SMX (Simple Masking eXperience) screen build/recipe - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 45 Old 03-09-2020, 07:59 PM - Thread Starter
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SMX (Simple Masking eXperience) screen build/recipe

Edit: I have been informed that there was another Masking system with a similar name, SmX, that was selling screens and is now no longer viable. This project has no relationship to that product.

With that out of the way, here we go.

This is a project born from necessity. As I began looking toward which screen I'd use for my theater, and in particular looking at masking options, it quickly became apparent that in order to get a screen with a motorized mask in the size I want I'd either have to spend tens of thousands of dollars, or work on a DIY solution. The problem is that I really have no interest in putting a lot of effort into a DIY screen. I'm no stranger to building DIY electronics or motor controls, the problem is that there are so many things to spend time tweaking in a theater, so I decided early on that I'd buy a commercial masking system, or have no masking at all.

That resolve wore thin, however, after I began searching for solutions that would fit my screen size. I really wanted an automatic masking solution, but they were expensive in the size I needed. The Seymour Proscenium series looks like a good value, but it just doesn't go large enough. However, as I began to go over installation instructions for various pro screens, and began to see the materials used, I got the spark of an idea that I might be able to purchase all of the components and assemble them, as if I had bought a kit from a retailer. Even assembling a commercial kit is not a small job, but if I can simplify close to that level it would be a huge win.

Thus the SMX screen was born - the "simple masking experience". Simple being a relative term, most of the complexity is offloaded into the planning and searching for the best pricing on parts. Once you have the parts collected, it should be as close as possible to just bolting together the system as a commercial kit would be, avoiding custom fabrication or electronics.

Many people will see places where they can reduce costs with some custom work, or modify the solution to meet their needs, and that's good. We all have different combinations of design goals. For me if it's a choice of adding a small cost or doing something custom, I've opted to spend the money, but you may choose otherwise. I'm attempting to share the "easy path" I found.

ALL STANDARD DISCLAIMERS APPLY: I'm providing this information in good faith, to the best of my ability. Reader accepts the risk of any incomplete or inaccurate information, if you attempt to follow this guide to build your own screen.

Ok, that was a long intro to get to the substance. This design is for a CIH 2.35:1 dual mask, but could be modified to a CIW, or even a four way mask (some bits on that at the end). At a high level, the system consists of:
  • An aluminum frame built entirely from T slot extrusions ordered cut to size
  • Somfy radio controlled motor rollers w/remote
  • Slide mechanism (plastic T slot sliders, aluminum bar, spring/elastic tensioner)
  • And of course, screen and masking material. You can buy this from a retailer made to the size of your frame, or further DIY it.

... pretty close to what you'd buy from a screen retailer.

One last note before I go into detail, I fully expect that over time any links I share to products may go defunct. To this end, I am going to describe what the parts are and the purpose, so that hopefully community members can step in and share their sources for parts, help each other out as time goes on.

Getting the Parts

The Frame is what is called an aluminum "T Slot" extrusion. They are aluminum profiles that have channels in them that can be used to mount things. With the right connectors (generally a screw and a “t-nut”), you can hang anything off this channel in many configurations. Or, you can use the channel as a slide rail with the right plastic sliders (or bearings). It’s a very versatile system used to build all sorts of equipment.



There are a few common manufacturers that for the most part have compatible products. The ones I've run across are 8020.net, tnutz.com, and framingtech.com , some have global distributors. You may be able to save a good deal on shipping if you can find a local distributor. Look for "Ultra Light" extrusions if you go outside of the suggestions below.

