Flat Top Shade Structure Guidance + Am I Missing Anything?

Ideas, advice, tips, and tricks regarding shelter, shade, tents, and camping. Yes, this includes RV's too.
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livinglovingsteph
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Flat Top Shade Structure Guidance + Am I Missing Anything?

Post by livinglovingsteph » Tue May 01, 2018 7:54 am

Hello ePlaya! I have spent hours scouring this forum and reddit for guidance on constructing our camp's first shade structure. We have decided upon a flat top structure, 10x20' (we aren't a huge camp). I have almost everything figured out structure wise, however I am confused on a couple of things and was hoping to get some guidance.

The first thing, I have read to use rebar pounded into the ground to secure the structure, but I am confused here. Do we just slip the poles over the rebar that's in the ground? Do we do anything else to secure the poles onto the rebar?

The next thing, I have read to also use guy lines / ratchet straps to secure the structure. Would something like this work:
http://www.canadiantire.ca/en/pdp/smart ... p.html#spc

Just hook the hooks over the poles? What is the best way to secure it into the ground? I apologize for all the questions but I want to be prepared on the playa!

Thanks in advance :D

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Re: Flat Top Shade Structure Guidance + Am I Missing Anything?

Post by Ratty » Tue May 01, 2018 8:18 am

There is a company in the SF bay area that sells those shades. Their shades have bolts on the bottom of the legs that tighten onto the rebar. I would suggest that you also pound some candy cained rebar or use lag screws to attach straps.

Bring a stick of some kind to prop up the middle of your tarps if it rains. That is, if you are using tarps.
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livinglovingsteph
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Re: Flat Top Shade Structure Guidance + Am I Missing Anything?

Post by livinglovingsteph » Tue May 01, 2018 8:40 am

Ratty wrote:There is a company in the SF bay area that sells those shades. Their shades have bolts on the bottom of the legs that tighten onto the rebar. I would suggest that you also pound some candy cained rebar or use lag screws to attach straps.
I've seen their website, however we are coming from the other direction and won't be able to use their service. I have seen what they do by drilling a hole and securing the rebar in the pole with a screw. I like that idea but our tools will be really limited.

What are some other ways to secure the poles around the rebar?

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Re: Flat Top Shade Structure Guidance + Am I Missing Anything?

Post by Ratty » Tue May 01, 2018 9:10 am

A monkey hut is made of PVC that just slips over the pieces of straight rebar. Then it is straped to the ground with either curved rebar or lag screws drilled into the ground. The lag screws have a washer and a loop of rope or chain to attach your straps. There are plenty of threads about it here on eplaya. Use google to search and put 'eplaya' in the search.
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Re: Flat Top Shade Structure Guidance + Am I Missing Anything?

Post by some seeing eye » Tue May 01, 2018 9:18 am

If you have the ratchet straps and a foot of rebar above the ground, you don't need to secure the upright conduits to the rebar. There is a good argument to fill the space between the rebar and the upright conduits so it doesn't bang around. There is also a good argument to have a small piece of wood with a rebar size hole at ground level to minimize the conduit digging itself into the ground as it vibrates.

The ratchet straps look fine. You could also use rope and a trucker's hitch.

Those type structures can be bought complete for on-playa delivery, you could bring the canopy fittings and buy the conduit, tarp, rebar, tie down anchors and rope/ratchets locally or some combination of bring and buy locally. Shadecloth should be brought, you won't find any custom shadecloth on short notice near the event.
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Re: Flat Top Shade Structure Guidance + Am I Missing Anything?

Post by torrey.smith » Tue May 01, 2018 9:34 am

One thing I'd like to point out is that at Burning Man, a spacetime vortex causes the sunlight to always come in dead sideways to bypass the top and hit you right in the feels.

I recommend side panels on the sunny side, and to plan your orientation appropriately.

Sextant has a 40x190 ft shade structure with side panels all around :mrgreen:

But it's mesh so we still bake :shock:

Come ride our zip-line :D
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Re: Flat Top Shade Structure Guidance + Am I Missing Anything?

