Building Your Own Goedesic Greenhouse Test Dome
Before you go to the trouble to buy a great “how to” dome book or start building a giant geo dome like my friend Kacper I suggest you do a test build a test dome as a garden shed, meditation space or kids play dome.
So without doing any fancy calculations, cutting tons of struts or any other stuff here is a 3v geodesic dome you can build in a weekend with recycled plywood and a few things from your local lumber yard.
Lots of people want to immediately build a geodesic greenhouse using triangular frames (this is what my friend did) they look cool but what can you use your test dome for except a jungle gym for your kids or as yard art. The other problem with strut type domes is when you use the 3v frequency (most dome kits use this as it is the easiest to build) you don’t end up with a flat base. So in order to actually use it you have to mess with strut lengths and angles, which makes can make the whole “build a small geodesic dome as a test” much more complicated.
After some digging around on the net I came up with a plan that should address these problems and still be easy, cheap and fast to build. In fact this type of geodesic dome has several other advantages too including:
- Its so easy to make anyone can do it. Even a youngster (with help)
- You can make a solid (panel), open (frame) or hybrid dome
- It doesn’t have wild compound angles to cut
- Has only two different pieces to cut/work with
- Is flexible enough to sit flat on a foundation even though it is a 3v
Here is what you will need:
- recycled hinges
- deck screws (I love deck screws for building domes!)
- Skillsaw or chop saw
- Drill gun or electric drill
- Step ladder
Finally! How to build your own geodesic greenhouse dome (1/4 size test dome)
Use one of the many online dome calculators to work out the triangle size you need for the inside size of your 3v dome.
Note: Try and fit the triangle size to fit best on a standard 8×4′ sheet of plywood or oriented strand board (OSB) sheathing.
Because your dome will be a building a 3v dome you will only be making two different shaped triangle panels. You will need seventy five panels in all so do the math and see how much plywood you will need. Layout and cut all your panels.
Once you have cut your panels cut the appropriate number of 2×2″s to make screw to each edge. This will give something solid to screw the connecting hinges too and a place to put solid foam insulation in if you are in a colder climate.
Now that you have the panels constructed screw two hinges to each side of panel A then attach a panel B etc. etc. If none of this is making sense see my paper dome construction project lower down on the page.
Using the hinges join together six pentagons from the 30 B panels and then make 5 hexagon panels from the A panels, the remaining B panels are mated into half hexagons. Because of the use of hinges the five panels are able to deform a litttle to assume the concave shape required.
This article assumes you have built some small basic domes already and have basic construction skills. If not get the book it will save you a ton of time and heartache when building your geodesic greenhouse test dome!
Assemble the remaining pentagon and hexagon parts till the dome is complete, leaving one triangle panel unconnected so you can get inside unless you are leaving some panels open for windows. Also if you want windows make sure to make a few triangles without plywood so you can cover them with glass or UV resistant greenhouse dome plastic later.
Later your dome is up and secured to a pressure treated wood foundation, hinges are handy aren’t they! cover the dome with shingles, duroid roofing, fiberglass or what ever you want for a waterproof exterior.
So there you have it an easy, fast, durable dome garden shed or kids play dome you can build in a weekend for a few hundred bucks.
Have fun and remember if you get confused or frustrated come back and buy Kacper’s great book which lays it all out with color pictures and step by step tutorials!