Let there be Steam!


In our introductory post, we teased about a project we were doing together with another mad scientist, namely the Steam Organ. Check out the blog to see the considerable progress he has made on the project so far!

We have been busy with building and fixing things in our apartment (as you could read in our other posts), but there are a few proof of concept tests that we have managed to squeeze in so far. Here is the first of them.

At the first concept of a steam anything, we were wondering what kind of steam to use. Steampunk looks alone were definitely not enough for us. No, for a proper steampunk build you need one thing and one thing alone – steam, and masses of it!

We tossed around several concepts – dry ice, a kind of oil-based smoke that model railways use, and professional fog machines – but those were all expensive, clunky and dangerous to use in places with smoke detectors. Our final solution was actually as cheap as it is simple and fitting – vaporized water.

You can buy ultrasound water vaporizers in bulk and for relatively cheap prices on wholeseller sites like AliExpress and DealExtreme. Not a bad thing at all when prototyping! After they arrived in the mail, we immediately set to testing them. They are simple to use – just plug them in and put them under water, and you will get copious amounts of smoke in no time at all. Perfect!
We also figured out that the best smoke output happens when they are just about covered by water. We will have to implement some kind of swimmer solution for the final water tank.

For the next part of the test, we built a tank box and submerged the vaporizers in it to see if the smoke can easily be pushed into the pipes we are planning to use. A bit of work with a stiletto knife and some hotglue later the lid of the tank had a pipe coming out of it and a fan to push the air around.

Steeeeam.Moar steeeeam.

Works perfectly! Even with a ceiling-high pipe stuck to it, the small computer case fan is strong enough to put a sizeable plume of smoke out.

Proof of concept: Done.

Now, the next questions are: Will we have enough smoke for Maestro Chamafox’s performance? And just how many pipes can we fit onto that organ?

blueYou had me at yellow.

The LED lightshow will luckily be hidden inside the box later…