A calm winter day with blue skies can quickly turn into a blizzard with zero visibility. A cool fall morning can mean fog as thick as split-pea soup. Whatever the circumstance there are times when dead reckoning is required for travel in the wilderness. While dead reckoning it can be difficult to maintain awareness of your direction of travel. While an experienced navigator has a whole handbag of tricks to draw from when determining direction of travel, sometimes the only way to be sure is by constantly being aware of subtle clues. I plan on creating a location aware trekking pole for use by experts in safety-critical situations and amateurs while learning and practicing basic navigational skills.

Trekking poles give users increased stability, confidence and speed while traveling through uneven terrain and are popular with hikers, backpackers and mountaineers. As something that is always already in your hands, they are an excellent target for some technological augmentation.

Potential Features

Modeling Software

The last (and only) modeling software I had previously used was AutoCAD in the mid-2000's so I thought I would give SolidWorks a try for this assignment. Back in middle school I did a little bit of animating with 3D Studio Max and I think this helped make using Soildworks particularly intuitive. I'm sure there are plenty of more advanced features that would have made the process a lot easier though.

Sanity Check

Before starting to model I wanted a sanity check to see if the functionality I wanted would be able to fit into the form factor of a trekking pole. It turns out that electronic components have gotten a lot smaller and a lot more powerful than the last time I checked (~5 years ago). I want to use an Arduino for this project as I have never used one before. There are some very small Arduino boards that seem like they will work with this project. There are also very small OLED displays and GPS Modules that will definitly fit into the form factor of a trekking pole top. AA batteries even fit in the top segment of the trekking pole I'm basing my design off of!

Design Inspiration

My favorite trekking poles are the black diamond alpine carbon cork. I decided to use these as a starting point for the form of my poles.

It turns out that modeling organic shapes such as the handgrip in solidworks is somewhat non-obvious. I attempted to do so by lofting a series of ellipses and circles together to achieve the target geometry. My initial attempt did not look quite right...

Thinking more about the geometry of the loft I realized that I needed to have a ellipse defined at each of the inflection points that I wanted the handle to have. Doing this the handle started to look more like I wanted.

Modeled Parts

Lessons Learned

While most of the parts were very straightforward geometric designs the organic shape of the cork hand-grip was more difficult to model as desired. It was also a little tricky to ensure that the geometry of the part was able to be shelled by Solidworks. There is an option to loft between shapes using curves as a guide, that may be a better option to explore in the future. Another option would be to try a program like Rhino that is known to be better at that sort of modeling.

Final Assembly

Using Solidworks I assembeled all of the parts that I modeled into
a final assembly to give form to the project.