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  • GroDome a Geodesic Dome Greenhouse

    No part of this publication shall be reproduced, transmitted or resold in whole or in part in any form, without the prior written consent of the authors. All trademarks and registered trademarksappearing in this guide are the property of their respective owners.

    Copyright 2014 - 2015, Optimum Wisdom Laboratories, All Rights Reserved 1

  • Legal Disclaimer The information contained in this guide is meant to serve as a comprehensive guide to build your own geodesic dome greenhouse. Summaries, strategies, tips and tricks are only recommendations by the authors, and reading this guide does not guarantee that ones results will exactly mirror our own results.

    The material in this guide may include information, products, or services by third parties. Third Party materials consist of the products and opinions expressed by their owners. As such, the authors of this guide do not assume responsibility or liability for any Third Party Material or opinions.

    The publication of Third Party materials does not constitute the authors guarantee of any information, instruction, opinion, products or service contained within the Third Party Material. Use of recommended Third Party Material does not guarantee that your results will mirror our own. Publication of such Third Party Material is simply a recommendation and expression of the authors own opinion of that material.

    The authors made all reasonable efforts to provide current and accurate information for the readers of this guide. With time and the general evolution of the Internet, some information, may become outdated or simply inapplicable at a later date. This may apply to this guide, the OptimumWisdomLaboratories.com website or the various companies that we referenced in thisguide. The authors and publishers disclaim any responsibility for the inaccuracy of the content, including but not limited to errors or omissions.

    The authors and publishers assume that, while carrying out your DIY project, you are aware of all the risks and possible damages associated. Loss of property, injury to self or others, and even death could occur as a direct or indirect consequence of the use and application of any content found herein.

    Check with your town, city, state, province, county or country for applicable laws about home improvements and alterations. Often, it is necessary to obtain local government permits and licenses to prevent legal implications.

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    By purchasing these plans you agree to the terms and conditions, a non-transferable license isgranted to build one dome for personal use using these plans. By using, viewing and interacting with this guide or the OptimumWisdomLaboratories.com website, you agree to indemnify, defend, and hold harmless the authors, publishers, and any other related companies from all claims (whether valid or invalid), judgments, suits, proceedings, losses, damages, and costs or expenses of any nature whatsoever that result from the use or misuse of any information provided. You agree to all terms of engagement, thus assuming complete responsibility for your own actions. The authors and publishers will not be held liable or claim accountability for any loss or injuries.

    No part of this guide shall be reproduced, transmitted or resold in whole or in part in any form, without the prior written consent of the authors. All trademarks and registered trademarks appearing in this guide are the property of their respective owners.

    Copyright 2014 - 2015, Optimum Wisdom Laboratories, All Rights Reserved 2

  • Table of ContentsLegal Disclaimer........................................................................................................................................ 2GroDome a Geodesic Dome Greenhouse............................................................................................... 4A Brief History of Geodesic Domes and Dome Construction Techniques................................................ 8

    Flattened Conduit.................................................................................................................................. 9Commercial Hub................................................................................................................................... 9Classic Wood Strut................................................................................................................................ 9Reinforced Wood Strut........................................................................................................................ 10Wood Beam and Hub...........................................................................................................................10Panelized Timber Frames.................................................................................................................... 10

    Design Considerations and the Evolution of GroDome...........................................................................11Tools Required......................................................................................................................................... 12GroDome Design and Calculation Factors...............................................................................................13Building Supplies.....................................................................................................................................14GroDome Assembly.................................................................................................................................15