Post by asr9754 » Tue May 01, 2018 9:50 am

LLSteph,
we have used the flattop shade structure and they are great. Tips:
Put a candy cane rebar at each corner and ratchet-strap from the top corner of your structure to the candy cane. Tighten up every day or so.
The corner fittings of your structure probably come with an eye-bolt that you twist to lock in the poles. Do NOT put your ratchet strap hook into the eyebolt, it can snap off. Loop the ratchet strap around the corner fitting and loop the hook to the fabric strap itself.

At your 4 corners legs, pound in a 2-3 foot piece of straight rebar, pound in rebar but leave about 10 inches exposed. Wind duct tape liberally around the metal pole and rebar stake. It sounds janky but this method really works.

Between the duct tape corners and the ratchets, you will be in good shape and very simple on tools.

You need: 4 candy cane rebar, 4 straight rebars, 4 ratchets, duct tape, sledge hammer, vice grips (to remove rebar at the end)

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Re: Flat Top Shade Structure Guidance + Am I Missing Anything?

Post by livinglovingsteph » Tue May 01, 2018 10:18 am

Thank you so much, asr9754! That helps to clarify. I'll be ordering my fittings and mesh tarp from this site:
http://www.ysbw.com/Canopy-Fittings-1-Inch-s/7.htm

And picking up the conduit poles from Home Depot. Good to know not to hook the ratchet straps into the little holes!

Can you clarify what you mean by wrap duct tape around the metal poles and rebar? This is where I'm confused. If I just slip the pole over the rebar thats in the ground, wouldn't the duct tape just be around the metal pole?

Edit: Would these work to hook the ratchet straps into for the corners? Or would they be too flimsy?
https://www.walmart.com/ip/8-Steel-Reba ... /567651605
Last edited by livinglovingsteph on Tue May 01, 2018 10:58 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Flat Top Shade Structure Guidance + Am I Missing Anything?

Post by burner von braun » Tue May 01, 2018 10:58 am

If I may follow up on Asr's great suggestions, what I think is meant is simply setting the upright canopy leg up against the rebar and duct taping them together, side by side. That's what I do with my shelter, along with rachet straps etc. to actually hold the whole thing down.

I learned a nice little tip in this regard here on eplaya a few years ago. If you do decide to duct tape the two side by side, first wrap a layer of regular kitchen cellophane (think Saran wrap) around the entire area to be duct taped. The duct tape, when wound tight, still has great holding power, it's not going anywhere, but when it's time to leave, one quick slice with a knife, and bad-da-bing!, the whole wrap falls away in one tidy, nonsticky piece. Easy peasy, and as Asr said, this method works just fine. Probably a good idea to make sure any ragged rebar cut edges are wrapped in case people manage to brush against the pole. Or better yet, grind off the jaggedy areas ahead of time, still leaving some flatness to pound on when driving them in.

Another possibility, which I haven't tried yet personally, is having foot attachment pieces, and lag bolting that assembly into the ground.

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Re: Flat Top Shade Structure Guidance + Am I Missing Anything?

Post by livinglovingsteph » Tue May 01, 2018 12:34 pm

Ahh got it! That makes a lot more sense. So don't slip the poles over the rebar, but rather duct tape them together beside each other.

Ok, I think I have everything I need. All of my supplies are as follow:

13 x 1” emt conduit (10’)
7 x 10’
6 x 8’ (cut down)
https://www.homedepot.com/p/1-in-EMT-Co ... /100400409

2 x 1” flat side canopy connector
http://www.ysbw.com/Canopy-Fitting-1-Fl ... p/2205.htm

4 x 1” sliding corner canopy connector
http://www.ysbw.com/Canopy-Fitting-1-Fl ... p/2205.htm

1 x 50 9” ball bungees
http://www.ysbw.com/Premium-Quality-Bla ... p/3533.htm

2 x 10x10 mesh tarp
http://www.ysbw.com/Tan-Mesh-Tarp-10x10-p/4650.htm

6 x 2’ rebar

8 x 12” J Hook rebar
https://www.walmart.com/ip/8-Steel-Reba ... /567651605

4 x ratchet straps

I will loop one end of the ratchet straps around each corner of the roof of the structure, and hook the other end around the candy cane rebar in the ground next to the four corner poles.

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Re: Flat Top Shade Structure Guidance + Am I Missing Anything?

