In this day an age of lightweight backpacking, many hikers are turning to alcohol stoves because they are super-lightweight, inexpensive, simple to use, and alcohol can be shipped in bounce boxes along the the trail. Since most commercial backpacking stoves have an integral pot stand, someone who uses an alcohol stove needs to provide one. But the same criteria for choosing the alcohol stove in the first place must also apply to the pot stand-windscreen too.
Most manufactured pot stands and/or windscreens are designed to fit a variety of pots and stoves, making them versatile at the expense of stove efficiency. But most lightweight backpackers use one pot and one stove. Having a stand that elevates the pot to an optimum level above the stove, and a close fitting windscreen that provides adequate air flow while blocking wind and limiting heat loss, reduces cooking time and more importantly, reduces fuel consumption. This translates in less fuel weight to carry.
Step 1: My Requirements for a Pot Stand-windscreen
1) lightweight and inexpensive
2) sturdy, stable, and functional
3) sized correctly but collapsible
4) ease of construction
1-Lightweight and inexpensive: Aluminum roof flashing is cheap and readily available at most hardware stores. Aluminum angle is also available at larger hardware/lumber stores. I had thought of using galvanized flashing but decided that aluminum would still be strong enough, saving weight. Various designs had me bending the flashing to provide pot support but I decided against it because of the difficulty in cutting and bending correctly.
2-sturdy, stable and functional: The pot stand uses a very stable 3-point leg design. The aluminum angles provide superior strength while the flashing helps with alignment. There is enough clearance to allow for optimum air flow while also protecting the flame from the wind.
3-sized correctly but collapsible: I only wanted a 1/4 inch gap around the pot to keep heat loss at a minimum. But I also wanted the pot stand to collapse small enough to insert inside the the pot for transportation.
4-ease of construction: Several of my early concepts were one-piece designs that filled all the requirements except ease of construction because they utilized too many cuts and bends in the aluminum flashing. Using the aluminum angle increases the weight, but also increases strength and ease of construction, an acceptable alternative.
Step 2: My Parts and Tools
Aluminum flashing: 15.75" x 2.5"
aluminum angle 1/16"x1/2"x3/4" length 2.5" (x3)
items to attach legs to screen: see "Attaching Legs"
scissors / tin snips = to cut aluminum flashing
ruler / tape measure = to determine measurements
marking pen = to mark cuts
nail / center punch = to make starter holes for drill bits
drill & drill bits = to drill holes
screw driver = to attach legs to flashing
hack saw = to cut aluminum angle
file = to remove burr edges
utility knife = to cut slots
[Working with metal can be dangerous. Cutting, drilling, grinding, and assembling metal can produce sharp edges, flying metal bits, and metal dust. Use proper eye wear, mask and gloves to protect against injury. Knowledge of the proper use of tools is also protection against injury. The following instructions is only to provide a demonstration of how I constructed my pot stand-windscreen. Your results may vary.]
Step 3: Outline of Instructions
a) calculate needed aluminum flashing:
measure diameter of pot + 1/4" + 1/4" = pot stand diameter
pot stand diameter x 3.145 = pot stand circumference
pot stand circumference + width of angle (>1/2" or more) = aluminum flashing length
b) calculate optimum pot stand height depending on stove.
c) calculate windscreen height & cut
windscreen height to be equal or greater than pot stand height
windscreen height + 1/4" able to fit inside pot for packing
windscreen height must allow for pot handle (or needs a cut out)
d) cut aluminum angle (pot stand height)
file edges smooth or round
e) calculate pot leg location
pot stand circumference / 3 = distance between legs
f) drill holes for leg screws in flashing
use a nail and template to mark holes
drill holes in flashing at each leg location
g) drill holes in legs and attach to flashing
use a nail and template to mark holes
drill pilot hole using a smaller bit
drill hole for screws
h) complete assembly and test
i) determine final aluminum flashing length
remove one end of flashing from assembly
collapse flashing into a smaller diameter and insert inside pot
mark where flashing overlaps & cut
j) make binding post slots
use a nail and template to mark holes
drill holes in flashing
cut flashing to connect holes making a slot
k) reassemble and test
l) GO COOK SOMETHING! [smile]
Step 4: Calculate Needed Aluminum Flashing
Step 5: Calculate Pot Stand Height
Step 6: Calculate Windscreen Height & Cut
Step 7: Cut Aluminum Angle
Step 8: Calculate Pot Leg Location
Step 9: Drill Holes for Leg Screws in Flashing
Step 10: Drill Holes in Legs and Attach to Flashing
Step 11: Attaching the Legs
There are several ways to attach the legs (angle) to the windscreen (flashing):
a) binding posts & screws: made of aluminum, lightweight but increased costs.
3/16" is long enough but be sure to get the longer screws.
Can be bought at hardware stores and some office supply stores.
post & screw = $0.53, weight = <0.1 oz
b) machine bolts & nuts: strong but heavier, use a washer to prevent tear out.
I recommend #10x1/2".
bolt, washer, nut = $0.15, weight = 0.1 oz
c) rivets: very inexpensive, lightweight, but requires rivet tool.
rivet ~$0.00, weight = ~0.0 oz
Step 12: Test
Step 13: Determine Final Flashing Length
Step 14: Make Binding Post Slots
Step 15: Reattach Binding Posts & Leg
Step 16: Go Cook Something!!!
Step 17: Design Review - Lightweight & Inexpensive?
1) lightweight and inexpensive = final weight using posts was 1.4 oz, compared with 1.6 oz for the pot stand and aluminum windscreen provided with the Atomic. Final cost using posts was $4.58. An alternative would be to use bolts with posts instead of the screw provided ($2.17 - 2.0 oz).
Step 18: Design Review - Sturdy, Stable & Functional?
Step 19: Design Review - Sized Correctly But Collapsable
Step 20: Design Review - Ease of Construction?
Step 21: Notes
Flashing (minimum 10') and aluminum angle (minimum 3') come in long lengths, so you will have enough to make several pot stand-windscreens. I ended up making one for each of my backpacking pots. Or you could invite over your hiking buddies and everyone could make their own out of the extra material.
Other tools can be used to make this project. I found out that cutting the flashing was actually easier with a scissors instead of a tin snips. A Dremmel tool definitely makes cutting the angle, smoothing edges and cutting the slots much, much easier. And if you have a rivet tool, rivets might make a good alternative to attaching the legs, but make sure you can still collapse/expand the flashing at the overlap leg.
Step 22: Conclusions
Actually this project turned out more complicated but simpler than I had planned. My early designs were lightweight and elegant but were too complicated to make well. Despite measuring everything out on paper, I ended up making several prototypes with slightly different measurements before it became what I had envisioned. Finally, it all boiled down to simple is better. The final design has all the features we were looking for. And I hope to use this same pot stand-windscreen for years to come.
For more of my 'projects' check out my website WanderingTheWorld.com