I'm a student at HOWEST in Belgium. I study industrial product design and for one of our projects we had to make a mobile swing. The conditions imposed on our swing are:
- the total weight of the swing has to be less than 5kg
- you have to be able to install the swing in any tree without climbing the tree or using a ladder, but you can make use of additional tools to get your rope around a branch
- the additional tools have to be included in the total weight.
I wanted to make a swing that has the same size as a normal laptop. The plank is made out of wood. I like simple things so my connection with the tree must be very simple. No knots and no musketons because it is too mainstream. And I like it when you can get all parts apart. So I came up with this.
Step 1: Intro
This instructable is about a mobile swing. You can take it anywhere you want the park, your own garden, at your friend's home... The mobile swing is not bigger than a normal laptop so it will fit in a normal backpack, it weighs less than 2 kilograms (1690 g) and is very easy to hang up in a tree.
The shape is fluent and makes our plank lighter than a quadratic plank because it loses 1/3 of his weight. We can also roll up our rope around the plank, so can we transport it easily.
The triangles are used to hang up our swing and to determine the height. The 4 triangles fit in the plank so it' s easy to transport. At this moment it seems a bit complicated but there is a simple storyboard about the usage of the swing. there is also a technical drawing with dimensions to make the swing
Step 2: The Tools
First you must buy 2 ropes. Each rope has a length of 7,5 m. You can choose any rope you want it only has to be able to carry more than 140kg and it has to be 10mm thick. I picked a climbing rope because it fits these requirements. It is flexible, not expensive and has a good quality. Buy also a heat shrink and a screw-thread (Ø10 x 100 long).
To make our swing you'll need wood. We're going to use pinewood because it is light and strong. We need 3 planks, they must be 6 mm thick and at least 270 mm by 380 mm big. Buy also wood glue to stick them together.
Our connections (triangles) are made from poly-amide because it is very strong, easy to make and gives some contrast with our wood.
You'll also need a drafting compass, a jigsaw to make the shape, a drilling machine and drills, a grinder, some sandpaper and varnish.
Step 3: The Plank
First you must glue the 3 planks (pinewood) together with the wood glue. Make sure that the fiber directions from the planks are at the right angles (90°) to each other. This will make the plank a lot stronger. Let it rest for 1 day.
After one day you can make the shape. First you have to draw the shape on the glued planks. The dimensions are mentioned in the technical drawing.
Get your jigsaw and saw the shape out of the wood. For the hand grips (1) and the hole for the connections (2) use a drill to drill a little hole so you can put your jigsaw into these little holes and saw these shapes out of the wood. Because of these hole, our swing is lighter in total weight.
On the sides you can see 2 grooves (3). To make these you'll have to use your grinder (10 mm), the grooves must be 7 mm deep. All the drills in the planks are 10 mm.
The open hole for the ropes (4) are easy to make. First make a hole on the right place and use your jigsaw to saw a groove. In the end you will have something like the last picture.
Now you have a fluent and a lighter plank.
Step 4: Connections
Now the connections, this was the hardest part of the swing to design. Most of the time they were too weak. First I used wood, a huge mistake. The second time I used a combination of wood and aluminium, It also didn't go well. Finally I found a material that was strong enough to hold a normal person. The material is poly-amide. It's a very strong material, I did a test and the result was that 1 connection can hold 140 kg. (to see this test and the entire process to design this swing go to: http://stanengelboschswing.blogspot.be/)
Once I found poly-amide, it was a piece of cake to make our connections. First you must draw the shape on a piece of poly-amide. The dimensions on the technical drawing (first pic.) will help you to accomplish these connections. The connections are at least 15 mm thick, you can make them 18 mm but I chose 15 mm. The drills are 12 mm thick because if it's smaller our rope won't slide easily into the holes.
The finishing touch. If you are carrying your swing, you do not want the connections to fall out. So you have to make sure that they will stick in our plank. We are going to sand the side to make sure they are a bit conical. So when you push the connections into the plank they will get stuck.
Step 5: The Ropes
Each rope has a length of 7,5 m. You can choose any rope you want it only has to be able to carry more than 140kg and it has to be more than 10 mm thick. I picked a climbing rope because it fits these requirements. It is flexible, not expensive and has a good quality.
Sometime is it difficult to throw a rope over a branch. So we are going to make a little weight on our rope. It is easier to throw.
Too make this you must buy a heat shrink and a screw-thread (Ø10 x 100 long). First you put your heat shrink over your rope and then over the screw-thread. Heat it up and your heat shrink will do the rest. Each rope has one weight.
To transport your rope, you just roll it up around your plank.
Step 6: Finishing Touches
Now we are going to make our swing look good. If you have a knot that fell out, then you must fill this hole with plastic wood. Let it dry for 3 hours.
After these 3 hours you can sand your plank. All sides must be smooth. You can use a sanding machine but you can also do it manual.
At last you can varnish your swing if you want to. I did it because a swing needs protection against water. You can use any varnish you want but I prefer a matte varnish because I like the natural color of the wood.
Step 7: The End
If you followed the steps correctly you will have your own mobile swing that looks exactly like this one.
Now I'll tell you how to put your swing in a tree if it wasn't clear yet
take all the components apart
put 2 connections on each rope
take the end with no weight on and make a loop like in the picture. Do this for both of them
grab one weight, throw it over a branch and make a loop with the other connection. Do this with both of them
put your rope through the holes and grooves in the plank as in the picture for both sides
- now you can use your swing
Here is a little demonstration video and extra information about my design process to make this swing: