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Author Topic: How to make steam emanate from my portable devices?  (Read 4319 times)
roytheodd
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« on: April 22, 2009, 09:41:13 pm »

I want to create a backpack with a short smokestack that belches forth steam. I don’t care if it’s real steam or fog from a fog machine or anything like that, but I want an occasional puff to rise out of the tube. I have looked into battery-operated fog machines and they run on the very expensive side. Does anybody have any tips or advice for creating “steam” from a portable device?
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Pnakotus
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« Reply #1 on: April 22, 2009, 09:58:58 pm »

I don't know if this'll work right, but this is my guess ...

What if you had a container with some dry ice (easily obtainable around here at grocery stores) in it. I'm thinking like a metal can (or a jar with pading around it so it doesn't break if you bump into stuff), with a hole in the top with a tube that goes to your 'smoke stack'. Add a bit of water and get fog. May need some kind of a little hand pump or something to help the fog get to the top of the smoke stack.
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« Reply #2 on: April 22, 2009, 11:27:22 pm »

It sounds like a little bit of an impractical idea, but I agree with Pnakotus. That seems like the most functional way to do this. Good luck!
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« Reply #3 on: April 22, 2009, 11:41:54 pm »

Someone else on BG did something like this once, only they used smoke instead, it's easier to make Smiley they had used a metal tube with a vent at the bottom to allow for airflow and an incense cone, the small heat from the smouldering cone was enough to suck the smoke right up the tube Smiley I think two or three joss sticks would work better and last longer though!
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H. MacHinery
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« Reply #4 on: April 23, 2009, 01:38:06 am »

Thinkgeek.com has a "fog blaster" toy that is battery-powered, so that might work, or serve as a starting point for a cheaper version.
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Leadmill
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« Reply #5 on: April 23, 2009, 01:56:37 am »

A friend of mine carries a 'boiler' on his back to power his multi barrel shotgun. The effect was achieved by making the pack with a hollow in which a chimney tester was placed. It had a little door which could be opened to light and replace them. The effect was quite marvelous as it really did look the part.
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roytheodd
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« Reply #6 on: April 23, 2009, 07:42:27 pm »

Some good suggestions here, thanks. I've just done some research into chimney smoke pellets because they look like the best match. They're a little pricey for the duration they offer, so I'm going to check some of the other routes first.

I'm going to check out smoke pellets for Lionel trains first (although they're so small I doubt they'll have the desired effect). I'm also going to explore the incense idea because that stuff is so inexpensive I'd kick myself to find out it works and I've spent a bunch of money on other stuff. If those don't work then I'll look into chimney smoke pellets, and finally I'll consider hacking a Wizard Stick.

Thanks again everyone.  Smiley

I'll post my trials and failures here.
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rogue_designer
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« Reply #7 on: April 26, 2009, 06:30:28 pm »

liquid fog fluid. Cheap for the quantity of fog it produces, and my recollection is that it's pretty easy to activate as a rule (small heating element and fan).
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« Reply #8 on: May 13, 2009, 10:14:29 am »

maybe you could use a "zero fog blaster" as the base for some chimney setup?

try googling "zero fog blaster" to see one in action.
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lilibat
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« Reply #9 on: May 13, 2009, 12:37:02 pm »

Model train hobby stores have tiny little mechanisms for making steam/smoke for trains.
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roytheodd
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« Reply #10 on: May 14, 2009, 07:29:36 pm »

maybe you could use a "zero fog blaster" as the base for some chimney setup?

try googling "zero fog blaster" to see one in action.

Those are made by the same people that make the Wizard Stick and it uses the same technology. As it turns out, I bypassed nearly all options and bought a Wizard Stick. It'll work admirably, but I need to disable the LED light and I need to conjure up a means of holding its trigger for 6 or 7 seconds once every few minutes.
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Tinker
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« Reply #11 on: May 17, 2009, 09:27:10 am »

One can make a white smoke by reacting the vapors of household ammonia and hydrochloric acid.  Both produce a lot of vapor, and where the vapors meet they react to form a fine dust of ammonium chloride, which resembles smoke or steam.  You'd need two containers at the bottom of your smoke stack, and some sort of fan to blow the puffs of smoke upwards, maybe a computer case fan and a battery.

Of course, these aren't the friendliest smelling chemicals, or the least toxic.  Use at your own risk and try not to breath the smog.

A.
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H. MacHinery
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« Reply #12 on: May 17, 2009, 05:19:31 pm »

One can make a white smoke by reacting the vapors of household ammonia and hydrochloric acid.  Both produce a lot of vapor, and where the vapors meet they react to form a fine dust of ammonium chloride, which resembles smoke or steam.  You'd need two containers at the bottom of your smoke stack, and some sort of fan to blow the puffs of smoke upwards, maybe a computer case fan and a battery.

Of course, these aren't the friendliest smelling chemicals, or the least toxic.  Use at your own risk and try not to breath the smog.

A.

DO NOT USE THIS!

Those vapors are significantly harmful.  And you do not want an asthmatic walking into your smoke.


dry ice and the stage smoke are greatly safer
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Lucifargundam
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« Reply #13 on: May 17, 2009, 05:22:06 pm »

I want to create a backpack with a short smokestack that belches forth steam. I don’t care if it’s real steam or fog from a fog machine or anything like that, but I want an occasional puff to rise out of the tube. I have looked into battery-operated fog machines and they run on the very expensive side. Does anybody have any tips or advice for creating “steam” from a portable device?
Why not use that magictrick smoke stuff? Y'know, the ones that come in packets at gag shops?
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Tinker
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« Reply #14 on: May 27, 2009, 09:31:44 am »

I feel all warm and fuzzy inside.  I've been officially deemed a danger to others...





