Dome Prototype

Around 20 years ago (1994 or so), I built a dome out of shaped Popsicle sticks. It was essentially six pentagonal frames wired together. The dome sat on shelves in places that we have lived since then as an inspiration to myself to do something more with the idea.

It wasn't until 2012 that I started researching geodesic domes. I found a ton of information and interest groups that got me interested in building something more elaborate. To practice, I bought a scroll saw and some redwood trellis strips and did ALOT of trimming to produce the next generation model. The model consists of pentagonal and hexagonal panels attached together. It sounds simple in theory but getting all of the angles and strut lengths right is trickier than it sounds.

Building on the idea of constructing panels, I build some jigs to build the penta and hexa frames on a larger scale. The intent was to build a paneled dome about 18 feet in diameter.

The jigs allow me to build individual triangles.

When I have built enough (five for pentas; six for hexas), I put them together to form full panels.

I wanted to install "critter panes" to the panels nearest the ground. Because this is a half-dome, I had to build some full hexas and half pentas with half critter-pane.

Finally the day comes to begin construction. This involved fitting the panels together as best as they would fit, drilling holes where edges meet, and attaching bolts to secure the panels together. This is the first level that uses all of the panels with critter panes (some aren't painted yet).

The next level is trickier but ends up working well as long as I keep the bolts loose.

The final level is easier to install now that I have figured out that all the previously installed bolts need to be installed loosely. I needed ladders to install the higher frames because I'm not 18 feet tall. After all the drilling was finished and bolts installed, it only took about 30 minutes to disassemble.

January 2020 update: The panel struts ended up being very fragile and started falling apart after exposure to sun and rain. The entire project ended up getting hauled off as junk but not before I used what I learned to more to Phase 2.