- 1 Intro
- 2 Plans
- 3 Set-up
- 4 Construction
- 4.1 Day 1 - Sept 12: Jean Claude and Kipp start the platform and the buoyancy cubes (Trea had the good sense to be on vacation)
- 4.2 Day 2 - Sept 19: Trea and Kipp continue construction on the platform, and try to finalize plans for the crow's nest
- 4.3 Day 3 - Sept 26: Trea and Kipp finish the decking and botch the first attempt at the crow's nest platform
- 4.4 Day 4 - Sept 28: Trea and Kipp finish the the crow's nest platform and learn the value of a good screwdriver
- 4.5 Day 5 - Sept 29: Trea and Kipp finish the buoyancy scaffolding
- 4.6 Day 6 - Oct 1: Miguel arrives and the last of the preparatory work is done
- 5 Transport & Assembly
- 6 Reflections on Ephemerisle
Ahoy maties! We're building an impractical 3-sided platform (now with crow's nest)! This page documents our progress.
Designer: Kipp McMichael
Builders: Kipp McMichael, Trea Kines, Jean-Claude Breach
Inhabitants: Kipp, Trea and Miguel Sanchez (comin from Alabamie with a banjo on his knee)
UPDATE: We done got granted! Thanks to the sponsors of Ephemerisle for giving us some cash to help pay for the platform. Their help is allowing us to build an even better platform than we originally proposed.
- Version 1 - Our Grant Proposal plans
Notes: We realized after submitting our proposal that we probly over-planned some of the platform. The main beams likely didn't need to be 4-ply - so we are reducing the wood used to build the platform. Trea also had the bright idea to build a crow's nest too so we have a little perspective on the festival.
Having botched a planless attempt on Day 3 to build the crow's nest platform, we decided to be smart and actually draw what we were going to build beforehand!
Home Depot is our friend: cheap wood, cheap PVC pipe, cheap fasteners, and cheap powertools!
Ebay and the internet are also our friend:
- We were able to get the exercise balls for $10 a piece. And they're all a cool shiny graphite color.
- We were able to source the PVC fittings online for about 1/3 the price of our local hardware store.
- Artwork aids in the form of blacklight LEDs and batteries for nighttime fun.
Day 1 - Sept 12: Jean Claude and Kipp start the platform and the buoyancy cubes (Trea had the good sense to be on vacation)
So we got the 2"x6"x16' boards for the main struts of the platform as well as the PVC necessary to build the cubes that will hold our buoyancy exercise balls captive. So day 1 involved drilling and bolting the 12 boards into 3 struts and cutting 144 PVC segments.
Day 2 - Sept 19: Trea and Kipp continue construction on the platform, and try to finalize plans for the crow's nest
Today we learned to love the miter saw. Kipp showed up this morning with a truck full of 2x4's and we were able to get the entire wooden structure of the platform measured, cut, placed, and labeled. We only screwed pieces together that we needed to be in place for measuring. This keeps us from having to reuse screw holes later, when we assemble the raft at the Delta.
We placed everything where it will go, labeled every piece of wood, and pretty much finalized the plans for the crow's nest. We're still trying to decide how high we can build it, but we have the basic idea. Here are some pictures from today's progress.
Day 3 - Sept 26: Trea and Kipp finish the decking and botch the first attempt at the crow's nest platform
At the close of work on Day 2, we had decided to look into plywood for the decking surface to save time. Once we priced the plywood however, it became apparent that it was a bit too pricey - so we returned to our original idea of using reclaimed wood from warehouse pallets. Kipp had collected some pallets already and then had a great dumpster diving haul on Friday wherein he got 2 4"x4"x10'posts, 2 pieces of plywood, and lots of boards for decking. We collected some more pallets on Saturday during lunch and spent most of the day measuring and cutting boards and plywood for the decking of the platform. The miter saw was again our friend.
Near the end of the day, we had finished all of the decking. Although it covered up our nifty Siperpenskified framing, the checkerboard decking of different wood types, colors, and ages makes for a neat effect on its own.
With our light running out, we decided to try and get the crow's nest platform built. The reclaimed 4x4 plus one new 4x4 would constitute the crow's nest support and we'd likely cut off a foot or two of 10 foot length since having a person standing to a height of ~16 feet seemed a little too tippycanoe for us.
We threw ourselves at the task of building the platform without any plans and the results were disappointing. We ended the day a little discouraged with our failed crow's best attempt - but resolved to get it right.
