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Author Topic: A Smoke Machine Modification.  (Read 1794 times)
Dr cornelius quack
Rogue Ætherlord
United Kingdom United Kingdom

Arrant Carney. Phmebian Cultural Attache.

« on: June 24, 2010, 08:17:06 am »

As we needed a steam roller on stage for our production of 'Pirates of Penzance',  the MUGSS tech team had a bit of a play with a cheap disco smoke machine to try and get a pulsed plume of smoke/steam from the stack.
Modified Smoke MachineDQ

The way these things work is to push a glycol based fluid across a heating element and out through a nozzle. This makes the fluid partially vapourise to give a cloud of atomised droplets which then disperse to make the smoke effect.

The machines are very simple once you get inside them, just a metal block containing the heater, a piston pump, a tank for the fluid and a switch to control the output.

Our mod was to move the pump so that instead of moving the liquid, it pumped air into the tank to give a slight overpressure which forced the fluid though the heater.

This meant that, when the fluid met the heater element, the back pressure could force the liquid back into the tank as well as out through the nozzle.

In effect, we purposely created 'water hammer' in the set up to give us the pulse.

In the vid you can see that we were trying out chimney designs to get the best looking plume. The set up needs a space between the nozzle and the chimney to allow air to be entrained in the jet otherwise the stream has a tendency to condense too quickly. Also, if you 'tune ' the pipe just right, it blows smoke rings. Grin Grin Grin

Of course, we voided the warranty on the machine the second we took the cover off and were messing about with a mains powered piece of kit.

Both of these are 'bad' things to do. So I would not advise them unless you are competent to do so.


Such are the feeble bases on which many a public character rests.

Today, I am two, separate Gorillas.
Zeppelin Admiral
United States United States

Reverse the polarity!

« Reply #1 on: June 24, 2010, 08:22:48 am »

Running air through the pump might cause issues, particularly under sustained or long-term operation. Were you able to find specs for the pump to see if it's rated for this?

Mad repairman for the ship of the damned.

Dr cornelius quack
Rogue Ætherlord
United Kingdom United Kingdom

Arrant Carney. Phmebian Cultural Attache.

« Reply #2 on: June 24, 2010, 07:29:10 pm »

We only ran the pump for a short time during the show and during the initial set up, so, yes, long term we may need to replace it with a dedicated air blower. It's not like we need a very high pressure, so something like a fish tank bubbler would do just as well.
To begin with we just had the bottle set up to gravity feed and got a similar effect but with a slow drop off of output over the time we needed the thing to run due to loss of 'head' as the fluid got used up.

I'm a bit tempted to fit the next version up with a foot pump or bellows to make for a bit of drama when you want to 'make smoke'.
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