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April 06, 2020 3 min read

The newest feature on Sonostar’s website www.sonostarhub.com is a dome configurator that helps you model your geodesic dome in 3D, then gives you the opportunity to have a cover made that will fit your frame perfectly.  The current version is a Beta test only – pricing for the covers have not been implemented. This didn’t happen overnight.

Ten years ago, Sonostar came out with its ½” PVC hubs for geodesic domes.  They were an immediate hit, and within a couple of years they had sold in over 50 countries around the world.  Then, 6 years ago, we introduced the megahubs, dual-purpose hubs that fit both 1” and 1 ½” PVC. Those are now more popular than the ½” pvc hubs.  All along, though, the next question we always got from people was “How about the cover? We need a cover! What’s so hard about making a cover?” Actually dome shaped covers are fairly complex, because there are no straight lines on the surface of the dome.  To make a cover fit, you have to use a program to map out the curved surface of the cover, then you need to use the program to cut the fabric in such a way that when it’s stitched, it conforms to the curves of the dome.  We’ve always kept our dome frame programs open-ended, so users could make a dome in any configuration and size they wanted, so this would mean a cover program would have to be flexible with room for those different variables.

About a year ago, we drew up what we thought were reasonable specifications for a program that would allow users to design their cover in a 3-D format, so they could look at the dome from all angles and approve it online.  We thought it was no big deal. We were wrong! It turns out that getting the different configurations all set up for  3-D, then integrating it with our Shopify Store, and doing it in a way that didn’t bog down the system was quite a challenge.

When you go to the dome configurator, the first step will be to choose “Hub + Strut Kit”, then choose your frequency configuration.  Let’s say you choose “3V 5/9”. Then pick your size of PVC for your struts – ½”, 1”, or 1.5” PVC. The diameter at the bottom is in meters, so then you can choose your diameter from the selections.  These are suggestions, only. The domes are completely scalable, and you can order any size within reason.

Now is when you can press the new feature which is “Dome Cover”.  Once you press the button, it will begin to load the 3D model of the configuration you’ve chosen.

Again, it’s important to note that this is a Beta Test – although the information is correct in the table, regarding the number of struts, hubs, height, surface area of the cover, etc., there is no pricing associated with the cover options yet.  We are still working on a lot of backend details and it may be a couple of months before we can display all of the pricing associated with the covers. You can still use it, though, and checkout with both a dome structure and cover.  If you checkout with a dome cover you will be contacted after we receive the order. We will then send you a quote for the dome cover and an estimate for shipping cost that can be paid via our website.

Useful hints regarding the configurator:

UnderCover Material, we’ve given 3 options: All-white, All-clear, and a combination of White and Clear.  Try them all – they may give you some ideas.

UnderDoors, you may have options other than one door, depending on the configuration.

UnderWindows, same thing.  You may have several options depending on your configuration.

Use the‘scroll’ function on your computer mouse to make the dome appear bigger or smaller on your screen.

When you hover over the dome image, the cursor will turn into a hand icon.  Hold the left side of your mouse and move the dome around, looking at all the different angles.

What you don’t see:

There’s a deeper layer that has all the measurements for the dome frame and the cover.  Once the dome cover is purchased, we can download the measurements file and have the cover made exactly to size.  This takes the guesswork out of it completely.

Feedback

One of the reasons we’re releasing the configurator now, and not waiting until the pricing for the dome covers are complete is so that we can get your feedback.  We’re already writing up the specs for Rev 2, and we’d like to build as much intuitive functionality into it as possible. You can send your feedback to us at support@sonostarhub.com.


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