    Step 1 Cut and bevel the struts.................................................................................................... 16Step 2 Create the pentagon triangle template.............................................................................. 17Step 3 Assemble the pentagon triangles...................................................................................... 22Step 4 Create the hexagon triangle template............................................................................... 24Step 5 - Assemble the hexagon triangles........................................................................................ 26Step 6 - Assemble 21 half hexagons............................................................................................... 27Step 7 - Assemble six 2 triangle and six 3 triangle partial pentagons............................................29Step 8 Assemble 2 vent triangles and 2 vent triangle covers.......................................................31Step 9 Round off the corners and edges...................................................................................... 32Step 10 Stain................................................................................................................................ 33Step 11 Cover partial hexagon and pentagon panels and remaining triangles............................34Step 12 Assemble vent half hexagons......................................................................................... 37Step 13 Cut the base beams......................................................................................................... 38Step 14 Attach base beams to half hexagon panels..................................................................... 40Step 15 Assemble pentagons....................................................................................................... 42Step 16 Assemble hexagons........................................................................................................ 43Step 17 Assemble the base...........................................................................................................44Step 18 Complete dome assembly...............................................................................................46Step 19 Secure GroDome............................................................................................................ 54Step 20 Frame door opening........................................................................................................55Step 21 Construct a door..............................................................................................................59Step 22 Attach Door.....................................................................................................................61Step 23 Install Raised Bed Frames.............................................................................................. 62

    Copyright 2014 - 2015, Optimum Wisdom Laboratories, All Rights Reserved 3

  • GroDome a Geodesic Dome Greenhouse

    The rising cost and falling quality of food along with the looming threat of a financial crisis prompted usto become more self-reliant and begin growing our own food. We needed a garden. Unfortunately, gardens in northwest Montana, where we live, start out or eventually become rock-gardens. We could build raised beds and install an 8 foot tall fence to keep the deer out, but we would still be limited by our short growing season. Some say we only have two seasons, Fourth of July and winter, but we actually have, on average, an 82 day growing season, from June 16 to September 6.

    The question we asked ourselves, and pose to you:What if we could build a structure, an enclosed garden, that not only protects the garden from the deerand other critters, but also extends the growing season, all for about the same cost as installing an 8 foot tall fence around a small raised bed garden? If we could it must:

    1. Be attractive both inside an out. It must not be ugly or appear out of place in any setting,2. Be strong, able to withstand northwest Montana winters.3. Provide a proper door that opens into the dome so it is not blocked by winter snow.4. Be inexpensive to build.5. Be simple to build using common woodworking tools and skills. 6. Be superior for greenhouse applications.

    GroDome, the geodesic dome greenhouse shown below and described in this document meets theserequirements.

    Copyright 2014 - 2015, Optimum Wisdom Laboratories, All Rights Reserved 4

  • GroDome is:

    1. Attractive: GroDome is attractive both insideand out.

    The photograph above shows that GroDome isattractive, not appearing out of place, even in amountain setting. The photograph to the rightshows that GroDome offers opportunities forinteresting and attractively shaped raised bedswhile making efficient use of space.

    2. Strong: Geodesic domes are the strongeststructures for their weight ever devised, able tocover more space without internal supports thanany other enclosures. They are being used forall types of applications, including housing,stadiums, fairs and greenhouses.

    The photograph to the right shows GroDome surviving a Montana winter in 40 inches (1000mm) of snow while supporting approximately3500 pounds (1600 kilograms) of snow on topthe dome.

    Copyright 2014 - 2015, Optimum Wisdom Laboratories, All Rights Reserved 5

  • 3. GroDome provides a proper door that opens into the dome so it is notblocked by winter snow.

    The GroDome door framework and doorcan withstand the abuses of many entriesand exits a day, allowing easy transportgardening tools. supplies and the bounty ofthe garden fruits and vegetables (seephotograph to the right).

    The plans include instructions on how toquickly construct, in an hour or two, theframe and panel door shown in the nextphotograph from a single $21 sheet of CDXexterior plywood.

    4. Inexpensive: GroDome makes optimal use of standard 24 or 23 framing lumber (less than $200) or uses recycled lumber for absolute lowest cost. The optimized dimensions and efficient cutting guide reduce the standard 2x4 or 2x3 lumber requirements by 78 linealfeet.

    5. Simple: GroDome is simple to build. The dome is built using commonly available woodworking tools. The dome requires no complex dual bevelled cuts. The dome requires no hubs. The dome (except the door) uses only two triangle types; pentagon triangles, and

    hexagon triangles. The GroDome plan minimizes confusion by using 94 annotated photographs instead of

    drawings to show each construction step. The GroDome plans show how to make triangle construction templates that not only

    simplify construction, but ensure all triangles of the same type are the same size and eliminates the need to measure strut length after the templates are constructed.

