Newspaper Dome

Paper's just wood, right?

Once i decided that i might like to build a geodesic dome, i wanted to get a taste for how it would all go together, without spending money or much time. I ran across a page suggesting making the struts out of newspaper, but i promptly ignored that page and got started rolling up newspapers. (It turns out that i missed the useful tip of rolling the papers on a broom handle which would have saved me a bit of CTS. Oh well.)

I made a frequency-two since i figured that would be the type of dome i'd build with EMT later. This requires 35 long pieces and 30 short pieces. (Check Tara's Desert Domes for the length ratio.) Well, it turns out that the short-to-long ratio for this dome is almost exactly the same as the ratio of the height to width of an unfolded sheet of the San Jose Mercury News. This is great --- no cutting, no folding, just make sure to roll 35 sheets one way and 30 the other.

(The next week the Merc changed their paper format so the ratio is no longer right. It was suggested that i write an angry letter to the editor about this. Maybe i'll just change my subscription to a paper with a better height-to-width ratio.)

As each sheet was rolled, i put one staple in each end to keep them from unrolling. After all 65 struts were ready, i used a drill to put a small hole near each end. Then i used standard office-supply brads to connect the struts.

The long pieces were a bit wobbly because rolling the pieces that way made the center crease a weak spot. However it was still impressive for something made of newspaper.

It would have been nice to keep it around for Rael to play in, but i failed to follow sound advice to take it off the lawn overnight. The next morning the dew had soggified the thing and it collapsed. I just took out the staples and brads and threw it in the recycling bin. Talk about environmentally-friendly structures!

This was a lot of fun and convinced me to go for it and make an EMT dome. And Rael now knew more about geodesic domes than most adults.

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