Geodesic Dome Construction (Tips and Tricks)

Ideas, advice, tips, and tricks regarding shelter, shade, tents, and camping. Yes, this includes RV's too.

Tarp Tip

Postby robotland » Mon Jun 06, 2005 12:47 pm

I discovered a simple way to fit tarps to domes....I was covering the middle (10' dia.) dome of the Snowman with a rectangular mesh shade tarp- The top pentagon is open for the supports of the little top dome, so I just needed to cover the sides- By "pinching" a fold of tarp at each vertex as I worked my way around the five points and then marking the pinched area with spring clamps, I was able to determine where triangular hunks of material needed to be cut out. Two 6' by 20' tarps should be plenty to cover the "top half of the sides" of a "standard" 2V 9rad.. The bottom's just regular rectangular tarps.
The mesh material is heavy, so I'm riveting the seams and then sewing with fishline. Then it all gets covered with AOL CDs!
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Postby mootrealm » Mon Jun 06, 2005 8:07 pm

Can't beat these for fastening tarps.
http://shelter-systems.com/gripclips/

As you do research about domes you will find that some say Arbor Presses will bend on you. I suspect these people were unlucky in their brand choice. Our 2 ton Arbor press made by Jet is bomb proof.
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Postby mamagrrl » Mon Jun 06, 2005 8:51 pm

mootrealm wrote:As you do research about domes you will find that some say Arbor Presses will bend on you. I suspect these people were unlucky in their brand choice.


With some experience under my belt, I'd say the folks were unlucky in placing their dies under the press. We placed some dies so that the rod pressed in the middle of the die - and eventually bent the rod... then bent a second rod before we figured it out. Finally figured that dies should be pressed immediately over the center of the to-be-squished pipe. Voila, no sideways pressure on the rod and no bending!

...but then we're squishing some kick-ass thinwall tubing, not conduit.
I assume the rxn would be the same, just not as soon.
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Postby robotland » Tue Jun 07, 2005 5:35 am

mootrealm wrote:Can't beat these for fastening tarps.
http://shelter-systems.com/gripclips/

.


I'm a cheapskate....zipstrips and the occasional spring clamp. I started to roll up sections of 1/2" PVC (with glue) into my tarp edges, but suddenly remembered that I'm lazy, too.
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Re: Dome design software

Postby 7 » Wed Jun 08, 2005 12:25 pm

Image[/quote]


FOOKING brilliant. Just what the doctor ordered. My 5 year old 20' 5v 5/8 will love the new billboard vinyl cover I'm going to build using these specs. Away with my ailing parachute insta-heater material. Now I can make something kitelike with the extra. Thanks!
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Postby robotland » Thu Jun 09, 2005 8:35 am

A caution- I have yet to find a way that the basic geometry of a dome can be adjusted to make a reasonable doorway without making it dangerous to put a deck on top. I've never built a 5V, though.
My setup's three 2V's, stacked- I WAS able to open the middle dome up for access to the Playa Luge, though.
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Postby Martiansky » Tue Jun 28, 2005 8:41 am

WOOHOO! 35 pieces of conduit cut for a 2v dome, all done with a little pipe cutter!! Took almost 3 hours but hey, I took breaks! Only one blister so far, although it feels like another one ready to bubble up.

How many extra struts should I bring with, any suggestions?

Think I'll save the smashing until tomorrow.
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Postby robotland » Tue Jun 28, 2005 9:16 am

Yeah, save the smashing...those pipe cutters are hard on the wrists! The important spares to bring are HARDWARE...Once your paws get good and dusty, you'll be dropping nuts and bolts constantly. (I'm remembering a magnet this year, to use when deMOOPing the domesite.)
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Postby Martiansky » Tue Jun 28, 2005 11:44 am

Robo, do you only put 3 pieces of rebar around the edge to hold down your dome?
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Postby supersurly » Tue Jun 28, 2005 6:50 pm

Tip for punching holes: find a used sheet metal punch. I used a roper whitney #7 and punched out all the holes for a 4v hemisphere in an hour with one other person. You can find them used for around 30 bucks, but make sure you get the die you need, i used 3/8.

Also you can cut bundles of emt in a bandsaw.
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Postby robotland » Thu Jun 30, 2005 5:39 am

Martiansky wrote:Robo, do you only put 3 pieces of rebar around the edge to hold down your dome?

