Emergency foil blanket as a shade cloth?

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Emergency foil blanket as a shade cloth?

Postby uski » Sat Jul 17, 2010 5:39 pm

Hi everyone!

We are 2 first time burners planning to fly to BM from overseas.

We plan on bringing two small tents, and on building a tensegrity shade structure like this one:
Camp Elsewhere's Tensegrity Shade Structures

Will emergency mylar-foil blanket work as the shade cloth?
Any other suggestion? We're looking for a commonly available and cheap material that we can buy the saturday right before the event.

Thanks!
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Postby sputnik » Sat Jul 17, 2010 5:47 pm

Yes. I used a couple of these on my tent in 06. I connected the two sheets with duct tape and strengthened the edges with it as well. Then I used alligator clips to grip the sheet and attach it to my tent rainfly. I will say that it was rather noisy.
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Postby Token » Sat Jul 17, 2010 5:56 pm

Tensegrity systems put a lot of strain on the shade material. Mylar blankets may not be strong enough for that application.
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Postby sputnik » Sat Jul 17, 2010 6:01 pm

Good point Token. I missed that bit. No way will these hold in a tensegrity structure, but would be OK as the shade material over the material under tension.
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Postby Isotopia » Sat Jul 17, 2010 6:03 pm

Tensegrity systems put a lot of strain on the shade material.


Agreed. This is especially true at the fastening points. The foil can be loud, does work rather well but isn't likely to hold up under any sustained wind situations. I'd try coming up with something as a temporary shade structure but definitely have a secondary back up plan.
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Postby uski » Sat Jul 17, 2010 6:14 pm

Many thanks for your comments! It's helpful.

I'm not familiar with the materials available in the major US stores.

Is there some reasonnably good shade cloth available in one of the "big names" stores? Home Depot, Walmart, ...?

I heard about Aluminet but it costs like $150 and I can't put $150 in something that I will use only once
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Postby Token » Sat Jul 17, 2010 6:24 pm

Painters drop canvas is relatively inexpensive. Tape the edges with duct or gorilla tape and get a grommet kit for the corners. Use 9 Oz weight canvas if available.

Google DIY sail makers to learn how to tape the corners correctly for the load and grommet.

All the tools and materials should be available at home depot or similar.
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Fabric as Tensegrity Tension or Shade

Postby tensegrity » Mon Jul 19, 2010 12:03 am

So canvas makes a better tension component, and mylar rips?

What about the noise, is canvas quieter?

How do you get the duct tape to not peel off under tension?
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Re: Fabric as Tensegrity Tension or Shade

Postby Token » Mon Jul 19, 2010 7:01 am

tensegrity wrote:So canvas makes a better tension component, and mylar rips?

What about the noise, is canvas quieter?

How do you get the duct tape to not peel off under tension?


Yep, I find that woven or knit fiber materials are much more forgiving when used under tension compared to Mylar or even tarps. The stretch of fabrics and multi directional flexibility make for a more pleasant experience.

The cheap mylar blankets tend to shear on any kind of nick so grommeting becomes difficult.

Sputnik mentioned the noise factor.

To make tape stick you run it in long length along the tension lines and use grommets to mechanically fasten to the knit or woven fiber network. The sail making articles one can find describe the good techniques without necessarily requirening an engineering degree.
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Postby sputnik » Mon Jul 19, 2010 7:25 am

In 2004 a campmate setup a huge shade structure that was basically a large cammo net setup on two large circus poles. Then he draped heavy mylar over the whole thing. The mylar did a great job of keeping the sun at bay, but it was like living in an electrical storm the whole time with the way the mylar made crinkly or booming sounds when the wind caught it.
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Postby uski » Mon Jul 19, 2010 10:06 am

I plan on having all the tension on ropes, and attaching my shade material (whatever it is) to the rope.

It's true that mylar can be quite noisy... I found some all-purpose tarp at Home Depot, and I'll probably end up using this because it's cheap. And it looks like it's sturdy enough to go through the event.
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Postby Token » Mon Jul 19, 2010 10:38 am

I've seen more shredded tarps at BM than naked tits.

If money is your main concern, go ahead, you might get lucky.

There is always Center Camp if you fail.
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Postby kraskland » Mon Jul 19, 2010 10:59 am

I built a tensegrity structure using the same plans that you linked to. As you mentioned, there is no strain on the fabric itself as the ropes do all the work. I used aluminet and while expensive, it is fantastic for shade. The wind goes right through it so there is no chance of it ripping or lifting off when things get nasty.

For a cheaper alternative you could use regular shade cloth, which is basically the same as aluminet but without the shiny stuff. Something like this shade cloth should work well. It will let wind through and be much more quiet than tarps.
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Postby oneeyeddick » Mon Jul 19, 2010 11:01 am

brown tarps absorb heat, bad idea to use the one you link us to
We have an obligation to make space for everyone, we have no obligation to make that space pleasant.
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Postby Token » Mon Jul 19, 2010 11:20 am

Regardless of what material you use for the shade, realize that the attachment points will have to survive hundreds of pounds of load just from the wind gusts alone, not to mention the static load of building an airfoil.

Get the strongest material you can afford.

The order of preference is:

Knit materials like shade cloth, Aluminet, camo netting, burlap etc.

Woven materials like canvas, bed sheets, etc.

Woven and glued plastics like tarps. (noise)

Billboard vinyl.

All the other unproven cheap stuff like mylar and whatnot.
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Postby uski » Mon Jul 19, 2010 11:50 am

kraskland wrote:For a cheaper alternative you could use regular shade cloth, which is basically the same as aluminet but without the shiny stuff. Something like this shade cloth should work well. It will let wind through and be much more quiet than tarps.


Good idea!
Does anyone know a good way of assembling several pieces of this shade cloth together? 6 Ft is not large enough, and I need to be able to do this on the playa or in the Home Depot parking lot :roll:

I realize the grommets I'll put on it will have to be very strong... hopefully they'll be strong enough; time will tell!
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Aluminet in Tensegrity Shade Structures

Postby tensegrity » Mon Jul 19, 2010 12:10 pm

Can you tense the aluminet? In other words, can it form a tension component of the tensegrity?
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Postby kraskland » Mon Jul 19, 2010 12:17 pm

These clip on grommets work great for shade cloth. Not sure if they sell them at Home Depot but they are small enough that you could bring them with you overseas.

As for connecting the shade cloth, I'm not sure. Best would be to find wider material, perhaps there are other stores in Reno(?) that carries it. I suppose you could use the clip on grommets to attach the shade cloth together.
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Re: Aluminet in Tensegrity Shade Structures

Postby kraskland » Mon Jul 19, 2010 12:40 pm

tensegrity wrote:Can you tense the aluminet? In other words, can it form a tension component of the tensegrity?

Aluminet stretches a lot, so no, it won't tense. The structure works on its own without the shade portion. I might be able to scare up a photo if you want.
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Postby Token » Mon Jul 19, 2010 3:01 pm

Aluminet can be used in both tensile and tensegrity structures.

When under tension it does not stretch much.
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Postby Isotopia » Mon Jul 19, 2010 5:08 pm

I think that depends on where your tension points are in relation to the cut of the pattern
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Postby gyre » Tue Jul 20, 2010 12:12 am

See if you can get solid aluminet where you are.

And I saw mylar glued to tarps last year.
May be too much trouble for quick shelter.

Maybe just light blocking tarps?
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