Picture of Burning Man Skills
Gilligan and the Skipper had to build a "cozy island nest" for the stranded crew of the s.s. Minnow.
If they'd been at Burning Man, it would have been much harder, because there's nothing there but flat blowing alkali dust, hot sun in the day, and cold at night.
What follows are some of the ways people have found to thrive in this very difficult environment.

The [ Burning Man] festival is held each year at the end of August for the week of the labor Day weekend. It's in Black Rock Desert of Nevada, which is a totally flat alkali dry lake.

This photo gives a good sense of what the surface is like. Now imagine a hundred square miles of just that. Now have fifty thousand people set up camp with gigantic artworks and lots of loud music. Do any possible problems occur to you?
This photo illustrates some solutions. It's a tent peg for holding up a shade structure.
There were 60 mph winds this year. Very few structures blew down due to good use of rebar (reinforcing rod manufactured for cement work) tent stakes.
This rebar tent stake is put through a rubber foot to make it more visible and entertaining. There's an orange mushroom rebar cap on the end so someone doesn't get impaled by falling on it. The guy line to the tent is tied with a tautline hitch so it can be easily tightened. The guy line is ornamented with christmas lights and yellow caution tape so someone doesn't trip on it. A very competent and decorative installation.
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Tenire8 months ago

Excellent 'ible!

globalseoe Tenire6 months ago

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jakee1176 years ago
can you just go i live in Maryland and i am 14 it sounds so cool can I just get campigsupplies and things and go?!?! so cofusing but so awesome...

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jillg jakee1176 years ago
if u want more info goto the burning man website. i wanna go to someday. it sounds awesome
Sylkhr jillg5 years ago
only problem is the 300+ $ per person price tag :-(
Why are there costs now? Wasn't this whole thing anti establishment when it originated? Were there problems that required this (ie; security costs, ems, toilet rentals, etc???)
That's not even 1/2 of it -- there's transportation costs, self-support costs (camping gear, food, etc), just those two can add up pretty quickly.
 I want to go too. the problem is, I live in Belgium. might have to move...
studdmstr8 months ago

You forgot the most important thing...bring some penicillin for the STD's you might pick up from all those "free thinkers".

KoomoriForge8 months ago

Fantastic post, Tim!

It's not completely low-buck, but you can get something like this to pull your posts, instead of vice grips:

Or, if you're handy with a welder, you can make a lower-height version of it with scrap metal and be your neighbors' hero!

desertdog8 months ago

Please refer to concrete as concrete. Cement is just an ingredient of concrete.

As one who has spent more of my professional life looking at urine than I care to admit, I will say unequivocally that PEE IS NOT STERILE. In the lab, if urine contains less than 100,000 organisms per ml the reported result is "negative" as that is considered the threshold between a normal amount vs an infection. It's recently been found that in a healthy person pee in the bladder may be sterile, or contain a normal bacterial flora. It's long been known that on the way out it also picks up bacteria from the urethra. So even if it started sterile in the bladder, it's not ever ever sterile once it's been peed. Again, in a healthy person bacteria in the urethra is not harmful and lives in low numbers in harmony with the body's defenses. Outside of the body, in soup of urine, in a non-sterile container, in the absence of the body's normal defenses, at ambient temperature, that bacteria is going to multiply. It's the same idea that you wash your hands after you pee. If that little bit of bacteria gets on your hands, then you touch your eyes or mouth or food ... you're running a risk of having a bad time. If you let that bacteria grow to huge numbers over night in a jar, then get it on your hands, and then touch your eyes or food ... you're very likely going to have a bad time. Even pee on unbroken skin is likely to cause a staph infection if not washed. Actually, you "pee is sterile" folks ... let me know where you're camping so I can be sure not to shake your hand or take any gifted food from you.