Yep- and I might have settled for TWO. I'd guess that the Snowman weighs 400 pounds if you add in the wooden ramp/luge track, deck sections and all the struts from three domes....Even if I covered the whole thing with one big tarp, it'd take a helluva wind to make it airborne. The only reason I anchor it at all is to prevent it from somehow toppling over onto one of my nice Hushville neighbors! A more conventional dome with a large surface area of covering stands a MUCH greater chance of being pushed in/over/away by a big wind.

Supersurly- For cutting bundles of EMT I tape the bundles of ten tightly with duct tape and Sawzall 'em. I've also done it with a hacksaw, but it's a workout and since a recent pinched nerve I think it's time to build a platform by the bandsaw as you suggest....
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Postby Martiansky » Thu Jun 30, 2005 6:31 am

How many rebar stakes do you recommend around the edge of about a 16' diameter dome and how do you candycane them?
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Postby robotland » Thu Jun 30, 2005 7:22 am

For a 2V dome, one stake every other vertex equals 5....PLENTY. Get that rebar down a foot or so, but don't go crazy unless you've got something to yank 'em out with. Smooth concrete-form-stakes will slide out after a few taps and wiggles, but the knurls on rebar help it REALLY stay put!

To candycane: Anchor the rebar in a vise/with your foot/in a hole, and slip a piece of pipe over the end to be bent....The longer the pipe, the better the lever and the easier it'll be. Don't put the pipe TOO far over the rebar! Now, bend it over. Easy! Bang it with a hammer on the side, to close the loop if you desire. A big, open loop is harder to pound.

You can buy precut short lengths of rebar for under a buck at Menard's and such, or save a couple of bucks and cut your own....I took a hacksaw to the store when I bought my rebar and cut it right on the spot!
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Postby Martiansky » Sat Jul 09, 2005 7:30 pm

When you go buy the nuts and bolts for your dome do you have to buy hardened stuff or can I buy the regular stuff off the shelf at Maynerds?

I have flattened all the ends of my struts and plan to drill the ends soon.

My arm is SORE!
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Postby robotland » Mon Jul 11, 2005 7:53 am

Standard-issue N's and B's are FINE...I use tractor-store-bought Grade 5 (kinda greenish) hardware for most things...It has an anti-corrosion coating and is slightly better quality without being costly....(buy 'em by the pound!)
Your philosophy may differ, but I prefer to buy longer-than-necessary bolts....I find them easier to work with at those last few stubborn connectors. They CAN present problems in low overhead locations, or where a tarp rubs on 'em- Just have to experiment. I use 3/8" diameter, 2" long Grade 5 bolts most places, or 3/8" eyelets. (Good for hammock-hanging!)
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Postby Martiansky » Mon Jul 11, 2005 9:07 am

How many does it take to put together a 2V? Then I can get enough plus extras.

NTS.....Greenish bolts, 2 inch long, 3/8"......SHOPPING!!!
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Postby Elemental666 » Mon Jul 11, 2005 9:08 am

just buy a box of bolts and a box of nuts and a heaping shit load of washers, shoud cover you, us, ah youknowhatImean

anyway a 2v has 26 connections... a 3/8 3V has 46 and a 5/8 3V has 61, so maybe a whole box might be overkill for a 2V, depending on how many come in a box, just remember 2 washers per connection ;)
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Postby Martiansky » Mon Jul 11, 2005 10:07 am

Thanks, Elemental! That's one bit of info I didn't have!
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Postby robotland » Mon Jul 11, 2005 12:50 pm

You can also add a magnet to your dome kit, to pick up stray hardware when deMOOPing.
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Postby robotland » Tue Jul 12, 2005 5:29 am

Yahoo! Last night I test-rode the luge in the Snowman...A whiteknuckle ride 20 feet down a 45 degree incline in a ropelit tunnel, on your back in a boat seat fastened to a wooden sled. And it's just wood-on-wood, no wheels. (Yet.) Second-fastest way to the ground!
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Anyone want to share lift expense for top down construction

Postby dinosaurwilly » Tue Jul 12, 2005 4:14 pm

Dome builders! We have been building a 32' dome each year for the last 5 years and have discovered that top down construction is the only way to go for a steel conduit dome of this size.

