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A Bucky Lamp WIP

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Yojevol

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It must be 20 years ago that we bought this bucky ball lampshade for our bedroom although I didn't know it was bucky at the time. I would lie awake looking up at this new feature fascinated by its design and construction. How could such a complicated structure be made for such a modest price? (BHS Lighting Dept). Studying it from the comfort of my pillow I realised it was made up of 5 and 6 petalled florets and what’s more it had the regular structure . Each 5-petalled floret is surrounded by 6-petalled florets and each of the 6-petalled is surrounded by 3 x 5's and 3 x 6's. This arrangement, being reminiscent of a modern football, gave me a lead in to study the ‘ball’. It turns out that it has a formal name - wait for it - ‘Truncated Icosahedron'.



The common-or-garden plain icosahedron; one of the platonic solids (the Greeks were into these things). It has 20 faces (icosa = 20 in ancient Greek and hedron = faces) which all fit together perfectly:-

Icosahedron 2 pic.JPG





To get to the truncated version all the pointed peaks are truncated (chopped off), like this:-
Truncated Icosahedron.JPG
Thus the familiar football appears. It has 20 hexagonal faces, 12 pentagons and 60 vertices. This structure is hugely important in the 21st century because carbon atoms can spontaneously coalesce into this molecular form (Carbon60) with an atom at each vertex . It is commonly found in soot. The beauty of it is that it can be elongated into tubes by adding in extra rings of hexagons to form immensely strong carbon tubular fibres.

Truncated Icosahedron as a moniker doesn’t roll off the tongue too easily so it has acquired the nickname of ‘Bucky Ball’. Therein lies another story:-
Richard Buckminster Fuller was (he died in 1983) a renowned American architect who developed the geodesic form of construction (think Eden Project) which is based on the basic icosahedron. His name is also applied to the many molecular forms which are known as ‘Fullerines’

About the same time as acquiring the lampshade I was beginning to get adventurous in the use of TurboCad. So why not, I thought, just for the satisfaction of it, produce a bucky ball in CAD?
I spent a lot of time fruitlessly hunting around for some geometrical clues to get me underway. I just couldn't see how to get started, but then it struck me; just do what I normally do when detailing a bit of woodwork, ie. simulate in CAD what I would do in reality in the workshop.

In this case, if I were making a Bucky Ball out of card, I would start off like this:-
Keeping HexA flat on the worksurface, simply fold B and C up to close the gap and glue. →
CAD Construction.JPG


It’s not so easy in CAD because you can only move one item at a time and you don’t know where to rotate it to.
So a few construction lines are required to determine where the adjacent corners meet. Now B and C can be rotated up, one at a time, to the desired position. This provides the basis for the whole Bucky Ball construction.↓

CAD Construction 4.jpg



This was my ultimate interpretation of a bucky ball in CAD →
Bucky Ball rendered.JPG




An Idea Develops

Perhaps inspired by @pjm699's design, I started to think about the possibilities of making a bucky ball in wood. The obvious hurdle to over come would be the making 32 facets with sufficient precision to fit them all together accurately. It was only after I kitted myself out with a CNC router that I contemplated the means to make them accurately and in quantity.
My thoughts went back to the design. I wanted more than just a ball with holes in it.
Back to the lampshade in the bedroom; make a bucky light; hang a bulb in the middle.
No, too easy, too boring. Have separate lamps shining out of each hole. No, still too easy.
Have something that draws the eye INTO the ball.
Yes, Yes; a light feature that draws attention. Now that would be a conversation piece.

I'll leave the details of the individual lamp unit design hanging in the air for the time being and concentrate on the woodwork.

The basic bucky ball needs, to my mind, a little something to make it more distinctive and attractive, that little bit of finesse. So I'll introduce a cock bead between each of the facets in a contrasting wood.


Other details are:-

  1. 2 sizes of lamps; one for the hexagons and a smaller one for the pentagons
  2. lamp orifices edges rounded over.
  3. top and bottom pentagons will be lamp free.
  4. ball will be made in 2 halves, top and bottom. so that it can be split to allow access to the electrics inside
  5. 2 halves will be joined together with an internal threaded rod connecting the top and bottom pentagons (hence the plain panels).
  6. woods will be American Black Walnut and ramin
  7. support, will be a stand or hang from the ceiling, yet to be decided.