finnindian6 years ago
weld steel rings to the stakes and insert a common bumper jack inside the ring and jack the stake out of the ground
Going to get this out of the way first and move on to practical matters and comments on burning man. On the removal on the current administrative branch an possibly some members of Congress is not the duty of the military, but the duty of the people and their elected representatives. The military is the last one we would want to do the job, as that would be a slippery slope. On P in a bottle, read volume 5 of the foxfire book series to learn how P was collected and processed to obtain nitrates for black powder production here in parts of the US long ago. The P bottle in the sun, will help disinfect the urine or one can add hydrogen peroxide to seed that process along. A long neck funnel from the auto department can make a P bottle easier to use for women and also help men make sure they actually hit the target. Would in be practical to recycle grey water in swamp coolers, or would there be enough bacteria from showering to make that a nasty idea?
Derin static6 years ago
p is sterile
billbillt Derin8 months ago

It is sterile only to the person it came from...

thebriguy Derin4 years ago
Doesn't pee (as a body fluid) also carry disease? You'd be fine around your own pee, but who knows what the next person has inside them? Am I wrong?
what smells is the ammonia
kitte.lishuss8 months ago

According the the Burning Man website:

  1. DO NOT USE Evaporation Ponds (yesterday's technology).

    Evaporation ponds - black plastic sheeting laid on the playa, over a rim of two-by-fours on edge - were the earliest evaporative devices invented for the Playa, but we cannot recommend them.

    Ponds take an enormous amount of space to make a shallow layer of water, they're hard to make perfectly level, and they eventually fill with mud. Pond evaporative performance relies on a sunlight-absorbing black surface, and playa dust gradually disables it. Then you have to pump out the pond, and clean or reline it.

    Your pond may attract slip-and-slide buckaroos, whose antics can tear up the plastic surface. Many other mishaps can cause pinhole leaks, which eventually make large muddy patches on the Playa. Even if it never leaks, it will probably spill when you try to empty it. At the end of the event, you have a very nasty mess of stuff to take home in your vehicle. And it didn't even get rid of that much gray water.

sharpstick8 months ago

We use a gallon insulated beverage cooler with wide screw on lid. Wide opening makes it easier to squat over if you don't have one of those penis things. If you're drinking enough water, you can LITERALLY fill that gallon up in one night! Brush your teeth at night and spit in it to make it (relatively) minty fresh.

sharpstick11 months ago

I think these are banned now. Another example of a few morons making new rules necessary!

sharpstick11 months ago

I have a different philosophy of tent stakes. After 8 years on the playa, I don't use rebar anymore. When the wind blows at 70 mph, something will break, preferably not your expensive camping gear. I use light metal stakes. All that crap piled up in your tent will keep it from blowing away. If the corners pull loose, just put them back after the storm. Same with tarps and shade cloth. I use thin string to hold them. The string breaks, tarp falls down. I put back up while my neighbors are mourning their destroyed shade stuff. Google "mechanical fuse".

I stumbled on this when looking for diy sump pump plans for my large fish tank, dunno how that happen *laughs*

I work as an erection specialist "har har" we do tents....its what we do!

as stated, we also make our own stakes, altho we use super thick hardened rebar and axle shafts, we also do bounceys for kids and use smaller rebar, bent with an oxy torch. We put these stakes into everything, including black top etc....and we do events with tents in the same spot year in and year out so after its bin willed with tar "black jack" it can be tuff to get out the next year.

As stated, sledge hammers, there your friends, but another tool i havent seen mentioned "i didnt read all posts but then again im not going to since i just happened across this" a pipe wrench! its key for stake removal....with or without the use of a sledge, it makes your like simple without the danger of 4x4ing a stake into someones skull or screwing around with a jack.....consider it.

and urine unless coupled with something like a bladder infection, etc, is sterile.
I have a big military tent (think M.A.S.H). And it has 16 3/4" x 24" stakes. I had them bent into candy canes.

A good sledgehammer puts them in, and helps to take them out.

When I get ready to pull them, I give 'em a couple of good whacks with the sledgehammer from the four cardinal directions (toward the tent, away from the tent, and each side). This generally loosens them enough to pull out.

