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Pioneering Mobstacles

The cheaper, simpler Mobstacle
homemade concept

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#1 Meaker VI

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Posted 11 July 2014 - 05:55 PM

I was going to reply to one of the old threads, but since it seems I've got a significant amount of information to convey, I've decided to start a new one. I've recently figured something out that would apply very well to building mobile obstacles for Nerfing.

There is an ancient practice called "pioneering" that involves lashing poles together with ropes. Some scouts carry it out today, but it appears to be a dying art judging by the lack of non-scouting sites dedicated to it.

The point is that there are knots that can do all the stuff we'd want to do without threading, gluing, or other mucking about. They're tied easily in a minute or less when you get the hang of it, are quite sturdy, and untie fairly easily when you're done.

Tripod lashing

Square lashing

That site has a couple of other lashings that would be useful, but with those two you can build just about anything we'd need.

For this 'writeup', the entire instruction set is: Tie a tripod knot around 3 PVC poles of any size, set up tripod (optionally fix to ground or otherwise reinforce), affix cover.

Buying a stack of 1/2" pvc at Lowes is something like $18 for 10x10' sticks. Cut those in half to get 20x5' sticks, also buy a spool or two of medium-duty twine or mason's line (4-5$) and something to cover the obstacle with (could be anything though - bedsheets, cardboard, dropcloths, tarps, old shirts & coats, pine boughs, palm fronds... Keep in mind you don't need to cover all sides to create a viable obstacle). The cost per tripod-mobstacle should be in the neighborhood of $3-4 each, with no covers (since those can be almost anything, and certainly could be something you have lying around or could get for free, or could be something you spend hundreds of dollars on. Using Slug's purchase or some of these from Harbor Freight yields a cost-per of $5.5-$9 each - attach with some of your cordage or tape).

If you're feeling the need, you could dangle something heavy from the center of the tripod to keep it in place (a rock, eye-stake in the ground, bucket filled with rocks/spare blasters/lunch or use the preferred method: a cauldron); keeping the corners down shouldn't be an issue on turf but if it is bind the corners of the triangle together with another rope, tent pegs or stakes, or as shown on the linked sites with poles and additional lashings. Keep in mind that PVC is more slippery than wood, so keep your knots a few inches from the end of your poles. You can either leave the knots as-is in place or untie them when you're done. If someone runs into an unstaked tripod it should just collapse. For non-structural work, I'd imagine something as thin as mason's line will work, though I used paracord building one the other night. I also used rubber bands and super-cheap landscaping stakes for a smallish one, so that's something else to consider if you don't need the things higher than +/-5'. A twisted-natural fiber rope is best. I'll experiment with twine but I suspect that it'll work great (i.e.: better than paracord) for light-duty stuff.

And that is the kicker - these practices are good for far more than simple walls/blocks. With structural poles (4-8" dressed trees up to 20' long or 2x4's up to 8' long. Do not use PVC for any kind of load-bearing application!) and rope (1/2" +) there are projects you can build that are completely knock-down, but also completely load-bearing.

lookouttow.jpg

4x4-climbing-tower-2.jpg

And once you've got things figured out, there's no stopping you making square frames, cubes, serpentine walls, tents/bunkers, etc. from just PVC.

Obviously I accept no responsibility for your stupidity - test anything you build from rope and wood before allowing just anyone to use it - but it seems that a dedicated host could easily construct quite the field to play on.


Edited by Aeromech, 23 November 2015 - 02:59 AM.

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#2 Thorn

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Posted 11 July 2014 - 06:08 PM

Some of your pictures appear to be not working. Other than that, this is an awesome idea. It looks to be loads cheaper then using pvc fittings. I hope to see these being used in the field in the near future.
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#3 Meaker VI

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Posted 11 July 2014 - 06:43 PM

Some of your pictures appear to be not working. Other than that, this is an awesome idea. It looks to be loads cheaper then using pvc fittings. I hope to see these being used in the field in the near future.


Which ones? I intentionally used links to the site showing how to tie the knot above the pictures of each knot if it's those. If it's not I'll look into fixing it.
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#4 BuffNerd

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Posted 11 July 2014 - 06:44 PM

I can't believe that I over looked lashings for nerf. Great job in connecting them. I do recognize those hats though. Did you go to the jamboree or did you just find that online?