Prototypes and Jigs
I've spent many weeks getting to the stage where I'm confident to actually start manufacture. During this time I have experimented with procedures and jig design. These will become evident as I go through the job.

Work-in-Progress
This will be a true WIP. I'll report as I do it. It may turn out to be a long drawn out process.
There's always the possibility it won't be successful. Even if it is successful I may not actually like it or I may be refused permission to deploy it but, whatever, the journey will be worth the effort

Brian
 

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Yojevol

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Well it's time I got going for real on this project starting with preparing the ABW for the 20 hexagons and 12 pentagons
P1120170.JPG

About 3 years ago, definitely pre-pandemic, I made a dining table for a client of my daughter's interior design business. The slabs came in 3m lengths of which only 2.5m was required so I 'won' 7 lovely bits of surplus timber. Here are the two I selected for this job:-
The smaller piece had already been used to supply some material for the development phase (see below). Mostly I used plywood, as in the pic, but It was beneficial to try out the ABW in the latter stages.
The larger piece had to be ripped to a width of 90mm and the sliced to 7mm thickness, I did this by the plane/rip, plane/rip sequence to give me 7 pieces with one planed face and one sawn face. They were then brought down to 6mm on the drum sander:-

P1120171.JPG


Finally they were chopped to length with the mitre sawwith some material left over which will inevitably be needed later on.:-


P1120172.JPG





















Time taken 1 hour

Brian

PS. Here is a selection of trial efforts at making the polygons including a trial gluing:-

Trial polygons.JPG
 
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Yojevol

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Today I prepared the billets for placing in the polygon cutting jig.
First of all boring a 20mm location hole in the middle and then 3 holes for holding down screws:-
P1120174.JPG


P1120175.JPG


P1120176.JPG
All done in 30mins including setting up the pillar drill

I tried a first one in the cutting jig but it was obvious that it was not going to be reliable for the full
P1120177.JPG
production run. The 3 holding down screws were not man enough so I introduced a central thumbscrew which holds the whole assembly fast to the baseplate:-

As you can see the jig is based on a dividing-head indexing plate The 2nd to outside ring of holes has 60 holes so, being divisible by 5 and 6, can be used for both the pentagons and hexagons.
A small dowel pin through one of the 3 screw holes stops the billet rotating with respect to the index plate which is held in place by 2mm rod, aka a drill, through to the baseplate. The baseplate is located on the saw to give a polygon side length of 47mm.
I've managed to make one satisfactory hexagon, so it's 1 down, 31 to go.
Brian
 
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Richard_C

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Good stuff, thanks.

I've always found bucky balls fascinating although hard to get your head around - hexagons and pentagons but seen as an open frame it's a load of triangles . There was a whole sub culture of buckyball desert dwelling in the USA.

Just for interest and not helping your build at all, here is a picture of the big ball designed by Buckminster Fuller for the Montreal world fair in 1967. The building inside it is a much later addition.

Also link to a site with all kinds of formulae for diy 'outdoor' versions which others might find interesting. If my garden was a little bigger I would be tempted to build the bamboo version to use as a runner bean support instead of a boring straight row. Not quite got room.

www.desertdomes.com/index.html

You've probabaly already found the buckminster fuller institute site, here it is:

www.bfi.org/about-fuller/big-ideas/geodesic-domes
WP_20150504_14_09_58_Pro.jpg
 

Yojevol

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Today I rattled off the cutting of all the hexagons and pentagons. I was amazed at how quickly they could be done, averaging 2 minutes each. This photo was taken just as I was about to make the last cut:-
-
1637350233990.png


Having got them it's difficult to resist laying them out to show them off:-

1637350477356.png
1637350742392.png


Job done, but this is not how I originally envisaged. As indicated in the introduction, I thought I would be using my Denford CNC machine. However after a few trials I was not happy with its reliability. Occasionally I would get a side that was not quite straight. I haven't investigated the cause yet but I suspect that one of the travel guides is sticking slightly (I have recently done some refurbishment work on these guides). There's no room for errors on this job so I turned to my Metabo mitre saw to see what that could offer. This is the method I tried first:-

P1120195.JPG

A fence angled at 60° and the saw set at at 60°. However this was difficult to get the required accuracy and was prone to building up a cumulative error as I progressed around the 6 sides. What was needed was a method of rotating the workpiece that was independent of anything else. A turntable would do the job, but how could I get it to rotate through exactly the desired angle. At this point I recalled that a dividing head index plate was lurking somewhere in the nether regions of my workshop. I acquired it years ago thinking that it would come in handy one day. Well its day did arrive and I'm very pleased I didn't throw it out in a recent cull of underused tools.
I now realise that a plywood turntable would do the job and be comparatively easy to make. It would just need a bit of care in drilling the 5/6 indexing holes. It would also avoid the possibility of sawing into the steel index plate (I had to modify the saw's vertical limit stop to avoid that reliably for this exercise).

