bridges (18) campsite (27) cartoons (15) centenary (3) discussion (5) experimental (51) gadgets (23) gateways (12) lashings (21) models (9) raft (82) resources (26) sculpture (16) software (22) techniques (41) towers (43) trebuchets (5) treehouses (17) tutorial (9)

December 15, 2021

New Instagram account and site news

QR code linking to @ropesandpoles on instagram

So it's been quiet here for a while... alongside everything that's been going on in the world over the last two years, I'm now the father of a one year old girl! Over the last 18 months, Rovers here in South Africa have been involved in community service, and you can read about some of these projects here:

Coming back to pioneering, I've started an Instagram account for the blog at @ropesandpoles, as well as the existing channels on Facebook and Twitter. Over the next few weeks, I'll be posting some of my favourite projects from over the years on the Instagram feed, and I have a few new posts queued up for you to read in January. As always, I'm interested to hear about any interesting pioneering projects you've seen, so please feel free to contact me with this form and I can share your project with the world.

June 23, 2017

Ropes and Poles at the World Scout Moot, Iceland

I'll be travelling to Iceland for the World Scout Moot from the 25th of July to the 2nd of August this year. I don't have any plans to do pioneering while I'm there (Iceland doesn't have too many trees and bringing my own poles from South Africa would be tricky), but I'm keen to meet up with anyone who'll be there.

I'll be working as a Tribe Advisor, so I'll be based in Hafnarfjörður during the Expedition stage (26th-28th July) and at the main campsite in Úlfljótsvatn the rest of the time. Contact me (as a comment here, via email or on twitter) and we can arrange to meet. I'll have some Ropes and Poles patches to trade, and am looking forward to meeting you.

June 16, 2017

Minifig gateway at KonTiki 2017

I've featured gateways built by Harmellia Gardens Air Scouts before, and this Lego-inspired gateway at KonTiki 2017 is their latest design. Harmellia are using a synthetic hawser-laid rope, which, unlike braided polyprop ropes, behaves in a similar way to traditional sisal cordage. the head of the structure is bent from smaller thatching laths, and car tyres make up the hands.

(more sculptures, including dinosaurs, superheroes, biplanes and birds, on the sculpture tag)

June 9, 2017

Elevated tent platforms at KonTiki 2017

In rainy weather (and KonTiki frequently brings rainy weather), it can be a good idea to get your tent up out of the mud. Bush Hill Scout Troop built this four-tier stepped tent platform for their campsite at KonTiki 2017. The two highest tiers had enough clearance underneath to be used as part of the campsite as well.

I wrote about a three-storey tent tower built by 1st Walmer Scout group in 2012 

May 26, 2017

Everything was awesome at KonTiki 2017

KonTiki 2017 took place recently, and was the coldest  and one of the stormiest KonTiki weekends in some time. In spite of the rain, wind, hail and frost, 55 teams arrived to camp, taking part on this year's theme of "Let's Play!"

 Friday afternoon saw a hail storm that sent many teams running for shelter, but by the time I was on site in the vening, construction was going ahead under lights along most of the shore.

This year, many teams had LEGO-themed decorations in their camp sites, from bricks and blocks to minifigs.

The poor weather continued on Saturday, and in the end about a dozen teams spent the hwole night on the water through the wind and rain - here they are the next morning, when the sun came out for a beautiful sunrise and morning.

Congratulations to the over all winners, 1st Eagles. The full, detailed resulsts scoresheet is available here.

I'll be taking a closer look at some of the campsite details from this weekend in the next few weeks.

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.