Monday, February 18, 2008

Gimme Shelter

Time to create the scaffolding for the Creator's shelter. It will hopefully be as functional and form(ally) beautiful as it can be. In trying to find the right tools and materials I bought some Vex kits when Radio Shack decided to chuck them. So in a way I got a good deal. From a tinkerer's perspective though I wish I had my (very) old Meccano, which from an engineering point of view was a lot more versatile I believe.

The problem with the Vex "system" is that it is not really integrated. It seems to have been designed, not as an optimal modular construction set, but rather limited to some preconceived ideas as to what you should do with it rather than let you decide, as the Meccano system allowed.

I find it very limiting for free form design. Take this example. To construct the very simple structure I needed required me to use ALL 5 kits! and I am not even close to be done.

When you think of which is the most useful and common structural element in construction, I am sure that the majority of "architects" or engineers would agree that it is the humble angle, strong, simple and functional. Well, guess what, the entire Vex kit comes with a whooping 3 angles! yes, that is 1,2,3! But what were they thinking?

This forced me to construct the main columns with rails (of which there are quite a few) which prevented me to attach the rest of the support elements in a simple way.

The kit does come with lots of elements that might have some use in some specific project but it is the least useful grouping of parts in any construction kit that I have found. There must be a reason behind this, and it is probably very sound, like ka-ching! Almost any project will require you to buy extra hardware, at a very steep price, and you can bet (and would win) that the "dedicated" hardware kits bring a completely unbalanced set of elements as well, so that you do keep on buying. Bear in mind that I am not building anything exotic as you can see from the pics.

The structure is 80 cm. tall and 33cm wide, making it a harmonic rectangle area. Of course it is not exact, since it never occurred to the designers that anybody migh need , want or know about such things as harmonic proportions.

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