Instructables
Picture of Cardboard Play Dome
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I wanted to make a small play house for the kids, but I didn't want to spend money.  Aside from a $3 pack of hot glue sticks, everything I used here is stuff I already had.

I searched online for geodesic domes so I wouldn't have to do all the math myself.  I found a suitable one that people suggested homeless people use as emergency shelter, then scaled it down and added squares on the bottom.


For this project, I used:

cardboard
box cutter
pen or pencil
ruler
hot glue
white school glue
clear spray primer and top coat
white spray paint
metallic spray paint (in two colors I happened to have)
black and white acrylic paint
metal powder mixed with white glue (use metallic paint if you have it; i didn't)
chopstick, napkin, and tape (use a round brush if you have one)
small paintbrush
large crappy paintbrush
 
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Step 1: Measure and cut triangles and squares

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If there were no doors or windows in this dome, it would consist of:

30 AAB triangles
10 BBB triangles
10 B squares

In this case, A measured 10 7/16 inches and B measured 12 inches.

I drew 1 inch flaps outside the edges of the triangles and squares (skipping the corners, as shown) so I could attach things together on the inside of the dome.

I left out three of the BBB triangles to make two windows and the top of the door for this project, and one of the B squares.

I suggest holding a ruler tightly while you slice along the outline of your shapes with a box cutter.  Remember to cut outside the flaps, not inside them along the triangle or square.  It helps to cut one and use it as a guide to trace the others, then cut the rest along the pencil lines, rather than measuring every time.
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HelenaTroy3 days ago

oh, excellent! I'll have to make one, then invite some kids round to use it!

dataphool1 year ago
I'm impressed. Very impressed. Yours is the clearest way to plan and make a 'geodesic' dome. It doesn't seem very hard.

Problem. I have been heaving every box; now I will have to save them. How will I ever make up my mind. (wink)
adeejay2 years ago
very nice idea and work....well done, now i feel inspired, thank you!!
Oooh, I could make one of these for the bunnies! I just won't have the amount of ink you put on, but I think they'd like it. Looks like plenty of room for at least 6 buns.
Ugifer2 years ago
DRAT! I'm just sorry we binned that load of IKEA boxes last week!

Great instructable - and your dedication to decorating this just-so is remarkable. Lovely work.
Very cool! I like the steam punk colouring! (if thats what its men't to be!)
CementTruck3 years ago
I saw a full sized version of this in Maker Faire Detroit 2011. It was about 10 or 12 feet tall and made out of plywood. Pretty spacious inside.
fretted3 years ago
http://www.byexample.com/library/calculators/geodesic_dome_calculator/

Geodesic dome calculations made easy all ya gotta do is the labor you can makem kiddy sized or full sized like a house or garage this calculator takes out the heavy brain work !.
Nelyan fretted3 years ago
Maybe it's just me, but how should these numbers be read? In a 2V Dome it suggests I have "35 Struts 30.9 cm each" and "30 Struts 27.33 cm each". These are the for the structure, right? So is the first number the A-lenght and B-length the second? Ugh, I'm having a hard time scaling this down.
fretted Nelyan3 years ago
The FAQ page on this site is awsome these guys covered everything to make it easier to understand check it out

http://www.desertdomes.com/faq.html
Nelyan3 years ago
I finally made it, but cat-sized :)
It inspired me to do a homage-'ible, http://www.instructables.com/id/Cat-sized-Cardboard-Dome/ , I hope you like it.
Wow! Is that even possible to make!?
Mauigerbil3 years ago
COOL!!!! Im followin u
I'm impressed. Very well done, both craft-wise and as a mom. You have discovered what heaven really is like.
Nelyan3 years ago
After reading this 'ible, I felt a need to create a playdome myself, you're never too old for these kind of things! I wonder how many boxes do I need to make one for two adults to fit in. :D (Oh, where would I even put it?)

And our new cat happens to love cardboard boxes, I could make one for her too so she would spend more time out from under the sofa.

One idea would be to try and make this out of fabric-covered parts with velcro to attach it together (and make it easily collapsible), but would it hold its structure? Any ideas, anyone?
Mod Podge - several coats should do it. I think they have one that makes fabric really hard. I'm guessing on this, but I've seen plans to make fabric boxes, and they use stuff like this. Google 'fabric boxes'.
Maybe if u could make triangle frames out thin plywood or fiber board or something light and cover the surfaces with cloth.

I think the main point of constructing a big structure is to make it light to prevent collapsing and attach the parts firmly to each other.
I don't have a hot glue gun. I wonder if duct tape on the outside and inside may work. Ideas?
It might. Or you could save your change for a month and spend $3 on a cheap glue gun + $2 on a package of sticks. Walmart has some tiny but quite functional guns for around $3. I know, because I just picked up one after not being able to find my old one.
I have none moneys, but i suppose i could go sofa diving. we shall see. this project is on my to do list. :)
Duct Tape should work fine. Just be sure to apply it very carefully to guarantee maximum contact [no wrinkles if possible].

