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Shade Frame

Shade Frame over Trough

Shade Frame over Trough

We set a record for 70 days of  over 100 degree days and 2nd place for the record with 40 days in a row. Due to the many days over 100 degrees, my plants started to “cook”. The water got hot and the plants wilted. The Mozambique Tilapia didn’t seem to mind much, although they ate less food.

To protect my plants I designed and built a shade frame.

My design goals:

  • provide shade in the summer
  • act as a green house with plastic covering in the winter
  • light enough to move on or off of the trough / plants easily
  • low cost and easy to build
  • built from readily available parts
  • sturdy and last a long time
  • sized to easily slide over one of my FAP grow beds

Construction

The frame is built of 11 pieces of 1/2″ galvanized conduit. The four main curved ribs were bent from 10′ pieces of conduit to be a 64″ arch with the ends 64″ apart.

Shade Frame

Shade Frame

The two bottom members were bent using one 10′ piece of conduit for each. The ends were bent up 90 degrees, starting 6 inches from the ends. The height of  ends after bending are 11 & 1/2″ from the ground and the length of the bottom member is 101″. This will be the overall length of the shade frame.

Shade Frame Joint

Shade Frame Joint

The height of the shade frame after the end ribs are connected to the 11 & 1/2″ bends on the bottom conduit, is 57″. Note the conduit connector in the picture above. This joins the end ribs with the bottom conduit member.

The height was not critical to me and was determined by the length of the 10′ rib and base conduit after bending them. Basically, I was lazy and avoided having to make any cuts on 6 of the 10′ conduits; the 4 ribs and 2 bases. These dimensions also allow room for the plants to grow and room for me to check on them through the sides and ends.

Shade Frame Side Support

Shade Frame Side Support

The two side supports were bent from 10′ conduit, no cutting required. The bends were started 42″ from each end and bent to 45 degrees. I determined the position of the side supports by resting the ends on the curves of the base conduit and adjusting until it was level.

Shade Frame Butt Joint

Shade Frame Butt Joint

I hammered a conduit connector flat using the sidewalk as an anvil and bent it around the base conduit. Then attached it to the side support conduit by pre-drilling holes and using self tapping screws.

They side supports were attached to the two inside ribs using conduit clamps and self tapping screws inserted into pre-drilled holes.

Shade Frame Double Clamp

Shade Frame Double Clamp

When I fastened the  101″ long horizontal ribs I positioned them so I could use the top screw of the conduit clamp that held the side supports. See picture above.

The ends of the horizontal ribs were attached to the curved ribs with conduit clamps and screws.

Shade Frame Clamp

Shade Frame Clamp

The two center curved ribs were extended by adding a piece of 11″ conduit on each end and connecting them together with conduit connectors.

Shade Frame Joint

Conduit Connectors

The two center curved ribs with their 11″ extensions were connected to the bottom conduit with a custom plastic “T” fitting using 3 self tapping screws. The ribs are equally spaced about 32 inches apart along the bottom conduit.

Shade Frame Tee

Shade Frame Tee

The custom plastic “T” was made from a sprinkler fitting from Home Depot. I drilled out the 3 ends to fit 1/2″ conduit with a step drill bit and cut off the bottom 1/3 of the connector, along the long side. This makes a fitting that will snap over the bottom conduit but will not protrude under the bottom of the bottom conduit. I mounted the fitting in my vice and used it as a cut off guide to follow with my reciprocating saw.

Shade Frame Grommet

Shade Frame Grommet

I cut a piece of shade cloth wide enough to allow for a fold / seam on each edge and still fit to my horizontal ribs on the side and the ribs on each end, when it was stretched. Brass grommets were installed, although the plastic grommets from the shade cloth manufacture would likely have been easier to use. They suggest you can install them, and then cut a hole through the shade cloth. I did it in reverse order for the brass grommets. Pieces of plastic plumber strapping was used to make the brass grommets fit tightly to the shade cloth.

Shade Frame with Cloth

Shade Frame with Cloth

 

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