Fusion 360 and a teardrop trailer

Posted by on November 12th, 2019  •  0 Comments

Sue is coming into some money in June so we are daydreaming about getting a bigger rig for road tripping. I looked into the whole vanlife thing but that looks like over kill. Plus none of the vans are as reliable as our Toyota’s. We are spoiled by cars that never break down. We do all the scheduled maintenance on our  ‘yodas’ and they last well into the 200,000 mile range on original engines and transmissons. My Corolla is at 374K. My Tacoma is at 242K and is still on the original everything, even the clutch.

So the thought of getting a Sprinter or Promaster or Transit and paying thousands in repair costs when they reach 100,000 is not appealing. We could get an old Ford Econoline and have it inspected, maybe replace a tranny or engine. But we’d still be stuck with an old van that gets 14 mpg.

So that got me looking at ways to make road tripping easier. I looked at roof top tents for a while because they could be mounted on our RAV4. But those things just move the wet tent to the top of the car, where it will start to smell like all old wet tents. And that’s after you put down $3000…for a tent!!

People who like them cite their safety. For example, they say that bugs, bears and cougars can’t get you up in the rooftop tent. Well, that’s not exactly a real life kind of problem. Only someone who’s never backpacked would think that way. We’ve slept in tents our entire lives. I’ve had ants in my tents, but nothing else. My buddy Fletch did have a bear wander into his tent in Yosemite, but only because he left the door open. They scared it out quickly and love to tell the story.

I moved onto to teardrop trailers, which our old friend Jim has had for decades. We could get one of those and tow it behind the car, instead of on top of it. We’d keep our trusty Toyotas, and move the sleeping platform to the trailer behind us. It’s like sleeping in my pickup canopy…no wet tent or wind noise to deal with. The light ones (500 Lbs) barely increase your gas mileage because they draft in the wind behind the car. New commercial ones run from $5000 to $20,000. But this guy sells a kit that gets you one for about $2300 plus shipping:

I like the looks of that teardrop because we made a stitch and glue kayak 16 years ago and Clint still uses it today. We all know the process and remember how fiberglass works. Only thing is, I might hate towing a trailer. We don’t really have to move from our ground tents into a trailer. The only time we really need a quick, dry sleeping area is on a 24 hour road trip at rest areas and truck stops when Sue is with me. The RAV4 or Tacoma are always too full with climbing and painting gear to stretch out in the back, so we have to doze in the front seats.

We can still do that just fine, it’s the nature of a road trip. But I was trying to buy luxury for the future Mark and Sue, the couple who is 5 years older in their seventies, slowing down,  body falling apart…etc. I can’t predict who we  will be, we all age differently.

A much simpler solution is to wait for the new Toyota Tundra to come out. It’s rumored to be a hybrid, with mpg figures approaching the hybrid RAV4…or at least in the thirties. With that, we could sell our trusty Tacoma, put a tall canopy on and sleep sideways in the huge 8 foot bed. It would be a one size fits all. No trailer to pull, no broken down Sprinter van to deal with 40 miles up a dirt road in Utah. But waiting a couple years for something we could use in June will be frustrating.

Sue is advising me to be patient. To just keep doing what we are doing…what’s the big hurry? She is right, as usual.

You may not have noticed but I’ve been messing about with my custom WordPress theme. I just put that new mountain graphic up in the masthead banner today. One of my students was trying it and it looked so nice I had to do it too.

3d modeling

I got frustrated with sketchup for a couple reasons:

  • It costs a lot of money to have the full blown program, and
  • It has some severe limitations that are deeply frustrating for someone used to the precision of Adobe Illustrator.

So I switched to Fusion 360. It’s free to use if you make less than $100,000 a year, or you have a education email address. Fusion is so much more precise than sketchup. It’s a steep learning curve…so steep that it will have you pulling your hair out. Nothing makes sense when you first start out. You can’t just jump in like with Sketchup. I tried to study it on lynda.com but must have started with the wrong series. I switched to youtube and hit gold.

I worked through about 8 of this guys lessons, he is a great example of how old guys rock. He has the teaching experience to step outside himself and see the gotcha’s from the perspective of a newbie. That’s a rare gift.

This one is showing how you can design a box with parametric variables. It’s a hinged box that can be easily changed to any size, from one inch to 6 inches. The parts all scale up proportionally and continue to fit because they are designed and measured with mathematical formula’s (parametric variables).
For example, the hinge on the bottom of the box is told to be one half the width of the flat side of the box. Flat meaning don’t measure the outer dimension of the box. Instead measure from the inner end of the corner radius…where it’s flat. In other words, the hinge isn’t hard coded at 10 millimeters. It’s told to be a percentage value of the box. I guess another way to say this is the box will look exactly the same proportionally at any size. You can mess about with width, length or height, basically make the box fit anything that well fit in a 3d printer, and it always works.
Pictured below is the first time I had to create a ‘sketch’ on a new plane (y axis). I told the hinge to offset a dynamic amount from the new y plane, shown in blue and orange. He uses some fancy math to position the hinge elements on the top of the box to either side of the hinge element on the bottom of the box. He even builds in clearance tolerance. This is super geeky, and super fun. V. asked me why I haven’t been painting lately…here’s the answer.

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