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Ariel Whitehead

Dayna Alaina
Catherine Muscato
2.1.9 Truss Design
POE Block 3

Problem Statement:
The purpose of this project is to design a truss based on tests and research that
performs better than the test trusses, in which the designed truss will be evaluated for
quality and efficiency. The only materials available for use are balsa wood, glue and
paper gussets (must not be larger than the gussets used during testing). The whole
gusset must have a minimum span of 6 7/8 inches and a maximum height of 4 5/8
inches, and can use no than 36 inches of balsa wood.
Test Truss:
The test truss withstood 19lbs before breaking in the bottom right corner. The truss
ended up with a 290,000% efficiency.

The test truss gave me the idea that a truss needs more supporting members to have
more durability and provide stability. Having less supporting members placed a lot of
strain on the center member and pretty much no support on the outside members,
which makes it a lot more susceptible to breaking. The test truss also showed me that
paper gussets are especially helpful in keeping the outside members strongly

Researched Results:
"Construire Des Fermes De Toit En Bois De Charpente | Dans Notre Maison." Dans
Notre Maison RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Dec. 2015.
"Caudill Truss And Metal." Caudill Truss And Metal. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Dec. 2015.
Through the websites I searched, I found that there are many ways of making a truss,
and that they dont necessarily need to be restricted to the shape of a triangle. They can
have a flat top and not necessarily have a straight bottom member but instead have an
upside-down v shape. There is an infinite amount of ways that trusses can be designed.
To give me an idea of what truss I wanted to design or use, I chose two trusses with a
similar design, except one has a flat top and two extra members.
Design Idea:

The total length of balsa wood required for this design is 29 inches.
I chose this design because of its apparent stability as well as its simplicity, which would
make it less time-consuming to make. The amount of members seemed sufficient and
did not require too much balsa wood.
Decision Process:

Daynas design was basically a triangle with the bottom of it angling in from the center. It
had one supporting member in the middle and two other supporting members on each
side of the center member at different angles with all of their ends at the bottom center
reaching out to the outside members. The time to build it would have been timeconsuming because of its complex shape, but it had a decent size and a good amount
of members that did not require very much balsa wood and its shape seemed to provide
good durability.

Catherines design was a triangle with six supporting members branching out at different
angles starting from the top center. Although her design used quite a number of
members, the amount provided good support to the outside members, which meant
good durability. The truss could have been made in good time, and the amount of balsa
wood needed was not too much.

Build Time Durability



Number of Total





Ariel (me)


The criterias for the decision matrix was build time, durability, size, amount of balsa
wood, and number of members. Build time was important because we needed to make
a truss that did not require very much time to build. Durability is basically what were
testing on the truss to see the maximum amount of load it can withstand. Size is critical
because of the constraints provided, so the truss couldnt be too big or too small. The
number of members and the amount of balsa wood are linked because of our limited
amount of balsa wood we can use, so we wanted to have a good amount of members
with the least amount of balsa wood.
As a result, we chose my design.
Official Test:



Efficiency: (Force/Weight)100 = (39lb/.0156)100 = 250,000%

As the weight was applied to the truss, naturally, it placed a lot of strain on the outside
members. When more weight was applied, the truss began to bend downwards, which
eventually led to the breaking of the bottom left corner member.

Dayna: Daynas set task was to cut out the gussets that would fit appropriately on the
truss. She finished her task quickly without any trouble. She stayed with the group after
school to begin working on the truss when we were behind to catch up.
Catherine: Catherines set task was to glue the members and gussets together. She
was very detailed with her work, stayed on task the whole time, and communicated with
the group when she thought something about the truss needed to be redone or fixed.
When we were a little behind on the work, as promised she stayed after school with the
rest of the group to catch up on the work that needed to be done.
Ariel (me): My set task was to measure the balsa wood and cut it to the dimensioned
length. I did a fine job of cutting it to the right size and making sure each member fitted
well with another. Like the rest of my group, I also came in to class after school to finish
up with making the truss and catching up.
I believe failure occurred at the bottom edge of the truss member because there were
no inside members supporting the top member from pressuring it. It was not expected
because that member didnt undergo the most pressure and wasnt supposed to snap
as easily. Curiously, the location in which the final truss was broken was similar to the
place where the test truss was broken. There is a possibility that gluing may have been
a factor to its failure, but I think its mainly just the lack of support that caused it to break.
If I had a chance to redesign my truss after testing, I would add one more member on
each side to support the lower edges of the truss. That way, it would support the outside
members better and prevent the truss from breaking so easily.