Re: A newbe question.



Shane Amerman writes:
>How hard are the domes themselves to build?
>I mean on the cheap side too, I'm not interested into getting a kit from
>somewhere, just curious about the difficulty of building one
>for myself.
>
Yes, that is *the* question. But it's a bit like asking "how hard are
houses to build?" any meaningful answer has to start out with the
question: What kind of a dome do you want to build?

I built my Almostphere, a 32-foot spherical structure, using EMT pipe, the
cheapest building material I could find, at $1.37 for a 10-foot length,
for about $250, including bolts, nuts and washers. Didn't include the
tools I used... but they weren't expensive, either... less than $100 all
told. (A hand drill, a portable bench vise, a pipe cutter and some
wrenches; I don't count the pickup truck we had to stand on to tighten the
upper bolts.) I think this is the cheapest, simplest dome structure you
can build (unless Corrulite is cheaper?) Of course, this was just an open
frame... you'd still have to cover it with something. The cheapest way to
cover it, fairly permanently, that I've been able to come up with is
sheets of plywood or roofing material, held onto the frame with
conduit-hangers. Roofing material, like corrugated sheet metal or
fiberglass, costs between $4 and $9 per sheet. Sheets are 26" wide, and
made to overlap so that they work out to 24" wide.

I've seen pictures of a dome that Bucky built out of corrugated metal, by
just overlapping the sheets to form the pentagons and hexagons and bolting
them together. This was probably *really* cheap.

The Almostphere was very easy to build, too. There were only two different
lengths of pipes, in the ratio of 7:8. The longer pipes were 10 feet. The
shorter ones worked out to about 8 feet + 8 inches. I flattened the ends,
about an inch, and drilled 3/8" holes in them. Then we bolted the ends
together using 1/4" bolts. We had lots of hands to help, so it wasn't hard
to lift sections up and bolt them together as we went.

You can see the whole process
at:http://www.seagull.net/rowley/sphereintro.html

I think you could save chunks and sheets of styrofoam packing material and
hot-glue them together, or pin them together, to make a stable structure
as big as a house... but, well, it would be made of styrofoam :-)
(Actually, I think it would look pretty cool... and it would do a pretty
good job of keeping the weather out... until the first snowload....)

Maybe a geodesic tent would be a cheaper structure, but I doubt it. I've
figured out that you only need two very long fiberglass tent poles to make
a stable tension structure, but I think the poles and the fabric would
cost more than the EMT did. 

Gee... this was going to be a short note... sorry.

jmr




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