The Spaceframe!

By Graeme MacPherson

We are working hard to send our production prototype unit down to Baja by the end of the month for some field testing. The last few months have been productive, and we are closing in on having the canopy portion of the build finalized. Its been weeks of finalizing finish design and processes for production, but we are closing in our target.

So starting out, the first thing we set out to accomplish was finalizing the design for the tube frame. We are utilizing a spaceframe design (wikipedia article if you aren't familiar) that works well for this application because it enables an incredibly durable, lightweight and strong structure. Probably why they use it as the primary structure in trophy trucks. 

Got the tube set all mitered and ready for assembly... 

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Then began welding the assembly. Because everything is fully CAD designed and fully defined, the frame went together without a hitch.

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And the unit in its entirety. The structure is made of .065 DOM tube, which results in a good balance of weight and strength. The long bed Toyota Tacoma version comes in right around 60 pounds. 

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The next step was paneling. It was a bit tricky as we decided to push and offer the operable sides as an upgrade right off the bat. Because we wanted to utilize a continuous gasket seal around the tangent perimeter of the panel interface, we had to design our own hinge. We ended up with an 8-bar linkage that both lifts and pushes simultaneously to keep any interference at bay.

And quickly realized that a billet CNC machined aluminum housing is never a bad thing. Part is tumbled and ready for anodizing.

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After that, we needed to get the test panels started. We laser cut the panel from .080" 5052, which is lightweight, durable and corrosion resistant. Can you see a theme here? We want these to last.

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Looks pretty rad from the inside too...

After confirming panel fit we needed to take it to the beadroller to add a bit of stiffness. Shop dog Shasta supervises...

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Once we confirmed the panel process, its off to finish the other three and install the hinge and lock mechanisms. We plan to get this lower assembly off to powder coat next week (both the frame and panels will all be offered as powder coated parts stock) and begin assembly of the upper camper portion. Those parts are shipping in as we speak.

Stay tuned!