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  1. #1
    kitsapcowboy's Avatar
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    Cool DIY Masrshal Star Convertible Tarp (Hammock-to-Ground Prototype)

    Continuing to explore the possibilities of "one tarp to do it all" when hiking in areas that don't always have suitable trees for hammock hangers, where my previous attempts were hammock tarps augmented for ground pitches, I decided to adopt a different approach and study ground tarps that could be adapted for advantageous use hanging over a hammock.

    After looking at lots of options, I came up with the idea to start with shaped tarp rather than a flat one; I chose a pentagonal pyramid with a shape and dimensions similar to the very popular Mountain Laurel Designs Trailstar ground tarp, approximately 83" on a side with an effective hammock tarp ridge line length of approximately 11 feet. Then I added some special modifications of my own to maximize its versatility for tree-to-ground conversion.

    This prototype will soon be in the hands of a fellow HF member, who will be doing some field testing with it this spring and summer, and I will be doing some myself with a second identical tarp on which construction has just commenced. I dubbed my creation the "Marshal Star", an immediate precursor to my recent Cowboy Flex Hex convertible tarp.

    In frontier history, marshals were the peace officers outside of municipalities, with jurisdictions at the federal, state, or county level, often tasked with judicial and court security in the seemingly lawless West. While the United States Marshal Service did not adopt a single uniform badge until 1941, marshals -- especially US Marshals serving in any of nearly a hundred federal judicial districts across the country -- typically wore some version of a brushed or polished five-pointed star, distinguishable from the the common six-point star worn by many local sheriffs or the shield-style badges usually adopted by police departments in the big Eastern cities. Five-pointed stars have been considered to have mystical powers for centuries, specifically the ability to ward off the forces of evil -- including anything nasty Mother Nature throws one's way.

    Here was my result...




    So far, my Marshal Star convertible pentagon tarp works well hanging over a hammock or pitched on the ground, providing surprisingly spacious weather protection in a small, easy-to-carry package. It is essentially an 11-foot widebody hammock tarp that pitches quickly as a spacious 2-person all-conditions tarp-tent.

    I made my prototype from 1.3 oz Dutchware Xenon Wide in Brilliant Blue, and it weighs 13.5 oz. The easy-sewing Xenon Wide is probably my favorite waterproof outdoor fabric with which to work. In addition to being great to sew, it is durable and has an appreciable hydrostatic head. About the only thing else one could ask of Xenon Wide would be for it come in more colors.

    My goal for this build, in line with my "Keep It Super Simple" ethos for tarp designs, was to take advantage of the generous 75" width of the Xenon Wide and use it simplify the work-intensive seamed construction of the MLD Trailstar. The Trailstar consists of five identical equilateral triangles joined together to form a pentagonal pyramid -- a lot of sewing AND sealing. Using Xenon Wide, 60% of the surface area of this same polyhedron could be fashioned from a single piece of wide waterproof fabric in a trapezoidal shape with three sides equal to length t and a fourth side equal to length 2t, equivalent to three of the five triangles joined together radially, and also equivalent to half of a regular hexagon. The other two triangular panels could then be joined together and then seamed with the seamless triple piece. My entire Marshal star build required only two flat-felled seams, so it was surprisingly easy to build! (Since I specified flat-felled seams instead of my usual grosgrain-covered standing seams, a modicum of seam-sealing becomes necessary.)

    Pictures are worth 1,000 words, so I will let images do the talking for now, but I will be drafting a complete detailed DIY tutorial for the Dutchware Gear website in the weeks to come, and you'll find it in the Articles section.




    As you can see in the photos, shown over an 11-foot gathered-end hammock, the Marshal Star gives your hammock ample coverage and substantial, wraparound weather protection.

    The unexpected benefit of using a shaped tarp over a hammock is that you get a surprising amount of headroom above the hammock's structural ridge line without compromising your weather protection on the sides, as sometimes happens with a conventional hex tarp pitched high.