    Copyright 2014 - 2015, Optimum Wisdom Laboratories, All Rights Reserved 6

  • 6. Superior for greenhouse applications:

    GroDome provides optimal conditions for photosynthesis using available sunlight to provide both heat and light, extending the average Northwest Montana 82 day growing season (June 16 September 6) to 286 days (March 6 November 10).

    The rate of photosynthesis (rate of plant growth) is controlled by three factors; light intensity, carbon-dioxide concentration, and temperature. At any given time, any one of these may become the limiting factor. The rate of photosynthesis is limited by the factor in shortest supply.Any change in the level of a limiting factor affects the rate of photosynthesis. As light intensity increases, the rate of photosynthesis increases proportionately until it is eventually limited by some other factor. Although the light dependent reactions of photosynthesis are not affected bychanges in temperature, the light independent reactions of photosynthesis, reactions that are catalyzed by enzymes, are dependent on temperature. As the enzymes approach their optimum temperatures, the overall rate increases. The rate approximately doubles for every 10degree C increase in temperature. Above the optimum temperature the rate decreases as enzymes are denatured, until it stops.

    The greenhouse doesn't control the carbon-dioxide concentration, but can impact both the temperature and the amount of light collected. The GroDome includes up to five automatically controlled vents to keep the temperature at or below the optimum and the spherical shape provides the lowest exterior surface to interior volume ratio thereby minimizing heat loss.

    Every latitude on earth receives the same total hours of sunlight a year. The equator receives sunlight 12 hours each day all year. The higher latitudes receive more than 12 hours of sunlighteach day between the vernal equinox and he autumnal equinox and less between the autumnal equinox and the vernal equinox. For example, at 48.3 degrees north latitude, at the summer Solstice we receive 16.1 hours of direct sunlight each day from 52 degrees northeast to 307 degrees northwest. At whatever latitude installed, the GroDome captures all available sunlight, enabling the maximum plant growth time.

    Copyright 2014 - 2015, Optimum Wisdom Laboratories, All Rights Reserved 7

  • A Brief History of Geodesic Domesand Dome Construction Techniques

    Walther Bauersfeld, the chief engineer of the Carl Zeiss Optical Company, designed the first geodesic dome after World War I for a planetarium to house his planetarium projector. The dome was patented, constructed by the firm of Dykerhoff and Wydmann on the roof of the Zeiss plant in Jena, Germany, and opened to the public in July 1926.

    Buckminster Fuller coined the name geodesic dome from field experiments with artist Kenneth Snelson at Black Mountain College in 1948 and 1949. Snelson and Fuller worked developing what they termed "tensegrity," an engineering principle of continuous tension and discontinuous compression that allowed domes to deploy a lightweight lattice of interlocking icosahedrons that could be skinned with a protective cover. The omnitriangulated" surface of geodesic domes provides inherently stable structures, the strongest structures for their weight ever devised. Although Fuller was not the original inventor, he developed the intrinsic mathematics of the geodesic dome and popularized application of the idea for which he received U.S. patent 2,682,235 on June 29, 1954.

    Materials and construction techniques evolved. When in designing GroDome we eliminated from consideration, techniques that required industrial fabrication or professional fabrication equipment like, welders, milling machines, CNC cutting equipment and heavy duty saws.This left the following techniques:

    Copyright 2014 - 2015, Optimum Wisdom Laboratories, All Rights Reserved 8

  • Flattened Conduit

    Flattened conduit is one of the simplest ways to build a geodesic dome frame. Simply flatten both ends of metal tubing (conduit), bend the ends slightly, then drill holes. Connect the flattened conduit struts with bolts, washers, and nuts to form the required dome.

    Advantages:Easy to buildEasily assembled/disassembledNo special tools required

    Disadvantages: Quite crude, creates domes with temporary appearance.Can only be covered with flexible material because joints don't finish level.

    Commercial Hub

    The Vertex hubs are manufactured with perfect angles and use afriction fit to secure pipes in place. Just cut pipes to proper length and slip on hubs to construct dome.

