Using SkyDome

Technical considerations and FAQs

How heavy is it ?

A: SkyDomes 10,8, & 6 (poles + screen) weighs under 10 lbs. They come with a shoulder strap duffle, and one person can easily carry it frhom their car into a building with one hand free for coffee.

How long does it take to set up ?

A: About 15 minutes, and a little bit less with practice. About the same for takedown. You can watch our real-time setup video here.

How much room do I need to set it up?

A: The poles are indeed kind of long when fully extended. But that's not how we recommend setting it up. Really, what you need is about 15 feet of clear floor space.

How sturdy is it?

A: It's tent technology, so about like camping tents you've used. Even better, really: When I pick up my dome tent to shake it out, it deforms a bit under its own weight. The SkyDome keeps its shape in any orientation. If you push the edge in, it will return immediately back to a circle. BUT!  It's not meant to be used as a tent or a sunshade, however, and we caution against using it outdoors in any amount of wind. It is lighter than a tent, with an enormous surface area. We don't want to see you on YouTube, chasing your SkyDome down the beach !

What's the best way to deploy it in a classroom?

A: There's no one-size-fits-all answer. Some of this depends on the height of your ceiling. We recommend, if possible, that the lowest point rest on something (a chair, a desk, a table, a counter) about 30 inches high, and the dish be tilted forward about 30 degrees. To hold it there, the SkyDome has 6 grommets spaced along its circumference. These could be supported by paracord or bungees from the ceiling or walls. Alternatively, we've used inexpensive speaker support stands (see our accesories page HERE) to support the dish. You can look HERE for a gallery of install photos our users have sent us, and we're delighted to consult.

What projector should I use?

A: This depends very much on the geometry of your space, if you're doing a semipermanent install. For most classrooms, we recommend getting a "short-throw" or "ultra short throw" projector. These are just like any other computer projector, except they have more curved lenses, so they can be sited closer to your screen. So your audience can be closer, too. We are happy to consult on this as well, and can make specific recommendations. In general, the brighter and more high-resolution your projector, the better your results. You can certainly get started by using whatever you have available, and upgrade as budget permits. That's how we started.

The SkyDome is circular, but every projector has a rectangular image. Doesn't stuff get lost off the edges ?

A: In almost every presentation, the things you'd like to bring to the attention of your audience will be fairly central. What falls off the edges turns out to be only about 20% of the image, and not very important. Those parts of the projector's output fall on objects well to the rear of the SkyDome screen, and tend to be much less bright anyway. We have also developed mask techniques, for certain uses where we found those "off the edge" projections to be distracting. Talk to us if this is a problem for your set up.

What computer should I use? What software should I use?

A: The first, best answer is: use whatever your students are using. Make it easy. Make it so your students can jump from their desktop or laptop computer with a thumb drive onto your SkyDome computer. Having said that, it's certainly helpful to use a decently fast computer with fast storage, good wifi connection, and good graphics capability. But don't let perfect be the enemy of good. A used laptop & a used projector & any of the excellent free software we've listed not only will get you started, but get you 1000 miles down the road. We do find a keyboard that lights up to be very helpful. Again, consult with us - we can make recommendations.

Don't students watch enough screens already ?

A: Fair enough. Agreed. But the SkyDome does promote a sense of wonder that's a bit unusual. We've experienced this, and seen it in our audiences.

And mainly, we're hoping that our educator/presenters use the SkyDome to get their students producing and presenting their own content.

In other words, students, let's step into the screen.