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Snap Hinge for PVC framed light panels

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#1 MarionStar

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Posted 17 September 2020 - 12:32 AM

I have been searching for some kind of light blocking panel to deal with my neighbors lights and the condo lights where I live.

I found the solution on this site where some of you have put together some 1 inch PVC frame works with tarps or other material stretched over it to block the light.

I want to thank everyone who posted this idea. It works and works well.

 

I ran into a problem with the clamps used to hold the individual panels together.

I found the spring loaded clamps hard to compress with my reduced hand strength. I also found that they don't always hold the pipes together perfectly, but will often snap closed more and mis-align the pipes.

 

I was looking to put two of these panels together permanently with some kind of hinge that would allow them to fold flat for storage and hold the pipes securely.

 

I have finally found such a product. It is called a snap clamp. It was designed for those who like to work with PVC pipe and specifically for those who are designing things like room dividers where the panels need to fold flat for storage... just what I was looking for.

 

If you would like to check it out go to:

 

https://flexpvc.com

 

When you get there, scroll to the right of the main page... their webpage is a bit wide.. and use the search box and type in    snap hinge   and it should take you right to it.

 

This is designed to snap into place but it is not a simple press fit. I found with my reduced hand strength that I could not force the hinge into place. I grabbed my channel locks and with my wife holding the panel, I squeezed one side of the clamp with one of the pliers jaws and the other jaw on the outside of the pipe I was trying to install it on, and it does expand to fit, but you will need another channel lock or other pliers or hand strength to get the other side of the fitting to snap into place. I used three to hold two panels together. After getting them fitted to the first panel, my wife held the second panel up and we just did the same thing again. It was a bit tricky to keep in alignment but not especially hard. It went together first try.

 

The panels fold flat for storage and they aren't heavy if plastic tarps are used for the blocking material. My wife and I easily picked up the two panels and took them out on the first night with them. When the night's observing was done, and before I knew it, my wife, by herself had folded the panels flat and carried both back into the garage! If you have more panels you might invest in a cheap two wheel dolly at harbor freight to wheel them around on. We have one and tried it and it worked ok.

 

One caveat. This is a NO CANCELLATION, NO REFUND type of part according to the manufacturer. So, when you buy them... they are yours. They shipped fairly fast. They are not cheap, but they sure work and solved a problem for me. If you are industrious, perhaps you can make something like this out of PVC fittings. But for me, simply ordering them already done was the way to go. Your mileage may vary. I hope this may assist others who may want a way to join PVC piping for this or other projects. Please note that they do space the pipes apart a little, it has to so they will fold flat, so you will have a small gap between panels to deal with. We just threw an old towel over the top of the panels and let it hang down to block the gap.

 

We will be making two more panels that we will join together with these hinges. While you could hook any number of these together in a long accordion like string of panels, the weight might eventually be too much to carry. For a permanent installation it may just be ideal. We decided that two panel units were easier to carry and store.

 

Brad, Sally and Niblet the mini-rex astro bunny

 

PS- I'll try to upload a picture with this... no guarantee as I've never done it before!

 



#2 B 26354

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Posted 17 September 2020 - 01:04 AM

Very interesting. Photos would be helpfully instructive. It's easy to do... but there are "size" limitations. I'll PM some instructions in a few minutes.

 

One other caveat, is that those hinges are one-size-only, and are made for 1-inch diameter PVC tubing.

 

The four panels that I put together for my "driveway observatory" needed to be 7'x10'... and at that size, I felt that the 1" tubing would have been far too flexible, so I used 1.5" tubing instead. The panels are kept separate, and I connect them together at the eight corner-junctions with 1/4"-diameter, 24"-long, rubber-coated twist-ties that I found at Home Depot:

 

https://www.cloudyni...ay-observatory/

 

grin.gif


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#3 MarionStar

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Posted 17 September 2020 - 01:23 AM

B 26354- Your set up is brilliant! Well done!

Yes, these are only for the 1 inch PVC pipe size. That was the sizing others had used in their articles, so that's what I went with. However, with the height you needed to be at... yes.. it was much better to go with 1.5 inch. Mine are 6 foot tall and I wouldn't want to go any taller with 1 inch pipe.

I know of the rubber coated twist ties you speak of. I never gave it a thought, but that is an ingenious use for them. While we will be doing dual panels, if we ever want to join the two panel groups together, that may just be the ticket!

Thanks for sharing!

 

I tried to upload the photos but the system won't allow it as the file is too big. I tried cropping the photo to reduce it's size but no go.

 

Brad


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#4 B 26354

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Posted 17 September 2020 - 01:32 AM

Thanks Brad! PM sent.  grin.gif


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#5 MarionStar

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Posted 17 September 2020 - 01:53 AM

OK, let's see if this photo attachment works... again, no guarantee!

Brad

 snap hinge photo (3).jpg

 



#6 MarionStar

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Posted 17 September 2020 - 01:54 AM

Thanks to B 26354 for the photo upload info!



#7 MarionStar

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Posted 17 September 2020 - 01:58 AM

one more aspect, hope it's small enough

 

snap hinge side view photo 1 resized.jpg




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