabin isn’t exactly thickly insulated, so you’d want a good sleeping bag to keep you cosy. With that said, there is a heater onboard, but it’s perhaps ill-advised to run that while you’re asleep.

The pod can be raised and lowered from inside via a joystick control. You just have to hope nobody breaks in to your van and drives away while you’re up there.

Those that aren’t a fan of heights might be best advised not to camp in such a way. It would be unfortunate to wake up in the middle of the night as your 30-foot high surveillance pod was in the middle of tipping over, after all. If you check the weather, and set up appropriately, you’d probably be fine.

On balance, I’d probably sleep on the ground and just raise the platform for my morning coffee. Best not to tempt the fates, and all.

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Dead Elvis, Inc.
Dead Elvis, Inc.
8 months ago

Meh. This is just an underachieving version of this:

https://www.theautopian.com/a-pilot-turned-an-airport-catering-truck-into-a-sky-high-mechanical-treehouse/

A much, much worse version, considering that Joos hasn’t done jack shit to turn his van into anything more than it was to begin with.

Scott
Scott
8 months ago

I wonder what it cost.

Ron888
Ron888
8 months ago

No one would try this in australia.It’s a 100% certainty your drunk “mates” will rock it violently during the night

Last edited 8 months ago by Ron888
Dead Elvis, Inc.
Dead Elvis, Inc.
8 months ago
Reply to  Ron888

There are more than a few million ‘muricans that would do exactly the same, given the opportunity.

ADDvanced
ADDvanced
8 months ago

It doesn’t look like he turned anything into a camper. It looks like nothing was modified. ???

Here4thecars
Here4thecars
8 months ago
Reply to  ADDvanced

no mods. He just spent the night in a little booth 30 feet in the air

ADDvanced
ADDvanced
8 months ago
Reply to  Here4thecars

Look at the title of the article “turned it into a camper”

yet “does absolutely nothing”

Garbage article imho, and I love this place.

Dodsworth
Dodsworth
8 months ago

So, would this work better as a lightning rod, or a target?

Serial Thriller
Serial Thriller
8 months ago
Reply to  Dodsworth

Yes

First Last
First Last
8 months ago

If I had a buddy with one of these I don’t think I could resist walking over during the night and disconnecting the batteries.

Phuzz
Phuzz
8 months ago
Reply to  First Last

If my mates did this to me, I’d enjoy weeing on them from a great height 😉

Crank Shaft
Crank Shaft
8 months ago

“On balance.” Well I sure hope so! 😀

Bob Johnson
Bob Johnson
8 months ago

This would be perfect for the infield during a race.

Lardo
Lardo
8 months ago

Coincidently enough I just bought a 2021 Ford AWD EcoBoost T350 with a Colorado Camper Van pop-top. It’s like being in a tree house. Should be a good ski machine for this winter. I find it hard to justify the NYPD speeding so much for this. Did they really need it? And selling it with no milage, did the replace it with a newer one? The transfer of military equipment is ridiculous enough, now LEO just order up what they “need”. They probably use drones now.

Stig's Cousin
Stig's Cousin
8 months ago

My biggest concern would be waking up in the middle of the night needing to use the bathroom. It says there is no way to enter or exit while the capsule is in the air, but the video shows that the door opens normally even at full height. I could see my semi awake self opening the door and stepping out into nothing. That would ruin my camping trip for sure.

M0L0TOV
M0L0TOV
8 months ago
Reply to  Stig's Cousin

Unless you live in Japan and this happens to you because nowhere is safe: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=92jUu6LnYfM&ab_channel=QueensGaming

Anoos
Anoos
8 months ago

It’s a real shame this wasn’t burned to the ground in its last life.

Duke of Kent
Duke of Kent
8 months ago
Reply to  Anoos

Jeez, it’s not something I’d want to own myself, but I’m not going to wish for it to be destroyed. Let people enjoy things.

Anoos
Anoos
8 months ago
Reply to  Duke of Kent

No problem with the vehicle now… just not a particular fan of its previous application.

Space
Space
8 months ago
Reply to  Anoos

Burning a vehicle creates pollution which is not good for the environment.

Mike F.
Mike F.
8 months ago

This thing would make a great mobile fire lookout tower. The state of California probably ought to order 50 or 60 of them.

Sklooner
Sklooner
8 months ago
Reply to  Mike F.

Cheaper to turn off the space lasers

Ben
Ben
8 months ago
Reply to  Sklooner

Not so sure about that. Do you know how much it costs to fly someone up there to flip the switch?

Duke of Kent
Duke of Kent
8 months ago

I wouldn’t necessarily want to sleep or cook up there, but I really like the idea of going up to enjoy my morning coffee while taking in the views. It would be an especially good spot to view and photograph wildlife while staying safely out of their way.

VanGuy
VanGuy
8 months ago

I’ve seen images of these kind of things before and I’ll always appreciate van content on here. Do I have a single discernible use for this? No. Do I still want it? Yes.

StillNotATony
StillNotATony
8 months ago

I am desperately trying to come up with a justification for buying this.

So far, the best I can come up with is parking it in front if my house for Halloween, raining candy down on trick-or-treaters while proclaiming myself king of the neighborhood.

Shop-Teacher
Shop-Teacher
8 months ago
Reply to  StillNotATony

I think that’s enough. Go for it!

Bobfish
Bobfish
8 months ago

OBVIOUSLY the NYPD didn’t sell the included building disguise for the van, concerns for public safety and such.

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
8 months ago

Go go gadget!

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
8 months ago

This might be a decent hunting rig, people have done overlanding Econolines before.

Alternatively, a useful all-in-one vehicle for if some weirdo naturalist billionaire asks you to go photograph his island in Costa Rica

Eric Gonzalez
Eric Gonzalez
8 months ago
Reply to  Ranwhenparked

You can easily find weirdos here, and naturalists, but billionaires who own islands and are rare, except for the late John Hammond.

In any case, most islands are filled with dinosaurs so I wouldn’t recommend perching up high in one of these. Wasn’t fun Je… Ian Malcom, there’s a documentary about that.

Last edited 8 months ago by Eric Gonzalez
Root
Root
8 months ago
Reply to  Ranwhenparked

Isn’t it illegal to hunt out of a motor vehicle? I’m not a lawyer (or a hunter), but I seem to recall this being a thing at least in my (extremely gun-friendly) state.

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
8 months ago
Reply to  Root

You’re not in the vehicle, you’re in a deer stand that happens to be attached to a vehicle.

If that argument doesn’t work, tell the officer that the capital letters on your Social Security card mean you only follow admiralty law or something, get creative with it

Mr. Frick
Mr. Frick
8 months ago

Best in-field camper for NASCAR races ever!

My Goat Ate My Homework
My Goat Ate My Homework
8 months ago
Reply to  Mr. Frick

This is it. You could see the track 360 degrees. Brilliant.

StillNotATony
StillNotATony
8 months ago

If you could make it rotate, especially if you could make it track with “your” driver, you would be king of the infield!

My Goat Ate My Homework
My Goat Ate My Homework
8 months ago
Reply to  StillNotATony

Lap times are pretty consistent. You could fashion a rotating stool or something. Not impossible.

Anoos
Anoos
8 months ago
Reply to  Mr. Frick

I am positive that a Nascar fan has brought a scissor lift to the infield at some time. They probably have a rule against it now.

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