bridges (18) campsite (25) cartoons (15) centenary (3) discussion (5) experimental (49) gadgets (23) gateways (11) lashings (21) models (9) raft (81) resources (26) sculpture (15) software (22) techniques (41) towers (42) trebuchets (5) treehouses (17) tutorial (9)

January 27, 2017

Kontiki 2016 timelapse videos

The KonTiki organisers have launched the website for the 2017 competition, and along with it, a series of timelapse videos from last year's event. These videos give you an idea of the work that goes into the weekend (and also of the unseasonal rain we had last year).


December 9, 2016

Lego machines to make rope

Most pioneering projects (but by no means all) use rope or cordage, so understanding how rope is made is a useful part of pioneering. There are some simple ways of making rope, but these Lego projects by Nico71 take ropemaking to another level.

The yellow machine winds a 3-strand hawser-laid rope, using Lego Technic components. You can see how the Technic gears are used to guide the three colours of yarn out of the spools and wind them into a cord before they are wound in the other direciton to lay up against each other in a rope.
Nico71 says:
After my mechanical loom is 2012, I wanted to build more specific weaving and braiding machine. After months of research, I came back with a new idea based on rope maker : a braiding machine which can make of course rope but also wristband ! Then, I have started in April of 2013 to make some prototype of weaving and braiding machine and succeeded in making one truly functional in December of 2013.

The Red machine is more complicated- it makes a braided rather than a hawser-laid rope, and is also faster.

Nico71 provides free (simple) and paid (highly detailed) versions of the building instructions for both of these, as well as a Youtube channel with demos of these and many other Lego machines.

November 4, 2016

Ropes and Poles embroidered badges available now

Following on from the vote earlier to choose a badge design,I've had badges produced here in South Africa, and they are available for sale- by clicking the Paypal button on the top right of the page. I'm really happy with how the design came out, and the quality of the badges that Precision Embroidery made.

 Badges are $2.50 including worldwide shipping, and the proceeds will help me get to the World Scout Moot in Iceland next year.
(South Africans- contact me for local payment and shipping options)

October 28, 2016

Suspended Tensegrity Cube by 1st Halfway House Scouts

Photo courtesy Shane Anderson
1st Halfway House, a Scout troop in Midrand, South Africa, recently built this tensegrity cube suspended between A-frames. The cube is supsended at 4 points- two underneath, and two at the top of the structure.
Photos courtesy Shane Anderson

Shane Anderson, ATS at 1st Halfway House, says:

The planned outcome of the project was to build and suspend a 10Ft Tensegrity cube between 2 x 15Ft A-Frames, (Bottom Support) and stabilised on the top by 2 x 20Ft A-Frames.

The project got of to a good start with the initial idea of building and stabilizing the cube with gadget sticks (staves) before adding the tensioning ropes, however that soon fell apart as the cube was being tensioned as the gadget sticks broke under the strain. Liam and his team then reverted to plan B, which was to stabilize with 6Ft pioneering poles.

The A-Frames where constructed by the Junior Scouts and when all was in place the cube was lifted using the 15Ft A-Frames and 2 x block and tackles while being kept upright by guy ropes.

If you look in the cosntruction photo above, you'll see the 'jig' of light lathes that was used to hold the cub in place while it was built. As Shane says, it's a good idea, but you'll need to use heavier poles to handle the strain.

Photo courtesy Shane Anderson
Here's the model used to plan for this project. Models are really useful tools for pioneering, because they help you plan the project, picking up some problems before building at 1:1 scale.

Congratulations to Liam and his team for building this structure!
Photo courtesy Shane Anderson
Congratulations to Liam and his team for building this structure!

