How to Make the Most of Your Dome?

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ernestpworrell
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How to Make the Most of Your Dome?

Post by ernestpworrell » Mon Dec 19, 2016 9:17 pm

After building a first dome, I'm starry-eyed. In the beginning stages of designing a second dome (about 30 foot diameter) and am deliberating which ought to be the stronger of the two.

4 frequency dome + 1 1/2 inch EMT conduit + 5 foot struts average (2 per 10ft pole)
or
8 frequency dome + 3/4 inch EMT conduit + 2.5 foot strut average (4 per 10ft pole)

Or a better question, which of these makes the biggest difference in getting the best out of the dome?

frequency type
strut material
strut wall thickness
strut diameter
strut length

From what I've gathered, it looks as if having the following is ideal when it comes to raising dome strength:

Higher frequency
1/2 sphere via an even frequency dome i.e. 2v, 4v, 6v, 8v (truly flat at the base)
Low strut length variance (the difference between the smallest and the largest strut)
One strut type in the base ring

Contributions appreciated,

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Re: How to Make the Most of Your Dome?

Post by some seeing eye » Tue Dec 20, 2016 3:01 pm

Consider 5/8 or 7/12 etc. designs to give more standing area at the edges.
Strength requirements are driven by things you have hanging from your structure: a second interior level, hammocks etc. Some cover materials can also add significant weight (24' vinyl cover #500.)
If you are going to climb on your dome, to say put on the cover, the tubing needs to be able to support a human weight in the center of the strut.
If you have many climbers, like thunderdome, you need to calculate that.
Plan your cover - the structure and cover plans can interact. Assembly/disassembly interacts. Scaffold? Of course a crane solves all for top down builds.

There are many dome threads with good info on ePlaya.
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Re: How to Make the Most of Your Dome?

Post by ernestpworrell » Tue Dec 20, 2016 7:31 pm

some seeing eye wrote:There are many dome threads with good info on ePlaya.
A wonderful resource, the dome threads upon the eplaya have been thoroughly scoured, many of my questions have found good answers, and have allowed me to confidently build a first dome.
But, not all questions found answers, which has brought me to posing the most recent one,
some seeing eye wrote:Consider 5/8 or 7/12 etc. designs to give more standing area at the edges.
The first dome was a 3v 5/8 and the standing area was definitely there, though I felt like I sacrificed a lot of potential strength by going that route. To get a flat base, the Kruschke model was used, but this increased the strut variance (decreases strength), something I want avoid during the next build.
Along with the improvement of that standing area, anything larger than 1/2 sphere also puts a great deal more surface area on the dome making it ever vulnerable to the winds. On a 5/8, that extra row is a near vertical wall adding very little curvature to push the winds and will instead be taking the brunt of wind forces. Far worse on a 7/12, it seems to have the same complications of a 5/8 with the addition of some wind forces being directed to the base of the dome and possibly beneath it.
From what I understand, geodesic domes perform much better with vertical forces in tandem with the base ring support as opposed to lateral forces like the wind or hammocks being hung from the sides. Allowing for more lateral forces to interact with the dome is another thing I wish to avoid since it will effect the the strength.

For a second, bigger design, I'm being more careful with my money since it will be more costly. Looking to invest in a design that ought to withstand harsher conditions than other dome profiles (5/8, 7/12) or frequencies (3v, 5v, 6v). So I'm leaning towards maximizing strength this time around instead of comfort, other factors like assembly and disassembly will likewise be given lower priority.
Dome strength is first and foremost.
With the few 1/2 sphere domes I've stood in, I've never had any issue with a lack of standing area given the largeness of those domes. Though on smaller domes I would agree that it's likely going to be a problem.
I'm most curious about things pertaining to strength like whether or not a 1 foot 1" EMT strut would outperform something like a 5 foot 2" EMT strut.

An answer to this would hopefully resolve my question about what kind of frequency/strut dimensions are really best in terms of strength.

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Re: How to Make the Most of Your Dome?

Post by some seeing eye » Tue Dec 20, 2016 9:34 pm

Excellent!
We have many questioners who haven't searched the archive like you. Congrats!

Domes are perfect for finite element analysis and this question. That is the only way to answer the question and the connector stresses.
Washoe Co publishes their wind loading specs for buildings.

Go for it and report back on your findings.
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Re: How to Make the Most of Your Dome?

Post by GreyCoyote » Fri Dec 23, 2016 6:58 am

If the ultimate design criteria is strength, and you are looking at a dome in the 30-foot range using hardware store tubing, then hands-down the winner will be an L4 dome. This is a variant of a freq 8. It is exactly one-half of a sphere, uses only 14 strut types, and the variance is 18%. 980 total struts and the base ring is all the same strut type. You could actually build this out of 3/4 inch tube and still be climbable. Go to 1 inch and it would be bulletproof.

