Around 20 years ago (1994 or so), I built a dome out of
shaped Popsicle sticks. It was essentially six pentagonal
frames wired together. The dome sat on shelves in places
that we have lived since then as an inspiration to myself
to do something more with the idea.
It wasn't until 2012 that I started researching geodesic
domes. I found a ton of information and interest groups
that got me interested in building something more
elaborate. To practice, I bought a scroll saw and some
redwood trellis strips and did ALOT of trimming to produce
the next generation model. The model consists of
pentagonal and hexagonal panels attached together. It
sounds simple in theory but getting all of the angles and
strut lengths right is trickier than it sounds.
Building on the idea of constructing panels, I build some
jigs to build the penta and hexa frames on a larger scale.
The intent was to build a paneled dome about 18 feet in
The jigs allow me to build individual triangles.
When I have built enough
(five for pentas; six for hexas), I put them
together to form full panels.
I wanted to install "critter panes" to the panels
nearest the ground. Because this is a half-dome, I
had to build some full hexas and half pentas with
Finally the day comes to begin construction. This
involved fitting the panels together as best as they
would fit, drilling holes where edges meet, and
attaching bolts to secure the panels together. This
is the first level that uses all of the panels with
critter panes (some aren't painted yet).
The next level is trickier but ends up working well
as long as I keep the bolts loose.
The final level is easier to install now that I have
figured out that all the previously installed bolts
need to be installed loosely. I needed ladders to
install the higher frames because I'm not 18 feet
tall. After all the drilling was finished and bolts
installed, it only took about 30 minutes to
January 2020 update: The panel struts
ended up being very fragile and started
falling apart after exposure to sun and
rain. The entire project ended up getting
hauled off as junk but not before I used
what I learned to more to Phase 2.