Well ... actually configuration design
. One of the advantages is that
simplifies a lot of the "real" engineering stuff.
Sorta like LEGO ... before they were pre-configured kits with instructions.
I mean... maybe that's a factor? 🤔
Part of me thinks that since Tinkertoys, Erector Sets and Lego weren't "kits" when we were using them as kids... but most of those folks who asked if our van building was a kit were my age or older. And a pile of lumber as a kid seemed just as straight-forward as those "toys" to build a bike jump, tree-house, or skate-ramp. So... prolly more that some of us are drawn to these building toys/tools in some way.
Back to nature/nurture, in some ways: I wonder how many of us feel immediately comfortable with assembling whatever we see in our heads from whatever pile of materials we have access to? For that matter, how many of us "see in our heads" what we want and can picture it in 3D?
That "seeing it in 3D part"... OMG... that does NOT work for my wife. For decades now... we've built houses, vans, offices, and re-built / remodeled multiple houses and a 2D drawing might as well be a bowl of fruit for all it does for her ability to envision the outcome. I started doing 3D designs for remodels for her benefit and the outcome was hilarious: "well, I think that looks okay... but that's not the color of counter-top I was thinking." AUGH! It's a model! Using the stock materials! Okay... back to work... creating new textures for the models... now? "Is that actually what it will look like out the window?" Whaaaa??? Okay... insert actual photo from that point-of-view and insert as visible through said window. "But why is it daylight out? It's night now." 🤣
Ultimately, the 3D thing really helped her understand what we were building in advance. It made me realize that she was working from nearly zero perspective in the past. But it also illustrated very clearly for me just how different our experiences are with this stuff.
, I concur: as much as I have become accustomed to 2D/3D modeling for other spaces, I go 2D pencil sketch for the van, then cardboard and/or 1x2s.
For "here's how it worked for us" experience / thoughts:
This was first take on bed and galley - 1x2 construction to see in-van real-world. It was really helpful and useful to see what was going to be done differently. The galley was too deep; but the bed seemed good. So we moved to next phase with the bed.
This was first take on the bed in 8020 (or whatever brand). What you see here was then disassembled and changed a bit.
That confirmed that the basic bed design - including raise / lower functions were viable. But also confirmed that the leg mounting method needed some work. And established a starting point that nudged us toward making it "couch mode" as well as up/down. In this photo, the leg positions have been moved - though not to where they eventually ended up; but it again helped to see.
Galley went from 1x2 to 8020 frame - then inserted mandatory pieces to test layout / usability. Maxxfan frame substituting for as-yet-undelivered sink in this photo. random pieces of wood holding the cook-top in place. Observation: mostly going to work; espresso machine is REALLY low - how to raise it up?
Testing space and function with fridge base (future electrical cabinet) in place. Observe sticks of 8020 on the floor - used to test things while "configuration design" working. 😄
Modify and further building galley frame (in the garage - to be moved back into the van later).
Flipping back to fridge / electrical cabinet: progressing by dropping in the largest pieces and testing the space for the smaller pieces - same model as the galley.
Further progress: galley functional but no testing first cover panel. Fridge and electronics in use. Ultimately got rid of those panels - just didn't look good. And the counter-top was a "temporary" 1/2" ply that stayed or over a year.
I won't post ALL the various stages and steps; but after a year-and-a-half of usage, decided to ditch the propane and go all-electric. Pulled the galley out and rebuilt it (actually just added 1-2 pieces of 8020) and then rebuilt the covers and a new counter-top. All part of the process and the beauty of working with 8020. All the panels pop off - held on with dual-lock velcro.
And you can see the fridge/electrical cabinet has the same panels on it. And the 8020 shower skinned with Lexan panels. And the upper cabinets built with the same method.
This stuff IS Tinkertoys / Lego - but just the raw materials. I think the couple of folks that mention Humble Road are on a helpful track: each step - including all of his - is one easy step; the finished product is whatever you can envision and execute. I hope this step-by-step (while leaving out a bit in the middle) was helpful for anyone who hasn't done this yet.