Next step - boring the lamp holes which will be done on the Denford
 

Yojevol

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Change of plan. I decided that boring the lamp holes was not sensible at this stage; better to keep the reference 20mm hole and use it to carryout the final procedures on the outer shapes of the panels, ie, add the cock beads and mitre the edges.
The beading is being made from Venetian blind (ramin) slats. The process is:-
1. strip off the paint from one side of 6 slats on the drum sander.
2. Round over both edges using a 2mm router cutter on the spindle moulder.
3. Cut off both edges on the bandsaw to give 2 x 8mm strips from each slat.
4. Cut the strips in half lengthwise to give 12 lengths of beading
5. Gang up the 12 strips and produce a mitred end using the disc sander
6. Chop off the prepared ends in a jig on the mitre saw set at the mitre angle (30° for the hexagons)
7. Repeat to produce 120 beads for the hexagons and 60 for the pentagons.

Here are some pics of the process:-

P1120202.JPG
P1120197.JPG
P1120198.JPG

--------The material thru the stages-----------------12 lengths on the sander-----------------------and on the mitre saw

The mitre saw jig is interesting in that the length stop (that's the bit held in place by the thumbscrew) has its end cut at 30° to be parallel with the saw blade so that the cut-off pieces are all the same length. However the workpieces themselves have to be reversed so that the cuts are angled in the opposite sense to the first end.

The next stage is to glue them on to the polygons and for this I developed 2 jigs to hold them all in place:-

P1120199.JPG
P1120200.JPG


Each consists of a central boss to hold the panel and 5 (or 6) cauls which are pressed on to the the cock beads by a rubber band. The cauls can be held back by a dowel through a notched block. These blocks also keep the cauls flat on the base.
These jigs enable me to trial fit all the beads and then glue each bead individually without disturbing the adjacent ones.
The panels are mounted front face down in the jig such that they rest on the strips surrounding the central boss. Thus when the cock beads are pressed down onto the base they end up a consistent 2mm above the panel face.
I'm using CA glue which means they have to remain in the jig for only a few minutes.
I've now finished all the hexagons. Here are a few:-

P1120203.JPG


You begin to get an idea of how the cock beads will look.

Now for the pentagons

Brian
 
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Yojevol

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Having got all the cock beads attached, the next stage was to shave most of the ramin material away to establish mitres on all the
P1120205.JPG
sides. My CAD model informs me that there are 2 relevant mitre angles between plates,18.69° for a hexagon/pentagon joint and 20.91° for a hex/hex. So starting with the hex's, set the spindle moulder angle using my Trendy new toy:-


20.9 will have to do

When I was prototyping I carried out this stage by setting up a false fence and table with just enough tool protruding to make the cut and ran the workpiece through by hand. That was OK for a few but I felt I needed something a bit more secure for the 180 production cuts. Also it meant that only the aris at the top of the cock bead was in contact with the fence after the cut. So I made this sled,
P1120209.JPG
the front edge of which controls the depth of cut. The position of the workpiece is fixed by a spigot up through its centre hole. This worked fairly well until the cutter was called upon to cut uphill. ie. against the grain. I had 2 failures (eating in to my scrap allowance) before I realised what was going on. The cutter was catching the grain causing the plate to rotate which then caused it to split in half. To avoid this happening again I ground away most of the material on the disc sander, where the grain would be troublesome, just leaving a slither to be removed by the router cutter. I also went to a smaller diameter cutter and made sure the thumbscrew was really tight.



For the pentagons I made another sled as the dimensions are different and I introduced a bit if course abrasive belt bonded to the sled to help grip the workpiece. It all went to plan from then on.

----------
P1120215.JPG
----------
P1120214.JPG



----------------------------------------
P1120217.JPG


Job Done
Brian
 
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