FWIW, I built its smaller brother (L3 variant of an F4) in a 20-foot size as a precursor to a larger L4. Excellent structure and with optimization we left very little metal on the shop floor after cutting. BTW, if you cut 3 struts out of one EMT stick instead of 4, you can have a 40 foot dome/20 feet high with no strut longer than about 3'6".

Where are you located? If you are anywhere near Texas, I've got a complete shop basically designed to do this, complete with an air-over 20 ton press, etc. We could likely knock this out in about three days and it should almost fit in the back of a large pickup truck.

Offer stands :)
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Re: How to Make the Most of Your Dome?

Post by ernestpworrell » Sun Dec 25, 2016 4:07 pm

GreyCoyote wrote:Where are you located? If you are anywhere near Texas, I've got a complete shop basically designed to do this, complete with an air-over 20 ton press, etc. We could likely knock this out in about three days and it should almost fit in the back of a large pickup truck.

Offer stands :)
Having access to a shop outfitted with an air over hydraulic 20 ton press is a very tempting offer.
And I would most graciously accept that offer, if not for currently residing in Southern Illinois.
However, later events may lead me to reconsider once I realize what 980 struts really means.
GreyCoyote wrote:BTW, if you cut 3 struts out of one EMT stick instead of 4, you can have a 40 foot dome/20 feet high with no strut longer than about 3'6".
If building to that size, would 1 inch EMT be safely climable at 3'6" on its center?
That extra 1 foot on the pipe might get me a little squeamish,
when I'm 20 foot in the air and there's the sort-of-possibility of it bending/buckling.
GreyCoyote wrote:If the ultimate design criteria is strength, and you are looking at a dome in the 30-foot range using hardware store tubing, then hands-down the winner will be an L4 dome. This is a variant of a freq 8. It is exactly one-half of a sphere, uses only 14 strut types, and the variance is 18%. 980 total struts and the base ring is all the same strut type. You could actually build this out of 3/4 inch tube and still be climbable. Go to 1 inch and it would be bulletproof.
This is very, very helpful and confirms my initial thinking.
Though there were misgivings where a
4v using 1 1/2 inch would surpass an 8v using 3/4 inch.
Or
4v using 2 inch would surpass 8v using 1 inch.

Since the formal design of a second dome has been freed of from any lurking doubts,
I believe now, it can be made official.
[clears throat, speaks proper-like British accent]
Dome, of the 8th frequency L4 variant, I shall now dub thee.
[drum roll]

"Dome Antaeus" © (<--Had to sneak that in there)

-
Seeing as the dome formal specifications are complete, I should move on to further questions about its parts: the struts and hubs.

Struts
I've read in many cases of struts being bent or buckling, mostly from people climbing on them.
Could this be remedied by simply adding some kind of infill material to the struts?
My first thought was adding sand, the finer=the denser=the better, play sand appears to be a good option.
I'd think this should increase the strength of the pipe as well as giving it more resistance from bending or buckling.
It seems that it ought to function more as a rod than pipe then.
But the added weight may present a problem in some effect.
Concrete + rebar was suggested but I thought that would not be a wise decision considering the mess, additional expense in materials, and moisture being trapped inside the conduit since the ends would be sealed off.
That is, unless a hotbed of rust and corrosion were desired.

Hubs
By far the more fascinating and thought-provoking part of the dome.
I am at a loss on how to choose a better, more reliable design, than the tried and true method of smashed ends + bolts.
Is there a better approach if one were to venture out from that method
and instead choose something such as smashed ends + bolts + metal plates?

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Re: How to Make the Most of Your Dome?

Post by some seeing eye » Mon Dec 26, 2016 8:58 am

Domes are overbuilt structurally. Somewhere there should be a paper on the loss of strength flattening tubing and bolting through it. Look at commercial large domes and space frames for hubs.

Suggest considering aluminum tubing with standard specs.

Filling tubing to increase material properties is not going to work at all.

Best with your project! Looking forward to seeing it on the playa.
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Re: How to Make the Most of Your Dome?

Post by Captain Goddammit » Mon Dec 26, 2016 11:23 am

You're probably roughly 900 miles from Grey Coyote. If you haven't got a shop and press, I think the drive would be easier and quicker than the extra effort you'll be in for without it
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Re: How to Make the Most of Your Dome?

