Large EMT camping shade structure - advice needed

Ideas, advice, tips, and tricks regarding shelter, shade, tents, and camping. Yes, this includes RV's too.
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Keldin
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Large EMT camping shade structure - advice needed

Post by Keldin » Tue Jul 22, 2014 2:41 am

Hi all

I've read all the threads on EMT shade (at least I hope I found them all) and we're looking to build a large, 3000+ square feet, structure to shade our camp-mates in tents this year. Hopefully I've done my research well enough that our plan is sensible but considering the size and investment I thought it would be prudent to post this and get some advice specifically for what we are doing. If anyone has experience with this and would like to get into an email discussion please feel free otherwise all comments on some or all of the points below are welcome.

Specifically:
1 - We are looking at 60ft x 60ft (possibly a lot less depending on funds) in 10ft grids. Is this too large? It seemed a scalable method of shade.
2 - We will be using 10ft 1" EMT (probably sourced from Home Depot). Is this strong enough? This seems to be commonly used but we are building it large so would that weaken it? I couldn't find any conduit longer than 10ft - is it available?
3 - We will be using the bungee/ball connectors to join the 10ft tarps (100% UV blocking silver tarp with rope re-inforced edeges and grommets 18" apart)
4 - The tarps will be horizontal only. no angled or side pieces to minimise catching the wind.
5 - The uprights will be cut to less than 10ft so there is 1 ft or so of headspace above the largest tent.
6 - Each upright around the perimeter will be held down by ratchet straps (we already have a lot of these). Internal ones will not all be held down - only some will. I would like to use feet and rebar them down but that may be an investment for next year. Is this enough or shoudl they all be staked down somehow
7 - This creates a 10ft grid for tents but with odd-size or large sizes this may not be the most efficient layout as some tents may need to go where there is an upright. How do you deal with this.
8 - Do you have suggestions for buying tarps or connector that do delivery or collection in Reno or San Francisco?
9 - What have I overlooked?

Thanks in advance
Keldin

DoctorIknow
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Re: Large EMT camping shade structure - advice needed

Post by DoctorIknow » Tue Jul 22, 2014 4:18 am

Before anything else: do you know what time it is? How little of it?
Perhaps the best you can do now is order the entire thing.
Depending on some supplier getting all parts to Reno or SF is a stretch. What would happen if you picked up stuff that wasn't complete.
Check out this site: http://www.blackrockhardware.com/
as listed in the BM Resource guide: http://www.burningman.com/preparation/r ... .html#misc

But onto your structure:

No side shade? If you don't have guy ropes going out all around 'cause you don't need them, put some in for shade!
Do shade at least on the east side. When plotting out my corners, I always think first of morning shade, then orient my structure as well as I can to make barriers to wind.

Side shade will give you so much more usable space, otherwise tents will be flooded with the morning sun which will heat up at least a third of the space, making campers suffer greatly starting at about 8:45am... use a very breathable greenhouse shade cloth, or aluminet if you have the $$, and you don't need grommeted aluminet at all...

I believe your plan is way overbuilt, which is good (see next paragraph) which is why I suppose you are looking for longer than 10' EMT.

You've got amazing strength, so why not get rid of some of the supports inside?

Wherever there aren't any poles, get some 15' redwood 2x2's, put a bowl on the end, and just jack up the tarps. Since you'll be using bungee, you can really torque it up. This will allow oversized tents to move the pole wherever they need to within the pole free quadrant, and the integrity and wind capacity of your structure won't be compromised at all.

Remove the poles with the red dots...you probably could remove more.
60_60 grid.JPG
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Keldin
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Re: Large EMT camping shade structure - advice needed

Post by Keldin » Tue Jul 22, 2014 5:17 am

Thanks DoctorIKnow.
Yeah I had noticed the time :-)
Initially there was no money for shade so this was just a planning exercise for next year and now it seems there may be some. It's quite possible that we may end up out of time and not doing this as I'm still waiting for sign off.
I had excluded side shade as I thought it may catch the wind. I'm going to use 100% light blocking so it will catch more wind than 70% aluminet. I'm hoping to use RV's to block the morning sun but may re-use the 50% shadecloth we used previously to provide some if the RV's aren't sufficient.
If you don't use grommeted shade cloth how do you attach it to the framework?
One reason for the 10ft grid is to make it adaptable to whatever layout we need. I've put together a 60ft tensengrity type square before but when it came to fit it into a 50ft space it got tricky.

I looked at the Black Rock Hardware setup. It wasn't clear they were using 1" EMT but I thought they might be. It looks like they use 10ft poles and use a connector to extend then to 12ft to make it 10x12. Doing that doesn't offset the cost much if at all but it does give slightly more space for tents as opposed to poles. I had thought about removing some internal ones but wasn't sure of the strength implications. I have been accused of over-engineering before :-)

Thanks again.

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Re: Large EMT camping shade structure - advice needed

Post by GreyCoyote » Tue Jul 22, 2014 5:38 am

Over-engineered is what the guy next door calls your structure until he is sitting in it looking at the shredded remains of his "perfect" shade.

