Introduction: Rainbow Alley : DIY Umbrella Canopy
I was asked by the Exdo Event center, my employer, to shade the alley with umbrellas. Half of our building is Tracks Night Club, an LGBTQ inclusive dance club and this was a big reveal for this years Pride festivities.
Step 1: Model the Alley to Get the Sizes Right and Then Choose an Umbrella Supplier
I use SketchUp.
First I made a 3D model to present the plan to the bosses and after approval I switched to 2D to plan the net to hold the umbrellas.
I used Alibaba to find a supplier. It was Chinese New Year at the time and only one company was quick to reply and given their good customer service I went with them. Despite the Wuhan Lockdown that started just as I was getting organized the company only had a small delay on printing and everything arrived with no issues.
Step 2: Model the Mounting Brackets for Attaching the Umbrellas to the Umbrella Net
I wanted it to be simple so there are three trough bolts, a whole to mount the umbrella and grooves for the two sizes of steel rope.
Step 3: Net Attachement
The Net hangs from both buildings on either side of the alley. One building was 22 inches lower than the other so I built 17 arms from 1"x2" rectangular tube and affixed them to the building with concrete anchors, anchor epoxy and a lip that grabs the opposite side of the parapet. On the taller building I used uni strut and spring nuts to create movable fixture points all along the top of the wall.
Step 4: Construct the Net
I measured and laid out the template on the ground, used an asphalt anchor at each corner to stretch the outer (3/8) stainless wire rope around. The inner (1/16) criss-crossing roper was then attached to the larger outer rope. The umbrellas attach at the nodes so the mounting brackets maintain the nets structure. I used some very small stainless wire and super glue to hold the wire rope junctions in place as I moved around adding the brackets
Step 5: Hang the Net
I used very large turnbuckles at all four corners, and smaller turn buckles, 7 to each side to suspend the net.
Step 6: Hang the Umbrellas
The top of the umbrella slips through the whole and a single screw is driving sideways through the bracket and the umbrella. This worked very well.
Step 7: Enjoy
The umbrella are able to open and close while hanging and thus can be closed for weather or other reasons.
The first weekend we had a really wild wind storm and ~20 were damaged. I added a wind screen to the raised portion of the lower wall and since they have held up quite well.
First Prize in the
Colors of the Rainbow Contest