Archive for September, 2009

As readers of this blog will know we bought a Outwell Indian Lake tent before the summer holidays.

We have now been to 3 Explorer camps with this tent – one of those for 7 days in Switzerland, and in very different conditions, from very hot sunshine to very, very heavy rain, and the tent (and we) have survived, so it is about time to write about the tent end our experiences.

First of all this is a unusual tent – and you will get to know people if you have one, as there are lots of curious stares and comments :

(Btw. Click on any image to see a larger version)

First of all – this is what the tent looks like. For reference is is in excess of 3 metres tall, and the tipi part (the round part) is 5 metres in diameter – it is by no means a small tent, and all in all it weighs also to 4 kg’s spread across 2 bags.
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Erecting the tent (and yes we have done this in rain) takes approx. 20 minutes. As it is not immediately obvious what the best way of doing this is – watch the videos and read the instructions before you want to try it out. And do as we did – a few dryruns on the lawn did wonders for our confidence, as setting in up on your lawn is very different from doing this in the dark and rain.

Btw. if you prepare everything correctly the tent can be reasonably dry even after erecting in serious downpours.

But on to some of the detail.

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The waterproof bottom of the tent (as we bought the additional “footprint” groundsheet as well) goes a good 15 cm up the side of the tent, so even if there is some surface water you will remain dry, the zipper that connects the tent itself to the bottom is very solid and covered with a plastic “lip” to further ensure that it is waterproof. The only opening is to let a electric cable entry to the tent – more about this later.

There are solid plastic “lugs” in all corners of the tent, both outside and inside to faster the inner tent and ropes/bungees to.

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Fastenings for Outwells electronic cabling system (which as far as I can find out does not really exist in retail yet) will come in handy if you invest in a set of solar panels for charging your phone/flashlight etc.

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This is the airvent in the top of the tipi seen from the inside. Notice there is a zip up there to feed the centre pole in when you set up the tent. On the outside the arivent is covered by the “hat”, but bungees and a flexible pole make sure that air can come in but rain is kept put.

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On the main pole there is a very handy and solid set of hooks, to hold up the inner tent (bedrooms in other words – there are 2 of them) and anything else you need – like jackets/lights/fans etc.

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How the inner tent if fastened to the very solid plastic lugs welded into the corners.

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And fastening loops used for the blinds and window pockets.

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The hooks for the sides of the inner tent.

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We used a motion sensing light with a magnetic back – fastened it to one of the blinds (covering the windows) to give us a bit of light in case one of us had to get up in the night before we found our headlights.

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The ventilation vents in the inner tent compartments.

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And the vents over the 2 windows (with the blinds up)

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The porch has its own groundsheet which on the back extends in under the tent, and on the front curves up to stop water entering.

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There’s even loop fastenings for the porch groundsheet.

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The main pole has it’s own little pocket through the groundsheet, and the carpet (yes – this is a optional extra, but really recommended as it makes it possible to sit on the floor in much larger groups than if you use chairs) Notice the halfmoon cutout in the carpet to let the pole fit.

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The very handy pockets behind the pole (part of the sleeping compartments/inner tent) came in very handy on a long camp.

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The “skirt” around the bottom of the porch sheds rain very well.

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The “hat” is constructed with a aluminium rod holding the round shape, and bungees to hold it in place fastened further down the tent. No rain came in even in extreme downpours in Switzerland.

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The technique for holding open the outside airvent covers does not work terribly well, and needed a bit of modification.

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The “hat” from another angle.

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The back of the tent with the guy-ropes. They really show up very well in the dark, essential for scout camps.

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The porch – where the frame for the front of the porch can be seen, and the fastenings.

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When it is not raining the entrance door to the porch can be folded back to increase ventilation (and access). Notice the clips for fastening the porch poles/frame to the tent.

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Here both set of doors can be seen. Btw. they are both double, with a zipper between the mosquito netting and the main fabric. This porch is extremely handy for leaving shoes etc. in – as you do not really want to get the carpet dirty and wet.

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The clips for the porch frame.

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3 set of fasteners meet – the bungee for the bottom, the expandable fastenings for the “skirt” of the main tent, and the fastenings for the porch frame.

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Porch groundsheet fastening.

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There’s even a little plastic “lip” covering the zippers for the doors.

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Just showing the size of the plastic lug.

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The rest of the tentpeg fastenings are all adjustable.

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The bungee fastenings for the hat.

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The windows from the outside – they do add a lot of light when you’re inside, and are positioned very well if you sit in a chair and want to observe what is going on.

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And the porch has its own 2 windows as well.

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The extra “rain” skirt covers the outer tent all the way to the ground for the porch.

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Fastenings for rolling down the window blinds.

So the verdict :

For long camps we really like the tent

– No rain came in through the (single) outer tent or any of the vents.

– The optional carpet makes for a very snug feeling when walking around in bare feet.

– Being able to stand up inside the tent to dress etc. is extremely nice.

We love it.

Wireless transmission for the Arduino has generally relied on the Xbee modules (or bluetooth) – making it relatively expensive – this article may indicate that a cheaper alternative can be used :

hr_RF_circuit

Everybody loves microcontrollers, including the Arduino, allowing you to create whatever you imagine. That is unless you want to hack together something wireless. Originally you had to rely on the expensive XBee protocol or other wireless options, but no longer. Hobby Robotics found an extremely cheap transmitter and receiver and wrote a quick guide for wiring them up to an Arduino. Now your wireless projects can come to life, as long as you are within 500 feet and don’t mind 2400bps; minor trade offs compared to the gains of wireless freedom. Final note: You aren’t limited to Arduino, we would love to see someone modify this to work with a PIC or other microcontroller.

[From Cheap wireless for microcontrollers]