How to cover your Burning Man Dome

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sassypants
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How to cover your Burning Man Dome

Post by sassypants » Thu May 29, 2008 12:50 pm

Ok, so it's my third year out on the playa and my boyfriends second year. We are building a massive dome(32') to house our bar (tropical crocodile). Now there are PLENTY OF AWESOME directions for how to construct the dome.

BUT, no awesome directions on how to cover it. :shock:

I'm not interested in a parachute. I'm not interested in emergency blankets. And I'm not really interested in poly tarps either. All would work, but we want make something that will last, not be freakin loud, and still somewhat economical (like less than 500$) I see plenty of cool domes out there covered pretty well..... I've got some ideas about using lightweight canvas, but I don't really want to have to sew 9'x12' peices of canvas.... someone got some good ideas and advice for me?
are we there yet?

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Ugly Dougly
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Post by Ugly Dougly » Thu May 29, 2008 4:39 pm

You can get a bunch of this Burlap Erosion Cloth:
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skeetsh00ter
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Post by skeetsh00ter » Thu May 29, 2008 5:54 pm

try finding some used billboard vinyl. it's like a really thick and giant tarp. I emailed a handful of the local outdoor advertising companies in my area and got positive responses from several of them. One of them gave me (as in free) two tarps that i think measure 14' x 48'. Even if they don't give them to you they will sometimes offer to sell them for around $30 which is still a steal!
www.novicebrewers.com

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phil
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Post by phil » Thu May 29, 2008 9:32 pm


Dato
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Post by Dato » Fri May 30, 2008 10:50 am

Sassypants, you are not alone. I've been looking for a good way to cover my dome for 3 years now. Building the dome is the easy part. The cover is where things get interesting.

I don't know if you've tried to cover it at all yet, but you have probably figured out that covering a sphere with a bunch of rectangles is, well, a massive pain in the ass, and the results are not very pleasing.

You're right about parachutes and plastic tarps. Parachutes are too hot, tarps are a bitch to tie one, and both chutes and tarps make too much damn noise and neither looks NICE. But what else is there?!?!?!?!?!?

Well, there are some other options. Lots of people praise billboard vinyl, but I think the issue will be the same as plastic tarps. Rigid, hard to fit to the dome, and probably loud.

A solid canvas cover is the best sounding option, but it's neither cheap nor easy. This thread:
http://eplaya.burningman.org/viewtopic. ... sc&start=0
has lots of great info, including some links to falks dome cover with the instructions on how he did it. Truth be told, falks dome cover is by far my favorite, and if I were willing to put in that much time, effort and money, that would definitely be the way to go.

More truth be told, I'm lazy. And, considering my 24' 5/8s dome has a surface area of 1200sqft, that is A LOT of canvas, and rather pricey. Also, a 1 piece cover like falk made requires quite a bit of sewing, is heavy, and like he points out when a piece rots of gets torn, is quite hard to fix.

So, here's what we decided to do. This may or may not work for you, but maybe it will give you some ideas.

To date, we have been covering the dome with these nice white tarps that started life as military tent tarps. They are white on one side, black on the other, made of high quality soft yet sturdy plastic. The are really long ractangles. We had two wrapped around the bottom, and 3 over the top. You can see what I mean from these pictures:

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Well, the big issue is that while the bottoms are easy, the curvature of the top makes the top 3 tarps a massive pain in the ass to tie, and it takes us an ENTIRE day to put the cover on the dome. That's unecceptable, so this year, we finally decided to make a new cover out of canvas.

To make the cover, we are treating the dome like a soccer ball. If you look at a geodome, it is nothing but a bunch of hexagons and pentagons, like this:

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So, the first idea was to cut out each individual hex and pent, and sew them all together into a nice, 1-piece cover. I then remembered what falk said about having to replace bit of the cover, and it being difficult, since it was all sewn together.

The next idea was to cut out the hexes and pents, fold and stich the edges, and grommet each one so they would all be individual pieces that zip-tied on to the dome. The only issue we had with that was the cost. 1200 sqft (quite a bit more, really, as you have lots of scraps) is a lot of fucking loot, to put it gently.