Post by asr9754 » Tue May 01, 2018 1:38 pm

You'll be in good shape w/ that setup, but consider getting a single 10x20 tarp and a second bag of bungee balls.
A cheap 8x20 tarp can be a sidewall for wind/shade. Another 10x20 cheapy tarp is a good floor, tack it down w/ small stakes. It keeps the dust down and makes MOOPing easy at the end.

In my experience, using the little "Foot plate" on the leg does keep the conduit pole from sinking into the playa, but staking the footplate to the playa is not enough to hold the whole structure. The a relatively tiny eyebolt is supposed to hold the rest of a top heavy structure down in the footplate? I don't trust tha. Sometimes I use the little footplates but I still do the ratchets, candycanes and duct-tape-rebar-wrap. 6 years, never had a collapse (FingersCrossed)

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Re: Flat Top Shade Structure Guidance + Am I Missing Anything?

Post by Zubeneschamali » Tue May 01, 2018 2:10 pm

Running the 20x24 setup in our camp. We did buy the kit from the outfit in the Bay Area, and it performed to high expectations.

Agree on using side panels. Recommend using solar shade cloth instead of tarp for side panels and set it up at an angle. This allows airflow and provides extra space under the shade for storage.

Suggestion for setup: build the roof section on the ground, then raise it up on the legs. Ditto in reverse, remove the legs and drop the roof during strike. These modular units are so versatile its stupid having a crew up on latters building in the air.

Also, dunno where this "minimal tools" attitude is coming from, but if you're building, you need tools. I am generous to a point. That point typically ends right when someone asks to borrow my tools.

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Re: Flat Top Shade Structure Guidance + Am I Missing Anything?

Post by Ratty » Tue May 01, 2018 2:25 pm

Not all of these things are available in the store. I hope you will bring everything you need. Can you order the poles ahead of time to be picked up in Fernley at HD?
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Re: Flat Top Shade Structure Guidance + Am I Missing Anything?

Post by Token » Tue May 01, 2018 4:20 pm

You have 6 total vertical posts. You need a minimum of 6 ratchet straps. I personally would use 8 and have only one open side.

Ratchet straps should go diagonally from the top corner to the base of the neighbors pole. Best to pick 3 sides and make an X so they are walls.

The ratchet strap does two things:

1. Strap things to the ground so the whole thing doesn’t fly away.

2. Forms a triangle between two orthogonal poles to make a trus and prevent sheering forces.

The 12” candy-cane rebar - may be a bit lightweight for this size load. I’d just double the number of 2’ straight rebar. Get a punch of tennis balls for the rebar ends.

Btw, rope grips rebar real good. Learn how to tie a few hitches and rope is the way to go. Ratchet straps need anchor points, loops, hooks, etc. Get all cozy with rope.

Don’t forget the big 16Oz claw hammer and sturdy vise-grip pliers. Both needed for removal of the rebar.

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Re: Flat Top Shade Structure Guidance + Am I Missing Anything?

Post by DoctorIknow » Tue May 01, 2018 5:49 pm

livinglovingsteph wrote:...Ok, I think I have everything I need. All of my supplies are as follow:

13 x 1” emt conduit (10’)
7 x 10’
6 x 8’ (cut down)
"That outfit in Oakland that makes shade structures" has a brilliant solution about the 10' conduit which has to be cut down to 8' for the six legs.

(and, you will need to buy or bring a hack saw and some method of securing the pipe while you cut it...that could be two friends standing on the pipe, on the edge of a curb in some city, or borrow a 2x4 once on the playa. It's not critical the cuts be 90degrees. A conduit cutter with a little sharp wheel you spin around the circumference is very expensive...go with a hacksaw...you don't need an expensive one.)

OK...so, after cutting, you have six 2' pieces.
Get three of these couplings, and now you have a 12 by 20 shade structure:
https://www.ptmtarps.com/12-x-20-super- ... lver-tarp/
There are cheaper 12x20 tarps, but this is the one "that Oakland company" uses:


That same company does "have a hole" in the bottoms of the uprights, but, they weld a hefty nut on it. Lots of burners have used this method with the straight rebar and the company says it works, but caution wins in the eplaya and strapping the potential flying shade structure is a given. I've never used what that company provides in it's kit (24" straight rebar).

I do suggest you forget about any stakes 12" long. They "can" fine for a small tent, but otherwise,,,,no, except for the last sentence in this post.

