TED Conversations

russell lester

Orchardist, Grange

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TEDBEDS, a quick easy to assemble shelter using existing supplies to provide disaster relief.

All across the USA in DOT storage lots are massive piles of steel poles square in cross section and having bolt holes every inch. Also here are signs printed on some well made and treated metal that rarely seems to rust even in salty areas. Near by are in every urban area huge supplies of pallets often being given away for free. With these basic pieces and some pvc piping and garden hoses it seems that a creative architect might make some sort of easy to assemble shelter that could be available to be shipped in large quantities from any part of the USA to places in need. Any takers?

  • Jan 11 2012: Okay, I made a design using only the stop sign posts, for adjustable-use. Though, many of the parts can be replaced with lumber, made more permanent with Straw bale (for insulation, to make a dome house for longer residence), and other modifications.

    Here's some basic drawings I threw together.


    Hopefully this will stir the pot.
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      Jan 11 2012: I cannot thank you enough for your contribution it looks much more practical than the monster ive been tangling with in my back yard (al though mine does come with chain link fence beds :) )
      • Jan 11 2012: I'm thinking up other things like that now, I just wanted to focus on the house first.
      • Jan 11 2012: Here's why I designed it the way I did, modulation. If this was to accommodate the widest array of uses, it would need to be adaptable.

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          Jan 12 2012: very nice work I cant wait to sand you some pictures of my project. Flexability to circumstances and using preexisting supplies available in bulk is at the core of this project.
    • Jan 11 2012: Very nice Scott. Part of the way there Russell
  • Jan 15 2012: Okay, I switched over to 2-inch Square (same build though), but this time I got 3D CAD's of the frame(s)!



    This uses 8 foot lengths for the support floor struts, 1.25 foot lengths for the "main-frame" struts. 10 foot lengths under Main-frames. enjoy!
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    Jan 11 2012: Architecture for Humanity (Cameron Sinclair) explores projects like this. My question is, if there's a disaster, infrastructure such as roads and machinery, electricity, and running water may not be available. It takes more than just a building to house people. Still, pallets as building materials is an interesting idea, especially if they are that much in abundance. In which case, we really don't need to wait for a large-scale disaster; there are lots of chronic crises we could apply this technology to, such as homelessness.
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      Jan 11 2012: Garden hoses and pvc pipe fittings under the pallets can deliver water, old satilite dishes lined with mylar make excellent solar mirrors for boiling water even cooking, the shelters could include shower versions toilet versions clinic storage and office units. look around your own area, you will certainly find a DOT facility that handles placing and replacing signs ... I always look for a huge pile of sand for my first clue but it snows here...
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      Jan 21 2012: Please consider looking at the work scott king has contributed
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        Jan 21 2012: Indeed, I've already looked and liked, and I am cheering this project on. I've also been handing out hand warmers, rain ponchos, and info-flyers about overflow shelters to those for whom disaster has already struck. The number of homeless grows daily.
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    Jan 9 2012: Get a grant to fund prototyping and I will lend my 30+ years of mechanical design experience to the effort. Sounds pretty smart to me.
  • Jan 9 2012: It seems like a good idea. Is there a way to actually access these materials?
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      Jan 21 2012: I have the contact info for a large wholesaler in Florida and of course there are local stockpiles for the DOT. The cost of the framing of a unit using 35 posts and framing a 2400 sq foot shelter with an 1200 sq foot loft, the entire structure able to be set off the ground, and leveled on unlevel ground not counting chain link fencing as bed springs or flooring and not including tarps or sheathing material would be 400 to 500 dollars and would take 11.6 cubic feet of shipping space.
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    Jan 26 2012: so we have several designs and I have tested one steel puptent,and tried but could not construct alone the cabin frame. Scotts work looks sound, I have located a wholesaler for the parts as well as a manufaturer (of course they accept orders in 110000 lb lots) now who can we get this idea to who can use it?
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    Jan 24 2012: The full sized version was to cumbersome to assemble with one person in adverse weather but a pup tent version using a triangle of 2 12 foot and one 8foot with 3 12 foot pieces from each point to a second triangle of 3 8 foot pieces with additional 8 foot pieces across the floor was manageable
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    Jan 21 2012: I have my materials plus a wicked snowstorm to teat them in will post a report on building a structure in 6 to 16 degree wether with 1 foot of snow plus more coming down tomorrow night.
  • Jan 16 2012: I also made a component for the system, to attach (without welding) 2 perpendicular struts. It uses 1 bolt, 1 nut, a 4-8 inch section of a material (possibly another that you're using) to fit inside of the 2-inch square.
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      Jan 16 2012: Im trying desperatly to find a cad program that I can use .....very fustrating to hear about great iudeas and not see them
      • Jan 16 2012: I use VariCAD, which is a linux/windows compatible CAD program, its native image file is .dwb, but AutoCAD's is .dwg, so I converted it, if you get VariCAD I can send you the native file.
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    Jan 16 2012: I am going to post an TEDBED KING version in a few days. Unfortunately I dont have the software right now to cad/or view it but I have every confidence in the fact that is going to be great. Scott King has been a steady and productive contributor and I think that everyone should give his latest post on the thread a thumbs up thanks.
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    Jan 13 2012: I have some data on the matirials if your interested 1.75 inch or 2.0 inch squares, 8 10 and 12 ft leanghts 40 gauge. also some data about hardware and fasteners
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    Jan 11 2012: http://www.signingamerica.com/contact

    This is the link to a great wholesaler of sign materials to give everyone an idea of the existing hardware that I am talking about, notice they are in Florida which is exposed and could be the home of the next Katrina....Not to mention not far from the Carri bean Islands, I dont think they would donate materials but in exchange for opening an entire new market for thier goods they might cut you a good price....I truly would be thrilled if i saw in the next disater a shelter inspired by this going up.... thank you for the great input.
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    Jan 11 2012: http://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/local_rural/training/fhwasa09025/#c4

    This site has a lot for information on the sort of materials I am using see the section on steel tubes, perforated, note the hardware for connecting them,
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    Jan 11 2012: No I have some pencil drawings but nothing drafted and nothing on a computer system... the sign poles are increadable strong too I wish i knew how much they could actually carry
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    Jan 11 2012: Huh. You've really thought this through. Do you have it drafted into a proposal or presentation? Have you tried it out, by chance? I'm just really curious. I'd like to see if it could be a solution.