Here is the parts list, you’ll need to determine the frame member and roller shade sizes per the information farther down the post. I've included the Tnutz part/link and the 8020 part/link. Note that in general Tnutz was priced better, and most of the 8020 stuff could be had cheaper or faster via typing in the 8020 part number into https://hpeco.com

If you stop here, you can make one super nice aluminum fixed frame. The below are additional parts required for motorization. The primary sources are avoutlet.com or floridaautomatedshade.com, from what I could find. There are a lot of ways you can put this stuff together, and all of the parts can be quite confusing. If you just want to buy the stuff and have it work I suggest trying to source all of these AVOutlet items as-is.
  • 4 count profile sliders - 8020 brand 6897 (only option I could find for pre-made sliders)
  • 2 count Somfy 1001636 Sonesse 40 (ST40) 404S2 RTS 120VAC Shade Motor - AVOutlet or FloridaAS (choose the 2" crown and drive option but nothing else)
  • 2 count Rollease RA2 - 1.5" to 2" Tube Adapter - AVOutlet
  • 2 count Rollease idler end pin - AVOutlet model SLPE53
  • 2 count Rollease SLAMLS40 Skyline to Somfy ST40 Bracket Adapter - AVOutlet
  • 2 count Rollease SLB680R Skyline Shade Brackets - AVOutlet
  • 2 count Rollease RTEA5T14-7 Roller Shade Tubes w/ Tape - 2" (50mm) - AVOutlet - Note this is a 7 foot roller, please refer to below to determine the length you'll need for your screen size.
  • 2 count aluminum bar, cut to vertical height of finished frame (sourced from local hardware store) - sizing can be anywhere from 1.5" wide x 1/8" thick to 2" wide x 1/4" thick
  • 8 count #10-32 x 1/2" screw for mounting roller brackets - Tnutz 10-32x1/2'' BHCS or 8020 brand 3050
  • 8 count #10-32 SAE washer for mounting roller brackets - Tnutz or 8020 brand
  • 8 count #10-32 T-nut for mounting roller brackets - Tnutz ST-015 or 8020 brand 3201
  • ~30 ft of 3/16” shock cord - sourced from amazon or hardware store
  • 2 count small eyelet
  • 8 small project screws, 1/2” or 5/8” long for attaching aluminum bar to sliders
  • 4 count mounting nuts for slider stops - Tnutz DS-015 or 8020 brand 3311
  • 4 count extra screws for slider stops 5/16-18 x 5/8" - Tnutz 5/16-18x5/8'' BHCS or 8020 brand 3111

Note, I did not include a remote for the shades. If you want a simple remote, try the Somfy 1810633 Telis 4 Pure RTS Remote Control, however Somfy makes a whole line of integration components for RTS radio controlled motors. You can get smartphone integration, Graphik Eye/Lutron integration, etc. The simple remote will allow you to program three positions, "open", "closed", and "favorite", which I'd name "2.35:1", "4:3", and "16:9" (in between) and I'd suggest it simply to get started and test things.

Frame and tube sizing

You'll want to plan the parts and sizing of the frame in advance and purchase pieces precision cut from the vendor, if possible. I used T slot extrusions that are 1.5" x 1.5" for the vertical pieces, and 1.5" x 3.0" for the horizontal. This provides two slots on the horizontal members, which allows for the plastic sliders that will be responsible for guiding the aluminum bar masks.

Given the frame design I opted for, here are a few common sizes. The formulas are:

1.5” x 3” piece length = (desired width + 3) / 2

1.5” x 1.5” piece length = desired height

Tube length = desired height + 4”

I'm having trouble trying to create tables on the forum, but here are some common part sizes for CIH 2.35:1 screens:

screen size | 1.5” x 3” T slot (4 pieces) | 1.5” x 1.5” T slot (4 pieces) | Aluminum tube (if using same motor parts I did) (2 pieces)
180” wide| 91 1/2” long | 76 1/2” long | 80 1/2”
160” wide| 81 1/2” long | 68” long | 72”
140” wide| 71 1/2” long | 59 1/2” long | 63 1/2”
120” wide| 61 1/2” long | 51” long | 55”

Design

Lastly, before I close off this post, I want to mention that I intend to add instructional in follow up posts. I also want to leave you with some photos and diagrams to provide a better understanding of the finished product.

2 way mask CIH Screen:




4 way mask screen (Not fully detailed in this post, or built to completion in any way, but some proof of concept designs and mockups for people to think on):



Finally, I should give recognition to a few projects that served as inspiration:

https://www.avsforum.com/forum/19-de...sk-2000-a.html

https://www.avsforum.com/forum/174-d...d-masking.html

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post #2 of 45 Old 03-09-2020, 07:59 PM - Thread Starter
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SMX (Simple Masking eXperience) screen build/recipe

This post covers assembly and installation.

