Apr 22

An excellent week of education

I am taking two tiny home building classes at Laney College. CARP 221 – Advanced Elements of Construction is taught on Thursday by Matthew Wolpe. CARP 228 – Digital Fabrication is taught on Friday by Marisha Farnsworth.

We are building two houses for The City of Oakland to help with the chronic homeless problem. Our medium size home, called Model M, is on a 16 foot trailer and will included a bathroom, kitchen and standard electricity. The small home, called Model S, will be built on top of a 12 foot trailer and will not have a bathroom or kitchen. We are building both in Matt’s class and designing both in Marisha’s.

The classes this week were particularly rewarding and educational. On Thursday we rolled the Model M prototype to it’s final build location outside, adjusted a wall that was off, created ‘internal’ fascia for extra material for the roof to attach to and installed all the rafters for the roof.

The class on Friday concentrated on designing tool paths within Fusion 360 for the furniture and steps. Lee and I were tasked with laser printing a 1/6 scale model of Version 2 of our rib frame for Model S. And because working from 9-5 is not enough, Marisha asked a few of us to join her at the Independent Brewing Company to continue design work.

This is exactly the type of education I need to build a sound community. This was an excellent week of progress!

In this photo you can see the Model M on the left and the original Wedge on the right. Just to the right of the Wedge, if you look closely, you can see a 1/2 scale model of the Model M that has been wrapped in Tyvek. We used that small scale model to work out a number of problems. Matt has decided to try HydropGap for the first time as an alternative to Tyvek.

Building small and quick prototypes has proven to be a real money and long-term time saver.

Alison lives on a one-acre farm in the Berkeley hills where they practice natural home building, grow over 400 perennials, cultivate lots of native plants and raise four goats. Along with all their amazing work, the view is simply stunning.

David and Rick have been the principal Fusion 360 masters of the newly designed rib for the Model S. We are using the WikiHouse for initial inspiration mainly because construction requires minimal tools, uses sustainable materials, can be built safely by people with minimal construction skills… and offers Open Source plans.

We started off by building a single demonstration rib using dimensions close to the ones in the original European plans. This rib is almost a foot thick. Our trailer is only 8 feet wide so losing two feet just for the structural walls is not viable. Rick spent a few weeks converting the designs into a parametric Fusion 360 version. We then modified one rib to be only 5.5 inches thick and built a prototype. Two weeks ago we stress tested both.

The original design is plenty strong for our needs (but too thick). Our modified 5.5 inch rib failed in specific ways that we can improve upon. David has taken on the task of redesigning the core rib and, since he enjoys this stuff so much, has modified the original house design to incorporate the updates.

The image above shows David and Rick assembling the 1/6 scale laser cut-out of the new-and-improved Version 2 Model S rib.

David, Jimmy (who operates the Laney Fab Lab, Marisha and Jake enjoying an after class beer while we design the attachment point to the base trailer.

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