For really stubborn ones, I thread a free one through the loop, and use it as a tee handle.

For really, really stubborn ones, I put a fulcrum on the away from the tent side, and use a free one as a lever to pull it out. You can stand on it if it needs that much juice.

Finally, like above said, as a last ditch, when your buddy Paul Bunyun drove the stake through a granite boulder, you can hitch your car to it and pop it out. But, that often bends them.
rgrimm13 years ago
I use a propane torch to heat the rebar end red hot, then bend it in a loop. The loop end allows easier withdrawal by using a length of rope to yank it straight up and out, and the round part reduces injury.
It also reduces the chance the rope will come off if the wind flaps the loose rope around.
I also paint the stakes with fluorescent paints in a couple colors, as two colors are easier to see than one.

If you find a local foundation company, you might be able to borrow their rebar bender, a tool used to make up rebar frames etc. for concrete work.
Take your rebar to them.

As an alternative, have the stakes made up in a rebar shop, yes there is such a place, and odds are the rebar MIGHT be cheaper there.
You can even get rebar that is coated in a green epoxy, which reduces rusting somewhat.
YES heat bending your rebar is best because you get a much tighter bend radius then if you cold bend it. Thus the re is easier to beat in cold bent looks like a candy cane.
rgrimm13 years ago
I've had VERY good luck buying tarps from Northern Tool, just make sure they are the heavy-duty ones, silver both sides.
Thor Tarp is another good company.
oh sorry I got to puke "blaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa"
Anykey3 years ago
Berbers are not nomad , I guess you were talking about Beduins ?
lingg3 years ago
There is plan for rocking recliner in Nomadic Furniture by James Hennessey and Victor Papanek that resembles the couch. Yurt on a Truck now thats nomadic!
RogueRiver3 years ago
Re: Static's question about recycling gray water from a shower into swamp coolers. Absolutely. I tried a proof of principle this year at Burning Man and it worked. Used a Kiddy Pool under the solar-heated camp shower, a 12V marine pump to move the water into a raised 7-gal holding bucket, which was connected via irrigation fittings to another bucket with layers of washed sand and charcoal held in recycled panty hose. The sand filters out particulates like hair and skin cells and the charcoal absorbs bacteria. After passing through this filter the water was clear and odorless and worked fine in my swamp cooler, which was a 120V wick-action room humidifier I got for $25 at Wal-Mart. Ran that off an inverter connected to a 12V marine battery connected to solar panels. Some tinkering left to do, but a sweet concept. Everybody likes showers and cool air.
thundt3 years ago
Flashlight (flat red + silver object) hanging on lanyard around neck -- don't leave daylight without it.
mmadesky3 years ago
I loved those couches so much I came back to them several times & had to bring my friends who were veterans to check them out.
mmadesky3 years ago
This is my camp! Can the instructor email me this picture?

Other neat things for a camp to have that we did: non-alcoholic beverages for passerbys, giant vehicle for carpooling up & carpet for keeping the dust down
reedzilla6 years ago
it''s glorious...
Liquid gold, my friend
RogueRiver3 years ago
I just hooked a chain from the rebar to my trailer hitch and pulled them out with my 4WD truck in compound low (don't want to pull too fast and nail someone in a camp across the street). A variation on the vice grips method is to pound them from side to side for a while, then pull. Without a 4WD truck or vice grips, pouring a little water alongside the stake hole will soften up the playa to mud and make removal much easier.

As for urine, it is sterile unless somebody has a raging bladder infection. Also pH neutral (~7). Some people drink it, though I wouldn't. The ammonia smell occurs when bacteria start to act on the urea, which is high in nitrogen, which is why it is a good fertilizer.
aborior5 years ago
I would love to see an instructable on these couches! i will try to make them by the pictures anyway. thank you for this.
Go to a plasma donation center and look at their giant chair recliners because they are very comfortable and a similar shape. Take a few measurements and pictures. Then post an instructable ;-)
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