Then it all makes sense to him. :mrgreen:
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Re: Large EMT camping shade structure - advice needed

Post by DoctorIknow » Tue Jul 22, 2014 5:54 am

Keldin wrote:
If you don't use grommeted shade cloth how do you attach it to the framework?
Used by Native Americans to tie the tipi down: leather and a rock, but now a marble and line, and clove hitch:

[media]


And, although the clove hitch is in the above video, here's another way to do it

[media]

.
.

Oh, and yeah, further looking in the Blackrock Hardware reveals he uses 1" EMT

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Re: Large EMT camping shade structure - advice needed

Post by FossaFerox » Tue Jul 22, 2014 8:26 am

I wish I was replying to this on my computer instead of my phone... Autocorrect weirdness may occur, but I couldn't ignore this thread.

First, do not eliminate any middle poles. Do invest in feet for all of the poles and 10" nails/slim stakes for the feet.

One of the biggest dangers your structure will face comes from the wind blowing across the top. At 60 by 60 there's enough play in those middle sections (far from guy lines) that if the wind catches the edge of a tarp it will deform the section, lift the lip, and create a sail right in the middle of your structure.

You need the top and bottom of each pole immobilized to prevent this. The adjacent struts will keep the top in place if the bottom is solid, but you need those center poles to be there and to be anchored.

This is especially true if your tarps are conventional cut 10x10 which is usually 9'6"x9'8" finished. Make sure you're ball bungees are long enough to accommodate them if this is the case.

Make sure you use VERY solid anchors for each outer people's ratchet strap guy lines. We used 3' sections of rebar bent into 2.5' candycanes last year and are using 18" lag bolts this year, as an example.

Finally, I highly recommend cutting your vertical poles to something more manageable. This will make your structure stronger, your guyline footprint smaller, and setup and tear down a lot easier. Figure out the tallest structure inside you need to accommodate and add a safety margin. 7 to 8 feet tall is probably good.

Oh, and for suppliers I like the cheap heavy duty silver tarps from home depot since they're true-to-size and ysbw for fittings. Both will deliver.
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Stickygreen
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Re: Large EMT camping shade structure - advice needed

Post by Stickygreen » Tue Jul 22, 2014 12:55 pm

if you change your tarps for another material that allows air to pass thru you can eliminate alot of weight, and expense.

Aluminet, camo net or shade cloth are all viable options, and allow your structure to breath. - Very important in the desert.
)'(

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Re: Large EMT camping shade structure - advice needed

Post by FossaFerox » Tue Jul 22, 2014 12:59 pm

Aluminet eliminates a lot of cost? When I priced it, it threatened to eliminate my budget.
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Re: Large EMT camping shade structure - advice needed

Post by trilobyte » Tue Jul 22, 2014 1:11 pm

The general rule for designing and building a solid shade structure is to either start small, or learn hands-on from someone who has experience. I think it's a great rule you and your campmates should strongly consider.

Keldin
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Re: Large EMT camping shade structure - advice needed

Post by Keldin » Tue Jul 22, 2014 3:07 pm

FossaFerox
Thank you for the quick reply. That's quite some typing for a phone.
I see your point on missing legs out and the importance of holding down the inner legs. I had thought of sliding T connector on a couple of places in the middle which will allow me to position a leg a few feet off to create a slightly bigger space where needed but still have fairly regular support. I'll make sure i get feet for the inner legs and get then staked in.
YSBW is one I was looking at for connectors. It's good to know you've used them.
The Home Depot tarps look quite decent. When you say they are true to size I'm assuming that means exactly 10ft rather than the 9'8" that others seem to come in?

DoctorIknow
Thanks for the tarp tie-down videos. We have a dome with some shade that would benefit from that.

Stickygreen
We're deliberately going for tarp over shade cloth to get maximum cover. 70% shade would allow you a lot of leeway but full shade is worth the extra work to keep it down in the wind (I hope).

Trilobyte
I'm aware of the risks in going large. That's what prompted my post as I don't want to create a disastrous folly. I was going to do a small patch on my own dime but now with the possibility of doing more I'm hoping to provide shade for everyone. It's a size we've done before but as you say now more solid. I'm hoping my over-engineering instincts will see me through and we have some talented and experienced builders available as well. Chances are funds will keep us smaller than the planned 60 footer :-)


K

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Re: Large EMT camping shade structure - advice needed

Post by FossaFerox » Tue Jul 22, 2014 3:31 pm

Yes, the brand name is like Sigmund or something. Heavy duty silver. I can't check at work, sadly. They're actually 10x10 and work great with emt.

As for spacing, the poles are less obtrusive than you might assume. I'll post some pics from the structure we used last year when I get home.
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Re: Large EMT camping shade structure - advice needed

Post by GreyCoyote » Tue Jul 22, 2014 3:34 pm

Keldin: I ordered a *bunch* of stuff of YSBW more than two weeks ago that was all advertised as "in stock" and have not heard from them since. They charged the card ASAP too. If you need stuff in a hurry, reliably, consider this. Tomorrow I will be calling them with a "WTF, over?" inquiry.