Post by GreyCoyote » Mon Dec 26, 2016 12:09 pm

ernestpworrell wrote: Having access to a shop outfitted with an air over hydraulic 20 ton press is a very tempting offer.
And I would most graciously accept that offer, if not for currently residing in Southern Illinois.
However, later events may lead me to reconsider once I realize what 980 struts really means.
I'll leave the light on for ya. :)
ernestpworrell wrote:
GreyCoyote wrote:BTW, if you cut 3 struts out of one EMT stick instead of 4, you can have a 40 foot dome/20 feet high with no strut longer than about 3'6".
If building to that size, would 1 inch EMT be safely climable at 3'6" on its center?
That extra 1 foot on the pipe might get me a little squeamish,
when I'm 20 foot in the air and there's the sort-of-possibility of it bending/buckling.
It depends on what you call "climbable". If you're looking at 3-4 "normal-sized" people at a time, it wont be a problem. If you look at the strut diagram for an L4, you'll probably naturally find yourself climbing at the intersection of the struts anyway so bending in the center shouldn't be a huge issue. Now, if you try to put a couple of dozen big guys (ie, me) in the air at one time and then crank-up the dancing music, you are definitely going to have a problem. And may Dog help you if you try to pull a Thunderdome (dozens of drunks clustered thick around the entirety of the dome), because you'll be picking people out of the wreckage.

A good empirical test is this: take the proposed length/diam of conduit, smash the ends, drill a hole in each end, and attach a 4 inch piece of 2x4 to each end via a bolt through the hole. Put the whole gizmo on a concrete surface. The strut is now supported like it would be in a dome, except you don't have the support effects of the surrounding strut members. Put your weight on it at various places and measure the deflection. You can expect about HALF of that deflection in-situ in a dome where the other struts tend to resist (ie, "pull outward" on the ends of the strut in response to deflection). This isn't a hard rule, but it is a fairly decent approximation based on what I've built. Obviously, when in doubt, go shorter on the strut length or larger diameter in the strut, or both. YMMV.
ernestpworrell wrote:
GreyCoyote wrote:If the ultimate design criteria is strength, and you are looking at a dome in the 30-foot range using hardware store tubing, then hands-down the winner will be an L4 dome. This is a variant of a freq 8. It is exactly one-half of a sphere, uses only 14 strut types, and the variance is 18%. 980 total struts and the base ring is all the same strut type. You could actually build this out of 3/4 inch tube and still be climbable. Go to 1 inch and it would be bulletproof.
This is very, very helpful and confirms my initial thinking.
Though there were misgivings where a
4v using 1 1/2 inch would surpass an 8v using 3/4 inch.
Or
4v using 2 inch would surpass 8v using 1 inch.
The only solid answers will come after you model it. As SSE said earlier, with their repetition of struts, domes adapt themselves well to FEA. But I'm here to tell you that I'd be happy climbing a dome of basically any realistic size that was made from 1 inch EMT. Suggestion: before you start cutting metal, do a concensus pole of the guys who have done a 40-foot dome of this type and see what they think too
ernestpworrell wrote:Since the formal design of a second dome has been freed of from any lurking doubts,
I believe now, it can be made official.
[clears throat, speaks proper-like British accent]
Dome, of the 8th frequency L4 variant, I shall now dub thee.
[drum roll]

"Dome Antaeus" © (<--Had to sneak that in there)

-
Seeing as the dome formal specifications are complete, I should move on to further questions about its parts: the struts and hubs.

Struts
I've read in many cases of struts being bent or buckling, mostly from people climbing on them.
Could this be remedied by simply adding some kind of infill material to the struts?
My first thought was adding sand, the finer=the denser=the better, play sand appears to be a good option.
I'd think this should increase the strength of the pipe as well as giving it more resistance from bending or buckling.
It seems that it ought to function more as a rod than pipe then.
But the added weight may present a problem in some effect.
Concrete + rebar was suggested but I thought that would not be a wise decision considering the mess, additional expense in materials, and moisture being trapped inside the conduit since the ends would be sealed off.
That is, unless a hotbed of rust and corrosion were desired.
Better forget the sand/rebar/concrete notions. None will work and all will be heavy. Concrete needs a thick cross-section and steel reinforcement to support this type of load. Sand won't do anything except make it heavy, no matter how well-packed, and yep the corrosion would be nasty resulting in almost immediate attack of your metal. Interesting idea however...
ernestpworrell wrote:Hubs
By far the more fascinating and thought-provoking part of the dome.
I am at a loss on how to choose a better, more reliable design, than the tried and true method of smashed ends + bolts.
Is there a better approach if one were to venture out from that method
and instead choose something such as smashed ends + bolts + metal plates?
If you are using EMT in a temporary, field-assembled shelter, then I'd suggest that a formal hub does nothing but get in the way, add weight and expense, and if done wrong will seriously compromise the integrity of the dome. I've seen several interesting designs, but none were as structural (and fast to assemble) as the tried-and-true "smashed-ends-with-a-bolt-though-them" joint for playa use. I'd stick with that, personally. Now if you were using dimensional lumber or wooden struts of any type, then a hub would definitely be a requirement. But hey... you may come-up with something neat, so don't let this deter you.

