Introduction: The Rangoon- by Magnus Shelter

About: An Engineering Pathway high school student at the Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders.

Our project is a portable, strong structure in a triangular shape made of wood. The structure is constructed to handle strong winds, rain, and snowfall, during the aftermath of a storm. The area of the shape is 64 square feet and it is 7 feet tall. The purpose of the Rangoon is to provide shelter for those who get displaced after storms. We hope that this project can help the problem of displacement after storms.


For our modeling and prototyping, we chose to use INVENTOR. It was a long process and it didn't work perfectly. We were going to attach several part files, including the triangles and the floor, so that it would look like one cohesive model image. However, that did not end up working. So, in our final days on this project, we chose to Laser Cut the 8 triangle pieces, glue them together and to show our work with the Inventor files, we are attaching those part files to this Instructables.

Step 1: Materials and Tools

For this project we used:

  • 8- 2in x 4in x 96in(8ft) wood pieces
  • 8- plywood sheets
  • 4- pieces of foam core
  • Table Saw
  • Fiberglass Resin
  • Relay
  • Solar panel
  • Piano hinges

Step 2: Step by Step

Step 1: Get two sheets of plywood and a sheet of foam cord. Glue the foam in between the plywood sheets.

Step 2: Repeat the previous step 3 additional times.

Step 3: Cut the glued panels in a diagonal (corner to corner), creating two triangular panels.

Step 4: Repeat the previous step on all glued panels.

Step 5: Hing the panels together with piano hinges

Step 6: Coat in fiberglass

Step 7: Attach a solar panel to the side of your structure, wired to the lights and relay

Step 8: Attach the floor panel/tarp

Step 3: Cutting the Wood

The first mistake we made during this process was not cutting the right angles for the triangular panels, so we had to cut 6 inches from the bottom to the opposing corner on all the pieces. This turned out to be only half right, as only half of the structure fits with the correct angles.

The second mistake we made was cutting the floor pieces to the wrong size. The plan was to have a 12x12 feet structure, but the panels were cut at 4x8, so two of them together would only equal an 8x8 feet structure. This caused us to spend some time cutting the base pieces to the correct size when in the end we did not even use them.

The process involved a lot of trial and error. Our advice for anyone entering this project is to take time building a small model (like 4 feet) to make sure everything works before building the huge model- waisting time and materials for something that won't work.

Step 4: Hinging the Wood

For this step, we took piano hinges, screws, nuts, and bolts. We attached the piano hinges to the panels- half on one panel and half on the other. This allowed us to keep the panels attached, while still maintaining the original idea of making it portable and foldable.

We ran into some problems with this process. For one, we didn't use the largest piano hinges, which meant that our screws were too close to the edge and in some places poked through the foam cord. This also takes quite a lot of time. One partner took this project home over the weekend and worked all weekend to get it put together.

Our advice on this portion of the project is to work with a team to make it go faster and to use wider hinges to achieve greater stability.

Step 5: Coding

Arduino with PIR motion sensor:

For complete project details, visit: Modified by Rui Santos based on PIR sensor by Limor Fried */

int led = 13; // the pin that the LED is atteched to int sensor = 2; // the pin that the sensor is atteched to int state = LOW; // by default, no motion detected int val = 0; // variable to store the sensor status (value)

void setup() { pinMode(led, OUTPUT); // initalize LED as an output pinMode(sensor, INPUT); // initialize sensor as an input Serial.begin(9600); // initialize serial }

void loop() { val = digitalRead(sensor); // read sensor value if (val == HIGH) { // check if the sensor is HIGH digitalWrite(led, HIGH); // turn LED ON delay(100); // delay 100 milliseconds

if (state == LOW) { Serial.println("Motion detected!"); state = HIGH; // update variable state to HIGH } } else { digitalWrite(led, LOW); // turn LED OFF delay(200); // delay 200 milliseconds

if (state == HIGH) { Serial.println("Motion stopped!"); state = LOW; // update variable state to LOW


This was our code for the motion sensor.

For the coding aspect of our project we planned to have a relay with a motion sensor. Our plan was that whenever someone entered the structure the motion sensor would activate the relay which would activate the light and the whole structure would be no longer a pit of darkness.This was our code for the motion sensor. Through out the project we struggled with managing our time to the best of our ability which led to us not spending enough time coding. We struggled quite a bit trying to get our relay to work and we recommend that if you are planning to do something like this project you should spend more time learning how the relay and motion sensor work and if you do this try to take your time working on it.

Step 6: Conclusion

We spent a lot of time discussing the materials and working on the floor pieces- when in the end, the floor pieces were not used. We cut the angles of the panels wrong a few times, trying to fix them, and in the end only having half a structure set up. When we were still planning on using the floor, we realized we had cut the panels at a different length than the floor pieces, slowing the plan down even more. A lot of things took way longer than we had planned for, such as the panels, the prototypes, and the hinging. These struggles were a hard thing to get through but in the end, we got half of our structure set up, the coding to work, and plans for the future revisions to take place.

Our goal was to create a finished and polished structure with a coded solar panel with motion sensor lights. The structure took up a lot of our time and wasn't as planned out as it should have been. However, we also got a lot of our coding done and made a few good models. In the future steps, we plan on coating the structure and connecting the solar panel for a more finished appeal. To make it more aesthetically pleasing, we would sand it down more and apply a good coat of fiberglass resin. In our future designs, we would have liked to make it out of lighter and more portable material, to further the efficiency of the product.