Dixie Cup Spherical Dodecahedron




About: I have achieved a degree of civil attrioneering (grande cum laude), and I've got a minor in under-the-influence basket weaving. (I did not take the 400-level scuba component - very dangerous!) Someday I wi...

All you need is a glue gun and 140 5 oz. Dixie Cups to achieve this rigid erection! Make several - then show off your amazing balls to friends and family! Then show them the thing you made out of 140 Dixie Cups! These Dixiespheres exhibit icosahedral symmetry, but other kinds are possible as well - I've included pictures of other Dixie Cup spherical constructions. I'd love to see any new ones you can come up with (especially if they exhibit some sort of symmetry), and I'd love to hear about how you use your Dixiespheres. I am a 30 year old man who makes things out of Dixie Cups!!! I'm starting to get a gut!!! I haven't taken a shower yet today...

Teacher Notes

Teachers! Did you use this instructable in your classroom?
Add a Teacher Note to share how you incorporated it into your lesson.

Step 1: Constructing the Basic 7-cup Modular Unit

The Dixiesphere is composed of twenty spherical-hexagonal 7-cup modular units, which you will construct first. Each hexagonal modular unit consists of seven cups hot-glued together such that one central cup is surrounded tangentially by six more cups. (The spaces between cups will look like equilateral triangles with concave edges, and the circular bases and rims of the cups will look like hexagonal close-packings of circles, but they will posess a slight overall curvature, as the circles define the surfaces of spheres.) It is important that the central cup contacts each of its surrounding six cups at their bases. It's a tight fit getting six cups around a center cup. Work quickly while the glue is hot to ensure that all upper rims and lower bases of the cups are flush, and that there are no superfluous gaps between the bases of the cups. Make all twenty units before assembling the Dixiesphere. Do not micturate in the cups!

Step 2: Assmebling the Modular Units Into a Sphere

Glue two spherical hexagonal modular units together such that the gap created by the four cups resembles a square with concave edges. Here is a picture of where two hexagonal units meet. Two cups from one unit are glued at their bases to two cups of another unit. See the square? Glue three more modular units to the first two to form a spherical pentagon with a hole in its center. Repeat this process to form another spherical pentagon. Glue the two pentagons together. From this point on, it should be obvious where to add the remaining modular units - just continue to make more spherical pentagons and the structure will close upon itself to form a Dixiesphere.

Step 3: Some Thoughts and a Different Type of Dixiesphere

The finished spherical dodecahedron is impressively strong, but IT'S NOT A GEODESIC SPHERE! Quite the contrary, it is comprised of a lot of minor circles on a sphere, not great circles (aka geodesics). The cups are truncated cones (aka frustrums). I'm not really sure how to understand the structural dynamics or statics engineering of this type of construction. If the dixie cups were were made of thin-walled aluminum or sum shitz, and their bases were welded plates, would the hemispheres make good strong dome structures? I'm not equipped to consider this problem effectively. Any thoughts?
Now, here's a different variety of Dixiesphere at various stages in its construction.

Step 4: Dixiesphere2

Use a 6-cup spherical triangular modular unit for Dixiesphere2.

Step 5: DS2 Cont'd

DS2 consists of three intersecting great circles (geodesics). The somewhat "vaginal" openings do not occupy identical locations on the surface of the sphere; rather, they alternate higher and lower in their placement with respect to one another. You'll discover just what I'm talking about when you make DS2. Then you will be a rockstar, like me.

Step 6: Beyond Dixie Cups

Triangular prism carcboard mailing boxes! Any size will do, so long as they are equilateral triangular in cross-section. Ask and you shall recieve instructions - otherwise, I'm too lazy to type them.

Step 7: Dixie Cup Say What? ..Foo!

Use a very high-tack glue. This thing has a tendency to fall apart into a pile until the glue has dried. It's nice to be able to make adjustments as you complete the assembly.
The little hole you see between the three "turbining" triangular prisms is a flaw. The pieces should all be perfectly snug. Each prism is parallel to a face plane of a shape called the rhombic dodecahedron. A company called ULINE is one supplier of these mailing boxes. You could make this shape out of cheap acrylic optical prisms. Use capillary-action acrylic cement. This shape could serve as the base for a plastic-top coffee or end table. (You might decide to add interior reinforcement to the cardboard prisms.)

Step 8: I Don't Need No Dixie Cups, Bitch!