DO NOT USE THIS!

Those vapors are significantly harmful.  And you do not want an asthmatic walking into your smoke.


dry ice and the stage smoke are greatly safer
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H. MacHinery
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« Reply #15 on: May 27, 2009, 11:41:13 pm »

I feel all warm and fuzzy inside.  I've been officially deemed a danger to others...





DO NOT USE THIS!

Those vapors are significantly harmful.  And you do not want an asthmatic walking into your smoke.


dry ice and the stage smoke are greatly safer


Targetting system coming online...... Grin
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evand
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« Reply #16 on: June 01, 2009, 03:56:42 am »

Well, if it were me, with things in my garage...  one paintball style CO2 cylinder, vertical, screw threads down into a standard adapter.  Insulate well.  Plumb standard adapter into a cryo-rated pressure relief valve.  McMaster-Carr 49315K71 or similar, ~400 psi.  Relief valve vent through appropriate decorations.  Replace all o-rings in the cylinder with low temp rated ones (viton works well).  Fill the cylinder, then place in freezer (optional but recommended).  Install into fitting.  As it (slowly) warms up, pressure will climb enough to trip the relief valve, producing a nice belch of dry ice snow and fog and such.  The relief valve will hiss for a little bit after that, then it will be quiet for a while.  Then it will start to hiss, possibly whistle a little, belch again, and repeat until you run out of CO2.  If you don't freeze it first, be sure to install it with the cylinder fitting end up so that the gas boils and chills it down first.

The fittings and valve are a bit pricey if you don't have them handy, but I guarantee you'll like the effect.  It might take some adjustment to balance CO2 usage against visual effect.  There's also some chance dry ice snow would make the valve stick open; some testing would be in order.
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Llawgrimm
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« Reply #17 on: July 13, 2009, 09:33:52 pm »

One could always use Ultrasmoke: its a costly little device magicians use to create puffs of smoke from their hands and such when vanishing/appearing small objects.
despite it actually using a chemical reaction like (Possibly exactly) the one using ammonia one could use it in REALLY small devices.... like if you have a steam powered cell, gun or something to that effect.... the smoke size emitted doesnt produce enough smoke to actually interfer with asthma..... unless the person in question is using your device as an inhaler O.o
for anything larger like one of thsoe boiler backpacks I would suggest just using a portable fogger machine... I rigged one up to run off of a cordless drill powercell a few years back.... that stuff is pretty darn safe unless someone has a mineral oil allergy.
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« Reply #18 on: July 13, 2009, 09:50:55 pm »

DO NOT USE THIS!

Those vapors are significantly harmful.  And you do not want an asthmatic walking into your smoke.


dry ice and the stage smoke are greatly safer
Seconded. What you suggest sounds perilously like the McGyver Nerve Gas method.
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greensteam
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« Reply #19 on: July 18, 2009, 12:16:54 pm »

Not only are the gas combo ones dangerous, some of the other options are going to almost certainly set of smoke detectors which could be a significant worry if you are indoors in any public venue. I would say that a small modellers boiler would be a better option.
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nraven
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« Reply #20 on: July 31, 2009, 06:04:37 pm »

A couple of thoughts on the dry ice ideas (this being something I used to work with in live theatre)...

  • Dry ice is relatively expensive.  It sublimates quickly, so you can go through a lot of it over the course of an hour depending on how much fog you want to generate.
  • The vapor produced by dry ice is colder and heavier than the surrounding air, so it will naturally sink to the ground.  Making it go anywhere else would require the use of a small biscuit fan, like the type that is used in computer cases.
  • Because of its low temperature, dry ice quickly cools he water its placed in.  It will also tend to form an ice shell around the pellets, which stops the sublimation.  For these reasons, you need to have some sort of a heating element to keep the temperature of the water above the freezing point.

Dry ice is best for producing fog effects.  Typically a dry ice fog machine used on stage is a 50-gallon oil drum that's been modified with a submersible ceramic heating element.  There's a metal basket into which you place the pellets of dry ice, and it has a handle that is used to lower it into the water.  The lid of the drum has an air intake and a ducted "output" hose (a dryer hose, usually).  It's crude, but it's a great way to generate a lot of ground fog.

For mist effects or the type of light fog used to show off lighting effects, either liquid or dry chemicals fog machines are used, both which use a heating element to vaporize the fogging material.  Dry chemical foggers are not for use in enclosed spaces, as the particulate matter is not great to inhale in large doses.  Liquid foggers use either glycerin or a glycol/water mixture that is not dangerous to inhale (though in an enclosed space they tend to give off a faintly dank/burned smell).

Chemical foggers like the Wizard Stick are frankly more practical for portable use, and probably the safest.  Since a portable device like that is low powered, the emitted vapors should take longer to dissipate which should enhance the smoke effect you're looking for.
« Last Edit: July 31, 2009, 06:07:43 pm by nraven » Logged
pewtersmith
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« Reply #21 on: July 31, 2009, 07:08:45 pm »

Why not use that magictrick smoke stuff? Y'know, the ones that come in packets at gag shops?


The magic trick smoke is a type of glue , the "smoke" is filaments of the dried glue generated by tapping your thumb and fore finger together , not practical for this use. Artificial smokehttp://www.eliminatorlightingdirect.com/Fog_Fluid_Quart_p/fog-quart.htm and a battery power heater / fan rig would work or if just a little smoke is needed then the model railroad smoke pellets and smokestack heater would do.
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femonky
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« Reply #22 on: August 06, 2009, 05:33:13 am »

...and finally I'll consider hacking a Wizard Stick.

Thanks again everyone.  Smiley

I'll post my trials and failures here.

I bought a wizard stick for that purpose and I'm not sure hacking one open is a great idea... still puzzling it out
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