I'm almost positive the string and pipes method of building a dome framework will work. I'm building a 12-sided dodecahedron out of xerox paper using oragami. I'm hoping I'll be able to stand on it when it's finished, seems pretty strong already. We'll see. Well I made it in sort of a hurry. Pretty neat though! It's holds itself together exceptionally well. But it's not as strong as I thought. I think if I carefully measured out stiff pieces of cardboard you might be able to sit or stand on it. We'll see.
I built a small dome from my computer model out of short pieces of drinking straws and twine. It formed itself into the proper angles for the dome shape automagically. Even though the model is a bit flabby at the moment (due to the straws being short and probably no tied together the best way), it still won't give out even if I press my hand very hard on the top. I'm going to make a new, larger model from full-length straws, which should be a more realistic one. The angles should be much more accurate then when using the really short pieces.
times passes ...
Well, the first dome I made was made from real short sections of straw, and was strung together rather tediously. It's a bit flimsy, but not too bad. It did form itself into the proper dome shape. I'm making a much larger dome from straws now using a different stringing method. It seems to be working much better. You dont have 1 piece of string per pipe. Instead you string rings of them together and then tie them vertically. Try this picture:
Layer 2 ___________
Layer 1 /\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\
This is a real speedy way to make the dome since you use minimal tying. Sorry it's hard to explain. If I have some success I'll make a web page showing how to make this. I'm almost positive this method will work, especially considering after the framework is made on a real dome, you will then wrap heavy wire around each vertex to reinforce the joints. It should make a pretty tight dome. I went to the hardware stores looking for pipes, and found the steel electrical conduit (1/2 inch or 3/4 inch). It was very cheap, like $1.64 per 10 feet, and looked very strong. The poles were leaning up vertically up on the racks and were straight as arrows despite them being all piled up. I'm still unsure about what cable to use, etc, and even the geometry of the dome itself, but it's coming along. I just really liked this idea so far since anyone could build the thing extremely fast. It's not ultra-precise but that shouldnt matter.
Offered by Joe.