About this project
We need your help in launching domekit.cc, a web-based collection of parametric software tools and self-adjusting connector systems for making geodesic structures of human-scale proportion.
domekit.cc will feature a generator tool that greatly simplifies the difficult-to-approach geodesic math equations needed to build a dome. The generator helps you visualize the structure you want to make and adapt the geometry to fit your needs. Once you have it just right, click a button and get a download of all the necessary parts and a map of how they go together. Here's a mockup of the interface:
Another difficult aspect of domebuilding is getting the angles exactly right. So, we designed flexible connectors that allow each node to self-adjust to the correct position. These open-source connectors are available in two different formats: a lower-cost version made from flexible tubing, and a more robust, 3d-printed plastic connector.
WHAT'S THE POINT?
We want to make it easier for everyone (both kids and adults) to visualize, play with, and create their own geodesic structures. Although a dome might not make the best shelter, building one is educational, social, and fun.
Domeraisings require folks to collaborate effectively. Because the structure is wobbly until the final piece is added, you'll need help putting it up. The more people helping, the faster it goes, and it's easy to get folks involved.
Domes are an engaging way to stimulate interest in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). The combination of a parametric generator tool and a DIY connector system lays the groundwork for an educational experience that teaches 21st Century Skills like systems thinking, collaboration, and intellectual curiosity. We look forward to collaborating with educators and developing lesson plans and programs utilizing the domekit toolset.
If the project is successfully funded, we'll be able to release the generator tool in a timely fashion and take this project to the next level. Please help us reach our funding goal so we can share these free, open-source tools with the world!
BECOME A BACKER, GET A DOME
As an incentive for backing our project, we're offering prefabricated dome kits in a variety of configurations. Our dome kits include either flexible tubing or 3d printed connectors and precision-cut birch dowels, so all you have to do is open up the box, grab a few friends, and start putting it together.
The smaller dome is big enough to enclose several children or a few seated adults. You can easily cover it with a blanket to make an enclosed space perfect for playing, reading, or meditating. A total of 26 flexible tubing connectors and 65 precision-cut, 3/8" diameter birch dowels.
The bigger dome is huge and will require a tall adult or a hoisted child to complete the topmost pentagon. It's 5/9 of a sphere, so the walls rise a bit vertically before collapsing inward and the base is not completely flat. You'll need a group of friends to help, it's nearly impossible to raise this one alone (the more help, the faster it goes). A total of 61 flexible tubing connectors and 165 precision-cut, 3/8" diameter birch dowels.
Because these domes are made from flexible tubing connectors and wooden dowels, they are not for climbing or designed to be shelters. But what you do with your dome is, of course, completely up to you.
In addition to complete kits, we're also offering a very limited run of our 3d-printed connector design. These feature a robust ball-and-socket joint and an integrated thumbscrew that securely locks the strut to the node. As an added bonus, the strut poles that come with our 3d-printed connector sets are varnished to be made weather-resistant.
These 3d-printed connectors are made in small batches in workshops and garages across the USA by fabricators with open-source 3d printers like the Makerbot. Our principal fabricator for the 3d-printed connectors is Mark Cohen, who operates five 3d printers out of his garage in Brooklyn:
Making products this way is a tiny step toward bringing manufacturing back to America and offers fabricators like Mark an economic incentive for owning and operating a 3d printer.
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We've had several of these types of domes outside (just the dome, uncovered) and they do alright, but the difficulty arrises when you start to add a skin — you got to make sure it's pulled tight, properly vented and staked down. The nodes can handle a moderate amount of weight individually; it's best to try and distribute weight amongst multiple nodes. This type of structure is different from the metal-conduit domes that you typically see — it's much more flexible than rigid, although when the structure is completed it becomes taught.
The larger dome could spatially accommodate a few adults, but we haven't been able to test it with a skin to see how it reacts to weather therefore we cannot recommend that it be used for shelter.
Adding a skin/cover to the dome would have increased the price significantly. The objective of this project isn't to make a shelter, it's to provide a framework for learning about and playing with geodesic shapes.
That being said, our next objective (after the kickstarter) is to design a low-cost cover for the domes, then release the plans as open-source. Until then, you'll have to roll your own!
Checkout this webpage for some ideas: http://www.weasel.com/dome_cover.html
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