As a result, each year we rent a Genie Superlift (http://www.genielift.com/ml-series/ml-1-5.asp) to hoist our dome up during construction. This lift is awesome because when we are done building our dome we simply lower the lift, collapse it and take it our the door! It makes dome building super easy.

The main problem with this lift is that the rental for our 2 week stay on the playa is over $450!

If anyone is interested in using our lift and sharing in part of the cost of the rental, please let me know. We would like to save some of our camp money for decorations and farm animal costumes!

Shawn
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Postby robotland » Tue Jul 19, 2005 8:41 am

What's in YOUR domebuilder's tool kit? (Or the pockets of your UK...)

My essential list:

Crescent wrench
Socket wrench and appropriately sized DEEP WELL socket
Longnosed vise grips
Sack o' spare hardware
Several spring clamps
Threestep ladder
Lovely Beverage
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Postby Martiansky » Tue Jul 26, 2005 7:46 pm

OH, YEAH!!!

It's up....it worked! Sorry, but I'm just so danged excited!!
I didn't have any problem putting it up like I thought I would. I kept second guessing myself on strut lengths. But I must've gotten the pieces right because it's up. It took a friend and I about an hour and a half to put it all together and get it all tightened up. WOOT!! WOOT!

Now I need to firgure out a cover and floor.
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Postby Elemental666 » Tue Jul 26, 2005 9:25 pm

YAY, grats martian... mines about 1/3 up, got the first 2 layers before it got too dark... almost there!
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Postby Danger » Tue Jul 26, 2005 10:02 pm

I've been putting up a 20', 2v dome for the past 4 years on the Playa and I have my took kit and set-up/take-down procedure pretty well refined. The one thing I'd hate to be without would be my portable drill with a socket attachment! There's a lot of nuts to tighten by hand. I make sure both of the batteries I have for it are fully charged before I go. I use up one on the set-up and one on the take-down.

I'd also recommend a ladder, but I never actually bring one myself. I never have room for it in the truck so I skip it. So far each year someone has seen me standing on top of my stacked ice chests and offered me the use of their ladder.

Good Times!
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Postby Elemental666 » Tue Jul 26, 2005 10:12 pm

Hey Danger, could I request a list of what's in your tool kit? I'm outfiitng my dome kit right now and so far have
*Dome stuts & cover
* 3 extra struts of each length
* 2 sledge hammer for the rebar,
* my 18v drill w/ 2 batteries and the charger (we have a generator for the bar XD),
* 10' ladder, 100' ft of rope (to help get the cover on)
*full box each of bolts/nuts/washers
*6 rolls of duct tape (sorry my first counter cuture was skating, duck tape cures all)

thinking of adding a medium sized magnet...

It'd be nice to hear what others pack in their kits!
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Postby Martiansky » Wed Jul 27, 2005 9:30 am

Elemental, have you decided what you are using to cover your dome yet?
I'm going to start with a couple of small tarps to see what it looks like and then go from there.
I saw canvas painters cloth(thinking about this for the floor) but it is very pourous. We have some green turf stuff that we are gonna toss out, is this stuff really bad?
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Postby Elemental666 » Wed Jul 27, 2005 7:57 pm

8oz duck canvas painter cloth, hemmed to fit, getting painted randomly before and possibly on the playa. The cloth, with pain on it, should shed water no problem.


over
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Postby Danger » Wed Jul 27, 2005 9:31 pm

Hey Elemental,

If I were to add only one thing it'd be ZIP TIES!!!! I use rectangular, grommeted metalic tarps as my cover and never cut them to size so there is a lot of wrapping of corners. Zip ties are great to attach grommets to the dome. They're good for everything else too! I wouldn't say they're as valuable as duct tape, but they're definitely up there.

Also make sure you have deep sockets for your bolts and that you have a wrench to apply counter torque on the opposite end when you're using the drill.

And finally, a pair of vice grips to help pull out your rebar.

Good luck!
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Postby ~CHMOD » Wed Jul 27, 2005 11:03 pm

Yes zip ties, lots of 'em. The last 4 years I been dragging out domes, all EMT conduit. I've tried tarps and parachutes. This year I'm trying "parachute panels"
http://www.blackrockcitylabs.com/dome/

Zip ties are so much eaiser with these panels then pouding grommets into a parachute.

Also don't forget to bring a big pair of vice grips. It makes it easiier to make "stuborn" strut's holes to match up, when you're trying to put a bolt into it.
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