Geodesic Dome Construction (Tips and Tricks)

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

Re: Geodesic Dome Construction (Tips and Tricks)

Postby roastduck » Thu Oct 13, 2011 11:39 am

I'll have hooks and bolts all over for those, but just a plain dome with hammocks seems a bit..."tame" to me lol


of course, i could just lower the loft to a couple of feet off the ground and use it as a sort of coffee table, or just general storage...
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Re: Geodesic Dome Construction (Tips and Tricks)

Postby some seeing eye » Fri Oct 14, 2011 12:09 am

Roastduck, what about bringing some scaffolding to erect your dome? That could form the inside sleeping platform, or the observation deck outside, has built in ladders, and you would be a hit with fellow dome builders helping out. Scaffolding with wheels comes up all the time used. It's easy to store, has plenty of uses at home and is easily resold.

I have seen even heaver pipe domes (2"x.11 wall pipe, heavier than EMT) pull a vertex in when an aerial dancer was hung from that point, so that's like 120# on a vertex. The whole pentagon or hexagon went from convex to concave. It would be a big pain to pop it back out without scaffolding. There are performance domes that can hang stuff, but they are engineered.
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Re: Geodesic Dome Construction (Tips and Tricks)

Postby Bob » Fri Oct 14, 2011 7:59 am

Scaffold will blow over. Guy it to the ground.
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Re: Geodesic Dome Construction (Tips and Tricks)

Postby Popobumm » Wed Nov 09, 2011 5:47 am

roastduck wrote:Good morning, campers!

So, I'm a first-timer, planning my [ideally] 2012 trip (worst case, 2013), and i'm wanting to build a 24' diameter 5/8 3v dome out of 3/4" galvanized steel conduit. Since the height of it will be about 15 feet, i plan on having a sort of loft in the middle. Perhaps on a free-standing platform, but the idea of suspending it intrigues me. I also think it would be neat-o to put a deck on top from which to gaze upon my surroundings. am i setting my sights too high? Will the dome be able to support both of these structures?

After reading this thread and doing some research, i would suspend the loft from the vertices of the top pentagon, with guy wires going out to the sides to keep it from twisting about. (should i end up sleeping up there for some reason, i'd want it to be as stable as possible, since i sometimes do calisthenics in my sleep). The deck would be on supports coming of from the circle of vertices directly below the top pentagon. Is all this possible, or am i doomed to an embarrassing end??

Also, do you generally use your dome as you personal camp, or as a sort of common room for a large group of people?


I actually was thinking of making pretty much the same thing without the platform deck on top. Next year will be my 3rd, and I've progressively built larger and more complex shelter starting with some hexayurts and this year I want to go DOME :)

From all the reading I've done so far on this thread, it seems the vertexes on a 5/8 3v 24' diameter shouldn't have a problem holding a suspended platform. I was gonna have it made maybe out of wood or netting and use eyebolts instead of regular bolts on some of the vertices to tie it too. There was mention of something similar on this site if you scroll all the way to the bottom. I plan to leave the top portion of my dome uncovered so the suspended platform can be used as an observation deck during the day and a stargazing bed / chill space at night. If I can figure it out, I would also like to have a pole from the ground all the way to the top of the dome to act as a sort of fireman's pole to slide down with :) Or maybe a climbing rope with knots...

Anyway, looks like I'll have a partner in crime for dome planning!
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Re: Geodesic Dome Construction (Tips and Tricks)

Postby melodiousdirge » Tue Nov 22, 2011 12:54 pm

I built a 24' 4/9 3V for 2011... hopefully my experience can be helful to you.

I took it as a solo camp for myself. Inside I set up a tent, and had a little shower spot, a table and a couple of lounging chairs, along with all my crap.

I originally planned on going 5/9, however I'm glad I decided against this. The dome was plenty large enough as it was, even with a tent inside. I could also stand on my table and still reach the topmost vertex to assemble. I assembled it completely by myself, in about 2 hours - this would be somewhat more difficult with another 3-4 feet of height and another row of struts.

I used 3/4 galv conduit, and I LIKE the fact that it's relatively light, cheap and easy to work with, however I was somewhat paranoid that peeps would climb on it and bend my struts - if you are not careful to hang on right at the vertices, you will bend the struts. Several of mine are slightly bent now after I climbed all over it setting up the covering. 1" is about twice as expensive, but also at least twice as strong - worth considering.