As far as tools, at a minimum you'd need:
  • Power drill
  • Drill bits (Specifics depend on what kind of lag bolts and screws you use)
  • Screwdriver (flathead and Phillips)
  • Hex wrenches (imperial)
  • level
  • measuring tape
  • scissors

These are my amateur attempts at making instructional videos. I'll add more as I go. Hopefully all of the information is there, and you can understand what I'm saying!





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post #3 of 45 Old 03-09-2020, 08:13 PM
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Incredible work! Very nice. Thanks a million.
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post #4 of 45 Old 03-09-2020, 08:49 PM
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Wow!! thanks
What do you estimate as a ball park estimate of cost?
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post #5 of 45 Old 03-09-2020, 09:02 PM - Thread Starter
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SMX (Simple Masking eXperience) screen build/recipe

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Originally Posted by cgott42 View Post
Wow!! thanks

What do you estimate as a ball park estimate of cost?


I need to do the math, but I believe it’s somewhere in the $1200-1300 range, before screen. I’m unsure of the exact number because I bought a few extra parts to experiment with. I intend to put a Seymour XD screen on it, precision cut and grommets preinstalled. The goal is somewhere around $2k... which isn’t bad considering I can’t find a 180” wide motorized mask screen for anywhere near $10k.
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post #6 of 45 Old 03-10-2020, 11:14 AM
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You the man, @sor !
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post #7 of 45 Old 03-10-2020, 01:17 PM - Thread Starter
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Just uploaded some instructional videos. Will be at least a few days before I get more done.

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post #8 of 45 Old 03-10-2020, 01:21 PM
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I guess you haven't heard of the SMX screen, though now defunct: https://www.avsforum.com/forum/23-sc...en-thread.html

Subscribing though, as I'm planning a similar build.
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post #9 of 45 Old 03-10-2020, 01:26 PM - Thread Starter
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SMX (Simple Masking eXperience) screen build/recipe

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Originally Posted by dlinsley View Post
I guess you haven't heard of the SMX screen, though now defunct: https://www.avsforum.com/forum/23-sc...en-thread.html



Subscribing though, as I'm planning a similar build.
Oh ****, no I haven't. Oh well, I doubt people will confuse them. I'm not going to go through the pain of changing all of the media now! At least I explained the acronym in the post.

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post #10 of 45 Old 03-10-2020, 03:07 PM
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This is awesome! Thanks so much. I already have dreamscreen v6 purchased. In your part search have you seen any spline type accessories that could be used to spline the material into an additional channel?

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post #11 of 45 Old 03-10-2020, 03:21 PM - Thread Starter
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SMX (Simple Masking eXperience) screen build/recipe

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Originally Posted by tjambro View Post
This is awesome! Thanks so much. I already have dreamscreen v6 purchased. In your part search have you seen any spline type accessories that could be used to spline the material into an additional channel?

Sent from my SM-N975U using Tapatalk


Yes, that was a thought I had. I’ve toyed with a few solutions, they have channel covers that I’ve purchased and tried out with varying degrees of success. I thought a right sized nylon tube might pinch the screen in the channel just right. Or a specific kind of channel but might pinch it.

My issue with that idea overall is in how to tension the screen. I can imagine pulling it right and getting the screen into the channel, but then I’d want to trim the excess material and then it would be difficult to reinstall if the screen ever needed to be removed.

Instead I’m going to do like Seymour does and grommet the screen, hang pegs off of the inner channel and stretch the screen grommets on. Similar to this:


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post #12 of 45 Old 03-10-2020, 03:33 PM - Thread Starter
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SMX (Simple Masking eXperience) screen build/recipe

I guess one could pull the screen tight over the channel, place a spline (say tubing) into the channel to hold the screen, wrap the excess around the spline and sew it into the fabric and trim. Basically piping around the edge. Then in theory it would be removable and would tension again when the spline is pressed back in. That’s more DIY than I think I’m willing to do but it’s an idea.
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post #13 of 45 Old 03-10-2020, 04:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sor View Post
Yes, that was a thought I had. I’ve toyed with a few solutions, they have channel covers that I’ve purchased and tried out with varying degrees of success. I thought a right sized nylon tube might pinch the screen in the channel just right. Or a specific kind of channel but might pinch it.



