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Old 05-19-2016, 02:37 AM   #1
surlyoldbill
 
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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.

Cost:
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.

Overview:
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.

Parts:
(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).

Construction:
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, 1102 views)
File Type: jpg awning parts.jpg (37.2 KB, 983 views)
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Old 05-21-2016, 03:34 PM   #2
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Default Re: DIY $75 awning

Oh, the pic is from Furnace Creek campground, site 10. It's actually the first site you come to, and other than the side the awning is on and the front, you cannot see any other campsites. Most of the other sites are crowded together or are on full display. Only a few are semi-private.
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Old 05-21-2016, 04:13 PM   #3
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Default Re: DIY $75 awning

Looks great! Can you post a pic of it stowed away? Thanks for the writeup.
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Old 05-22-2016, 03:05 AM   #4
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Default Re: DIY $75 awning

It's just a rolled up tarp, about 3x4" oblong with the poles inside. The wind didn't catch the front edge like I thought it might, but I had it secured with a bungee cord just a few inches from the front.

Not as nice as a retractable awning like Fiamma, and it takes a little manual labor to set it up and stow it away, but it's a lot more affordable. I should have explained why I used tension bands; you can loop them over the top EMT from the ground. Granted, you still need to climb up on something to unroll and stow it on the roof, at least on my SHC. And the reason for pins on the other end instead of another tension band: you have to be able to twist the extension pole to lock it in place. Dual tension band would prevent you from twisting it.

This is the design I modified: http://www.expeditionportal.com/foru...-less-than-100 . Page 2 has pics/video. He uses bimini attachments on the upper EMT, but for setup I needed them to rotate up/down as well as in/out. The only thing that could do that would be a ball joint, and they're expensive. So I made separate pieces that assemble together instead of have the extension poles attached to the upper EMT. Same end result.

For a cleaner stowed appearance, a housing could be used. 4" ABS drain pipe with a 1.5" slot cut all the way down it would work, with end caps. You still have to be able to shove all the stuff into it. Maybe cut the BS 4" into two pieces and have them hinged, with the end caps holding it shut when stowed. Bungees or latches to keep it shut while driving. You might even eliminate the upper EMT and just attach the tarp to the inside of the ABS housing, and use pins on both ends of the extension poles into holes in the housing and the lower EMT, or some variation.
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Old 05-22-2016, 03:11 AM   #5
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Default Re: DIY $75 awning

Forgot to mention that Death Valley National Park campsites are $12/night. MUCH MUCH MUCH better than CA State parks at $35, with a $10 reservation fee on top of that. I hate campgrounds, but this wasn't too bad, and boondocking options were limited there.
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Old 05-22-2016, 05:42 AM   #6
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Default Re: DIY $75 awning

Really nice.

I would love to learn about some uncampground areas in the Eastern Sierra from you someday. I am recalling a road trip that took a dirt road out of the top of Death Valley, past some place called Crankshaft Alley (complete with crankshaft), past a bunch of mines, across the Panamint and White ranges, that met 395 around Big Pine. Saw maybe one car.

If you replace the uprights with more electrical conduit, they should be strong enough to support a hammock. (My "awning" is much more of a hack job, some telescoping uprights u-bolted to the roof rack; you've inspired me to upgrade it.)
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Old 05-22-2016, 02:29 PM   #7
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Default Re: DIY $75 awning

Seans,
A unique feature of Death Valley NP is that once you are a mile off of a paved road in most areas you can do backcountry camping with no permit or fees. And yes, near crankshaft junction (where there actually is a pile of old crankshafts) you can free camp at the Eureka Dunes which some say are the highest dunes in the U.S. I've also heard that same claim made for the Bruneau sand dunes in Idaho. They're both spectacular and worth a visit.

The worst thing about the D V campgrounds is the incessant generator noise. Texas Springs campground is the only non generator campground on the valley floor.

And yes, the Eastern Sierra is covered with BLM and National Forest land where you can do dispersed camping in many incredible locations.

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Old 05-23-2016, 12:25 AM   #8
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Default Re: DIY $75 awning

On the West Side road you can boondock 1/2 mile from the road, up some of the side roads. A great route, but maybe not for a Sprinter, is Warm Springs road all the way through to Panamint Valley via Goler Wash. The Goler Wash side has a few minor ledges, I drove it in my Tacoma 4x4 years ago. It can't be TOO severe, there is some heavy equipment and trucks that went that way to the mines, and Charles Manson drove a school bus up there to the ranch where they hid. There are a couple cabins on the route, people keep them cleaned up and even stocked with some supplies. The one at striped Butte is really nice. I wouldn't sleep in the cabins, though, when I was there we saw rodent scat and snake sign in the cabins, and a rattlesnake outside. It's far enough off the beaten track that the kind of people who go there don't vandalize the structures much. A few bullet holes.
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Old 05-24-2016, 12:33 AM   #9
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Default Re: DIY $75 awning

Nice job on the awning!

We had similar ideas on our first awning.
Got a large remaindered tent footprint for $10 and used that instead of a tarp.
My wife sewed emt pockets on the four sides of the footprint.
I'd attach emt corners and that made it into a taut rectangle.
We had a little leftover footprint so my wife used it as awning edges.

I could hang support bars from my roofrack instead of using poles.
But we found that the awning mated to a quickshelter made it very well supported.

Our real goal was a screened quickshelter-tarp room where we could leave the van side door open. (The van has an apron to seal it from the ground.

We have since moved on to awning#2----a friend gifted us a Thule awning!
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File Type: jpg oldawning3.jpg (57.7 KB, 554 views)
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Old 06-30-2019, 10:51 PM   #10
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Default Re: DIY $75 awning

I made mine with an 8’x10’ canvas tarp and it’s worked very nicely so far. Everything’s hinged and rolls up nice and tight
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