Edit:
I would suggest that you drill holes in the bottoms of the PVC and ties a rope through all of the legs to prevent the tripod from moving out too far. Also I can't express how tight you need to make you lashings. If you lashings are loose, then you mobstacles will just fall apart.

Edited by BuffNerd, 11 July 2014 - 06:53 PM.

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#5 shmmee

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Posted 11 July 2014 - 08:33 PM

Theirs going to be a lot of nerfing time spent tying knots instead. Why not just use couplers for quicker set up and take down? You don't want a structure - and more specifically the liability of a structure strong enough to actually climb on anyway.
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#6 Thorn

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Posted 11 July 2014 - 09:52 PM

Which ones? I intentionally used links to the site showing how to tie the knot above the pictures of each knot if it's those. If it's not I'll look into fixing it.

Whoops. Never mind then. It said posted image with no image under the links so I figured they were not working.
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#7 Langley

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Posted 11 July 2014 - 11:42 PM

Which ones? I intentionally used links to the site showing how to tie the knot above the pictures of each knot if it's those. If it's not I'll look into fixing it.


Those are the ones. Grog doesn't like hotlinking, apparently. You can probably see them because they're cached from when you viewed the site directly.

Theirs going to be a lot of nerfing time spent tying knots instead.


This. Setting up snap-tee mobstacles is a huge time sink already. You can lose a round to it even with plenty of help. Lashing together a bunch of tripods could take up half your war. Also, PVC is tough to lash with, because it is too slick. It's even worse when you're using synthetic cord.

If you are setting something up in your yard for your kids, or you have the means to store and transport these things already set up, it might be worth it to do all the work ahead of time, but it's just going to take way too long on the morning of a nerf war.


You could also trying making something like beaver's cheap mobstacles or taer's tetrahedral mobstacles where they're mostly assembled and you just have to unfold them and stake them down. But as you can see from Beaver's writeup duct tape does a good enough job and is cheaper than good cord.
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#8 Daniel Beaver

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Posted 12 July 2014 - 12:56 AM

Setting up snap-tee mobstacles is a huge time sink already.

Yep, and you can see how that's driven previous developments on mobstacles. In terms of strength, lashing is clearly adequate... but it's not a practical solution when there are only one or two people setting up all the mobstacles before the war. Boy Scouts get to fart around all day tying awesome knots, but we want to get out and nerf with minimal setup time.
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#9 KaneTheMediocre

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Posted 12 July 2014 - 03:40 PM

These structures would be great if you personally owned the playing field and wanted to set up a permanent (or at least seasonally permanent) arena. But, as others have noted, setup time is prohibitive for the usual show-up-at-a-park-with-everything approach. I'd love to have such a permanent home for my nerfing activities filled with sweet lashed towers, walls, and bridges, but neither I nor anyone else in the NIC has the real estate resources to make that happen.

Also, if you're doing lashings, stick with wood. Lashings rely on friction to hold everything in place, which is great with the wood-on-rope interface, not so great with the PVC-on-rope interface.
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#10 Meaker VI

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Posted 14 July 2014 - 10:42 AM

Those are the ones. Grog doesn't like hotlinking, apparently. You can probably see them because they're cached from when you viewed the site directly.


Huh. I'll remove those then.



This. Setting up snap-tee mobstacles is a huge time sink already. You can lose a round to it even with plenty of help. Lashing together a bunch of tripods could take up half your war. Also, PVC is tough to lash with, because it is too slick. It's even worse when you're using synthetic cord.


The tripod ties could be setup before hand and your covers attached, but yes, it'll still take time. Storage is basically just 3 poles though, you tie it with them all together so they'll lay like that no problem. If you've got the ability to transport 5' long poles, you can transport 5' long tied poles (without cross ties, though I don't think those are needed for this use).

Also, if you're doing lashings, stick with wood. Lashings rely on friction to hold everything in place, which is great with the wood-on-rope interface, not so great with the PVC-on-rope interface.


Definitely agree if you're doing structural stuff. For non-structural knock-down obstacles, leaving 2-6" between the end of the PVC and your knot should work fine; I've got less than that on my trial setup and it has no problems being moved around. Duct tape could also be substituted for the ropes (using similar principles) to eliminate slippage while still being easily transported.

Shoot though, looking at Beaver's setup, you could build a clothesline with 2 poles, a longer cord, 4 guy-lines (probably 2 chords 2.5x the length of your pole run through a hole in the pole), the requisite obstacle-material, and a bunch of stakes.
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