Brian Rollston with a working model of his lightweight, portable shade structure.
Brian Rollston with a working model of his lightweight, portable shade structure. ALLAN REINIKKA AR

Brian invents shade mechanism

BRIAN Rollston reckons he’s come up with a foolproof way to take the sting out of the unforgiving Central Queensland sun.

The former engineer and movie special effects expert has invented an ingenious folding shade canopy that he believes could provide cover at swimming pools, sports grounds and open-air events at a fraction of the cost of bulky, traditional shade sails.

In his impressive Rockhampton workshop, the 65-year-old has perfected an ingenious mechanism that allows the lightweight structure to fold virtually flat for storage.

And he says that all he needs now is a manufacturer to recognise its potential.

“There’s a real problem here in Queensland with shade,” says Brian, who devised and operated the famous giant kangaroo Matilda, the symbol of the Commonwealth Games in Brisbane in 1982.

He has a one-twentieth scale model of the design which shows how the individual sections of membrane collapse without coming into contact with each others.

He first came up with the idea for a collapsible non-tension membrane shade in 2006 when he was asked to devise some shade for a hotel in Balmain in Sydney.

The canopy he built became such a feature, the pub was renamed The Dome and Brian was asked to market his idea at a homes exhibition.

“I sold four, but I’m not a businessman. I need a manufacturer to pick up the idea and run with it,” he said.

Brian says he has seen three patent attorneys in Sydney and Brisbane who have told him the idea is not patentable, but he is convinced it could be a big hit.

“I’ve had it tested on computer at 100 knots and it’s been designed to be cyclone proof. The beauty is that it doesn’t need to be concreted into the ground, so it can be a temporary structure, easily moved and erected for specific events. The mechanism is complex but could be made cheaply and cyclone proof.”

He said he hadn’t done a detailed costing, but knew that the system would be a much more affordable way of protecting swimmers and sports players than conventional shade structures.

Brian worked on the special effects for films such as Mad Max Three and a host of television adverts.

If anyone would like to talk to Brian about his invention they should call his business associate, Martin Healey, on 4922 4080.

I’ve had it tested on computer at 100 knots and it’s been designed to be cyclone proof



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