I built a platform for the top of my dome, but I left it at home this year for a couple of reasons. Mainly; I didn't want to risk people climbing up there and either damaging the dome or hurting themselves. Having gone and camped where I did (7:30 and J), I don't think this would have been a big issue, but I also don't think I would have spent much time up there - much better things to do than sit atop an ivory tower both during the day and during the night. Suspending a loft from the 5 points of the topmost pentagon is a cool idea, and it would undoubtedly work; I'm not sure if I'd bother myself though unless I knew I'd have some cool peeps over hanging out in the dome for extended periods.

Things I'd like to advise you to think of before you buy 800 feet of conduit and start smashing:
1) Figure out your doorway - having to climb through even a slightly awkward doorway sucks - making a good one is easy enough.
2) FIGURE OUT YOUR CANOPY. Everyone I talked to who built a dome last year approached this differently. Parachutes work, but only just, and they have a bunch of drawbacks. Making a form fitted cover works better, but keep in mind that making the cover is easily as expensive (or more) and easily as time consuming (or moreso) than making the struts. I seamed together billboard tarps into a slightly smaller dome than the frame, and suspended the canopy from the inside. My canopy weighs about 150lbs and takes up 3x as much space as the struts. It also took me about 3x as much labor as making the struts.

Hope that helps! I'll try to post pics later - can't access photobucket at work.
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Re: Geodesic Dome Construction (Tips and Tricks)

Postby Martiansky » Fri Nov 25, 2011 6:34 pm

Somebody had asked a few pages back(probably a couple years back) about where to find billboard vinyl.
I found this site http://www.billboardtarps.com and they sell billboard vinyl.
A year ago when I went to the local billboard company and inquired about getting a billboard(same place I got the one I used for my dome)they told me that to keep costs down they were going with a woven material similar to a regular blue tarp.
I was rather bummed. But they had one small real vinyl one left that they gave me.
I think for multiple trips to the desert that Id opt for a real vinyl billboard cover instead of the woven tarp billboards. I think theyd hold up better in the long run.

I just looked through these pages and saw the 5/8 dome made by RegionalChaos.
Very nice, I wish I'd thought of that when I made mine.
I might just add a few more struts to the pile.
Only thing is I'll have to figure out how to add on to the bottom of my dome cover. :roll:
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Re: Geodesic Dome Construction (Tips and Tricks)

Postby melodiousdirge » Fri Nov 25, 2011 9:30 pm

I guess I never got back to photos, hey?

Image

Image

Image
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Re: Geodesic Dome Construction (Tips and Tricks)

Postby Popobumm » Wed Nov 30, 2011 5:16 pm

Wow Melodious,

That dome is very impressive... The fact that you constructed it by yourself makes it downright ridiculous! You sir have some talent.

Does adding a door decrease the structure's strength a significant amount? I'd want it to be as sturdy as possible if my camp plans to have a 2nd floor loft
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Re: Geodesic Dome Construction (Tips and Tricks)

Postby theCryptofishist » Wed Nov 30, 2011 9:43 pm

Adding a door makes it possible for me to visit. I realize that's not an inducement, unless it is.
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Re: Geodesic Dome Construction (Tips and Tricks)

Postby illy dilly » Fri Dec 16, 2011 1:37 pm

For 2011, we made a 24' diameter 5/8 3V dome. We used 3/4" tube steel. We skipped using EMT because we could get tube steel cheaper. (When I say 'we' I mean my camp, and honestly a few other folks in our camp made the dome, and I helped a bit).
The 3/4" was not very strong between the vertices and would bend a bit. But at the vertices it was very strong. If you were to jump on a strut right in the middle it would probably bend. But if you gently climbed on it, or even less than gently, they were fine.

We rolled out old scrap 'burber' carpet then built the dome on top of that, which really kept the dust down.

We ended up making our cover out of Tyvek. Its a sorta paper/plastic house sheathing. We didn't get the cover going soon enough and was literally painting it the night before we left for the BRC. We made our dome cover from rectangular stips cut into triangles. In the warehouse, they fit together pretty well, in the wind and heat on playa, not so much. But we also had one strip going around the bottom since the triangled didn't come all the way to the ground. (I'll try and dig up a picture)
Well, our triangles didn't meet with our bottom strip. About 36"-48" off the ground there was a 1' void of cover... this turned out to be freaking amazing!!!!!!!!!!!!!
When sitting on the chairs we brought (old seats out of an astro van) you were right at eye level with the opening and could see out the dome. People looking in could only see from your shoulders and your head, if they even noticed they could see in this 1 foot gap. It also made the dome seem larger since you could see out, and it let in a perfect breeze.
Though this one foot gap wouldn't keep out any dust in a dust storm.
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Re: Geodesic Dome Construction (Tips and Tricks)

Postby Ugly Dougly » Fri Dec 16, 2011 2:16 pm

melodiousdirge wrote:I guess I never got back to photos, hey?