As said, you don't absolutely need candy cane if you have tennis balls. To make candy cane, you would have to buy longer rebar, cut some off so it's not too long, get two heavy 4' long pipes and bend the rebar...do the bends in shifts as if you do it too fast, the rebar will snap. Even slowly, a couple might snap. The last pic in this set illustrates that the final bend must be "tight" as the more open bend will not be receptive to the sledge, and, for the amount of rebar you'll be pounding, a 3lb single hand sledge will be fine:
https://photos.app.goo.gl/yea0ZBObgdQZttt53

Of course candy cane would be better to attach the rachet strap to, as it might slide off the straight rebar, and you don't want to angle that straight rebar too much, so I would suggest getting a roll of real paracord, or a small "lot" of 3/4" mule tape (from that big online auction place) and tie it to the rebar so that it won't slip off.

This pic is of a lag screw, but rebar would work because of it's "texture". Make sure you make a real square knot, not a granny:
mule on lag.JPG
Also, as said, you will need side shade. One can't always orient their structure so that morning sun is mitagated with side shade, so better to spend a few extra bucks and get one MESH 10x10 for one side (maybe you can find 10x12 but if you can't 10x10 is fine) and one 10x20 MESH of the highest shade factor.

And, as said in this thread, get extra ball bungies.

THE LAST SENTENCE IN THIS POST:

The 12" pre candy cane rebars could be fine for tying down the side shade, but 12" nails from HD or Lowes will fit thru the grommets. If you go candy cane, one more use for ball bungies of which one can't have too many :D
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Re: Flat Top Shade Structure Guidance + Am I Missing Anything?

Post by motskyroonmatick » Tue May 01, 2018 6:53 pm

Buy one of these for cutting down the 1" pipes. Relatively easy to use and moop free. Be careful with the inside edges they will be made sharp.

http://toolguyd.com/how-to-use-a-rotary ... pe-cutter/
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Re: Flat Top Shade Structure Guidance + Am I Missing Anything?

Post by DoctorIknow » Tue May 01, 2018 7:07 pm

motskyroonmatick wrote:Buy one of these for cutting down the 1" pipes. Relatively easy to use and moop free. Be careful with the inside edges they will be made sharp.

http://toolguyd.com/how-to-use-a-rotary ... pe-cutter/
It's $24 on that jungle/river named website.

Expensive if you only use it to make six cuts for BM and then it sits in a drawer in the garage for years until you have a garage sale :D

Hacksaw at Horror Freight is $5 and it will find a use in you life outside BM.

And for both the tubing cutter and the hacksaw, bring a steel file. A round one if you go with the tubing cutter.

Or, since Motskyroonmatic has a welding shop on the playa, forget that self reliance stuff and let the playa provide :evil:

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Re: Flat Top Shade Structure Guidance + Am I Missing Anything?

Post by livinglovingsteph » Tue May 01, 2018 7:19 pm

I was under the impression that Home Depot can cut my pipe for me? Is that wrong? We have a couple days in Salt Lake City before heading out so I was going to grab the pipe there and have them cut it down to 8'.

Also, noted. 6 ratchet straps for 6 legs.

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Re: Flat Top Shade Structure Guidance + Am I Missing Anything?

Post by livinglovingsteph » Tue May 01, 2018 7:30 pm

DoctorIknow wrote:
OK...so, after cutting, you have six 2' pieces.
Get three of these couplings, and now you have a 12 by 20 shade structure:
https://www.ptmtarps.com/12-x-20-super- ... lver-tarp/
There are cheaper 12x20 tarps, but this is the one "that Oakland company" uses:
Thank you so so much for all the details in your post! Very helpful. I never even thought to use the extra cuttings to expand the shade area. Would you recommend one of those tarps over a mesh style one? I was leaning towards a mesh one originally.

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Re: Flat Top Shade Structure Guidance + Am I Missing Anything?

Post by DoctorIknow » Tue May 01, 2018 8:00 pm

livinglovingsteph wrote: Thank you so so much for all the details in your post! Very helpful. I never even thought to use the extra cuttings to expand the shade area. Would you recommend one of those tarps over a mesh style one? I was leaning towards a mesh one originally.
Ahh, a topic near and dear to differing opinions on the matter: opaque/solid tarp vs. shade cloth/aluminet/military camo.

