The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Future chicken coop design?

starplate connector chicken coop idea?

starplate connector close up
We've been talking about projects for 2013, and chicken coop upgrade made it to the list.

I'm liking the simplicity of this StarPlate building method. If every other triangle flipped up it would make deep bedding replenishment a breeze.

The StarPlate people claim a 15 percent reduction in building material compared to a regular stick structure.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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I know someone who built a round coop with an old satellite dish (aka W.VA state flower) for a roof.
Comment by Errol Wed Jan 2 17:00:26 2013
I think you would end up wasting more material cutting up plywood to fit all those triangles as opposed to building a 4'x8' coop.
Comment by Chris Wed Jan 2 17:24:20 2013

Who doesn't love a Geodesic dome! This reminds me of this old project I considered. I think the one you posted has the advantage of housing more chickens (the linked one is relatively small).

Chris, there is no reason that there should be any significant waste. The beauty of the Geodesic is that it is all triangles and rectangles (plywood sheets) break into triangles with as little as nothing leftover. :)

Comment by Christopher Scoggin Wed Jan 2 18:34:51 2013

Geodesic structures look neat. And the basic frame made out of triangles is light and sturdy. But they have some major downsides.

@Christopher: The kind of triangles (equilateral and isosceles) used in these domes doesn't fit very well into sheets of plywood (as opposed to say right-angle triangles), leading to a lot of waste as Chris mentions.

A big challenge is to keep the dome roof waterproof given the many seams and the uneven thermal load on the roof from sunshine. This problem can be solved e.g. by overlaminating a light wood and foam structure with fiberglass which makes it a single waterproof structure, but that requires extra work.

Comment by Roland_Smith Wed Jan 2 20:50:27 2013

Hey Mark and Anna, Hope you guys are doing well! I love your blog and have just rediscovered it and have been catching up! I saw your post about geodesic bird houses and wanted to send you a link to my friend's website, Sunnyside Projects, where he sells his craft homesteading tools, including a geodesic aviary. You might get some ideas from his design or contact him through his website. He's up here in Charlottesville (where I am these days) but its a neat design and maybe you could get some inspiration from it! Happy New Year! Hannah

Comment by Hannah Thu Jan 3 15:23:12 2013

For those considering a project like this: My original search for the starplate connectors resulted in a New Zealand company. Of course the shipping would be prohibitive, so they referred me to Stromberg's here in the USA. david

Comment by David H. Mon Jan 14 08:31:49 2013

I love domes for their strength and just plain fun, but I think a round house with conical roof would probably be less waste. Plywood bends very nicely around a large enough circle. A plywood yurt basically.

That being said, I can't wait to see the starplate dome.

Comment by Eric in Japan Thu May 23 18:46:02 2013
Eric --- Yeah, I tend to think that the easiest and cheapest way to build things is rectangles, but figured Mark should win sometimes. :-) On the other hand, external coating aside, I suspect Mark's way will use less lumber for framing at least. An 8-foot-per-side structure (meaning it'd be a bit smaller than our current starplate structure) built with typical 16-inch stud spacing would take, I think, 28 pieces of wood just for the walls, while the basic starplate structure needs only 25 for walls and roof. (We're changing the starplate slightly to allow for a bigger door, but the amount of wood is comparable). We'll have to see if the roof and wall materials are so complicated that they make that savings non-worthwhile. Either way, I think Mark's really wanting this for aesthetic reasons, so material costs are irrelevant.
Comment by anna Thu May 23 19:19:58 2013

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