My issue with that idea overall is in how to tension the screen. I can imagine pulling it right and getting the screen into the channel, but then I’d want to trim the excess material and then it would be difficult to reinstall if the screen ever needed to be removed.



Instead I’m going to do like Seymour does and grommet the screen, hang pegs off of the inner channel and stretch the screen grommets on. Similar to this:



I agree the grommet option would be best. I used to own a Seymour screen in my last theater so I am familiar with what you are talking about. I wished the Dreamscreen v6 material came with grommets but it did not. I know there's grommet installation kits that I guess I can look into and experiment with on sample material before I commit to putting holes in my fairly expensive screen material.

Either way, I doubt I would even consider a DIY motorized masking system without your detailed posts and videos so thanks so much! Looking forward to seeing the tensioning and programming vids. And btw, your videos are not amateurish at all, very well done sir!

I am planning on a CA screen so I will get the joy of trying to install 4 motors. Luckily you are further along with your build that I can tap into your expertise!


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post #14 of 45 Old 03-10-2020, 04:20 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tjambro View Post
I agree the grommet option would be best. I used to own a Seymour screen in my last theater so I am familiar with what you are talking about. I wished the Dreamscreen v6 material came with grommets but it did not. I know there's grommet installation kits that I guess I can look into and experiment with on sample material before I commit to putting holes in my fairly expensive screen material.

Either way, I doubt I would even consider a DIY motorized masking system without your detailed posts and videos so thanks so much! Looking forward to seeing the tensioning and programming vids. And btw, your videos are not amateurish at all, very well done sir!

I am planning on a CA screen so I will get the joy of trying to install 4 motors. Luckily you are further along with your build that I can tap into your expertise!


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I do think a spline would work, if you get the right diameter and material. and if you get that to work you can probably fold it over and sew it in or something.
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post #15 of 45 Old 03-10-2020, 06:44 PM
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Great thread! Thanks for taking the time to share.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dlinsley View Post
I guess you haven't heard of the SMX screen, though now defunct: https://www.avsforum.com/forum/23-sc...en-thread.html

Subscribing though, as I'm planning a similar build.
That was the first thing I though when I saw the title. Thinking, wow, that's a blast from the past.

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post #17 of 45 Old 03-12-2020, 02:29 PM
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Really good thread and information thanks for doing this
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post #18 of 45 Old 03-13-2020, 09:11 PM - Thread Starter
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Part 4 of installation uploaded. Not my best job at narration but it will hopefully get the point across.

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post #19 of 45 Old 03-14-2020, 06:59 PM - Thread Starter
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Wow, was not aware of the history.

Part 5 is up. It deals with motor programming and shows the functional mask.

This is probably the last update I will do for awhile, the next step is screen installation and I’m maybe a month or two from getting the room far enough that I will be willing to bring the screen in and not worry about dirt/dust.

I’m hoping this video series has gotten far enough that people can see they have a “light DIY” option to get a motorized mask without forking out many thousands or doing a ton of custom work. I’m sure that others will be able to improve and offer further experiences and suggestions, I look forward to that.
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post #20 of 45 Old 03-15-2020, 07:36 PM - Thread Starter
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A TL;DW version of Part 5, quickie demo of the mask.


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post #21 of 45 Old 03-15-2020, 09:28 PM
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@sor ; awesome work man, and great documentation. That’s crazy the name choice has a tainted history to it!
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Looking good!!

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Thanks Sor for this great masking solution. If I wanted to do a 4 way mask and do the top and bottom masking also...do you know if you can extend the tubes to get the extra length? I will have a 150" wide screen and I see that tubes your referenced only go to 9'. I need 12.5'. is there some kind of internal piece to lengthen the tubes that you know of. I did not see what I was looking for on the AVoutlet website. Any info or idea will be welcomed.
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post #24 of 45 Old 03-19-2020, 02:51 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks Sor for this great masking solution. If I wanted to do a 4 way mask and do the top and bottom masking also...do you know if you can extend the tubes to get the extra length? I will have a 150" wide screen and I see that tubes your referenced only go to 9'. I need 12.5'. is there some kind of internal piece to lengthen the tubes that you know of. I did not see what I was looking for on the AVoutlet website. Any info or idea will be welcomed.

