Recently a customer wrote asking if instead of buying an inner tent for one of our domes, couldn't he just piece together sheets and get the same effect? I got a little long winded in the explanation, but realized after the fact that it could be a frequently thought, if not asked, question.
Thanks so much for the inquiry! The Bucky dome desert kits is similar to what field tested at burning man last year. The shade stars and the tent work together in a number of ways.
The inner tent is meant to be 10-12" away from the shade stars wherever possible. The stretch fabric still allows us to pull the corners of the tent closer at the hubs for a better fit, while still giving us that 10-12".
The stars (also made of spandex) are on the outside of the frame. They provide two important functions 1) they act as a wind absorber and deflector. Unlike most opaque materials spandex cannot catch the wind like a sail, it absorbs a great deal of it like a shock absorber. Their shape also helps in deflecting wind away from the inner tent through those jaunty scallops around their edges. 2) All of the radiant heat gain goes into the shade panels during the day, that heat is never transferred to the inner tent.
Because of the shape of the tent, and the distance of the shade stars from the tent, combined with the hyperventilation, our domes are about 20-30 degrees cooler during the day than a comparably sized single walled dome.
What you are seeing in the pictures is less sagging and more taught spandex contouring that allows us to achieve this affect. Side note: because of the stretch the tent is virtually silent in high winds. It doesn't flap.
Could you do it with sheets? If so I would highly recommend sewing them together before you go out to the playa. It would take 3-4 double bed sheet to cover 1 of 10 facets our dome. It's a lot of sheets. If you piece them together on the playa, you will spend far to much of your burn working on this shelter.
On size an capacity, a 26' dome with a 12' center is a LOT of room. 10 people should easily fit.
If you have any other questions please don't hesitate to contact me. We're currently at production capacity for June, late July would be the earliest possibly deliver date on any complete kit.