The dinosaur theme comes from my grandson's fascination with dinosaurs.
The basic idea was to see if we could incorporate some of the standard pay structure features into something looked a bit like a dinosaur.
We started by make a list of the kinds of things that play structures include -- swings, slides. play cubbies, climbing walls, ...
We went around to a few of the local public playgrounds and got dimensions for some of the slides, swings, ... that seemed age appropriate.
Then, we tried to integrate these play features them with the dino shape, and ended up with:
- Slide down the tail.
- Swing hanging from the neck
- "driving platform" in top part of body, and enclosed play area in the bottom part.
- Horn and light as fun extras -- since this is Build-It-Solar, they had to be solar powered!
- The climbing wall did not easily integrate, so just added it to one side.
The thinking that went into the basic structure shape was that we needed something that was reasonably easy to make. And, since the dino is pretty big (20 ft long, 8 ft high), and the cantilevered swing puts a lot of stress on the structure, it needed to be a shape that was naturally strong. We settled on the plywood box structure because its reasonably easy to build and once everything is screwed and glued together, its very strong.
One thing that I don't like about the plywood structure is that plywood does not fair well long term in the elements unless one is very careful with painting and maintenance. This why everything got a first coat of paint as it was being made in the shop. This will be followed by a 2nd coat before winter sets in.
To get the overall shapes and dimensions, I did a few Google Sketchup sketches, and then laid it out on the shop floor using a felt tip pen. The main tool was the felt tip pen on the floor -- very simple -- easy to get an idea what works and how it looks with a full size sketch on the floor. I like full size mockups -- if the sketch on the floor had left any doubt about how it might work out, I probably would have built a cardboard mockup.
A bit hard to see, but body in the middle, tail off to left, and neck off to right.
After getting the overall shape, we worked out where the floor of the driver platform would be, and also the Belly enclosed play area -- it was important to keep this belly box large enough to make for a strong structural box.
We then laid out the ground line and legs to make the slide and swing work out. The legs were set out to give a long "wheelbase" and wide stance for stability. The swing puts quite a bit of force on the whole dino, so a big, stable platform is important.
Gary Septemper 5, 2009