Three Words: Rhombic Dodecahedral Lattice.
4 sets of three parallel triangular prisms - HELL YEAH!!

The Instructables Book Contest

Participated in the
The Instructables Book Contest

Be the First to Share


    • Fashion Contest

      Fashion Contest
    • Reuse Contest

      Reuse Contest
    • Hot Glue Speed Challenge

      Hot Glue Speed Challenge

    155 Discussions


    3 years ago

    I started making one of these out of tomato support cages. Unfortunately, the cages are too tapered, and the finished ball will not be so big, maybe 5' or less -- I was hoping for something much larger. BTW your title is incorrect -- this shape is a truncated icosahedron, like a soccer ball. The 7-piece units form the hexagonal faces while the 5-sided holes form the pentagonal faces.


    4 years ago

    Is it possible to build 2 spheres one of them bigger with protrusions and is meshed in form ( has spacings ) and the second is smaller and has the inverse protrusion forms. So that the smaller one is used to drive the bigger one in all 3 axis directions seamlessly ?


    6 years ago on Introduction

    love the dixie cup dodechahedron and i am in need of a lampshade. i just purchased 140+ dixie cups and will purchase a glue gun soon. do you have instructions (url or something) to get me started or the process at its entirety? i will give you mad props, etc. and yes i have a gut too, because i am desk jockey by day. potlucks never tasted so good. morph me obi wan.


    7 years ago on Step 8

    This resembles George Hart's lattice of 72 hexagonal pencils: http://www.georgehart.com/sculpture/pencils.html


    12 years ago on Step 6

    o shit that's awesome! never seen a cardboard mailing box of that shape b4 tho

    1 reply

    Reply 8 years ago on Step 6

    you could just pig out and get 12 toblerone packs and open them very carefully!


    13 years ago

    Some comments are not appropriate for younger inventors.

    13 replies
    R. Buckminster F_ckerjjordan

    Reply 13 years ago

    Some of my comments were puerile (from the latin puer, boy) and vulgar, ie, not suitable for ADULTS, but none of my comments are going to screw any kids up, or even surprise many. I'll be lucky if I get a laugh. Not appropriate for young inventors? Don't pick on me! Industrial mercury emissions are not appropriate for young inventors. Most public education is not appropriate for young inventors. The drinking water in Washington, D.C. is not appropriate for young inventors. Prenatal malnutrition, water riots, Ritalin, War in Iraq, suicide bombers, carpet bombers, Game Boys, sit-coms, carbon monoxide, My Little Pony, Cabrini Green, mass-media dissemination of vacuous and shallow values which serve only to super-size an individual's capacity for raw, uncultivated material lust....oh but it's PARENTS who really F_uck kids up. And when they grow up, you can be sure kids will curse their parents for their problems, and not me. Does anybody even dimly suspect that one day a disillusioned young inventor is going to weep about just how bad I really assed-up his life? Yet how many of tomorrow's young adults will think of their incompetent former guardians and gnash their teeth, "Why couldn't I ever please you, Dad? Why did you pidgeon-hole me as a ballerina, Mom?" "Why did that guy who showed me how to make a spherical dodecahedron out of F_cking Dixiecups make a joke about testicular exhibitionism?" Just to bug the prudes. Platitudinous, unthinking and trite prudery is not appropriate in the company of intelligent primates, damn. And it's not appropriate for young inventors, either.

    R. Buckminster F_ckerVannion

    Reply 13 years ago

    Cabrini Green is an anachronism, you're right. But there are still awful projects and slums. Detroit is still an urban wasteland, except for a bit of new development which gets all the press. The Hurricane swept away some awful projects in New Orleans. You know, I thought that whole city should have been cleansed by FIRE, but you take what you can get. (Ahh, inflammatory remarks..) I wish the folks I met down there were a little more reform-minded. I wish Johnson had been in the Whitehouse when Katrina hit, and not Bush. Yuppies eat souls, by the way.


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

     Not to get WAY off topic .. but it is a WAR.  

    It was enacted, as such, by a joint resolution of the Congress of the United States on October 16th, 2002

    if there are young inventors on this site, than the world still has some good in it. I think that any Instructable is at least one or two notches better than young people lookin up porn or much worse, spending hours of brain and social draining World of Warcraft. (sorry to the avid gamers ( but for real, go talk to girls)) any symmetry project is cool. but if you add LEDS then !Watch out! for multiplying coolness factor.