Yes, that’s uncharted territory. I could imagine some sort of internal coupler, but I haven’t personally tried it thus can’t recommend anything specific. You may also be able to find some generic aluminum tubing locally that will span the length.

With the 2” poles being as light and rigid as they are, I suspect one could join two of them with some internal steel straps/couplers. Drill some holes, insert screws and bolt straps on from the inside and then insert into the other and bolt on. Or perhaps finding another tube that will just fit inside.
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post #25 of 45 Old 04-12-2020, 08:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sor View Post
Yes, that’s uncharted territory. I could imagine some sort of internal coupler, but I haven’t personally tried it thus can’t recommend anything specific. You may also be able to find some generic aluminum tubing locally that will span the length.

With the 2” poles being as light and rigid as they are, I suspect one could join two of them with some internal steel straps/couplers. Drill some holes, insert screws and bolt straps on from the inside and then insert into the other and bolt on. Or perhaps finding another tube that will just fit inside.

I too am wanting to try a 4-way masking system on a 2:1 screen. I just ordered my tnutz stuff and I sent AVOutlet an email asking about joining the roller tubes. If they don't come up with anything I guess I will just have to order a sample of the tube and see what kind of coupler I can come up with. I like the idea of finding an internal coupler that would be a tight fit with maybe just some glue to secure it...
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post #26 of 45 Old 04-12-2020, 09:11 AM - Thread Starter
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I too am wanting to try a 4-way masking system on a 2:1 screen. I just ordered my tnutz stuff and I sent AVOutlet an email asking about joining the roller tubes. If they don't come up with anything I guess I will just have to order a sample of the tube and see what kind of coupler I can come up with. I like the idea of finding an internal coupler that would be a tight fit with maybe just some glue to secure it...

I’m imagining two end plugs bolted together, but I’d be concerned about flex. It seems like it would be pretty easy to 3D print an internal coupler. I’ve seen some expanding galvanized couplers for handrails and things like that.

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post #27 of 45 Old 04-12-2020, 09:41 AM
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Originally Posted by sor View Post
I’m imagining two end plugs bolted together, but I’d be concerned about flex. It seems like it would be pretty easy to 3D print an internal coupler. I’ve seen some expanding galvanized couplers for handrails and things like that.


Wow, that looks perfect! Is the internal ribbing throughout the whole Rollease pipe or just the motor end? Do you by chance have a link to that coupling or do you know if that's something I may be able to find at my local big box store?


Thanks again for developing this, I would be lost without your attention to detail! Looking forward to it all coming together.
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post #28 of 45 Old 04-12-2020, 10:40 AM - Thread Starter
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Unfortunately it’s only a 1 1/4” coupler pictured. It might spark an idea or lead to finding something workable though.


https://www.simplifiedbuilding.com/p...ernal-coupling

I don’t think I answered you - the flanges do run the entire length of the tube, so you can cut it down.

Maybe we are making this more complicated than it needs to be and just drilling a few holes and coupling with steel braces would work, maybe three or four. There isn’t a major amount of load, mostly just trying to avoid deflection under its own weight.


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post #29 of 45 Old 04-12-2020, 03:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sor View Post
Unfortunately it’s only a 1 1/4” coupler pictured. It might spark an idea or lead to finding something workable though.


https://www.simplifiedbuilding.com/p...ernal-coupling

I don’t think I answered you - the flanges do run the entire length of the tube, so you can cut it down.

Maybe we are making this more complicated than it needs to be and just drilling a few holes and coupling with steel braces would work, maybe three or four. There isn’t a major amount of load, mostly just trying to avoid deflection under its own weight.


Yes, maybe that could work? Guess I'll just have to buy some and play with it. The internal coupler would be hard to get to work with the tines anyway. Maybe a thin external coupler could work though. Thanks for the ideas. I just thought having something internal would be better to keep the fabric from rolling up weird.
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post #30 of 45 Old 04-14-2020, 10:03 AM
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