The blank sheet

The theme of this post is to display or to briefly discuss the compaction of information into one composite image or upon one blank sheet of paper.   A book filled with singular pages of compacted but understandable and usable information would be unique indeed.   The old adage that “a picture is worth a thousand words” occasionally bellows with indisputable truth.   Few complex ideas can be adequately or succinctly represented in a singular page however, nor can a cohesive theme be carried very far in such a manner.   The support of an image by language, sometimes excessive language is often needed to transfer an idea adequately.   The target audience is an important consideration.   It is hard to imagine holding the attention of  future generations of readers for long when book pages look like they came from Encyclopedia Britannica.   After 244 years of publication this venerable encyclopedia is no longer being printed.  Indeed, the future viability of the printed book itself is presently being been called into question.

In the next two examples to follow, an attempt was made to cram the ‘Gestalt’ of one idea onto one page.  The importance of a ladder or of a sawhorse is minor and incidental  to this exercise in terseness.   While pictures can be important, one cannot hope to make a meaningful textbook from just pictures.  Fiction writing and non-fiction writing are fields very far apart.   It seems possible however that brevity of language even in a textbook could be a desirable and achievable goal.   As Ernest Hemingway or Winston Churchill might have agreed; simple words and terse language are often best.  A few of the later pictures to follow contain enough information to stand with minimal text support.  Other auxiliary images presented here just support a given subject and are not germane to the topic of minimalism.   All of the following thumbnails can be enlarged.


The composite image above conveys the construction of a stable and strong homemade ladder that can be made for $5 or $6 worth of material.  It will last for many years if not abused.   The whole concept is presented or published here within one page.


A larger and better version of this low resolution image of a sawhorse plan, should be available <here> (if Google Docs and browser combination permits the 1.65 Mb download).   Before the late 1950’s – early 60’s, construction “blueprints” predominately had dark indigo blue backgrounds with white line drawings and text.   Large ammonia printers were used to develop prints on large sheets of paper, where the cellulose film had a black background except where the datum allowed the light to pass through.  This process was reversed during the 60’s and today we have “blueprints” with predominately white backgrounds and blue line drawings.   * The original security settings of the complete PDF document were set to test the anti printing PDF settings, not to affect any sort of copyright.


Above is an image of a 3v (third frequency) icosahedron based geodesic dome.  This dome is a 5/8ths representation of a complete geosphere.   In this image several pieces of information are simultaneously presented.   The organization and assembly of struts can be deciphered.   An opening big enough to drive a vehicle through can be made by removing a few struts, but importantly those removed struts can be put back to good use.   Finally a feeling for the size of this two story dome is transferred by the addition of the humanoid scribble.   That humanoid works for the relative size of the opening but in this position and perspective makes the rest of the dome look a bit small.  Some of these next  images are of lesser importance but support discussion in the short chapter on domes in my book.


There are only five regular, convex polyhedrons (above) and these are called the Platonic solids.   Any can be chosen for the calculation of a geodesic dome but the icosahedron is the most popular.


This image above illustrates that the frequency of an icosahedron based dome can be quickly determined by finding the pentagons and counting the segments between centers.


Above: A represents the primary 20 sided icosahedron, B is a cardboard model (a 3/4 geodesic with 15 sides or faces) and C is simply an equilateral triangular face from either A or B.   This example is called a 1v, single or first frequency geodesic.


This is an intermediate and modified image from a photograph of a cardboard model held together with tape.


Above the image displays that geodesics can be bent and twisted into many shapes.  These sketches represent structures that already exist in the real world.  The carport shaped cover in the center is not a geodesic.

These next three images address the less rigid but simpler to construct trapezium dome.   After reading a short explanation any builder worth his or her salt would be capable of easily exploiting the concept.   Only 4 factors are required to compute all the strut lengths or rafters of a trapezium and there is no need to memorize those factors if a copy of this image is handy.


The image below displays the practicality of interfacing trapezium sections to the straight and square lines of an existing building.


The following images comes not from the chapter on domes but from another chapter on knots and nets.   Round parachutes are typically constructed with suspension lines forming the skeleton of the canopy that closely resemble the structure of a trapezium.   Making a rope net based on the trapezium would be very useful to hold down square tarpaulins that might be spread over a geodesic dome infrastructure.   From the image; it is simplest to tie one quadrant of such a net at a time.  The same trapezium strut factors are displayed as well as visual suggestions as to where to tie cross cordage in an efficient manner.


Some survival books and Army field manuals explain how to construct a net that is composed mostly of simple overhand knots.  This image alone without supporting text is probably sufficient to transfer the whole idea.


These final three image constructions simplify and transport the basic skill required for tying a fisherman’s net.

netp2   netp3    netp4


*Added April 2015

When a request for a simple garden canopy design was recently made, the trapezium truss idea was one that came to mind. A previous drawing was quickly dissected and turned around for an idea to create a frame which would hold up shade screens or plastic tarpaulins. The idea could be expanded upon to create a pool awning or temporary carport. This idea differs slightly from the Nissen huts of WWI & Quonset huts of WWII.



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