Oct 282013

There are few geodesic decorations for the holidays, other than a very popular geodesic gingerbread house last year. I started thinking up of different ideas, except I wanted to go different and outside. It was also a way to use all those holiday lights I collected at yard sales throughout the summer.

I built a 4-foot (120 cm) diameter 3v 5/9 dome so I could easily go through standard doorways. The model was built with 1/2 inch EMT conduit. On top of it 5 “petal” sections were hinged so that they could open and close. Once all put together, a regular tarp fabric was put over the dome and I used a hot glue gun to affix the lights. For the petals I had some light curtains I found (12 inches wide X 6 feet long, or 30cm wide X 180cm long) and held in place with plastic tie-wraps (zip ties).



To hold the petals at a specific height I ran a thin wire around all tips of the petals. This spreads the tension across all petals, keeping them at the same height. To adjust the height I simply wrapped the wire a few extra turns at each tip around the tip (if you look closely you will see that I left the bolts sticking out).


The goal is to build a 30-foot version of the snowflake dome and use some winch with airplane cable to extend and retract the petals. The green effect was created using a regular green spotlight under the structure.

If anyone has suggestions for improvements, please feel free to do so! We’d love to have a showcase page for holiday decorations based on geodesics.


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Oct 172013
Take an interactive excursion through total darkness at the Tactile Dome, which reopens on Wednesday, October 30, 2013, at our new home at Pier 15. Crawl, slide, and bump your way through the pitch-dark Dome using your sense of touch as your only guide through its chambers and mazes.


Originally created in 1971, the Dome was designed and built by August Coppola (father of actor Nicolas Cage and brother of film director Francis Ford Coppola) and was rebuilt for Pier 15. Reservations are required.The Tactile Dome, a geodesic experience designed and built as a cooperative effort by TaffGoch, Gerry Toomey, and Dome Inc., announces its Grand Opening on October 30, 2013. This is a bold and interactive experience, and is the feature exhibit in the new $375 million dollarExploratorium Museum on Pier 15, San Francisco.


Tactile or sense of touch is enhanced by this three story experience of hundreds of different textures, from diamond plate and sandpaper, to polycarbonate, a bed of nails and foam. There is even a slide to take you from one floor to the next. The tour takes the better part of an hour, and the most amazing feature of the exhibit is it takes place completely in the dark! The guests must feel their way through the exhibit in total darkness.


The dome required a specific diameter for the display, but the steel beam rafters on the pier required the dome be oblate, or squished to fit. This is a 4 frequency, 7/12, 33′ diameter, oblate geodesic dome built to Kruschke standards.



To make a reservation, please call (415) 528-4444 (select option 5), or make a reservation on site. Please note: Advance reservations are strongly recommended due to limited capacity and high demand. Tickets are nonrefundable and nontransferable to another person, date, or time.

For opening, please note that the reservations phone line opens October 22.



Dome sessions are at 10:15 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 12:45 p.m., 2:15 p.m., 3:30 p.m., and 4:45 p.m. on days when the museum is open. The Dome is also operated on a drop-in basis during adult-only After Dark events; tickets for these events are sold on site only on a first-come, first-served basis.

Each excursion lasts about an hour. During that time, you’re guaranteed one trip through the Dome. If time and operations allow, we’re happy to offer a second turn.


In addition to the cost of admission, Tactile Dome visits are $12 for members; $15 for nonmembers.


*Please Note!

Due to the nature of this experience, certain restrictions apply. Children must be at least seven years old to participate. Guests who are afraid of the dark; claustrophobic; or have back, neck, or knee injuries should not participate. Guests wearing casts are prohibited, and women in their third trimester of pregnancy should not participate. The Dome is an active experience; please wear comfortable clothes.


Tactile Dome: Original 1971 Press Release

The Tactile Dome is an interactive experience through total darkness. It was created in 1971 and is still a popular stop for people visiting the Exploratorium. We thought you might like to read the original press release, which provides a peek into the Tactile Dome’s history.

An internal sculpture exhibit which people will feel but never see goes on exhibit September 9, 1971 at the Exploratorium in San Francisco’s Palace of Fine Arts.

The exhibit, called the Tactile Dome, is encased in a geodesic dome about the size of a large weather balloon. Visitors enter through a light-lock room into a totally dark maze (path). Then, for an hour and fifteen minutes, they feel, bump, slide and crawl through and past hundreds of materials and shapes which blend, change and contrast.

The purpose is to disorient the sensory world so that the only sense the visitor can rely on is touch. The sensation is so outside ordinary experience that a few people panic. An attendant in a control panel can reach every part of the ant-hill like maze almost instantly.

