|Building the Nose|
3na the Jellyfish
The Home Dome
Nosefish Dome Deck
The Desert Nose
BM 2001 Photos
Building the Nose
Building a Model
Roller Disco 2002
Camp Nose Fish 2011
|Building the nose turned out to be quite challenging, both
because of its complexity and because of its size.
I just dove in and tried to assemble the nose and, really,
that wasn't the right thing to do. Here's how I would
do it if I could do it again for the first time.
- After producing all the struts, check them all again.
- Make sure there is only one label on each strut.
- Check the lengths of the struts against the labels.
- Sort all the struts into pairs (left/right) or singles
(unique) that are in numerical order.
- Create a center line with a strong piece of cord.
It should be long enough for the entire length of the
strutcture, on its centerline.
I marked the string at 1 foot increments and used
short, medium and long marks in a kind of roman numeral
like numbering system (short=1, medium=5, long=10).
- Then "graph" the location of each vertex that is on
the ground using the center line as a reference. This
defines the perimiter. I'd like to place a surveyor's
flag at each location (a tiny flag on a wire), but
a piece of baling wire with an address label wrapped
in half as a tiny flag (I'd use the 1" x 2-5/8" size).
- Lay out all the struts around the perimiter of the base.
Bolt the base struts together, but just twist the nuts
on a few threads.
- Build up the "first layer" of struts. Here's a simple
example of a section of the "first layer":
/\ /\ /\ /\ /\ /
You will need to prop up some of the verticies of the top
of the first layer to keep it from falling inward.
- Make sure you bend the end of each strut so that the ends
are flat with respect to each other. I didn't need
any L-brackets in the lower part of the Desert Nose.
- Then build up an area that has some strength. In the Desert
Nose I built up the septum, and then the very opposite end,
which was essentially like a half dome.
click for larger view
- I used 3" bolts, but these only worked up to about
six or so struts meeting. I needed struts as long as
6" for some joints.
- Then fill in the rest of the perimiter between whatever
strong areas were assembled. This should complete the
second layer or even the second and third layers, etc.
- As you work be very careful to get the right struts
in the right places. A single strut in the wrong
place pretty much guarantees that the structure cannot
be assembled. I got a few struts in the wrong place
and burned two weekends trying to figure out why it
was so hard to get the struts to fit.
- At some point you will need to support the structure
on the inside with 2x4s, etc., so it doesn't collapse.
Until all struts are assembled, the strutcure may have
- At some point you will be just about ready to create
a continguous skin of triangles. In other words,
once these last few struts are in place every strut
will be part of a triangle and all that would be
left would to be to build "up" into three dimensions.
- If there are any mistakes in your structure they will
show up here as an inability to get the last few struts
to fit. Audit the structure to find which struts
are in the wrong place. Place an adhesive green dot
(for example) on each strut that you check that is
in the right place.
- Ultimately you'll get the structure "closed" to form
a contiguous skin and you can start building the 3-d portions.
- Throughout the assembly I found that it was best to
attach a new strut to the most "involved" vertex first.
You can judge how "involved" a vertex is by how many
struts are already connected to it and how much force
is on the vertex. A vertex under more stress beats
one under less stress with nearly the same number of
- Tightening the hardware on a vertex freezes it in a
way which makes any adjacent verticies very difficult
to work with. It is hard to disassemble adjacent
verticies, hard to attach new struts to them, etc.
Also, the structure will not be in its final shape
until most or all of the struts have been assembled.
So tightening the hardware may freeze it in a shape
which ultimately prevents the structure from
ever coming together! The Desert Nose was built with
only a few verticies tightened -- those near the base
and first few layes of the septum, and a few along the
centerline of the deck.
- Leaving verticies loose allows you to "rattle" the
strutcture by holding onto it and shifting your weight
rapidly. Careful not to bend the struts or fall and
hurt yourself. Rattling the strutcture allows it to
settle into a new shape which balances the forces
transfered by all the currently assembled struts.
You need to rattle the structure frequently as you
assemble the structure because the incomplete structure
necessarily causes deformations. Rattling the structure
is sometimes the only way to get a strut to fit.
More to come...