Building the Nose
 3na the Jellyfish

 The Home Dome

 Nosefish Dome Deck

 The Desert Nose

 BM 2001 Photos


 Tim's Images

 James' Images

 Party Images


 Nose Plans

 Building the Nose


 Nose Calculator

 Building a Model

 2002 Organizers

 Roller Disco 2002


 The Fishmobile

 Camp Nose Fish 2011

 Gray Water

 Fish Hats

 Nosefish Shower

 The Fishcycle

Desert Nose

The Desert Nose will be back at Burning Man 2002, providing a cool place to chill-out amid the vast stimulation of Burning Man. It's a place to shelter from the dust and heat, get a view of Black Rock City and relax.

The Desert nose is a scaled up replica of Buckminster Fuller's nose. It is 15 feet tall, 30 feet wide, 30 feet deep. It has a second floor deck which seats 600 lbs of people. Inside the floor is carpeted and there is enough custom bench-type seating for 25 people. There is low volume "chill space" ambient and down tempo music and at night there is low-level color lighting.

This year there is a new and improvised cooling system that maximizes human coolage with a lot less wattage. Also, there is an anwning over the deck area as a precaution in case it rains, and as a sun shade. The nose stereo has a new amplifier and there are new nose lighting fixtures. The nose phone, which has become infamous for its poor showing at last year's Burning Man has been rebuilt, to its original specs, and is in great working order. The septum is now covered in canvas instead of wood, which was burned last year because there was no space for it on the return trip.

But by far the biggest and most important change for the nose this year is that it got a paint job! Each of the nearly 320 struts (the awning adds several new struts) has been painted with a sorting color in its middle, and each end has been painted with three colored stripes. All the struts which meet at a given vertex are painted the same way, so it is easy to tell when a strut is out of place. This will make assembly in the desert much, much easier. In addition, each strut has a new label which is much, much, much easier to read now, from any orientation.

Last year I used an air compressor to spray water on people and then blow air past them. The water on their skin evaporated and they were quickly cooled. Very effective, but nosiy and it consumed a lot of power.

The one resource in abundance at Burning Man is human energy. So, this year's cooling system taps some of that. We'll be using hand-pumped sprayers to mist people. These hold 2.5 gallons each and last a while after being pumped up.

To move air this year I'm using an electric fan bolted to the underside of the deck pointing down. This will move a lot more air than the compressor, and will be easier for people to control for themselves. It will also move air inside the nose and that will help cool the nose somewhat too.

The fan will run on electric power, assuming we're in center camp, where there is some 110v power. If the camp is on the Esplanade we may use a generator, or I could run the fan with 50 square feet of solar cells...

Why build a replica of Buckminster Fuller's nose? Well, it all started a couple of years ago...

I got the idea while I was driving back from Burning Man 2000 and reflecting on what worked and what didn't work with my dome. It seemed that the wind blew in too much from the sides. Also, I wanted a door. Doors don't work well in domes -- they get weakened by adding a door. To make a door in a dome I figured I could make a stong "hoop" and enclose a door, or make a strong column and put a door on each side of it. When I imagined the latter -- a dome with two rounding doors side-by-side -- I immediately thought of a nose. The more I thought about it the more I liked the idea.

I wondered how I might build one and decided that the same technology used to build the dome could also work for the nose. And, if the nose was to be built as a geodesic structure it would be perhaps appropriate to build it based on Buckminster Fuller's nose. While he didn't actually invent the concepts of geodesic structures, he certainly developed and popularized them.

I also feel personally aligned with one of his primary beliefs: that humans have advanced to the point where we have the "option to succeed" and the ability to raise the standard of living for everybody on the planet.

For more on Buckminster Fuller and his remarkable accomplishments, viewpoints and life check out these resources:

I decided to start by building a model. I built the model out of copper ground wire, which I soldered together. The nose would lay on the ground with the nostrils pointing away from the prevailing wind. I actually built only half of the model with all its struts. The other half just had a few large curved wires to suggest the entire shape.

Then I labeled all the vertexes and all the struts. Some vertexes and struts were exactly on the center line, so there was only one of each. The rest there would have a left and right version (which would be identical).

Then I very carefully measured the X, Y and Z coordinates of each vertex and created a data file which contained the coordinates for each vertex number.

I also surveyed the model to determine which two vertexes were connected by each numbered strut. I recorded this information in another data file which listed the two vertex numbers for each strut number, and whether the strut was on the center line or not.

Then I created a program using Perl which analyzed the two input files for various purposes, including:

  • Applying a scaling factor to the data to let me see how big the nostril openings would be compared to the entire length, width and height.
  • Calculating the actual length of each strut.
  • Generating labels to be applied to each strut to identify it.
  • Determining the order in which to cut struts to minimize wasted electrical conduit.

Here is a makefile that shows lots of examples of using the program:

To use the program and the makefile you will have to download them and rename them. The files in my web site are vert2.txt and makefile.txt. They need to be renamed and makefile respectively. And, you will have to make executable. There is a perl and make available for pretty much all computers. If you are on Linux or a mac this should be pretty straightforward. If you're on a PC, get a mac. Alternatively, you can get perl for your PC and I'm sure there is a port of make somewhere that will work for you.

Also, the program expects the module GD to be available so it can produce GIF images. If you don't have GD and can't figure out how to get it, then comment out the line that says "use GD;" by inserting a sharp character in front of it (#). The program will work, but you won't be able to generate images.

This program accepts two data files from you and then generates data and images for them. It assumes you will be building a structure with a center line of symmetry.

In fact, the finished version will have 311 struts, ranging in length from less than 11" to over 12' (for some side stabilizing struts that lay on the ground).

Nose Width=21' 10 and 5/8"
Nose Length=25' 6"
Nose Height=14' 7 and 3/32"
Door Height=8' 5 and 1/8"
Deck Height=8' 0 and 7/8"

Look who was lurking among the struts of the Desert Nose...

Struts 4, 5 ,6, 7, 11, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19 and 91
of the Desert Nose

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