Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Shade Structure #2

Continuing on from previous post about the shade structure I was building...

It took a few weeks to find enough material for the tent inner. My sister Kathryn helped me with a really good piece of advice; quilt covers from 2nd hand stores are usually the cheapest way to get large pieces of fabric. She also gave me lot of spare cloth of varying shapes and sizes in suitcases that she would never use.

My lovely friend Alissa offered to help me build the thing just days before she went on holiday. She has an overlocker that really sped up the production. It still took two nights, and roughly 14 hours on the thing. and it was huge.. like super huge, totally unmanageable.
Now that I had my inner cloth, and the outer poles, I needed to test it out.

I enlisted to the help of Smiddy and Josh, who came over one afternoon. We walked to the local park and got started. There was a creche of children next door to the park and these kids were curiously shouting at us "what are you doing", "what are you making", no matter how times we said what we were doing they kept asking, memories like goldfish, it was pretty funny.

We spent 3 hours attempting to get it put up. The main challenge was that the poles themselves weren't strong enough to hold the weight of the cloth and the other poles until it was fully up. In general the gauge of the pipe was too small, too easy to bend.

Technically it was a success, but practically it was a failure.

I wanted to test again, so I enlisted another friend Sundance, and this time setup was easier due to experience, but still took us 30 minutes or more.

I decided that I would need to replace the poles entirely from 20mm to at least 40mm but I didn't want to fudge the measurements this time, so to that end I've started studying mathematics from Khan Academy.

I really enjoy studying math from khan, the progression is slow, and lengthy, I feel like it keeps me engaged without being too patronising. I treat the beginner math as grinding in an RPG, and the practice nature of it helps me remember.

In the meantime, I have a lot of poles, I don't really want to waste them.

I cut my poles in half, (a little under half) to 75cm lengths. bought a shadecloth baseplate, fixed the base poles to the cloth, and built the structure again. Using a baseplate to work from had an immediate effect on the ease of setting up the tent, its robustness and I would find ease of packing up and storing the tent too

I fixed the shade cloth to the poles by using an insert of a smaller gauge pipe of about 5mm length and press fitting the cloth into the base of the poles. So far they have withstood many setups and unsets and a trip to the beach without popping out.

<Picture of press fit>

In its original configuration at half the size, the opening for a human is too small, so I made some slight adjustments to the pole configuration, it now has a much larger opening.

I'm still using the original cloth, I am reluctant to cut it up considering the effort Alissa put into its construction.

So we have a working structure that is a lot smaller than the original plans. It was time to test it at the beach.

I set the tent up easily, used sand to hold down the excess cloth and keep the tent grounded. Since the shade cloth is very coarse, any sand tracked into the tent falls through. makes for perfect beach setup. Time to surf.

A hour later...

I look back to the beach and notice something is wrong, the tent is a little lopsided. Paddling back to shore, I see that the wind has flattened it and bent some poles in half at their weakest point(the joints).
 The problem was that at the joints, there really was only a 15mm tube holding it together. and since the poles weren't tethered together they weren't helping each other carry the load of the fabric and wind. So, I got some connectors to surround the joints, and some elastic rope to hold the poles together at the cross over points.

So this is where it stands so far. half sized, reorganised, reinforced.

I need to test it at the beach again.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Shade Structure

I want to buy a shade tent for when I go to the beach with friends, it needs to be big enough to accommodate a group of people. I was walking into tent shops and I liked the look of this Coleman Event 14 but at the time I didn't have $300 to spare (I've seen it advertised for $250 in other shops these days). The sales guy/manager in the store I was in jerked me off at that time so I don't want to give him business and haven't been back

Fast forward a couple of years, still haven't purchased a shade structure. A Google search for shade structure gives me http://shelter-systems.com/ and I like what I'm seeing. It really fits with the DIY culture I've been getting into lately.

I'm happy to spend incremental amounts, even pay a little more if I'm learning something. I decided its something I believe I can make, so I get designing.

Blender is a  great free tool for lots of reason :D
Initial Design