bridges (16) campsite (25) cartoons (15) centenary (2) discussion (5) experimental (40) gadgets (21) gateways (9) lashings (20) models (9) raft (73) resources (25) sculpture (15) software (22) techniques (35) towers (41) trebuchets (5) treehouses (17) tutorial (9)

May 8, 2015

Kontiki raft mass calculator

Gauteng KonTiki is coming up next weekend, and the Gauteng Scout Water Activities Advisory  Council, along with Puddle Pirates Rover Crew, has developed this Excel spreadsheet which helps calculate the mass of a raft, and ultimately calculate how deep a raft sits in the water. It takes into account the weight of poles, ropes, barrels, decking boards, equipment and crew to arrive at the total load which it then compares against the buoyancy provided by the barrels.

This tool is being offered for download at the KonTiki website for use by entrants to KonTiki, but hsould be useful to any Scout raft designers. Note that KonTiki is held on sheltered, still, inland waters, so the buoyancy is calculated with that in mind.

The tool is metric, but for rough estimation purposes for Imperial units, 1kg = approximately 2 pounds, and 100mm = almost exactly 4 inches.

Release notes from the website:
Alan Ford has arranged this tool as a safety measure to ensure that the raft being built will have sufficient buoyancy provided for by barrels, before being launched. This will aid you and also ensure that the raft is sufficiently manoeuvrable should you need to be towed by a rescue vessel.  
If you have any questions or would like Alan to review it, please e-mail it to when you have populated the final version or bring it to Kontiki on a memory stick, Alan will go through it at the event.

April 16, 2015

Dissipate - tensegrity tower at AfrikaBurn 2015 festival

Dissipate is a project being planned by a group of architects and engineers (including a few former Scouts) for the upcoming AfrikaBurn Burning Man regional event near Cape Town, South Africa.

The tower consists of an hourglass tower with a tensegrity on top of it, gradually 'dissipating' into the sky. Here's the team's own description of the project:
 Dissipate represents the impermanence of life; how structures, whether physical or notional, tend to move, transform, morph and eventually deconstruct and dissipate.
We will be constructing the primary structure using traditional pioneering technology (poles and ropes). The artwork's main structure consists of two intersecting tripods (each approximately 4 meters in height). This structure is then clad in a series of angled planks that get spaces wider apart as they reach the top at which point the structure changes into a tensegrity (structure consisting of compression members held in space by tension wires) to give the illusion of planks dissolving into space.
The structure physically celebrates structure and the morphing from a primal and very basic structural system into a new and complex structural system.

 You can keep up with the project on Twitter and Facebook. Right now, they're in the last few days of their fundraising drive, so head over to their site and see what they're offering as rewards.

March 20, 2015

Raft Barrel Lashings

Kontiki season is picking up here in Southern Africa, with Windhoek, Namibia hosting their event this weekend, and the Western Cape hosting theirs next weekend.

The diagram above shows one way of fastening barrels that worked well for my troop. You can double up with a second rope starting at the opposite corners to make it really secure. Apart from the ropes, the spacing of your poles is really important to make sure that the barrel sits securely on the raft base.

 drawn on iPad Mini using Paper app and Just-Mobile AluPen

December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas from Ropes and Poles

Merry Christmas! If you're celebrating today, I hope you have a great day surrounded by family, and a blessed year ahead.

This tree is decorated with Monkey's Fists, tied in 8mm sisal rope, with eye-spliced ends.

December 5, 2014

Pioneered Christmas tree by Puddle Pirate Rover crew

Day and night photographs courtesy Akela Joy
For the East Rand District end of year Cub Christmas Camp, Puddle Pirate Rover Crew built this pioneered Christmas Tree. All of the guests at the camp bought gifts which were
used to decorate the tree and these were later donated to a charity.

December 1, 2014

Gift ideas- knotting and pioneering

With the festive season upon us, I've put together a list of pioneering-related gifts that you might find useful.

John Sweet's Scout Pioneering is a classic reference, and there are a few different editions in print. Your best bet is to hunt one down in a second hand bookshop, but there are a few online options.

The Ashley Book of Knots is the definitive reference to knots, and a great gift for someone interested in pioneering and knotting. Over 4000 illustrations cover everything from the simplest slippery hitch to complex decorative knots, splices and lashings.

Geoffrey Budworth's Complete Book of Knots is a smaller book that is easier on the pocket than Ashley's but still a good general reference.

Knotcraft: The Practical and Entertaining Art of Tying Knots (Dover Craft Books) by Paulette and Alan Mcfarlanis a useful little book- apart from guides to tying knots, it has some practical application tips, magic tricks, history and folklore. Also available as an eBook.
A multi-tool with a saw is a pretty useful tool for pioneering. I prefer the Victorinox models with saws- the Farmer , Camper or new Soldier.

The International Guild of Knot Tyers publishes a quarterly magazine and also offers a number of other publications. An annual subscription is available here.

November 27, 2014

Four resources I'm thankful for

(Although I'm not American, being thankful is something I can get behind, and today seems an appropriate day to reflect on some of the resources that have helped me as a Scouter over the years)

I've been fortunate to have great mentors, from Patrol Leaders as  a Scout, to Troop Scouters, Group Scouters and training team members who have helped me, challenged me and supported me as a Scouter. Today I want to talk about resources that are available to everyone that have been a great help to me.

The Dump
I was fortunate to inherit an extensive library in my Scout group, going back to the founding of the group in the 1940s. These old books have fantastic information, but they are not easy to find anymore. The Dump is a library of scanned PDFs of old Scouting resources, collected and curated by Everything from BP's earliest, pre-Scout writing, to specific merit badge advice, is available here.
Clarke Green has been blogging since 2005 on Scouting, and gives sage advice, shares useful tips, and also has a weekly podcast that is very entertaining and informative. Clarke aims his advice at Scout leaders, no matter what capacity you are serving in, and has written a few books in addition to the blog. The Index is a good place to dive in to nine year's worth of material.

Akela's Cubs
Joy was the Pack Scouter during most of the time that I was Troop Scouter at Ninth Benoni, and we started blogging within a few months of each other. Joy blogged the day's Pack meeting every week for years, and this blog collects these meetings as well as many other ideas for camps and outings for Cubs.

Scouts South Africa library
South Africa was one of the first countries in the world to have Scout Troops, and the oldest group in the country dates back to 1908. This collection of books includes some stories of B-P's adventures in South Africa, great resources for teaching, and a glimpse into how the programme is run here in South Africa. The pro-plan charts are a collection of posters for teaching all of the basic skills in the Scouting programme.