A few months ago, we got an inquiry from a customer who wanted to make a playhouse out of a 3V sphere. They wanted to know how to make it stand up without rolling over. Interesting request, right?
Spheres are nothing new to Sonostar – we started making them as soon as we made the first hubs (over 10 years ago). We’ve seen some incredible applications of the spheres, in particular the Halloween Death Star, put up by Colby Powell for his kids in Lafayette, California (video). They’ve been used for New Years’ drop balls, simulated planets, and one commercial client even made a ‘surround sound sphere’ with hundreds of speakers positioned around the insides. In most cases, the spheres were suspended, so they didn’t have to stand up straight.
For this client, however, we were challenged to build a 3V sphere that stands up on its own, so that kids can play in it. We thought about making a ‘nest’, or ‘cradle’ for the sphere to sit in, but that seemed like a lot of work, and that would make it very permanent wherever you built the ‘nest’. Then someone had the bright idea of just taking off the bottom row of hubs. That worked out pretty well, as the truncated sphere was able to balance on five 6-star hubs.
6' sphere with bottom ring removed
Then someone said, “Why not try some 4-star base hubs to make it sit even flatter? That worked even better.
Floor area showing 4-star hubs on contact points
Then we had to figure out a door. Not a problem, we just removed a few struts and hubs and we had a door. Then to smooth out the opening and make it look more like a door, we again removed some 6-star hubs that had the legs sticking out, and replaced them with 4-star hubs that gave it a nice clean look.
Our door concept is highlighted in blue. Lots of other choices.
Voila! A spherical playhouse made with Sonostar hubs and struts.
What else might a stand-up sphere be used for? We think it would make a great display space at a trade show, by setting up a larger sphere and showing the company’s products inside. It could also be used as a kiosk in a mall to sell some high tech products. Since it’s spherical in shape, it could also be covered and painted to look like a moon, a star, a planet, an asteroid, or anything space-shapey. Even a Death Star!