Pre-opening visitors have compared the experience to being born again, turning yourself inside out head first, being swallowed by a whale, and inevitably, being enfolded in a giant womb.

Seemingly the tactile equivalent of a light show, the tour is actually a carefully planned and structured succession of shapes, temperatures and textures which require the full range of the touch sense to perceive.

The idea is to make people aware of what a complex. sensitive and under used sense touch is, and to train them to use the astonishing range of its perceptions, which include detection of pressure, pain, temperature and kinesthesia, as well as cutaneous, internal body and muscle awareness.

Dr. August F. Coppola, whose brainchild the exhibit is, became interested in perceptual prejudice while directing interdisciplinary studies as head of California State College’s Honors Program. He gradually came to realize that philosophy, physics and even psychology have always relied overwhelmingly on visual evidence to interpret the world.

“Yet the irony is that touch is still the test of reality,” said Coppola. It’s the tangible, the concrete, what you can put your finger on when your feet are on the ground.

Coppola believes people are actually prejudiced against the touch sense. “It’s development gets off to a bad start,” he said, “for as soon as we’ve stopped chewing our toes, the first commandment in life is given: “Don’t touch”. The Exploratorium is one of the few museums in the world where visitors are encouraged to touch and even manipulate the exhibits.”

One result of the touch taboo, Coppola believes, is that people become leery of physical contact with each other and the environment and that this leads to a sense of isolation and loneliness. As evidence of our overly-visual values, Coppola points to the overemphasis on fashionable clothes and the benefits of tourism. “This route leads to passive, non-participatory activities like TV watching” he said. Coppola and Carl Day, co-developer of the Tactile Dome, and gallery director at California State College in Long Beach, are leaders in an art revolution which uses people as participants in art experience rather than as targets at which to hurl artistic messages. They believe the revolution, if successful, will greatly affect not only art, advertising and industrial design but even life styles and basic beliefs.

Both claim that improving your haptic powers also increases your visual skills.


Pier 15, San Francisco, CA 94111
(415) 528-4444

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Aug 182013


We just added a new exciting plan to the growing list of greenhouse plans collection. It’s a Pentakis design (so not actually geodesic) and you can see how similar it seems to a true geodesic design in the above image.

These new Pentakis dome plans are available in metric and imperial measurements for diameters from 3-4.5 meters (10ft – 15ft).

Click here  to see the list of greenhouse plans.


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Jul 172013

Domerama offers you DIY solutions for metal and timber geodesic domes. Here we’ll present a brief overview.

A timber geodesic dome covered with polyethylene film

A timber geodesic dome covered with polyethylene film

Timber advantages over metal frame geodesic domes

The advantage of a geodesic timber dome is how easily it can be covered, rather inexpensively, and quickly. On the other hand, a geodesic dome made of  a metal conduit/pipe is a challenge to cover and often an expensive proposition.

When using wood/timber as the primary material, you can use transparent or translucent polyethylene plastic film, staple it directly on the structure, cover the staples with some silicone and then add a strip of wood for added protection and appearance.

And the best part is that you do not need to do much measuring because most parts are triangle shapes repeated with the use of a jig to ensure precision.

Geodesic dome plans: no special tools required

Geodesic dome plans: no special tools required

For a more professional appearance

You can cut triangular shapes from hard plastics such as polycarbonate sheets, glass or even acrylic. In the plans we offer almost all only require 2 or 3 varied shapes, making the cutting of the panels a simpler operation. Instead of stapling you screw and/or glue the panels on the structure and cover the seams with silicone and strips of wood, just as for plastic in roll form.

 Jan's half GD27 geodesic dome covered in glass and used as a conservatory

Jan’s half GD27 geodesic dome covered in glass and used as a conservatory

A note about geodesic greenhouses

There are a few greenhouse manufacturers who are more than willing to sell you a geodesic greenhouse kit… Usually starting at $10 000… They do offer convenience, almost worry-free solutions. But consider this:

  • Shipping costs for your dome can be prohibitive
  • Most timber geodesic plans offered on Domerama are under $50 and are very easy to make
  • You have more control over the materials you will use
  • With a basic effort you can cut your costs to a fraction of what you pay for a kit


Not convinced you can do it yourself? click on the banner below. George did much more than the average person but you’ll get the idea.



To view available timber geodesic dome plans, click below:



So what’s best for your needs?

Here are a few basic rules when you build your own geodesic dome

  • For a climbing dome for the kids, a timber or metal dome are both good choices
  • If you want a geodesic greenhouse, a timber dome is the preferred solution
  • For event domes of various kinds and diameters, a metal dome is usually the best option


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