I have no answer, but do believe:
  • Solid roof tarp on conduit structure must have way for heat to escape. (Two side shades will leave a gap big enough for some heat to escape.) Get a heavy duty solid tarp.

    Roof "mesh shade tarps"must have the best shade rating you can get. You can find 90% shade ratings. You could go cheaper with side shade, but I don't as the whole thing about side shade is that you can sleep later than 7:45am.

    The heavier the"mesh shade tarps" the better, especially as the grommets are likely to be done right with reinforced corners and selvage adequate.

    Aluminet is a fantastic product for roof and side shade. It is very expensive, but if you get any, get the 80%. If you buy bulk to save money and the size you need (12x20) is not a premade, you can secure it in various ways...that's another thread here.

    Aluminet or military camo makes nice shadows on your tent.

    Aluminet is lightweight and can compact nicely. It is easy to de-playa-ize back in defaultia.

    Don't worry about rain with either mesh or solid tarp. You can use a broom to push water off a solid tarp, and mesh will drip brown playa onto your tent so what...

    Probably the biggest choice in solid or mesh roof has to do with WHEN you want to be in your tent. I have a feeling not supported by my being in both situations and measuring any useful data, but perhaps in the middle of the day with the sun relentlessly hitting the roof, aluminet probably reduces heat in the tent. However, to truly escape the UV's when you are "chillin" in a chair under the roof, the tarp wins hands down.
Last edited by DoctorIknow on Tue May 01, 2018 8:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Flat Top Shade Structure Guidance + Am I Missing Anything?

Post by motskyroonmatick » Tue May 01, 2018 8:04 pm

DoctorIknow wrote:
motskyroonmatick wrote:Buy one of these for cutting down the 1" pipes. Relatively easy to use and moop free. Be careful with the inside edges they will be made sharp.

http://toolguyd.com/how-to-use-a-rotary ... pe-cutter/
It's $24 on that jungle/river named website.

Expensive if you only use it to make six cuts for BM and then it sits in a drawer in the garage for years until you have a garage sale :D

Hacksaw at Horror Freight is $5 and it will find a use in you life outside BM.

And for both the tubing cutter and the hacksaw, bring a steel file. A round one if you go with the tubing cutter.

Or, since Motskyroonmatic has a welding shop on the playa, forget that self reliance stuff and let the playa provide :evil:
Hahahahahahaha!!!!! Awesome!!! ^^^^^ The tubing cutters are about 15 bucks at a big box store and a pittance compared to other costs. Sometimes it's great to be able to cut tubing on your own time and having a tool to use in the future when shade expansion happens. :) Yes I have 2 of these tubing cutters and can usually find one in my hoard of tools on Playa. I think if tubing cutting is offered in store it will be in the plumbing isle.

I dont order corner pieces when I order parts for a new shade. I order the ones that are like an X,Y,Z axis chart. The ones with 6 places to put poles. I use these on the corners to hang things from, add to shade a little with or to put a pole in the top as a flag pole. They are a little more expensive than the corner pieces but they up the versatility and having a flag on the corner of shade is fun.

I set my shades up by first constructing the roof frame. Then I put tennis balls that I have slit open half way on all the bottoms of the uprights. They act like feet. When the wind is calm and there is no dust popping up on the horizon I bungee ball the shade cloth to the frame. Then I get help and have as many people as there are uprights lift the shade in to the air and put the uprights in and turn the thumb screws tight. Then I have half the people hold the shade down while I install the tie downs at every upright. If there is a hint of a breeze I pre attach all my tie downs and have stuff driven in to the ground to immediately tie on to. Shade becomes a powerful kite in even light wind and can easily get away from you.

You are doing great! Love the positive attitudes in this thread.

p.s. Double the size of your shade while you still have the chance. Bigger shade means less moving chairs and more coverage of tent.
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Re: Flat Top Shade Structure Guidance + Am I Missing Anything?

Post by DoctorIknow » Tue May 01, 2018 8:45 pm

motskyroonmatick wrote:
I dont order corner pieces when I order parts for a new shade. I order the ones that are like an X,Y,Z axis chart. The ones with 6 places to put poles. I use these on the corners to hang things from, add to shade a little with or to put a pole in the top as a flag pole. They are a little more expensive than the corner pieces but they up the versatility and having a flag on the corner of shade is fun.
I forgot about this...yes, get the ones with six places to put poles. I must have used the "empty" ones for ten different uses and still thinking of new uses.

