[quote="Bob"]In the interest of follow-up -- how did these things work out for ya'll? The small ones looked a bit cramped and saggy to me.[/quote]
Here is my facebook album from the trip. the last several pictures show the tent after a week. [url]http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=7067794&id=677001071&ref=notif¬if_t=photo_comment#!/album.php?aid=273743&id=677001071[/url] This is at the end of the week, after a few dust blows and some rain.
Bottom line: The shade structure was *fantastic*.
- There was a small amount of sag because I didn't lock the corners to the *bottom* of the rebar stakes, and they slid up a little during a dust storm. The rebar caps kept them from sliding off. Next time I'll secure them better to the bottom and keep things taut.
- We heard there were a couple big dust storms, although they didn't seem bad to me. They didn't trouble us under the shade - for example, we just slept through the post-burn storm and then went out afterward.
- To secure the center pole, I cut a length of 2x4 about 1 foot and a half long, and drilled a large center hole for the tent pole. Two smaller holes on the ends for 2 rebar stakes, and the center pole was locked down *tight*.
- Setting this up was easy with a little planning. We did our park setup and determined the pole-to-corner distance was 14.5 feet. We cut 2 ropes with end loops to this length. Then we anchored our center pole/footer, and measured off triangles using the two ropes to work around the perimeter. Each corner stake is 14.5 ft from the center pole, and 14.5 ft from the last stake, so it's easy to just work from point to point around the hexagon. Note - 14.5 was our length, and your tent may be different.
We were setting our tent up during the wind and dust monday afternoon, right before the rains hit and closed down the front gate. With one person beneath the tent and two outside sliding the corner loops over rebar, it went up very easily. The hardest part was adding the final pole segments after all the corners were secured, but even that just took a couple of minutes.
The canopy provided a *lot* of shade. My 9x13 dome tent fit underneath it after some finagling, and there was room for 2 or 3 more tents. I had extra camp gear behind the tent, and a couple chairs in front of it. We usually had a couple of bikes in there as well.
We took this forum's advice and made additional window covers for the canopy. I wanted to make sure the tent was protected from the sun as much as possible. The tent's rainfly kept the canopy a couple of inches off the tent, so we didn't get heat conduction.
I took a long piece of dark, thin silk and hung it around the lower edge of the windows, creating an inner "skirt". This was light enough to move with the breeze, but blocked a lot of light. It also gave the space a "room" feeling.
I used rebar to stake down the canopy, the canopy's stakes to hold down the tent, and the tent's stakes to tack down a tarp. Nothing pulled out at all. I threw a cheap carpet down on top of the tarp and everything felt clean and comfortable.
(The inside tent stayed clean because of a nylon panel sewed over its mesh walls. Thank you, instructables)
With earplugs and an eyemask, I had no difficulty sleeping into the morning or taking a nap in the afternoon. Next year I'll take a small tent fan to create a breeze for more coolness.
Overall I and the other members of my camp LOVED this canopy.
The biggest questions we heard from everyone who visited our camp was, "where did you get it?" and "WHY don't they make them anymore?"
I'll try to post this somewhere convenient, perhaps instructables, with pictures to explain everything better,