Parting shot: Before you commit to something with a 3'+ strut length, do a quick mock-up. Make six max-length struts, mash the ends, drill holes, etc. Now get up on a ladder, lift the whole assembly into the air and try to assemble it over your head. It's tough. Things flop around and it's hard to get everything to line-up so you can get the bolt in. Admittedly this is a "worst case" scenario (because you almost always have two of those six struts already anchored to something else) but you get the idea. It can take some serious muscle to assemble a dome from the ground-up. So count on having several **disciplined** and **sober** friends for help.

One other thing: If you plan on assembling this top-down-while-hanging-from-a-crane style, you'll need to engineer the top couple of strut rows and make yourself a carefully-engineered sling that bolts-on to multiple vertices for even weight distribution. Remember that domes are very weak while hanging, and the strength doesn't occur until that last strut is in, the dome is on the ground (in compression), and all the bolts have been tightened. THEN you've got a real anvil of a structure. But in the meantime it's going to be a floppy mess and very difficult to assemble unless you have done your homework carefully.
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Re: How to Make the Most of Your Dome?

Post by ernestpworrell » Tue Feb 21, 2017 1:48 pm

some seeing eye wrote: Domes are perfect for finite element analysis and this question. That is the only way to answer the question and the connector stresses.
Washoe Co publishes their wind loading specs for buildings.

Go for it and report back on your findings.
I am most grateful, the recommendation for finite element analysis (FEA) has lead me to many intriguing and unexpected answers. I've included the final results from the FEA analysis in pdf (courtesy of Peter) along with this post. For any interested, I've also provided the link to the forum/topic where I originally posted (the same question as presented here). The link will provide a lot of background information surrounding the FEA analysis and many useful documents, pictures, videos, and software models including ones for Sketchup (courtesy of TaffGoch).
To make it easier to access said files, I've also attached an image file showing how to view the topic. After clicking the link to FEA Topic, change to the indicated view, then simply scroll down and all available files from the topic will appear.

Things to note when reading the results:
Electrical metallic tubing (EMT) is made from low/mild carbon steel.
However, the mechanical properties of EMT will likely differ from the mechanical properties of low/mild carbon steel, as EMT is designed to bend and must meet a specific set of standards (mentioned in topic). The majority of the results given were based off using low/mild carbon steel; factors such as weight, strength, and the like will be effected. It would be safe to consider the results as only an approximation of using EMT.

FEA Links

FEA Analysis PDF (L3 vs L4)

Link to FEA Topic

Directions for Easy Viewing of Files

EMT Links

EMT Strength Data (Euler Buckle)

EMT Weight & Dimensions Data
GreyCoyote wrote:If the ultimate design criteria is strength, and you are looking at a dome in the 30-foot range using hardware store tubing, then hands-down the winner will be an L4 dome. This is a variant of a freq 8. It is exactly one-half of a sphere, uses only 14 strut types, and the variance is 18%. 980 total struts and the base ring is all the same strut type. You could actually build this out of 3/4 inch tube and still be climbable. Go to 1 inch and it would be bulletproof.

FWIW, I built its smaller brother (L3 variant of an F4) in a 20-foot size as a precursor to a larger L4. Excellent structure and with optimization we left very little metal on the shop floor after cutting. BTW, if you cut 3 struts out of one EMT stick instead of 4, you can have a 40 foot dome/20 feet high with no strut longer than about 3'6".
What I carried away after viewing the results was that having a more spherical structure creates its own set of problems. I'm curious to know what kind of advantages, if any, an L4 could hold over an L3?

Not influenced by test results, but plan on experimenting with scrap metal tubing such fence gate railing and aluminum frames instead of EMT. Could materials of high strength but different in weight and dimension be compatible with one another on a geodesic structure i.e. is a Franken-dome possibly safe to build?


Thanks all for the help thus far,

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Re: How to Make the Most of Your Dome?

Post by some seeing eye » Mon Feb 27, 2017 10:26 am

Thanks for your post. I'm not able to do anything with your 1st and 3rd links. Is the first just a pdf?
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Re: How to Make the Most of Your Dome?

