turning geodesic dome into greenhouse

adlumia_fungosumMarch 2, 2014

I have a 4V geodesic dome (made of galvanized conduit) about 15 feet across. We grow morning glories, pole beans and squash up the sides in summer and use it as a fun place to sit and have a cocktail. We love it, but I thought we could get more use out of it.

I would like to build a removeable vinyl cover and convert the dome into a solar greenhouse for the colder months. I have found a good source of reinforced GH vinyl http://www.advancegreenhouses.com/greenhouse_films.htm#Reinforced Polyfilm that looks like the right material, but am trying to come up with a design that will fit the dome with not too many seams etc. Anyone have experience doing something like this?

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No experience with anything like that but you might want to look into a wire-lock system. You could tech-screw the wire-lock base to the pipe covering the entire perimeter. Then you have a matrix to fasten the film covering using the zig-zag wire. It won't be easy but the end result should look good.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 2:17PM
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thanks - although I don't quite understand what you mean!

    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 8:29PM
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The Wirelock system is composed of 2 parts- first you need to permanently fasten the wirelock base, an aluminum strip with a x-section that looks like a sideways letter "C". You use the tech-screws, sometimes called drill-screws to screw that base to your geodesic frame. With a hacksaw or DeWalt cordless recip. saw you can easily cut the base strips to and length or even bend either way by making partial cuts.

Once you permanantly fasten the base you can overlay your plastic film (get greenhouse UV protected film) and secure it with the wiggle-wire (aka Zigzag wire). The wiggle-wire is stainless steel wire in 4 ft lengths (can also be cut) which looks like /\/\/\/\/\/\/\ . The wire is inserted into the base, over plastic, thereby holding the plastic securely.

I think you could GOOGLE "wirelock poly fastener" to locate a few suppliers in your area.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2014 at 10:06AM
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Thanks - that sounds like the trick, assuming I can bend the aluminum strip to fit the curve of the dome. Anyone have experience doing that?

    Bookmark   March 8, 2014 at 7:03PM
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As mentioned, you can partially cut thru the aluminum base. When bending the bottom just cut thru only sides. When bending to a side just cut a "V" from the side to bend to and bend tips of the "V" to touch eachother. With a sawzall the aluminum cuts like butter. You'll need to trial cuts for your dome but I would imagine that you could use one piece of base for each alternate hexagon, octagon, etc and then fill in between with cut base pieces.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2014 at 2:37PM
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I think you might run into an issue with the dome being curved in two dimensions. Most commercial GHs are only curved in one dimension (sides going up to the roof peak), but straight in the other dimension (along the length). That allows you to use the wirelocks along the base of the sides, and the plastic will curve nicely put to the roof peak and down again to the other side.

On a dome however, it is curved in two dimensions. This means you can't just throw a flat piece of plastic over the top and pull it tight on two sides. You will end up with "extra" material because the dome is curved in two dimensions.

I don't know how you can deal with this excess material from the dual curving. Perhaps you could run the channel along the perimeter of each triangle that makes up the dome. This would take care of the "excess," but would be a bunch of work and a lot of seams. Or perhaps you could have someone fashion a dome shaped cover by seaming together appropriate sized triangles. This would be more waterproof and easier to put up, but would require careful sizing to fit.

Good Luck

    Bookmark   March 9, 2014 at 8:01PM
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Campanula UK Z8

you will have to cut the cover....but not exactly into triangles. Imagine how a globe looks, unpacked - a series of long ellipses touching at each widest point. You will need to cut between 8-12 of these, but sliced horizontally at the halfway stage.....so you are looking long, acute angled triangles, with slightly curved sides. The PVC has to be heat sealed or taped using suitable taping (of which I cannot advise, living in the UK).

    Bookmark   March 9, 2014 at 8:14PM
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these guys make dome covers for their grodomes - may be you can contact them about making a custom size for you? or buying just a cover that is close to your size?
it's a neat idea.

Here is a link that might be useful: grodome

    Bookmark   March 10, 2014 at 2:02PM
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You`ll need a uv stabilized material otherwise it will go brittle and disintegrate very rapidly. If you use poly, you `ll need to attach greenhouse anti-hotspot tape to the steel frame to protect against abrasion and high temperatures. For a seasonal cover i`d opt for a custom fitted white ripstop nylon cover attached to the frame with velcro It`ll be a breeze to fit and remove, washable and folds up into a small package for storage.
A 4v dome will make a nice greenhouse, i built a 5/9 3v :)

Edit: you`ll need around 350 sq ft of material to make the dome cover, allow extra for things like overlaps, hems or seams etc.

This post was edited by hex2006 on Tue, Mar 18, 14 at 3:11

    Bookmark   March 18, 2014 at 12:44AM
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