October 7, 2016

56m suspension bridge at Manjedal Activity Centre, Western Australia

Greg from West Australian Scout Pioneering wrote in with photos and a description of the awesome bridge, supported by A frames on each end and a raft in the centre. Here's Gregs description:

Photo courtesy Greg Barbera

Project : Build a Rope bridge for the West Australian Cub Scout event – Enduro 
Location: Manjedal Activities Centre (M.A.C) – Lake Jones 
Depth: Varies from 4 meters to 15 meters Span: 56 m (40m over water) 
Water Temp: Very cold 
Weather: everything except snow 
Duration: 16 hrs to build
Photos courtesy Greg Barbera

To help celebrate the 100th Anniversary of Cubs, the Organizing team decided to go with a “Back to the Future” theme. They also want to surprise the cubs by having an activity based around the traditional methods of pioneering that have been with the movement for over 100yrs. The West Australian Scout Pioneering Crew (WASP) were asked to build a bridge across Lake Jones that would be sturdy enough to withstand a very large number of Cubs and Leaders using it.
Over the two days of Enduro approximately 800 Cubs and a small number of leaders made the crossing. To ensure the build met the requirements of pioneering in Australia, the walk rope was set at a height of 1.8m from the ground so that helmet & harness would not be required (anything over 2m). This meant that we had to install some form of support in the middle of the arc to keep the ropes & cubs out of the water. Several suggestions where made of a tower, but owing to the erratic shape of the bottom of the lake there would be no guarantee that a level section could be found. It was decided that a pontoon would work providing it could be securely moored and be able to support the bridge as it pass over it. It was decided that a 4m x 4 m pontoon made out 100mm dia. pine logs with 4 x 200ltr blue plastic drums and 6 x 140ltr white drums would both support it and stabilize the middle section. In addition 2 vertical poles where fitted so the bridge ropes could be attached to the pontoon using Carabiners, this would still allow the ropes to be tensioned without moving the pontoon from its moored position. 
We also fitted an arrival and departure deck which only covered the area under the bridge, a walkway was also fitted for a leader to use to assist those passing through the middle section. On the trial build of the pontoon we fitted guy ropes to the vertical posts but found that caused problems and a trip hazard for the leader, so this time we used 3 spars on each vertical and lashed them in place, to reduce the amount of rope required we made the first lashing a figure 8 and pulled the side poles out to create the angle brace. Then fitted one on the outside and lashed a horizontal spar in place so the walk rope could also be clipped onto the pontoon. For this span we fitted each line with 2:2 rope block combination and used the pontoon as a means to keep the lines tensioned as the combined weight totalled approx 350 kg. The main ropes where 20mm dia. sisal and to assist the hand rails to support the walk rope we fitted short lengths of rope which we refer to as stringers. Normally when we fit pulleys on to the main ropes to take up the tension, we used the prussic loop to attach the block, for this one we used the “Dog & Tail hitch”. This hitch does the job well and is easier to move when it is not under load. 
On the shore we used “A” frame assemblies that are self supported by guy ropes and thus allowed the main ropes to be tensioned freely. Carabiners were also tied to the frames to support the hand lines. To stop the main line travelling along the horizontal bar, we used a short length or rope and tied a clove hitch on both sides. Normally we would use a log & picket anchorage for our rope bridges, but in this case the ground on both sides was too soft to get a good footing. On one side the soil was too moist and on the other side there was a very large ant hill, which meant we had to contend with hollow ground owing to the nest. We therefore bound the trees with hessian to reduce any damage to them. 
To reduce the risk of the Cubs endangering themselves if they fell off, each person making the crossing was required to wear a life jacket and we had a rescue craft on standby (canoe). Out of the 800 cubs only 2 ended up in the water and 7 were rescued by the safety vessel as they held onto the hand rails.

September 23, 2016

Two-tent raft in Malta

 Sean from Mosta Scout Group in Malta shared these photographs with me- of a raft sitting in this stunning location against the cliffs in the Mediterranean.

Sean says:

"With 100 lashings, 40 staves, 30 barrels and 10 Marine Ply, a massive Double Floating Raft Camp served as our home for the past weekend. This is just a glimpse, from what Scouting is all about 😉"

(previously- pioneering from Mosta Venture Crew)

September 16, 2016

Ropes and Pole badges - selected design

 Thanks to everyone who voted in my earlier poll to help me choose a badge design for the blog. As you can see below, the Hy-par pavilion was by far the most popular design. I have sent the badge off for quotes and will have news soon about where and how you can purchase the badge. Thanks for participating!