The Solar Dinosaur Play Structure

This is a dinosaur theme play structure I made for the grandkids.  I suppose its a bit of a stretch to call it a "solar" dinosaur, but it does have a solar powered rotating beacon light and a very obnoxious dino horn :)


The Solar Dinosaur Playstructure

The Solar Dino play structure features:

  • A very fast slide down the tail

  • Upper "drivers" platform reached by ladder and access port

  • Lower enclosed play area in the the dino "belly"

  • A platter swing suspended off the spring mounted dino neck

  • A climbing wall

  • A rotating dino beacon light and a dino horn (very loud!)



Dino in use -- click on pictures for full size

The dino's tail makes a slide
very fast!

Ladder access to the "drivers area"

The Dino Belly play area


Climbing wall on the other side.

The Dead End sign is the horn button








!! Safety Warning !!

I am not a designer of playground equipment. I know nothing at all about safety rules for designing play structures.
You are completely and totally on your own in making sure that whatever you build is safe for the kids who will play on.



The sections just below give a quick overview of the construction with links to sub-pages providing more detail.


Overall Design

The grandkids are very much into dinosaurs, so the basic idea was to see if we could integrate some of the standard playstructure features into a dinosaur shape.   


We used some measurements from local play structures and full size sketches of dino on the shop floor to get the basic layout.


More details on the Overall Desgin...


Body and legs

The dino body and legs are made from 3/4 inch exterior plywood.


Had to assemble outside, as it
would not fit through the doors.

Basic dino body with wit legs.

The body is made with sheets of 3/4 inch exterior plywood.  All of the pieces are screwed and glued together using 2X2 edge strips.

The "belly" of the dino form a structure box that is very strong and rigid.

The legs are made from 3 layers of the same 3/4 plywood.



More details on building the body and legs...



Neck and Swing


Cutting out the sides of the neck, and
trial fitting the neck pivot.

The neck box beam upside down.

Neck and swing installed.

The neck is a box beam made from 3/4 inch exterior plywood -- this makes for a very strong structure to support the swing.

The neck pivots on a 3/4 inch steel pipe pivot. 
Rubber ball "Springs" mounted just below the pivot make the neck and swing bounce up and down when you swing or bounce on the swing.


More details on building the neck and swing...




The sides and bottom legs of the slide.

Putting in the slide running surface.

Slide ready to install on Dino


The slide wide walls are made from 3/4 inch plywood.  They are deep enough to make a nice rigid support for the slide.

The running surface of the slide is made from Medium Density Overlay (MDO) -- a very durable, weather resistant, and smooth material.


More details on building the slide...


Climbing Wall


Back side of climbing wall just before
attaching it.

Climbing wall in place.

The opposite side of the Dino
provides ladder access.

The climbing wall is 3/4 inch exterior plywood with a support frame made from 2X4's.  The bottom of the wall rests on concrete patio pavers.

The climbing holds were ordered online from a climbing supply place.


More details on the climbing wall...


Solar Powered Features


The "dino horn" and "Dino Light"

Battery (borrowed from the lawnmower)
and charge controller in the
drivers cab.

PV panels mounted out of
harms way.


More details on building the solar horn and light...



I went to the trouble of using concrete fittings because when the swing it used, it might has a tendency to lift the back end of the dino off the ground.













Its a bit more work to provide the concrete footings, but it does make for a nice solid dino, who won't runaway on you.


More details on building the dino footings...



Dimensioned Photos

Here are side, front, and back views of dino with some key dimensions...


That's it -- if you make something similar (or dissimilar) please send pictures!




Every once in a while, I look out the window around sunset, and when the lighting is just right, it looks like there is a dinosaur wandering around my back yard.

Very nice.






Gary September 3, 2009