Here are some pictures of Build Day 3:
Day 4 - Sept 28: Trea and Kipp finish the the crow's nest platform and learn the value of a good screwdriver
Kipp managed to get off work a little early and head up to Novato for more work. Having learned our lesson with trying to build sans plans, Kipp drew-up crow's nest platform plans to guide our efforts. We got off to a slow start because Trea had forgotten to charge his screwgun (again!) The miter saw made cutting the 2x4s for the crow's nest platform a breeze. Hand-driving the screws, however, proved to be unbelievably difficult - when we found ourselves needing to tagteam individual screws at exhausting quarter-turn intervals, we decided it just should not be so hard. Examining our tools revealed a pitifully eroded driver-head, so we raced to the hardware store to get a new screwdriver literally the minute before they closed for the day.
Upon our return, we found the fresh screwdriver to cut our effort in half - the screws seemed almost to turn themselves. We were able to then finish building the platform, cut and nail the floor-slats for it, and cut the hand-rail pieces before darkness stopped our work. All that's left now is assembling the buoyancy scaffold that will hold the exercise-ball cubes to the bottom of the platform's three corners.
Pics from build day 4:
Day 5 - Sept 29: Trea and Kipp finish the buoyancy scaffolding
We only got to work around 6:30 tonight, but we made some important progress and a major discovery. As for progress, we finished the scaffold that will hold the captive cubes and exercise balls. As for the discovery: We figured out how to use the corded drill as a screwgun. This will be endlessly helpful while we assemble the platform on-site on Friday. It was clear from our previous work that Trea's battery-powered screwgun was not up to the task - and we already have palm blisters so hand-driving all the screws would be a nightmare. Our inverter and corded drill will important players on Friday morning.
The only work left now is attaching the tops of the PVC cubes to the scaffold. All the rest of the assembly will wait until we arrive at the Delta and assemble the platform at our launching point.
Day 6 - Oct 1: Miguel arrives and the last of the preparatory work is done
Our friend Miguel arrived at SFO Thursday afternoon whereupon he and Kipp headed for Novato to do the last bits of work. We all worked on attaching the PVC cubes to the flotation scaffold, numbering the decking plans for positioning on-site, and organizing all the material for loading on Friday morning.
We then divi'd up the the shopping list and assigned Trea grocery duty while Kipp and Miguel took hardware supplies and non-edible sundries.
Transport & Assembly
Day 1 - Oct 2: The Triangisle Triad heads out for Ephemerisle Day 1
Miguel and Kipp spent the night in SF and got up early to be in Novato by 7:30AM. Trea had postponed his grocery shopping until morning and we all started packing when he got back. We had planned on taking Kipp's Jeep (for most of the material) and Charlies truck (for people since the jeep was going to be loaded to the gills with wood).
Trea's son came down with a fever and Charlie needed to stay in-town so we re-assessed and decided we would just take Charlie's truck *and* rent a u-haul trailer for other stuff. Trea went and hot the trailer while Kipp and Miguel packed-up wood.
We loaded the truck and we on our way. After about 2 hours, we found ourselves at the bridge to MacDonald Island at which point Kipp realized we were in the totally wrong spot. A review of our google directions revealed the wrong destination coordinates - so we turned-around to start our re-directed trip toward a possible assembly and launch spot on Empire Tract road.
We finally arrived at Empire Tract road to find the launch locked with no way of contacting someone to open it. We decided to try Paradise Point and arrived at roughly 4:00 to start platform assembly. Upon arrival, we met Patri in-person and observed the Tensegrity Pyramid he had blogged about. We discussed our need to finish the platform and get a tow to the festival since our platform had no propulsion.
We parked and began the assembly. The u-haul trailer proved to be a perfect base to arrange the triangular structs and support structure. The drill and inverter worked well after we connected them directly to the battery (but after we had burned-out two of the cigarette lighter ports in the truck).
As we built, newly-arrived Ephemerislers began introducing themselves and offering help. Soon, we had a group of six generous people helping us pump-up the buoyancy balls and continue our work.
As our light faded into late dusk, we finally decided that finishing the platform on Friday night was not going to happen. Our fellow Ephemerislers again came through and offered us passage to the festival on their houseboat. Our plan was to return on Saturday morning to finish Triangisle and return to the festival for the evening festivities. Alas, that was not to happen.
Day 2 - Oct 3: The completion of Triangisle and disappointment at the docks
After an enjoyable evening hanging with other Ephemerislers, we slept atop a houseboat and got up with the dawn. We hoped to find an early ride back to the marina so we could finish the platform. As we watched the shenanigans of the main platform being reorganized/floating away from the other boats during the morning, we tried to find a ride. A ride finally emerged around noon and we got back to the Marina and an important decision-point: Do we finish the platform and hope for a tow back to the festival in the early evening... or do we abandon our efforts and disassemble the incomplete Triangisle and return home defeated?