    Advantages:Easiest to buildEasily assembled/disassembledNo special tools required

    Disadvantages: A 3 Frequency Greenhouse Kit is $645 just for the hubs.

    Classic Wood Strut

    The classic wood strut requires 2 compound miter cuts at each end with an angle precision of a tenth of a degree.

    Advantages:Beautiful

    Disadvantages:Requires 2 compound miter cuts at each end with an angle precision of a tenth of a degree.

    Copyright 2014 - 2015, Optimum Wisdom Laboratories, All Rights Reserved 9

  • Reinforced Wood Strut

    Some manufactures use the classic dual-beveled wood struts because of their inherent beauty, but then reinforce the joint, I suspect, to compensate for their inherent weakness.

    Wood Beam and Hub

    Wooden beams are attached to specially made hubs to form the dome framework; the angles are taken care of by the hubs.Just cut the beams to the correct length.

    Advantages: Simple dome construction system doesn't require specialist tools or knowledge

    Disadvantages: The hubs can be expensive and hard to find because

    they have to be specially made.

    Panelized Timber Frames

    Panelized timber frames use separately framed timbers covered in plywood. The three members comprising the triangular frame are cut at compound angles to provide for a flat fitting of the various triangles. Holes are drilled through the members at precise locations and steel bolts then connect the triangles to form the dome. The panelized technique allows thebuilder to attach the plywood skin to the triangles while safely working on the ground or in a comfortable shop out of the weather.

    Advantages: doesn't require expensive steel hubs.

    Copyright 2014 - 2015, Optimum Wisdom Laboratories, All Rights Reserved 10

  • Design Considerations and the Evolution of GroDome.

    We eliminated the flattened conduit and the commercialhub from consideration because available literaturereports that it is difficult to impossible to attach acovering to the metal struts used in these systems. Thecovering is often simply draped over the dome frame likethe picture to the right. The unattached cover may notsurvive the high winds of northwest Montana winters.

    The commercial hub and the wood beam and hubsystems were eliminated from consideration as tooexpensive.

    The classic wood strut and the reinforced wood strutsystems were eliminated from consideration becausethey both require complex dual-beveled cuts with tenth degree accuracy. This is neither simple nor even possible using commonly available woodworking tools and skills

    GroDome uses a modification of thepanelized system, using only theoutside triangle framework andreplacing the plywood withgreenhouse polyethylene filmstretched over the framework andstapled to the edges. Whenassembled, the staples and rawpolyethylene edges are hiddenbetween the two panel edges.

    The photograph to the right showsthe vertex of 6 GroDome hexagontriangles covered and assembled.

    Copyright 2014 - 2015, Optimum Wisdom Laboratories, All Rights Reserved 11

  • Tools Required

    Table Saw with tilt blade (shown without blade guard only for this photograph) Use Guard! With Rip Fence used to rip and bevel struts and base beams.

    With Miter Gauge used to cut struts to length, to miter struts and to miter base beams.

    Drill/Driver used to screw struts, triangles, and panels together.Tape Measure - used for all length measurements.Hand Saw used to trim struts after triangles are constructed.Hammer used to tap struts into place when clamping on template and to correct the occasional errant staple.

    Scissors used to trim the greenhouse polyethylene.Staple Gun used to attach greenhouse polyethylene to dome frames. You can use a manual staple gun, but you will be stapling thousands of staples and we recommend you use either an electric or a pneumatic staple gun. We bought ours from Lowe's for $29 and consider it one of the better tool investments we've ever made.

    Clamps used to hold struts to template while you screw triangles together and to hold triangles and panels together while you screw them together. You will need at least 3 clamps, but 6 would be better. They don't need to be the same. They just need to span at least 4 inches(100 mm) and not slip when clamped.

    Copyright 2014 - 2015, Optimum Wisdom Laboratories, All Rights Reserved 12

    Legal DisclaimerGroDome a Geodesic Dome GreenhouseA Brief History of Geodesic Domes and Dome Construction TechniquesFlattened ConduitCommercial HubClassic Wood StrutReinforced Wood StrutWood Beam and HubPanelized Timber Frames

    Design Considerations and the Evolution of GroDome.Tools Required