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A quick start

Here's one quick way to get started with Zometool. In less than an hour you will create a beautiful model, and feel like an expert!

So you've finally gotten your hands on a Zometool kit, but where to begin? If you're like most people, you'll just dive in and start building... and pretty soon you will be discovering little known secrets of the universe. But if you need a little help getting started, here's a fun way to begin!

Make a lollipop...

...that is, put a ball on the end of a strut. It doesn't matter what color strut, but let's suppose you choose a yellow one. While you're at it, make it the longest yellow strut you can find (which we call a "Y2").


You probably noticed that the yellow strut only fits in certain holes -- the triangular ones. If you didn't notice that and got frustrated because it was really hard to get the strut in the hole, send us the broken parts -- replacements are on the house, this time -- and try again, but pay attention to the shape. (Only adults seem to have this problem, but only adults would be reading this!)

Now, make a bunch of lollipops...

...say, 20 of them, assuming you chose a yellow struts to start with (if you chose red, make 12 lollipops; if you chose blue, make 30 lollipops, i.e., the number 60 divided by the strut number, where yellows are "3," reds are "5," and blues are "2:" 60/3=20.)


I'll continue to assume you chose to use yellow struts, but this exploration also works with reds and blues (green lines would get tricky). If you are really in a hurry to build a cool model, use reds, because you will only need to make 12 lollipops.

Next, make a yellow pincushion

In other words, stick all 20 yellow lollipops into one ball. You will "use up" all of the triangular holes in the ball. When the ball starts to fill up with yellow struts, it helps to hold the model by the strut that's opposite the hole you are trying to go into, so you have something to push against.


Connect the dots

"Dots" are balls. In order to see which strut fits between any two adjacent balls, try looking through the hole in one ball to its neighbor, and see what shape it is. You also have to figure out which length of strut to use, but only one length will fit. (Hint: look at the following picture.)


You will get this shape, with 12 faces, 20 points and 30 edges, called the dodecahedron (i.e., 12-faces).

"Star" the model...

...or, "stellate" the dodecahedron. Stellation means extending all the edges until they meet, or extending each edge of the shape until it runs into other edges. As it turns out, they run into each other in a rather pleasing way:


Are you done yet?

At this point, you may have run out of parts (if not time). If you have a lot of both, see what happens if you treat this model as a larger pincushion. What happens if you connect the dots? Extend all the edges until they cross each other? Repeat the process?

In any case, you're off and running.