2016: Da Vinci's Workshop (Backfire Camp)
Backfire came to the playa for the first time in 2016. We were given the location of Cosimo and 7:15 by the fine folks at placement!
- 48 burners from the USA, and a few hailing from the great country of AUS!
- 26’ UHaul truck packed to the rafters
- 20x36 shade structure (from Black Rock Hardware)
- Two carports
- Kitchen space
- 50x50 shaded camp area
- Rear frontage dressed up as a used-car lot
Vietnamese Coffee and ASL
On Tuesday and Thursday morning during the week of the burn, the camp came together to provide delicious freshly-brewed vietnamese coffee to anyone who passed by. In addition, due to our camp being largely ASL-signers, we offered improtu lessons to anyone who stopped in and wanted to learn a few signs while enjoying their coffee.
Friday Night Bash
Early evening Friday, the camp threw a bash with live music, lights and lots of burner love for anyone who happened to pedal along on Cosimo.
We brought several interactive light and sound pieces. LED Wall, Hexagasm, Backfire Sign.
Backfire camp at night
Vietnamese Coffee and ASL
Dry Technical Boring Details on Camp Infrastructure
If you’ve read down this far and really are interested in details on the camp infrastructure and what we learned, we’re sharing those details below.
This was our first year experimenting with lag-screws.
The camp purchased 14-inch 3/8” zinc-plated lag screws. Galvanized screws were far more expensive and deemed unnecessary. They were more than enough for securing tents and the shade structures.
In addition, I brought some 8” lag-screw was to test in the playa surface. After driving the 8” scew flush to the ground with chain-links attached, I was able to pull it out of the ground (although with considerable effort). This shows that 8” does not go deep enough.
The 14” screws were very well received in terms of how much easier it was to drive in the playa surface and to remove as opposed to pounding and pulling rebar.
Lag Screw Requirements
The camp purchased a low-cost Harbor Freight Impact Wrench which required the generator and a long enough cord to reach all the job sites. The HF driver had no trouble driving screws continuously.
The EA team also discovered that the lightweight DeWalt cordless impact driver (1/4”) has sufficient power to drive the 14” screw all the way to the surface. However it does slow down considerably for the last few inches, and should be used sparingly because overheating the driver by driving multiple 14” lag screws in succession is likely. The cordless should be reserved for spot-applications of driving single lag screws in locations where its not convenient to transport the generator.
However – the cordless DeWalt is more than adequate for removing the lag screws at the end of the event, and much more convenient than the Harbor Freight.
The camp plans to invest in more lag-screws and make more widespread use of it in 2017.
We purchased a 36’x 20’ shade structure from Black Rock Hardware. It was very well packaged and no trouble setting up on playa.
We modified the setup slightly that instead of pounding down rebar to slip the vertical poles over, we purchased 1” conduit footing that had holes on the feet. We then used lag screws to fasten the feet to the playa surface. One screw per foot was more than adequate. A 36x20 shade would require 12 foot pieces.
To help secure the shade structure in case of strong winds, we used Home Depot ratcheting straps (orange for best visibility) on all four corners. One end of the strap was wrapped around the top corner joint and the other end was attached to a lag-screw+chain link that was driven into the ground. Then the strap was ratcheted down tight. It is suggested to twist around the strap quite a few times so that it doesn’t vibrate and make a lot of noise in the wind. 2016 wasn’t as windy as 2015, but it might be prudent to add two more tie downs in the middle part of the structure for a total of six.
(Author note: we found out in 2017 that ratchet straps on all four corners is inadequate under strong winds - leading to the center being pulled upwards and outwards causing bending of poles. I left these notes in place for historical reference but apply ratchet straps to *EVERY* leg including ones in the center.)
The kitchen was compromised of two 10’x20’ carports joined together for a 20’x20’ space.
Tent City Shade
For our campers who didn’t have luxurious accomodations such as an RV or Shiftpod, we made their homes a bit less onerous under the desert sun by erecting a giant 50’ x 50’ shade using Alumninet.
The camp salvaged vinyl flooring from a local climbing gym for the 36’ x 20’ shade space. It worked very well, but it was quite heavy and bulky to transport. The camp also purchased vinyl material that was previously used on billboard advertisements for use in the kitchen. The billboard vinyl was thinner than the climbing gym flooring and much easier to fold-up/handle/transport. Both vinyl surfaces stood up to the foot-traffic throughout the week without tearing or wearing out.
It is the opinion of this author that the billboard advertisement vinyl is more than suitable and easier to transport than the climbing gym flooring vinyl.
The camp brought 5 20# propane canisters. We ended up only using two. Cooking stove was the large three-burner camping stove type which offered excellent cooking efficency.
Cleaning dishes was the biggest pain point.
Given that the camp power needs was mostly concentrated around the chill space and kitchen, a single
Honda EU7000is was rented for the duration of the burn. The camp also had a backup generator of a older/louder kind but it was never used. The
EU7000is worked without any trouble the entire week. Fuel consumption was okay the first few days until we discovered that Eco-Throttle was turned off. Enabling that greatly improved fuel consumption, especially when loads were low. The generator consumed about 2-3 gallons of fuel every day.