Post by ernestpworrell » Tue Feb 28, 2017 7:46 pm

After following the link to the FEA topic, you can change your viewing settings to match the attached image below.
Topic Overview Image.png
If you want to see the FEA Analysis (L3 vs L4) pdf, scroll down and look for:

domes txt Issue 6.pdf

If that's unable to show, I've attached the image files of the pdf in the following posts.
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.
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Re: How to Make the Most of Your Dome?

Post by ernestpworrell » Tue Feb 28, 2017 7:48 pm

FEA Analysis (L3 vs L4) p1.png
FEA Analysis (L3 vs L4) p2.png
FEA Analysis (L3 vs L4) p3.png
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Re: How to Make the Most of Your Dome?

Post by ernestpworrell » Tue Feb 28, 2017 7:50 pm

FEA Analysis (L3 vs L4) p4.png
FEA Analysis (L3 vs L4) p5.png
FEA Analysis (L3 vs L4) p6.png
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Re: How to Make the Most of Your Dome?

Post by ernestpworrell » Tue Feb 28, 2017 7:52 pm

FEA Analysis (L3 vs L4) p7.png
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Re: How to Make the Most of Your Dome?

Post by ernestpworrell » Sun Jun 11, 2017 10:54 am

In the past several months I've managed to perform two different tests on an 8 frequency (L4) dome.
The dome is the first four rows of the L4.
My first dome build 3v 5/9 was repurposed to supply materials.

Dimensions are as follows:
strut count is 130 struts
spherical diameter is 42 feet (Cut Optimization)
diameter is 22 feet
height is 3.13 feet
base area of 308 sq ft.

The main issue in the 1st experiment was the hubs popping inward (also demonstrated in the previous FEA Analysis pdf and video). The 2nd experiment was an attempt to create stronger hub sections. This was done by cutting pieces of 1 inch EMT, placing them over the ends, and then flattening them onto the 3/4 inch EMT struts. The result was a simple solution to the prevent hubs from collapsing inward.

Each experiment has a respective video and pdf document with pictures detailing the results.
Also below, is a pdf link with 1v and 2v spheres made from scrap pieces.

PDF Links
L4 Geodesic Dome Experiment
L4 Geodesic Dome Experiment II
1v and 2v Spheres

Video Links (In the information pane below the videos, there are links to the pdf documents as well.)
L4 Geodesic Dome Experiment
L4 Geodesic Dome Experiment II

As the videos can be quite long, I've attached an image on how to speed up the videos if desired.
Video Speed Up
Screen shot 2017-04-24 at 8.17.04 PM.png
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Re: How to Make the Most of Your Dome?

Post by some seeing eye » Sun Jun 11, 2017 11:15 am

Good innovation! Keep us posted!

Wonder about throwing dome flexible silicone adhesive between the 1" and 3/4" before crimping?
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Re: How to Make the Most of Your Dome?

Post by torrey.smith » Tue Jun 13, 2017 4:37 pm

Domes are fun to build around. I use 4130 steel typically.

Make good choices!

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Re: How to Make the Most of Your Dome?

Post by smilestill » Thu Jul 13, 2017 12:00 pm

Hi guys. I am looking for some help choosing materials and methodology for the cover of my v3 20' conduit dome.

My latest theory is to construct it out of pentagons and hexagons fabricated from cotton duct canvas. I consider triangles as well. I thought I might use a more water proof material for the top, but I am unsure.

Any advice would be most welcome.


Thank you.

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Re: How to Make the Most of Your Dome?

Post by ernestpworrell » Tue Jan 01, 2019 3:21 pm

Thanks to the community on eplaya for all the help on building a geodesic dome.
Here are 2 time lapse videos (one top view, one side view) of a 32 foot 4V (L3) dome assembly.
Top View
Side View
After working with the bottom up assembly, I was having a lot of trouble getting the cover on the dome safely.
So I looked for a way to do the top down method without needing a crane.
I ended up putting together 5 tripods made of 2x4 studs and used block-and-tackle to lift the dome up from the sides.
Compared to the bottom up method, this proved to be much safer for myself, having only one mishap during assembly.
However, from a safety stance, the 2x4 tripods I put together were not at all safe as they did not have any bracing.
Any movement that could contribute to the dome rocking, such as wind, put the tripods in danger of collapsing.
Though, it did get the job done, a major upside being the equipment's portability to the build site.
With a little polish, this method could be a good alternative to using a crane.

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Re: How to Make the Most of Your Dome?

Post by some seeing eye » Tue Jan 01, 2019 5:03 pm

Thanks for the videos! Some friends did their 80' 3/8 with a dacron cover using your top down method.

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