Image


One of these structures is not like the others...

Looks great!
Please to visit PAGE TWO.
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Re: Geodesic Dome Construction (Tips and Tricks)

Postby Mule » Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:13 am

Joe

Desert Domes is a great site to check out, another good resource is the Domebuilders handbook, I got a used copy for under 20 bucks . It'll help with the covering.I built a 2V dome last year using 1" conduit that was roughly 18' in diameter. What I learned was ;

- building a jig for drilling the holes at the proper distance and for flattening the ends makes life soooooo much easier. Time spent on building your assembly jig is well spent. Much of the construction is repetitive.

- you can use a cheap cut-off saw, as I did, with a grinding blade to cut of ends, However, you need to be mindful of the size of the kerf when you make the cut. At the end I was using a pipe cutter from lowes that you just turn by hand, the cuts were clean and accurate. It wasn't as bad as it sounds physically, and the cutter seemed to hold up well.

- on flattening the ends, I bought a 20 ton shop press from harbor frieght. Worked like a charm "EXCEPT" the plates are poorly made, I had one shatter and it scared the hell out of me. If I did it again I would still buy the press, and would aquire to long flat pieces of steel as press plates. This would allow me to press multiple pipes in one pass. ( Assuming you built a jig for multiple pipes) Think 2x4 with V notches cut out or similar.

- Drilling , A drill press is pretty damn nice, if you can accesss one. I think you could probably get a cheap one at any pawn shop. Thats alot of holes to drill by hand. Im sure it is possible but how good is your drill? Make sure you have sharp bits. Is the cost of good bits or a new drill that much less than renting or buying the right tool?

- The cover- I used canvas 10 0z duck from seattle fabrics. Looks great but was spendy. I think a quality truck tarp woulda worked fine, but I wanted a different look. I intended to waterproof it but ran out of time before the burn . I was going to simply wax the canvas. No idea if that'll work.

Good Luck!!!!!!!!!!!
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Re: Geodesic Dome Construction (Tips and Tricks)

Postby monsta2ownzu » Sun Jan 15, 2012 1:35 am

So my camp mates and I have been talking about building a 1V Dome out of 1" EMT and just leaving the EMT at the stock length of ten feet. We are planning on building it soon and testing it at LIB. I just wanted to ask two questions. Has anyone ever done this and if so, how careful did you have to be about people leaning on the vertical struts? If the leaning on and bending of struts is something problematic, would it be possible to build the vertical struts of of 1.5' while leaving the pentagon on the ground and the roof made from 1"?

I read through the whole thread and couldn't find much except one ref of someone doing this.

Also, I'm planning on building a second 1V dome of the same dimensions myself to use as a frame for a big piece of art in the playa. Seeing as I will not be around it to stop people from being retards in/on/around it, I planned on using 1.5" or 2" just to make sure people can't bent it. Has anyone worked with 2"? How killer is it to press, drill and bend?
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Re: Geodesic Dome Construction (Tips and Tricks)

Postby melodiousdirge » Mon Jan 16, 2012 9:55 am

1" EMT is pretty strong. The doorfram in my dome is 1" EMT and while it wasn't very difficult to bend it with the right leverage, I definitely had to make an effort. I wouldn't worry about anyone leaning on it. Someone falling off a bike into it or something might bend it, but even then probably not by much.
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Re: Geodesic Dome Construction (Tips and Tricks)

Postby BAK3R » Wed Feb 15, 2012 9:58 pm

Ok its 2012 my 9th burn and have finally decided to build a dome. Great info here between all the users and links and I thank you all who have contributed over the years. I've decided on a 2v 16'8" diameter geodesic. According to the dome calc. It gives me 63.5" and 56.5" struts which leaves absolutely no waste.....beautiful! So to begin I'm buying from blowes, 35 10' sticks of 3/4 EMT. @ 3.90 = 136.50 - 10 percent coupon you get with a change of address form from the post office....(the gubment is good for a few things)= 122.85
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Re: Geodesic Dome Construction (Tips and Tricks)

Postby some seeing eye » Wed Feb 15, 2012 10:04 pm

The strut lengths are usually given in bolt hole center to bolt hole center lengths, so are at least 1.5" longer on both ends...
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Re: Geodesic Dome Construction (Tips and Tricks)

Postby BAK3R » Mon Apr 16, 2012 11:13 am

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