Not saying they are a bad company (far from it!), but if you need stuff quickly, you might want to have a backup plan. This seems like their busy season and they have some really good prices, so its in high demand.
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Re: Large EMT camping shade structure - advice needed

Post by kittyrodriguez » Tue Jul 22, 2014 3:44 pm

GreyCoyote: That sucks! I ordered some stuff from them last friday and it shipped yesterday and will be delivered on thursday. Delivery in less than a week. And I didn't pay for expedited shipping. I would contact them immediately. I have heard good things about them, and hopefully this was just an oversight.

This will be our first time building this type of shade as well. Ours is going to be 10x20 and all said and done should cost around $200. Ordering the connectors and then buying the EMT at your local hardware store seems to be the quickest and cheapest way to do it.

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Re: Large EMT camping shade structure - advice needed

Post by forty_eight » Tue Jul 22, 2014 5:12 pm

FWIW, I found last minute EMT shade supplies at the local swap meet ... makes sense there is an onsite vendor at the swap meet where conduit shade is more ubiquitous than at BM!

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Re: Large EMT camping shade structure - advice needed

Post by GreyCoyote » Tue Jul 22, 2014 5:51 pm

Kitty: yay for fast delivery! :mrgreen:

I will call them tomorrow and see whassup. Like any vendor they likely have the occasional "issue". Great to see you got your stuff! I've got 20-something days until we leave so I am not hugely worried. It will show up. :mrgreen:
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Re: Large EMT camping shade structure - advice needed

Post by FIGJAM » Tue Jul 22, 2014 6:03 pm

I've been recommending them a lot.

They may be swamped. 8)
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Re: Large EMT camping shade structure - advice needed

Post by GreyCoyote » Tue Jul 22, 2014 6:06 pm

FIGJAM wrote:I've been recommending them a lot.

They may be swamped. 8)
Definitely swamped. And definitely good people, too. :mrgreen:
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Re: Large EMT camping shade structure - advice needed

Post by Capt. RON » Tue Jul 22, 2014 6:14 pm

HIYA Kelden, The ORPHANAGE camps utilize EMT exclusively for all our shade structures. Let me offer a few suggestions.

1) Build several smaller shade "blocks" rather than a one BIG 60x60. This will enable you to shelter more individual tents and give you quite a bit more flexibility in accommodating odd sized tents. Our camp is building (3) 20x60 blocks, which will provide shade for (36) tents.

2) We like 8ft high ceilings, as this gives us ample space for air circulation and heat dissipation

3) Do NOT use rebar for your anchors! It's a pain in the ass to pound in and a bigger pain in the ass to remove. 18in 3/8 LAG bolts are faster to install, SAFER because you can drive them flush to the ground. 3/8ths also enables you to thread directly thru the grommets of your side shade

If you'd like blueprints and parts lists, just let me know and I'll send you the links
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Re: Large EMT camping shade structure - advice needed

Post by Keldin » Wed Jul 23, 2014 2:06 am

I sent YSBW an email with some queries and they responded fairly quickly (hours and I'm several hours ahead of them) and answered all my questions. Definitely going to arrange as early an order as I can. Good to know they have positive reviews from you guys - mostly :-)

Capt Ron - PM on the way.

Thanks

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Re: Large EMT camping shade structure - advice needed

Post by garyt » Fri Jul 25, 2014 2:21 pm

I got a question too. My EMT structure is 14 x 20 and in the past couple years, Ive had 2 humongous tarps to cover it to make it a close ended tunnel. It's a pain in the ass so this year I got myself 90% shade cloth for the roof and camo netting for the sides. I set it up at the local regional event and It was easy to setup, bla bla bla, etc. The question is what if it rains?? I still got to put a tarp over and that defeats the whole purpose of having that shade cloth. Anyone got a similar setup and your solution if it rains. If the answer is fuck it, just enjoy the unicorns and double rainbow, I'm ok with it too. :)
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Re: Large EMT camping shade structure - advice needed

Post by garyt » Fri Jul 25, 2014 2:21 pm

I got a question too. My EMT structure is 14 x 20 and in the past couple years, Ive had 2 humongous tarps to cover it to make it a close ended tunnel. It's a pain in the ass so this year I got myself 90% shade cloth for the roof and camo netting for the sides. I set it up at the local regional event and It was easy to setup, bla bla bla, etc. The question is what if it rains?? I still got to put a tarp over and that defeats the whole purpose of having that shade cloth. Anyone got a similar setup and your solution if it rains. If the answer is fuck it, just enjoy the unicorns and double rainbow, I'm ok with it too. :)
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Re: Large EMT camping shade structure - advice needed

Post by BBadger » Fri Jul 25, 2014 8:59 pm

Maybe keep a shelter, like a tent, for stuff you don't want to get wet?
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Re: Large EMT camping shade structure - advice needed

Post by theCryptofishist » Fri Jul 25, 2014 9:05 pm

Or take the tarps, just in case?
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