Ideas, advice, tips, and tricks regarding shelter, shade, tents, and camping. Yes, this includes RV's too.
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Post by jmdinn » Wed Jun 02, 2004 2:06 pm

I'm a virgin (who searched and couldn't find a "Structures" thread??) building a shade structure.

Basic design so far: Hexagonal bamboo roof frame (6 equilateral horizontal triangles), shade cloth roof covering, standing on straight vertical legs at the perimeter corners and one center pole. I'm considering getting a piece fabricated to join the corners and the center.

My questions:

1. Anyone have any knowledge of bamboo structures and their success/failure at the Burn?

2. Anyone have experience with getting complex brackets fabricated?

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Post by stuart » Wed Jun 02, 2004 4:02 pm

use PVC instead

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Post by Dork » Wed Jun 02, 2004 4:18 pm

A 1V or arch dome could be done without having anything fabricated and might even be more stable, plus no need for a center pole:

I've seen a few people using bamboo but haven't tried myself.

Yurts are a little more work but could be another alternative to look into.

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Post by BAS » Wed Jun 02, 2004 5:17 pm

I'm a virgin (who searched and couldn't find a "Structures" thread??) building a shade structure.
There used to be a forum for structures, but it disappeared to parts unknown during the reorganization.... :shock:

In that former forum, there was a thread for yurts (on which I asked a number of questions, since it think it would be neat to build one :!: ), and one for shade structures (you might try searching for "shade structures" :?: ). I think there also was one for domes... :?:

I am a BM virgin, too, so I don't have any first hand advice for you. I hadn't thought about using bamboo.

Good luck!
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Do things that have never been done."
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Post by jmdinn » Wed Jun 02, 2004 5:21 pm

I thought of PVC, but it's a little too heavy and bulky.

The Desert Dome site was a great inspiration for the design.

Maybe I should be calling this a Yurt?

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Post by photon » Wed Jun 02, 2004 5:36 pm

A couple years back the "Yellow Solar Seed" group constructed a bad-ass dome out of bamboo. It did have it's problems though, I believe it destructed itself after a day with help from the wind. they ended up reducing it's size to roughly a 30' diameter dome and utilizing a lot of duct tape. Still, one of the fanciest structures out there even with the duct tape. It must have been a ridiculous hassle though since they abandoned that design last year.
Stay away from PVC! It's a beeotch to design and work with unless you're going with a small personal sized structure for one or two. Unfortunately, electrical conduit has almost tripled in price within the last year so that option may be out for many. Although, we built ours last year and it went so well that with the knowledge and experience of just the first year I'd easily pay three times for it if I had to. Once it's built you'll have it for a lifetime. It's easy to fabricate and come up with ways of connecting to it if you need to and with the desertdomes calculator it works out perfectly (or not).

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Post by PurpleKoosh » Wed Jun 02, 2004 5:53 pm

Back in the erstwhile Structures thread, Starplates got a lot of recommendations: ... _index.htm
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Post by jmdinn » Thu Jun 03, 2004 11:02 am

Thanks for the lead on Yellow Solar Seed! I shot them an email. Who knows what will come of it.

I looked at electrical conduit before. Yes, it's expensive. But my problem is more with the weight. Which brings me back to bamboo. If I can make it work, it sounds like the perfect material for the job. I really just don't know how it will hold up to the environment.

I'm not building a full dome. The structure won't be more than 18' across at the widest and 7' tall at the peak.

StarPlates are what turned me on to the idea of fabricated joinery. I more or less need a variation on their design.

If I get the pieces fabricated, will they need models or just plans?
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Post by robotland » Thu Jun 03, 2004 12:25 pm

jmdinn wrote:If I get the pieces fabricated, will they need models or just plans?
A model wouldn't HURT, just for clarity, but shouldn't be necessary if your plans are clear. HOWEVER: Custom fabrication, especially on a small scale, will COST YOU PLENTY unless you have welding students, starving artists or pros who owe you bigtime to fabricate them for you. Remember that bamboo is variable in its dimensions, and that no two ends will fit a standard bracket the same. Advantage goes to conduit in this respect, since you don't NEED brackets. Just flatten the ends and drill. Bamboo is amazing stuff, and has qualities that, like leather, have yet to be exactly copied artificially. But it has failings as well, notably its tendency to splinter instead of breaking cleanly. Hard to fix, once broken, except with duct tape and/or splints.
The earlier suggestion of a 1V "dome" instead of straight verticals on the supports is a wise one if you INSIST on trying bamboo the first time out. TEST THE CRAP OUT OF IT before you get it to the playa. Honestly, I have to recommend going with conduit unless weight is a critical issue. A 2V dome made of 3/4" EMT almost 20' in diameter weighs under 70 lbs.. Our multi-level structure broke down into two bundles the size of military duffels, with nothing over 60" long.
Another approach would be to make your structure from 2x2", which you could then burn instead of lugging home. (Or scavenged broomsticks- you can harvest enough for a whole dome by going out with a handsaw on neighborhood pickup day!)
When you burn bamboo, the individual cells build up steam pressure and then EXPLODE, sometimes rather "vigorously".
Good luck with your build! Check the archived 2003 "Structures" thread!
Howdy From Kalamazoo

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