On the ride back to the festival, we all thought about just leaving. When we returned, however, the site of our 3/4 complete platform enlivened our spirits and we spontaneously decided to finish the effort. Kipp and Miguel began sorting and placing the planking while Trea finish inflating the last few exercise balls. We attached the final buoyancy scaffold, and began placing the planking.
We decided to put of the crow's nest poles and finish the top of the nest once we had lauched while waiting for a tow.
Perhaps the biggest moment-of-truth so far had arrived: Could we launch the platform?
We lashed the platform to the trailer and drove slowly to the boat launch... uncertain if success was possible seeing as we were launching a 16' triangle from a u-haul trailer. After some tense re-maneuvering we succeeded in getting the platform down the launch. As we'd hoped, the back corner floating up as the platform slid into the water and, once we'd untied the front of the platform, only a few pushes were required to send Triangisle floating away from the boat launch. Bon Voyage!
We pulled Triangisle down the dock and lashed it to the end so we could load the platform and finish the crow's nest. We texted and called the festival to put out a call for towing. While we waited for a reply, we loaded the platform and talked with some late-arriving Ephemerislers who also hoped for a ride.
Triangisle was a success - the exercise balls were so buoyant that the base of the platform rested a good 2 feet off the water's surface. Even when loaded with all our gear and 3 extra people, the platform was still over a foot above the water. Our calculations and design were proven good.
As we began setting up for finishing the crow's nest, word came back from the festival: There would be no towing tonight. The Coast Guard and Sheriff were giving the festival alot of scrutiny and no ship allowed to tow us could be brought back. We could still get a ride to the festival they said - but Trianglisle would not be coming along.
Dejected, we decided that a second night as stow-aways aboard other's vessels only to get a late start on disassembling Trianglisle the next day was not for us. We decided to let her float out the night while we got a hotel room (and hot showers! and a great dinner!) in Stockton.
Paul arrived just as we finished packing to pick up some other Ephemerislers and take some pictures of us and Triangisle. He agreed it was a shame the platform would not make the journey as it was the largest of the projects not constructed by the festival itself. It also looked really cool - and we couldn't help but agree as the sunset reflected off our exercise balls.
We departed the marina and found a cheap room in Stockton for the night.
Day 3 - Oct 4: The disassembly of Triangisle and inspiration for next year
We got up early again and headed back to the marina to load up Triangisle and take her to the parking lot for disassembly. Again, we were pleasantly surprised by the ease with which Triangisle was loaded back on to our trailer and driven down to the parking lot. Disassembly was unexpectedly fast and luckily the cordless drill was just enough to remove all the screws (we ended up burning-out our inverter friday night just as we stopped building).
In under three hours, we had successfully pulled Triangisle out of the water, disassembled her and packed the trucks and trailer for departure. To our enduring regret, we forgot 5 pieces of lumber near the boat launch (which we would not realize until we had gotten all the way back to Trea's).
Despite our disappoint at never seeing Triangisle floating at the festival, the total process of building, launching, loading and disassembly was so easy and rewarding that we resolved to attend the festival next year with an improved design.
We arrive back at Trea's about 4:40PM - having finished the storing of materials, the "return" of our palette planks, and the drop-off of the u-haul. Ephemerisle 2009 was complete.
Reflections on Ephemerisle
It goes without saying that we are disappointed that our work never made it to the festival. As opposed to those who attended by renting a houseboat, we spent a month working each weekend on our platform only to be unable to bring it the last 4 miles to the festival. Our main flaw was a lack of propulsion - either as part of Triangisle itself or in the form of a towing vessel whose services should have been secured ahead of time. We won't make that mistake next year.
Given the first-year chaos that still reigned over the festival on Day 2 when we left, we were doubtful we could get towed back and we decided to finish the platform despite that concern. Part of our motivation was the desire to make good on the grant we got rather than just going home. We feel we lived up to the implicit responsibility of the grant even though our floating platform never made it beyond the end of the courtesy dock.
We talked all the way home about our ideas for next year. The Triangisle PVC + exercise ball flotation system is now a proven technology (and it looks cool!). Next year we think Triangisle may become "3-sided Pyramidisle" (with a cool floating eye-top visual gag) and we'll definitely either have our own motor or make sure we arrange for the necessary transport beforehand.
We'll also do a better job of acquiring the right tools - such as a better inverter/power supply for our tools. We seem to have over-used screws for assembly when nails would have worked well enough for many components. The towers to the incomplete crow's nest were not as sturdy as we'd hoped - so that is a main focus of better construction next year.
Our most valuable lesson was that a u-haul trailer is (unexpectedly) the best way to launch and later load a 16' Triangisle - without it, we don't know how we could have succeeded in getting the platform in and out of the water.