Tag Archives: Makers Faire

Sky Yurt debuts at the Champlain Makers Faire

DSC06101Lots of visitors, lots of interest

Exhibiting the Sky Yurt at the Champlain Makers Faire was a wonderful experience. We were set up right next to the entrance to the Carriage Barn where all the indoor exhibits were housed. People stopped to read our text display, played with some of the models, and prowled around the Sky Yurt. Kids laid on the the grass and looked up at the sky through the ribs and cross stays. Lots of head scratching, Questions kept emerging. Then as some folks began to understand the design challenges, they began to share ideas. Some conceptual, some very concrete and practical. All thought provoking and useful.

Whirlwind getting ready for the Faire

The three  broken ribs on the structure was really a set back for the team. I was able to replace one and then repair and sister the other two. I got an outer top cover finished, but didn’t have time to test it and the tie down system. So I just went with the framework. My engineer/artist buddy Andy Wekin and his crew Otis and Ezra worked with me to get the legs installed and reinforced. I replaced some broken connectors, made an exhibit poster, and we were ready to roll. It was a scramble to get the structure set up. We got a good start on Friday afternoon and evening. Darla – my main squeeze – pitched in on Saturday morning and just as the first of the crowd trickled in, we were up.

Where to take this project next?

DSC06113I learned a lot from the ideas that visitors shared with me. I’ll post some of them in due time. But the big learnings for me are guiding to the next steps for the project.Time to go back to the drawing board and get a designer/engineer involved who knows tensile/tent structures and can do the math. The yurt structure could be so much lighter and much better engineered. My build/design process can only take me so far. Using off the shelf items, and build/designing as I go, has real limitations. I need to have someone on the team who can look at the whole system and come up with design parameters for the components. For instance, maybe properly sized tubing for the ribs and cross connectors with aluminum hubs. The whole frame structure could be lightweight and go up quickly. So I am putting the building to bed for the winter. When I start next summer, I hope to have a much improved and well thought out design to build from.







Third Sky Yurt Prototype structure is up

Sky Yurt as an exhibit at the Makers Faire in Vermont?

2013 Yurt structure

2013 Yurt structure

Now that I have the basic structure up, I felt confident enough to apply to the Makers Faire to exhibit the Sky Yurt in Shelburne, Vermont on the weekend of September 28-29. Here is some of the text from the application:

The Sky Yurt is the first prototype in a series of designs that provide working/ living structures for a nomadic community of artists/crafters/makers. The eight –sided Sky Yurt ‘s floor is 14 feet in diameter, with roof extending to almost 20 feet in diameter. The floor is perched 10 feet above the lower tent-canopied workspace which is an integral unit 32 feet in diameter and separate from the upper living space of the Sky Yurt. This lower space acts as the mother ship, and the upper living space structure actually “docks” to the trampoline frame at the center of the mother ship.

The prototype as as an on-going experiment

The prototype is a full scale working model which is allowing experimentation with design challenges inherent in two separate tent structures, the work structure on the ground and the yurt structure elevated 10 feet of the ground, combined with the need to make the combined structure portable. Structural materials, except for the laminated cedar beams, are readily available and easy to modify, including the trampoline frame, plywood, lumber, building wrap, epoxy, PVC pipe fittings, and fiberglass fence posts.

The design is “open sourced” and as the structure is modified and the engineering needs are better understood, future prototypes will utilize lightweight “engineered” materials and design features that improve portability.

Moving ahead

I worked out a deal with my neighbors Bev and Brian to set up the Sky yurt in their big backyard in exchange for doing their lawn. I just have one more set of cross struts to add to the lower structure, and then I can begin building the fabric covers for the tent structures. I will also start to deploy my anchoring system. I am moving into new territory with this prototype. I see the Faire as an opportunity to engage makers, elicit design ideas and move the open sourcing of the project ahead.