Introduction: PORTABLE ANT STUDY FIELD WORKSTATION
I often need a workstation in the field for my study of ants (Myrmecology).
My solution was to create a portable, moveable workstation – a way to pack my needs in one container (case) to be transported over rough terrain. From the car to field - ant hill to ant hill - back to car.
My requirements extended to the fact that I move from ant hill to ant hill; I created a goal to have a set up time of less then 1 minute (in the field) and a tear down time of less then 1 minute.
I had two stowing (storage) conditions to meet:
- the first was to quickly put it in the back of my car for short trips - everything stays attached.
- the second to have ability to break in down into major components for longer travel - detached from cart.
I tried to create multiple uses for items needed, to reduce the overall item count.
I ended up modifying a golf cart, typewriter case, and lawn chairs to create my workstation.
Please see the photos for additional notes.
Step 1: Making the Work Top and Case Stands
I started with collecting what I thought I would need to contain my equipment and also create a work surface area.
I used two folding chairs for making the stands (base). I took off the backs and the seat cushions of the chairs. I found that the seat cushion was what kept the legs from spreading apart of the open legs.
To hold the legs in place to make the stand
I was given a package of large twist N’ Stay tie downs. They hold up to 300 lbs and the package contained 4 pieces of 17 inch, 2 pieces of 34 inch and 1 piece of 51 inch.
To keep legs from spreading apart on the stand; I used the 4 pieces of the 17 inch twist N stay. I made U clips by bending all four ends at a right angle with 2 inch sections. The 2 inch sections of the U clips go into the holes of the base (not a permanent connection).
This works out great for ease of setup and tear down. Just push in or pull out the U clips. The legs fold down tight without the fabric.
The typewriter case goes on top of one stand; a work top goes on the other stand.
Step 2: Modifying the Golf Cart
More people seem to be riding instead of walking - while playing golf.
Well this helped me in obtaining an inexpensive rolling cart from the second hand store.
At first the case did not fit on the cart. I wanted a nice snug fit against the framing of the cart; this is so the case would stay on while pulling it over rough terrain.
So I had to modify the cart:
· First by cutting a section of the bottom of the downward tube. This cut removed the bottom golf club bag holder and bottom folding base bracket – along with shortening the tube
· I removed the folding base bracket off the cut off section and took hole placement measurements.
· Using the same measurements, I then re-drilled the shorten downward tube.
· I reattached the cut-off bottom bracket to the tube.
· I used the metal ball and Tee holder as a cross brace to stop the case from swaying (to reduce the chance of falling off the cart).
Step 3: Work Top
I cut some 1/8 white board wood to fit just inside the case and then fit on top of the stand.
A simple trick to finish the edges of the white board, is to use some white electrical tape. Just run it around the edge and fold it over. Cut white board wood will have a brown edge.
I keep a couple of dry erase markers in the case, to make notes on the worktop.
Note: the white top will work well to spot rogue ants.
Step 4: Some of the Equipment in the Case
I used canvas paint rolls to keep items nice and neat. This also reduced the bouncing in the case.
Some items shown
- Aspirator for collection ants
- tweezers, temp stick, index cards, sample boxes
- meters - ph, moisture, sunlight, temp
- Probes, twist stick, cleaning stick
Step 5: More Equipment
- Classifier, volume cup, sample screen
- sub container: 20x magnifier loop, 10x magnifier, sample bags (three sizes), scale aka balance,multi tool, rare earth magnet.
- sub container: glow in the dark tracking paint, plastic tooth picks for marking
- ant hill marking flags
Step 6: Yes More Equipment
even more items
- Sub container: flash lights, rare earth magnet, timer
- Loose items: rain ponchos, bungee cords for pant legs
Step 7: More Items
- Camera sub box: video, digital camera, mini tripods
- mp3 player
- stool for sitting
- full size tripod
Step 8: Moveable Setup
Here is the complete ant study field workstation ready to be pulled into the field.
Rolls really well, the twist n stays really strap the bases to the cart.
The canvas rolls and the sub containers keeps everthing in order.
Step 9: Set Up to Tear Down With Both Stow Options
Less then 1 minute to fully open.
Just tuck the work top behind the foam and less then 1 minute to tear down.
Load sub containers, loose items, stool and full tripod inside and close
- stow option one: is everything is attached for quick load into car
- stow option two: detached - case, cart and bagged base stands