Portable Sunshade

Designers: Henry Hwang, John Lee, Tamara Louie, Nicholas Ong

Client Coordinator: Kimi Dew, Goodwill Industries of Eastern North Carolina (GIENC)

Supervising Professor: Larry Bohs


The nature facilities at the Goodwill Industries of Eastern North Carolina (GIENC) are used to produce gardening products and to provide pleasant gardening experiences for people with disabilities.. During the hot summer months, staff members and people with disabilities work at these facilities under direct sunlight. The goal of this project was to provide a portable sunshade device to GIENC. The device consists of a sixty square foot UV-resistant shade attached to a frame of galvanized steel, mounted on four wheeled poles for mobility. When the device is deployed, the users can work in a shaded area and enjoy a respite from the sun’s light and heat.


The portable sunshade allows our clients to enjoy gardening under the shade during summer. The supervisor at GIENC commented, “The portable sunshade creates a space for shade while our groups of adults with disabilities are working in the raised planters and other places on the farm tolerating more time outside and providing UV protection for a large number of people. It is also a mobile device that makes it handy to move about easily with just a couple of people.”


The Portable Sunshade (Figure 1) includes a mesh tarp, a sunshade canopy, aluminum supports, four 90-degree connectors, four lockable wheels, four aluminum disks, and handles. The mesh tarp is a commercially available product from Tarp Cover Sales. It is a black polypropylene mesh tarp with 100% UV protection and 73% shading. The tarp attaches to the sunshade canopy using bungee cords and metal grommets at 18” intervals on the tarp edges.

The sunshade canopy is modified from a commercially available product by Outdoor Canopy, with horizontal dimensions of 6’ x 10’ and a 7’7” height.  The commercial product, which had a peaked roof, was modified to have a flat top frame by replacing the top connectors with 3-way 90? connectors.  This flat roof, combined with the mesh nature of the tarp, make the device far less prone to being moved by the wind.  All of the poles are made from 1 3/8’ diameter galvanized steel, custom powder-coated green for durability and aesthetics. The poles attach to connectors using eye screws.

Custom aluminum supports attach at the top corners to provide stability. These supports are made from round-edged, 3/16” thick corrosion resistant aluminum bars, each 1/5” wide and 20” long. . The supports attach to the vertical poles using ¼-20 bolts and nylon-inserted nuts.

Pneumatic 8” lockable wheels from Waxman Consumer Group attach to the footpads of the vertical poles using custom aluminum disks, each 1” thick and 6” in diameter. The wheels provide a simple foot-actuated locking mechanism to prevent the device from rolling, and their large size makes moving over rough terrain easy.  The wheels and the footpads attach to threaded holes in the bottom and top of the aluminum disks respectively, using ¼-20 screws and threadlock. Handles made from cushioned grip tape mount at a 4’ height on the vertical poles to make the device easier to transport, especially if the metal poles become hot from sun exposure.  The cost for the device is approximately $580.

Comments are closed.