You could probably get by with Duct Tape just on the outside, but for maximum strength and rigidity it would be better to use it on both the outside and inside of each joint.
SimonRawr3 years ago
I was wondering how tall this turned out to be with your dimensions.
Rahikainen3 years ago
What a gorgeous pair u got there, and the idea of the dome is amazing, children always find interesting and stimulative tiny places, congrats!
JWPatt3 years ago
Bucky, would be proud of this, its the kind of thing that he advocated.. This is what the octahedron is good for it divides evenly at the hemispheres..this is a three frequency, about thirty years ago I built this exact configuration ( not out of cardboard ) and lived in it for around 4 years, my mother moved into it after I moved out and still lives in it today.. Her highest utility bill has been under 80 dollars.. it was insulated on the outside of the shell with two inches of double foil faced urethane foam.. I like living in it better than any structure I have lived in..It was small about 900 square feet with the balcony bedroom. I plan to build one more to live in before I pass from the world.. It will be built much like this one only out of foot thick foam and shotcrete ...
Isn't wonderful how good ideas just live forever.. :) Thanks to Bucky fuller and you, your children will always see space as something different...
jackg JWPatt3 years ago
JWPatt,

would you make a 'screen' to ''hold'' the shotcrete? sounds like your HOUSE had an even temp all year round,

do you have pic's of your house??
JWPatt jackg3 years ago
I would definitely use either multiple layers of poultry wire or metal lath which ever turned out to look the easiest to work with based against the cost ... The R factor of the dome was an R 16 but gained a great deal of radiant heat retained and reflected because of the double foil facing.. The one I have planned will be in the range of an R 48 optimum and realistically more like an R 40 .. We have built several tube frame domes.. and have a 9/10s tube dome mounted outside my business on concrete piers.. Its a 16' diameter.. dome.

I have pictures of the one I lived in somewhere just have to find them or go take some more..
jackg JWPatt3 years ago
Thanks JW,

gezz, R48 is hugh, no wonder the HVAC was so low,

may I suggest you look at a product called ''hemp-crete' .com, amazing stuff

can't wait to see the pictures
jackg JWPatt3 years ago
forgot to ask,, where your 'R' values in the double digits??
luella3 years ago
About 25 years ago, I saw directions for constructing a cardboard geodesic dome in Sunset Magazine. I decided it would be a good project for my 4th and 5th grade special education students. They had to measure and draw the triangles; I did the cutting. Like you, I added 1" flaps around the triangles. We didn't use any squares. Then the students assembled the cardboard triangles with 1/2" #8 machine screws, washers, and nuts. Because this was a reward activity, after they finished their assignments, it took a couple of months to complete. They eagerly did their English and math assignments so they could work on the dome. The finished dome was approximately 4 feet high and 6 feet in diameter. We didn't paint ours, or put windows in it, but we left one triangle at the base open for a door. All the children (all boys) could fit inside. They took flashlights inside and used it for a reading corner the rest of the year. At the end of the year, the fire marshal ordered it taken down, but by then it has served its purpose.
jackg3 years ago
consider scaling to a gingerbread house size,
kmckay43 years ago
This is GREAT i am making one as I speak....Only this one is for my dog...Thanks a MILLION for the time you spent making yours and for all the time you took to write and share this recipe, that is so creative and detailed....Thank You....
jbarziza3 years ago
I haven't seen any of your other ibles, but if they're as creative and complete as this one, put 'em together and WRITE A BOOK! Very creative and your kids seem to be totally enchanted with it. Good job.
bigflash13 years ago
This is AWESOME! Lucky kids for sure to have a mom that's so creative!!!!!
kevinhannan3 years ago
bloomin' marvellous!

thanks for sharing and major kudos to you.
wilgubeast3 years ago
This is awesome! I wish I'd had a sweet playhouse like this when I still fit inside of one. Also, my favorite line in the whole thing, "I found a suitable one that people suggested homeless people use as emergency shelter." Brilliant.
if you scale up your triangles, you can make it to fit you at any age. You deserve a play house, you have my permission to build one. Hugs to you.
supersoftdrink (author)  wilgubeast3 years ago
Oh! That reminds me... here's the site that had the instructions which inspired this instructable. It was linked to by some other site (which was the one that suggested its use for homeless)

http://www.fetchaphrase.com/dome/
Aww cute pictures :3
looks great! A LABOR OF LOVE TO BE SURE!!!!!!
patron_zero3 years ago
Really excellent quality cardboard can be found at upper-end fine furniture retailers, mind large screen plasma-LED TV boxes are great for such purposes too but the harder to find honeycombed shipping boxes will offer your projects longer playlife and a much stronger construction.
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