By Marjorie Woodfin
Pilot staff writer
It took seven years, but James McCarten finally has a patent for his geodesic dome. "It was quite an ordeal," he said.
"It's not rocket science," McCarten said about his invention. "It's very simple, very practical, and it shows a lot of promise."
He explained that the major difference between his dome and others is that it is safer to build because the dome is raised from the inside and doesn't require working at an extended elevation.
McCarten said that the geodesic dome originally designed by Buckminster Fuller was energy efficient, using one third less material than ordinary construction. However, he pointed out drawbacks. Construction was challenging, requiring people "way up in the air," during construction, making it unsafe for the builders. Plus it was a job to remove all of the scaffolding.
Using his building plan process, most of the construction is done on the ground and pulled up from the center, like the big top of a circus tent, pulled up from ground level and adding modules.
"My intention is to start out small," McCarten said. He envisions building greenhouses, festival canopies, storage sheds, or emergency shelters, or perhaps a small beach bungalow.
He said someone at the Harbor has expressed an interest in seeing a prototype.
"It needs to be proven on a small scale," he said. "The key thing is using a pentagon and hexagon rather than a triangle."
McCarten is happy to finally have the patent in his hands. It isn't just the seven years he has been contemplating building his domes. "I've thought about it off and on for about 20 years," he said.
It's fortunate that McCarten, who majored in art at University of California at Davis, is an artist, because the biggest problem for acquiring a patent is presenting drawings that can pass muster. "I wrote back and forth forever, providing more sketches. Most people don't realize how difficult it is," he said.
"The title is really important because the patent officers use a search engine to see if prior art has been received." To make a differentiation, he titled his patent request, "Top Down Assembly for Geodesic Domes."
"I hope to work with someone during the winter, building small 10-foot domes that can be put up quickly, snapped up and down.
"It would be nice to initiate an enterprise to build them en masse," he said, thoughtfully.
Anyone interested in additional information may phone McCarten at (541) 469-5597.