DIY Quadrat Frame

Quadrat Frame in Action

DIY Quadrat frame in use at Morro Strand State Beach, CA.

I know what you’re thinking… it’s either:

  1. What the heck is a quadrat frame?!?
  2. Sweet!  I need one of those!

If you’re in Camp #1, you need an explanation.  A quadrat frame is a tool used by ecologists (aka scientists who study the outdoors) to help them count things; specifically it tells them the boundaries of where to stop counting stuff.  If you’re in Camp #2: you’ve come to the right place!

You’ve probably realized that buying a pre-made quadrat frame is pretty unlikely.  No one seems to sell these things.  We just make our own.  Most people seem to make them out of PVC pipes and fittings, which is totally a good way to do it for some ecosystems.  For me, it’s not going to work.  I need to carry mine long distances, have it fit compactly in the trunk of my car, and be able to be taken apart.  Sand would bind up the fittings and carrying a pre-assembled quadrat frame a mile down a beach is not convenient.  So, I commissioned an aluminum version from my dad.  Here are the details of how this works…

You'll need 4 aluminum bars, 4 wing nuts, 4 bolts, and a drill to make holes.

My frame is made of aluminum bars, available at most home improvement stores.  You could use wood or plastic too.  The trick is cutting them to the right length.  My frame is 1 meter square – on the inside.  You need to cut your bars the length you need on the inside, plus two times the width of the bar to account for the overlap on each end where the bars connect to each other.

Next, you need to drill holes to connect the pieces.  Position them so that the two connecting bars can form a right angle.

Connect all the pieces together with wing nuts and bolts.  The wings will make it easier to unscrew the bolts to put it all away.  My next post will show you what to hold it all in.

A corner connected with a wing nut and bolt. My stuff corrodes quickly in the salt air and scratches are inevitable with so much sand!

This quadrat frame is quite possibly the coolest quadrat frame on the planet (with perhaps the exception of the other one that my dad made me that matches this one).  If you assemble it correctly, it folds up for easy transport.  You can carry it in one hand and not trip over it.  You can even zip it into your backpack, with the top sticking out, if you need to hike a while.  A PVC pipe frame can’t do that!

Assemble it correctly, and it folds up for easy carrying!

About micheletobias

I lead two lives - one as an artist and the other as a scientist. More and more I'm finding my two worlds colliding, and it's not the disaster you might expect. View all posts by micheletobias

2 responses to “DIY Quadrat Frame

  • Moshe

    Awesome stuff dude, this is just what I needed to know.
    There’s a variety of other issues I have concerning this, but I guess I can’t be selfish.
    1 answer at a time.

    • micheletobias

      Moshe, what “issues” do you have? Do you have questions I can answer? I’m happy to give you any information I can if you need to build a quadrat frame or have questions about how or why you would use one.

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