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Half term fun – building a geodesic dome, Part III

Posted by Mark Harrison on October 25, 2007

Following the success of Dome I and Dome II earlier in the week, we decided to make a more complex dome.

Both Dome I and Dome II are what’s know as 2V domes. The notation was introduced by Buckminster Fuller, who developed a version of the dome in the States in the 40s. (The dome was originally invented by Walther Bauersfed for Carl Zeiss, and the first was built in 1922)

Dome III was going to be more complex – it is a 4V dome. Wheras the 2V domes each had 65 struts, the 4V required a total of 250.

drilling the dome

This time round, we learnt from the previous two construction jobs – the struts were made of rolled, reused paper, a whole bunch from a company that was renamed, plus a set of printouts from a failed mailmerge for Mog007. This time, though, we used the “short side” of A4 (21cm) for the longest struts. Again we used butterfly fasteners to put it together. However, this time, we used a bit more Scotch tape, so that most of the struts were completely covered, rather than just using it

“along the join.” This has given them a bit more rigidity, as has the fact that we’re using the shorter side, and therefore each roll has a “long-side’s worth of paper” in it. Drilling them took quite a while.


The net result, though, is a dome that is just big enough for me (if I curl up.) The children have, of course, loved it – they can both fit in easily, and have spent the last 15 minutes watching TV from inside it 🙂


4 Responses to “Half term fun – building a geodesic dome, Part III”

  1. Hi Mark.

    How strong is the dome? I image in the 4V is much stronger than the 2V. I hope your blog stays online long enough for me to be able to follow your instructions in a decades time when I have some kids of my own to do this with. Or I might just bite the bullet and do it with my young brothers (6,5).

    Hope half term is going well.

  2. Not strong enough to sit on, but plenty strong enough to support a heavy duvet to make a “tent”.

    Dome III is noticeably more rigid and strong than I or II, but because of its construction method, not its design. The combination of 21cm maximum length, lots of tape, and pinning rather than taping the joins is the winner.

    The downside, of course, is that even a 4V of that construction is only just big enough for me to curl up in.

    I understand why those building shelters tend to use 2V design, and relatively big construction girders 🙂

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