Quick & Easy Camping Platform


My sister recently built this sweet camping platform in the woods on my land, so I thought I’d show off her build. Most of the wood was scrounged from various construction dumpsters, and the metal roofing/gutter was purchased from the local metal recycling facility. Total cost for materials (not including tools) was under $100, & was constructed in about 8 hours.

Dimensions: 8′ x 10′, height ~3.5′ (back), 5.5′ (front)

Bill of Materials
Platform Base:
- Primary Support Beams (2x) – 2×10, 10′ length (2x8s would be fine)
- Floor Joists (5
x) - 2x8, 8′ length
- Flooring – 140′ of 1″ tongue & groove wood siding
- Roofing Metal - 6, 11′ sheets of roofing metal (total area 11′x12′)
- Metal Gutter – 12′ length
- Roofing supports (2x) – 2×4, 12′ length
- Rafters (7x) – 2×4, 11′ length
- Purlins – 72′ of pallet wood
- Posts – 2x 4×4, 8′ length (cut into 3′ and 5′ lengths)
- decking screws
- roofing screws
- caulk, ~1 tube
- stain, ~1 quart

Base Construction
Land was cleared & cinder blocks were placed and leveled. Structural base was constructed using two 10′ 2x10s for the primary support beams and five 8′ 2x8s for the floor joists.
These nice 2x10s and pine wood siding were given to us for free. Apparently they were rained on, and thus deemed no longer usable on the job site. A few of them were slightly warped, but was no longer noticeable once being screwed down.
Posts were attached to both primary floor beams & joists, and grooves were cut into the flooring in the corners to allow for the posts to pass through. The roofing support beams & rafters were cut to allow for approximately a 1′ overhang on all sides (~12′ and 11′ lengths respectively). Since most of this came from dumpster scrap, few of the 2x4s used for rafters were actually long enough to extend the full length. The full lengths were created by joining (sistering) multiple boards together.
Purlins – used for screwing the metal roofing to – were made from old pallet wood.
Roofing metal attached & caulked. A gutter was added to the rear side to allow for easy rain water catchment for washing / filtering & drinking. Last step was to paint all the wood with a thick sealing stain to encapsulate & weatherproof.


Build your own Stomp Rocket Launcher for less than $5

Finished1If you’ve been to any of our rocket launching events, you’ve probably seen some of our awesome launching rigs.

While some of our members spent a good bit of time and money creating them, you can build your own in about 30 minutes, and for $5 or less.

Bill of Materials:

  • 3 – pieces of 1/2″ PVC pipe (12″ each)
  • 2 – 90deg elbows for 1/2″ PVC pipe
  • 2 – small hose clamps
  • 1 – 12″ section of bike (or similar) tubing
  • 1 – 2-liter soda bottle (or similar)

Tools Required:

  • Flat head screw driver
  • PVC cutters, or hack saw


Step 1: Measure out and cut your PVC pipe to the appropriate size (12″).




Saw   or   Cutters


TubeStep 2: Using the hose clamps, attach one end of the bike tube to one
of the PVC pieces, and the other end to the soda bottle. Screw down until the hose clamp is snug.


Clamp2   and   Clamp1



Step 3: Push the 12″ PVC lengths into the elbows (no PVC solvent or glue needed).




Step 4: Have fun!



Soldering Fun By All

Soldering Workshop 1Thanks to the ~40 folk that came out last night to our free Learn to Solder Workshop. It was such a success that we’ll probably run it again in a few months, so if you missed out, keep a look out on our calendar.

We had a vast variety in age range, and most had never soldered before (some of our volunteers had only learned a couple days before). Everyone was successful in assembling their soldering kits, and in an amazing effort by all of the organizers and volunteers to make sure safety was our number 1 priority, there were no accidental brandings!

Special thanks again to our two sponsors, Efficiency Lab and onHaywood.com, who made it possible for us to have this event be free and open to the public, and to all the volunteers that showed up to help teach and supervise.

For further soldering tips check out this fun how-to comic. You can find many more soldering kits by searching around on the web; we recommend checking out Adafruit for some additional fun projects.

Soldering Workshop 2

Learn to Solder Workshop

solderkitWHAT:  FREE “Learn to Solder” workshop for anyone interested in learning an important “Maker” skill. You’ll learn how to use a soldering iron to create a robot “badge” that has two blinking LED lights and is powered by a watch battery. You keep the robot badge you make!

WHO:  Anyone can participate. Minors must have a parent or guardian present (and helping).

WHEN:  Thursday March 20, 2014 from 7 pm to 9 pm

WHERE:  West Asheville Library located at 942 Haywood Rd, Asheville, NC 28806

COST:  Free

SPONSOR:  This event is made possible by generous donations by The Efficiency Lab and OnHaywood.com

EfficiencyLab-Logo                   onHaywood-logo2013-260

Rockets are a success!


Well over 100 people showed up last Saturday to join us in building and launching paper rockets at the YMCA Youth Services Center (it was hard to keep count). Special thanks to Tom and Ian for all the work they did to make this happen, the YMCA for hosting us, and all of the parents who brought their kids out for a fabulous field day of flight and fun.


Paper Rockets

Rocket Launching @ the YMCA

**Date Rescheduled to: Saturday, March 1st (10am to Noon),  due to county schools makeup day conflict.

Build your own rocket out of paper then launch it hundreds of feet in the air!! Kids and adults are guaranteed to be amazed at how high the rockets fly. It’s fun hands-on engineering and science for everyone. You get to keep the rocket you make.

Location: YMCA Youth Services Center (201 Beaverdam Rd. Asheville, NC 28804)

Date: Saturday, March 1st

Time: 10am to Noon