Such as:

Why not utilize the "upright" unused coupling by making a second roof a foot or two above the "roof" of the existing structure, and have BOTH a solid tarp on the bottom and aluminet on the top? I am planning on trying this out this year I already have the aluminet, so why not? If you want to see it, go to Camp Do Nothing, hopefully, around the 4:30 plaza area. The sketch is a 10x20 as it was easier to sketch...
double roof conduit.JPG
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Re: Flat Top Shade Structure Guidance + Am I Missing Anything?

Post by Popeye » Tue May 01, 2018 9:07 pm

I'll add, if you only have a few people build the frame on the ground and put the roof tarp on after the frame is installed on the uprights. If you tie a rope, centered, across the roof frame from upwind to the downwind ends of the frame you can bungy the upwind end first then unroll the roof tarp as you bungy the sides.
Last year we put up a 12x20 with two people, by following the instructions and putting the tarp on while on the ground. The girl on the upwind end was doing chin ups :shock: when the wind got under it. :D :D Had to cut about 10" off the conduit where it bent. That was a light breeze!
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Re: Flat Top Shade Structure Guidance + Am I Missing Anything?

Post by Ratty » Tue May 01, 2018 10:13 pm

Last year was pretty windy pre-event. I put up the frame of my shade, (It's only 6 feet tall), but I couldn't put on the tarp. I was sitting in the sun. Trilobyte brought his camp over and they had it up in minutes. Thank you Trilo!!
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Re: Flat Top Shade Structure Guidance + Am I Missing Anything?

Post by livinglovingsteph » Fri May 04, 2018 2:29 pm

Another question: what's the best ball bungee size to get? 6"? 9"?

And are 1" ratchet straps thick enough?

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Location: Aurora Oregon

Re: Flat Top Shade Structure Guidance + Am I Missing Anything?

Post by motskyroonmatick » Fri May 04, 2018 3:33 pm

I think I mostly use the 6" ones but having a few of the 9" ones might come in handy. 1" ratchet straps will work well. They need to be about 1/4 longer than the distance your shade is off the ground so that when they are deployed at an angle they will have the right length and some adjustability.
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asr9754
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Re: Flat Top Shade Structure Guidance + Am I Missing Anything?

Post by asr9754 » Fri May 04, 2018 3:57 pm

LLS you're on the right track and as you can tell, folks here like to share ideas and tips!

2 more cents for your coin purse: HD may or may not be able to cut your poles. The little tube cutter tool is a worthwhile purchase and you can cut 6 legs yourself in about 5 minutes.

Opaque tarp vs mesh tarp is a matter of preference. I like a solid white roof tarp and mesh sidewall tarp as a compromise of shade vs breathability.

DoctorIknow
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Burning Since: 1998
Location: Sacramento

Re: Flat Top Shade Structure Guidance + Am I Missing Anything?

Post by DoctorIknow » Fri May 04, 2018 5:11 pm

livinglovingsteph wrote:Another question: what's the best ball bungee size to get? 6"? 9"?
I forget the size...anyone else?

When putting the tarp on the conduit frame, sometimes a ball bungee, no matter how hard you are trying, is just too short.

Instead of having two lengths, which will probably be the same color and slow down your setup (frustration can be a great BM learning experience, but not required) you can always double up ball bungee's in the rare instances you need to.

But, you can get different colored ball bungees, but probably have to buy 50 of them.

As for installation, different strokes.....but with this style: ball against the tarp....if your hands slip during the tensioning, the ball bungee might not be a missile heading for your face.
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Last edited by DoctorIknow on Fri May 04, 2018 5:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.

DoctorIknow
Posts: 696
Joined: Thu Aug 26, 2004 3:07 pm
Burning Since: 1998
Location: Sacramento

Re: Flat Top Shade Structure Guidance + Am I Missing Anything?

Post by DoctorIknow » Fri May 04, 2018 5:14 pm

whoops

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BBadger
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Location: (near) Portland, OR, USA

Re: Flat Top Shade Structure Guidance + Am I Missing Anything?

Post by BBadger » Sat May 05, 2018 7:22 am

You can also use running rigging too instead of bungees.
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