|16' Steel Geodesic Dome|
Buckminster Fuller invented the geodesic dome in 1954, the lightest, strongest, and most cost-effective structure devised to this day. The geodesic dome is able to cover more space without internal supports than any other enclosure, and It becomes proportionally lighter and stronger the larger it is.
The Geodesic dome has become a favorite structure of the burning man community. Built out of steel conduit and covered with art these structures dot the landscape of many events. After reading through a history of Mr. Fuller I truly believe that he would be happy to see his invention used in such a creative way.
This Page is dedicated solely to teaching the basics of building a simple 2 Frequency 16 foot geodesic dome, which is a popular size due to its economical materials usage, and its more than adequate structural strength for any form of event camping.
Geodesic domes gain there strength by being as close to a sphere as straight lines can be, They do this through math equations. and since I'm no mathematician Ill leave the heavy calculations up to a java script i wrote years ago. if you wish to pursue a different size dome simply use my dome calculator to do the math for you. The following instructions remain true no matter what size dome you are going to build though I use a 16 footer as my example.
Measure twice, again domes gain there strength through there accuracy to a sphere. the more accurate your measurements the stronger and more balanced your dome will be. my suggestion is to be accurate within 1/16 of an inch if you can. although iv seen domes being built with far less accuracy that worked out just fine for basic use.
Lets get started
Step 1. Cut 35 ten-foot poles into two sections, one 63.5 inches and the other length being 56.5 inches. I highly recommend using a pipe cutter, as there will be no loss in length and no real mess to clean up. Once cut, you should have 35 short poles and 35 long poles. Place five of the short poles aside - you will not need them.
Be careful, some pole manufacturers give you a little over 10 feet some give you a little under 10 feet, make sure you have the lengths that you need before cutting. do not assume the other length is the right length measure from both ends before cutting
also note that using a pipe cutter can make the pipe ends extremely sharp make sure to use file to sand down the sharp inner edge.
Step 2. Measure 2.5 inches on both ends of all the poles. Use a vise, Sledgehammer, or hydraulic press to flatten one side of all the poles up to the 2.5 inch mark. Proceed to flatten the other end of each pole, Be careful to make sure that the second end you are flattening is on a parallel plane with the first end of the pole you already flattened.
Step 3. Once all poles are cut and ends flattened, measure and mark 3/4 inch from the flattened ends of the pole. Make sure all marks are centered on the flattened are. A simple template can be made with cardboard to make sure all drill points are the same distance from the end of the pole and centered. Use a center punch to dink a precise divot into the flattened pole ends at your new marks. Be careful to sit your 13/32 inch drill bit into the divot when drilling. Proceed to drill a hole at each end of every pole.
Step 4. Using a protractor and a vise, bend the flattened ends to ~18 degrees with both ends bent to the same side.
Step 5. Have a friend or two help you assemble your new dome using the diagram above. The purple lines designate long poles, and the green lines represent the short poles. You may wish to mark your poles with paint of tape to make them easily distinguishable. These days I prefer to build from the ground up, I build the first ground tier of the dome, then I build the top pentagram and I have one person hold the top up while I go around and attach it to the base. after building the dome dozens of times it seems to be the easiest way.
With a little luck and a lot of elbow grease you should now have a dome, congratz and and have fun decorating it,... send me pictures.