Here’s something I’ve been working for about three weeks. That thing I called applied infographics. After the 20th time I explained what I did to my friends and colleagues I decided it’s time to show the thing to the world.
It started when Daniel Kovzhun came up with idea of the mobile Geodesic Dome that could be assembled and disassembled easily. The use of this Dome is to cover some area (12m diameter circle) to make different outdoor events. The construction was awesome but the instructions weren’t. Every part of the Dome was marked with it’s number strictly representing the place in the big structure. There was no way to assemble or disassemble the Dome easily. So I was asked to come up with labeling of the parts (including even the names for them) and to create the instruction that would make the process as easy, as Lego.
Turned out the project would be more exciting and friendly than it was expected. As Daniel started explaining me how the whole Dome thing works I’ve noticed some interconnections and regularities. With all that more then 300 parts to connect I suddenly realized everything was much easier than it seemed. But lets start from the very frightening beginning.
Dome looks like dome (what a surprise) made of triangles connected with their apexes. Every apex is a Hub and triangle edges that connect Hubs are Struts.
Hubs can be of 7 different types depending on the number of connection slots and their alignment, while Struts can be of 6 different types, depending on their length. There is no rules like ‘this type of Struts should be connected to this type of Hubs’ and Hubs of one type should be rotated different angles depending on the place they are used. Number of Hubs is more than 100 and struts are more than 250!
It still looked like every Hub should have a number and detailed description about it’s place in construction, mentioning the angle it should be rotated. No one would use the Dome if we did so because constructing that huge 6m hight thing that way would be a disaster.
First of all I divided the Dome on 7 levels, where the bottom most is the 1st and the top, consisting of one Hub is the 7th. I did it on purpose, after I noted that all hubs of one type are rotated the same angle on one level and struts of one type can be used on any level if their length is ok. This step made everything much easier and led to the principles of labeling.
I decided to label each level with it’s own colour. Distinctive and as much as possible calm colours worked fine. The darkest and the dertiest is chosen for the lowest level of the dome as it would be placed on the ground.
Hubs are of seven types and are also separated by the level they are used on. Hubs are labeled with the level colour and Hub type.
Colour fill should be visible and evident but not too flashy. Prompter — that’s the role of the colour fill. Solid fill would be an attention whore, the single stroke fill would not be noticable enough. Doubling the stroke is evident and noticable enough while not loud colored.
This is how Hubs look in real life
Hub types are indicated by letters from A to H (excluding E, so it won’t be confused with F).
Both labeled sides of the Struts
Struts are labeled with numbers from 1 to 6 depending on their type prefixed by letter ‘s’ so it would be easier to use in instructions and infographics without being confused with numbers.
Cross-section of the Strut is a rectangle. The sticker that labels the rectangle should cover two sides of the strut therefore the strut number is duplicated. Two sides are minimal sufficient space of the strut to be covered keeping readability and recognition of the strut.
The labeling suited just fine and it was the time to start with the user’s guide for those who dare to assemble the Dome.
In diagrams Hubs are indicated with circles (the key Hub, which is the starting Hub of each level looks like a drop, but still is recognized as Hub) and Struts with letters
Relying on the way the Dome is assembled level by level the first idea was to make a diagram of each level top view and it’s connections to the previous level, that is actually a level’s side view. That should make a process easier but not so clear and easy as I wanted it to be. For the lowest levels the number of connections was still too big to fit in mind of the assembler.
Suddenly making a diagram for the 3rd level I've noticed a pattern. The lucky guess about patterns on each level turned out to be the pitch winning idea. Every level consisted of 5 repeating patterns with maximum of 4 hubs in it. It looks to me quite easier to connect four hubs five times than to keep all that 20 hubs in mind.
Thanks to the patterns I’ve noticed the error in Dome structure description was found and eliminated. You can’t even imagine how proud I am
After this flash of inspiration making the complete and easy to use User’s Guide was just a routine. I drew a diagram of each level (top view) and diagram of the pattern (side view). The final 7th level consists of on hub connected to all five hubs of the prior level.
A tiny detail that is pleasure to mention: each level’s assembly scheme is placed on the page with it’s number adding ten. E.g. level #5 diagram is on the 15th page
I couldn’t resist myself and created poster like cover for the User’s Guide so it would highlight the construction and technological character of the Dome.
And that’s how the panic turned out to be cutie-mootie easy to use expandable labeling system and User’s Guide. The Dome was assembled and the labeling system accompanied by the Guide helped a lot. Daniel Kovzhun said that due to the labeling and patterns workers just furtively watched on the diagrams instead of trying to understand complex instructions.
It may look to easy or too boring but believe me this thing became a real life saver of the Dome project making it just as awesome as Dome could be!