Thread: DIY $75 awning
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Old 05-19-2016, 02:37 AM   #1
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Default DIY $75 awning

I got this idea from a post on an adventure 4x4 website. I upscaled it to fit a Sprinter.

My build is a 8x10 awning, other sizes can be made depending on your needs.

Under $75 with the parts listed. A different tarp of more expensive materials can be used, but the other parts are more than adequate. Other poles might be used.

A DIY manually operated awning to provide shelter and shade. All parts are easily obtained at hardware store and variety store. The awning stores rolled up on the roof racks, tied in place. It deploys and disassembles in about 2-3 minutes with one person. The top bar is attached to the roof racks.

(2) 10' long 1" EMT electrical conduit ($6.66 each)
(2) 3-5' extension poles ($6 each; Shur-Line at Walmart)
(2) 5-10' extension poles ($12.50 each Shur-Line at Walmart)
(4) 1 3/8" chainlink fence tension bands ($1.50 each)
(2) 4-5" 1/4-20 bolts (50 cents each)
(1) 3/4" dowel ($2 for 3 feet)
(1) 8x10 tarp ($10 heavy duty silver)
(15-20 3/4" self tapping sheet metal screws)
Variations: other tarp material such as nylon (tent) or canvas. Adjustable tent poles (stansport, cabelas, $15-20 each, but ready-made) minimum 8' for the long ones, 6' for the short ones. Thinking about the cost of the tension bands, bolts, dowels and the labor involved, maybe the adjustable tent poles aren't such a bad idea. Still need tension bands for upper pole connection, though. and the 5/16 hole(s) would only be through one wall of the EMT (below).

The tarp determines the size.
1. Lay tarp on the ground and place EMT under each long edge, centered.
2. Using the sheet metal screws, fasten one long edge of the tarp (centered) to a piece of the EMT running the screws through about 1/2" from edge of tarp. You may want to use rubber washers to prevent ripping later. Place end screws 2" from end of tarp. This is the TOP edge of the awning.
3. Attach tarp with screws to the other piece of EMT about 2" from edge so the tarp overhangs the EMT. Place end screws 2" from end of tarp. This is the BOTTOM edge of the awning.
NOTE: the awning should be stretched fairly tight on the long edges, so attach screw to one end and then go pull it tight and attach the screw to the other end.
4. Make tension poles; remove BOTH plastic ends from the 5-10' poles to expose hollow pipe. Slightly cutting ends off OK because these poles are plenty long. Insert 1 3/8" tension band into the larger section, drill hole and use sheet metal screw to secure tension band so it cannot pull out. Cut two 6" pieces of the 3/4 dowel, insert one into each of the smaller extension pole sections, flush with end. Secure with sheet metal screw 3-4" from end (use glue or other pins to prevent rattle; the goal is for it not to push farther in or come out. It only holds a pin, the metal extension pole does all the work). Drill 3/16 or 7/32" hole 2-3" into the center of the dowel (or before inserting). Thread the 1/4-20 bolt into the dowel leaving at least 2" exposed. Cut the head off the bolt, round the edge.
5. Make support poles; remove THREADED end of extension pole, leave other end intact. Insert 1 3/8 tension band into open end of extension pole, secure with screw as above.
5. Drill 5/16" hole through bottom end EMT. Parallel to awning, perpendicular to screws securing tarp on top, drill 5/16" hole through both sides of EMT 1" from edge of tarp (under tarp). The pins on the extension poles above insert into this hole.

You're done.

Use and assembly:
Attach TOP EMT to your rack bars using u-bolts or fancy cross connectors or other means. It stays attached while driving. If you do not have a rack, you need to improvise something. Tarp should be on the top of the EMT.
Let the bottom piece hang down the side of your van. Slide the loop end of the SUPPORT poles onto the BOTTOM EMT past the 5/16" hole. Slide the loop end of the 5-10' TENSION pole over the TOP EMT and under the tarp. Place the pin end through the 5/16" hole on the BOTTOM EMT (holding in the support pole so it cannot slide off). Extend and tighten the TENSION poles. Extend and position the SUPPORT poles to desired height. Extend and tighten the TENSION poles one more time. You are using your own strength to tighten the awning tarp with the poles, you probably can't over-do it, go ahead and make it drum tight.
The grommets on the bottom edge are available to use, and you might want to tie off to something heavy if you think there will be strong wind. I used my awning in 30mph gusts with no problems with the end weighed down by my bike and a rock.
Pack it up: Detach the pin ends and slide off the support poles. Detach the top looped ends and remove the tension poles. Collapse all the poles, pick up the bottom edge and make a hammock for all the poles. Roll them up in the awning, all the way to the top. Leave a little slack so you can place the pole burrito over the TOP EMT to rest on the racks next to it. Use rope or bungee cords to fasten the pole burrito to the TOP EMT and the racks. You're ready to drive. Depending on your van height, you may want to have a small ladder to reach the top. I stand on the front seat in the open door, and out the rear door. Ladder would be easier. I lowered the bottom edge to 4' at night so I had some privacy, you'd have to walk up and under the awning to see in the side windows. I also hung a screen from the edge by the front door to block views from that direction.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg awning2.jpg (35.0 KB, 1201 views)
File Type: jpg awning parts.jpg (37.2 KB, 1075 views)
Former owner of Surly Mobile:
2003 140shc 2500 passenger model, now owner of Transit T250 148MR 3.7
mobile design office, cargo hauler, family shuttle, action adventure base
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