So, we decided on a half and half design. We will still use the white tarps we always have for the bottom layer. On a 5/8 dome, the bottom layer is not that "curved", so it's easy to tie rectangles to. Bilboard vinyl seems like it would be perfect for this. For the top, we will individualy cover each hexagon and pentago with it's own fitted piece of canvas.

We are trying to find a grommet machine to make our life easier, as we have to set well over 100 grommets, but we should have the cover finished and test-fitted on the dome sometime in the next month. Once that happens I'll post up some pics.

Whew, that was a lot of yappin. Is anyone still with me? Anyone? Hello?

:lol: Hope that made at least some sense and was *somewhat* helpful.


Oh, and happy Domin'!

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Token
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Post by Token » Fri May 30, 2008 2:49 pm

That was a real nice writeup Dato.

If you are in LA I have a grommet press you can borrow.

I really like the camo netting look. A few years back I found an uncut NATO issue white camo ~ 40 x 40 foot (it is hex shaped with 25' sides) for ~ $100. I expect they are a bit more pricey these days.

I would put camo on the outside and also hang camo on the inside to get a good shade. Or few tensioned shade cloth triangles ...

Another thing to think about: BM is late august; the sun is no longer directly overhead so you can leave a good portion of the dome tip uncovered. In fact, you can cover a bit more than half the dome and never get sun inside the dome. Looks good that way too.

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sassypants
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Post by sassypants » Fri May 30, 2008 2:49 pm

dato,
thanks for the help! yeah we are talking about canvas drop cloths and sewing (maybe grometting?) together into larger peices, approx. 5 like the oasis dome (falk, btw that dome rocks!!! I cannot wait to find you ont he playa this year!) I was thinking large triangle peices, but I think I like your soccer ball idea better. and if you ar elooking for a resonable deal on drop cloths check out harbor freights' website, their 9'x12' size is a pretty goood deal, and according to my calculations, it shouldn't cost more than $350 for enough canvas to cover our dome. and I will have to check again, but I'm pretty sure that they are pre-treated, to save you the work of washing your peices. we plan to (if not this year, then next) paint our dome, which will also help weatherize it. Because I AM NOT doing this cool of a project and only dragging it once a year! Not with Oregon Country Fair right in my back yard!
are we there yet?

Dato
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Post by Dato » Fri May 30, 2008 4:01 pm

Token, no, we're in the SF Bay Area, otherwise I would DEFINITELY take you up on the offer to borrow the grommet press! bummer!

The camo netting is great indeed. We never used it to cover the dome at the burn, because we've always used it as a living area, and as you can see in one of the pics, we've always had lots of music equipment in there that we'd rather keep as dust-free as possible.

Sassypants, can you post a link to the canvas you are talking about?

As for waterproofing, we were also planning on painting the canvas. the other cool part about the individual panels is that they can be easily painted into sweet looking coolness.

Oh, and as for dragging it out more than once a year, I've found that, frankly, most of the time it's just not worth it. I got to lots of festivals every year, but typically, they only last 3 days or so. That would mean I'd spend a day setting up the dome and making it comfy, one day hanging out, and the last day packing up the dome. Fuck that. :) I just bring a couple of carports instead! hehe. I LOVE the dome, but unless it's a week-long affair, it's just too much of a hassle!

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falk
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Post by falk » Tue Jun 03, 2008 12:50 am

sassypants wrote:dato,
thanks for the help! yeah we are talking about canvas drop cloths and sewing (maybe grometting?) together into larger peices, approx. 5 like the oasis dome (falk, btw that dome rocks!!! I cannot wait to find you ont he playa this year!)
Thanks, but I'm not doing the Oasis Dome this year; I'm loaning it to Emma's naughty girlscouts camp (how can you resist a good cause like that?)

See http://geodome.sourceforge.net/example.html#better_way for some notes on making panels from canvas tarps.

PRE-SHRINK YOUR CANVAS. This is very important. Also, make your sections with some slack. You can always take in a cover that's too loose. There's nothing to be done with a cover that's too tight.

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gyre
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Post by gyre » Tue Jun 03, 2008 7:45 am

Springbar says the right canvas won't leak.
I think it is tightly woven.

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