    On the ground, you have a number of possible pentagonal pyramid configurations and flexible pitch options to let you vary the footprint, headroom, wind resistance, ventilation, and views. It can be pitched with your hiking poles and the guy lines and stakes you typically carry, and it has a center tie-out point allowing you to use your usual continuous ridge line to suspend it if you don't want to use a pole (or have one handy).




    The available MLD inner mesh tent for the Trailstar will also fit within my Marshal Star, as well as similar bug-bivvy options by BearPaw Wilderness Designs and other vendors.

    I believe this tarp will prove useful, versatile, and fun to use for many different purposes; it should also make a great lightweight portable shelter pitched high for dining and group camping.

    More news on this design once I complete the tutorial and build my second Marshal Star. Feel free to post with comments, questions, and ideas.

    Thanks for reading this project report...
    Last edited by kitsapcowboy; 04-19-2018 at 09:13.
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  2. #2
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    pentagon tarp.jpg

    I sketched out how I understood this - Imagine my straight sides are cat cuts. So you end up with a symmetrical pentagon shape where the dashed line on my drawing is the seam. The small 'x' is the center pullout, and the ridgeline tieouts are perpendicular to the seam ?

  3. #3
    kitsapcowboy's Avatar
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    Exclamation DISCLAIMER

    This DIY project report was submitted to this forum for ENTERTAINMENT PURPOSES ONLY. Use any methods, ideas, or inspirations contained herein strictly AT YOUR OWN RISK. I accept no responsibility whatsoever for any injury or harm that befalls others owing to information presented here, and I accept no responsibility for any errors the post contains.

    I do not in any way advocate that others should do anything I have presented here; this thread is strictly DOCUMENTATION OF FACT. Readers beware.

    There is a lot of great information on Hammock Forums available from members with much more substantial experience, better ideas, and better methods than mine. SEEK IT OUT.

    Thank you for your attention.
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  4. #4
    kitsapcowboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by geneaut View Post
    pentagon tarp.jpg

    I sketched out how I understood this - Imagine my straight sides are cat cuts. So you end up with a symmetrical pentagon shape where the dashed line on my drawing is the seam. The small 'x' is the center pullout, and the ridgeline tieouts are perpendicular to the seam ?
    Being a shaped tarp, it's actually this...



    There is one midpoint tie-out on the near face; as you fold the tarp between this midpoint and the opposite vertex on the other side of the tarp, you alter the geometry of both the enclosed volume and the effective "rain shadow".

    My next tarp will be a triangular hebesphenorotunda... I just need to figure out the guy lines...



    Last edited by kitsapcowboy; 04-19-2018 at 09:05.
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  5. #5
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    Excellent. I get it now. Impressive. You are taking the tarp game to the next level.

  6. #6
    kitsapcowboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by geneaut View Post
    Excellent. I get it now. Impressive. You are taking the tarp game to the next level.
    Thanks! At least I am learning more about three-dimensional geometry than I ever did in 23 years of continuous schooling...
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  7. #7
    Cabmanhang's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kitsapcowboy View Post

    My next tarp will be a triangular hebesphenorotunda... I just need to figure out the guy lines...



    My head exploded.
    "If we lose the forests, we lose our only instructors. People must see these forests and wilderness as the greatest educational system that we have on the planet. If we lose all the universities in the world, then we would lose nothing. But If we lose the forests, we lose everything." -- Bill Mollison

  8. #8
    kitsapcowboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cabmanhang View Post
    My head exploded.
    LOL yeah, mine too, I think...
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  9. #9
    TxAggie's Avatar
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    Awesome design there KC.

  10. #10
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    This does bring up a couple of questions:

    How are you running your ridgeline? It looks like you have 2 (actually 3: 1 continuous and 2 tie outs)

    Do you have both tieouts along the seams, or one seam and one between?

    Are you designating a rear tie out like on the trail star?



    Iím thinking of an idea to use a single continuous RL with extra long ties connecting to the CRL, one on a seam and one midline to make it symmetrical while hanging.

    I can see this working extremely well for windy hangs.

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