Monday, August 29, 2011

Let there be fog! (chilled not stirred)

   I have had a very productive weeKEnD and was able to cross of several Halloween "to do's" off my huge list. The most prominent among them was the creation and completion of my GOTFOG inspired fog chiller. You can get the same how to project plan I used HERE. I veered from the plan in a few steps and I made some slight wicKED modifications for the greater good, but in essence it is the same one from their pages.
   I substituted PVC for ABS plastic simply because it was thicker and seemed like it would hold up to wear and tear. When I built this thing, I built it to last until my final Halloween. Other than that, I followed the same part list as shown on the website.  I went ahead and cut and fitted my external PVC parts that would connect the fog machine to the cooler. The cooler I went with was a $15 dollar Igloo 48 quart cooler. It had a big sticker saying it was a 3 day ice cooler and it lived up to that name. There was still ice in it this afternoon after being used this past Friday. I was impressed especially since the two big holes I cut in it. After my pipe was done I went to the biggest part of the project, cutting the cooler.

    Here is my tools and supplies I used to cut and wire up the chest.

 I did not go with the $25 dollar 4"bi-metal hole saw bit. I could use $25 bucks for some other good Haunting gear so I went with a 1 inch drill bit and a cordless reciprocating saw for my hole creation (it was also handy in cutting the PVC). Here is where I deviate from the path slightly.
   Instead of putting the hole and wire cage tube directly in the center of the cooler like instructed, I went down closer to the bottom.  About 3 inches from the bottom to be exact,  leaving about 2 inches of space underneath the wire tube instead of nearly 5 inches. Why? Elementary my dear Watson. You see hot air rises and cold air descends. By putting the tube lower, it allows more ice to go on top of it. As the hot fog enters it will melt in a more upward fashion and there will be more cold to radiate down. In the end I think it will give me roughly 2 more hours of chilled fog. Seeing how I would like to see it run roughly 6 hours for my party and for my yard haunt, those couple of extra hours without adding more ice are crucial.  You may be asking yourself  "Won't the ice melt under the wire tube faster and make it not chill as well?"  The answer to that is false. The hot fog will be hitting the cooler and rising upward. As the super cooled water runs down and collects under the tube, it will chill the fog even better than just ice (anybody who watches Mythbusters will know that water and ice are a better conductor of cold than ice alone).I also slanted the tube holes just slightly so the fog would have a somewhat angled path to travel.
   Using a grease pencil I traced out the plastic hub I would be putting in the side of the cooler. Just remember to cut INSIDE the line for a snug fit.

   I started by drilling a 1 inch hole inside the top of my mark. Be very careful and make sure you go very slowly as the bit my kick out.

Then using the reciprocating saw with the blade teeth facing up (so I could guide the saw and keep it in the line better), I started to carefully cut out the hole.

   Using the box cutter, wire pliers,  and Xacto knife to clean up the hole, I soon had 2 nicely fitted hubs in my cooler. I just followed the website and soon had my cage tube built and attached inside with the clamps. I then sealed it all up with silicone. Except for the lower placement of the hubs and wire tube It looked exactly like the one on GOTFOG.

   I then custom fit my outer PVC "arm" to fit the fog machine. I did not glue any of the outer PVC pipes as you may need to swivel twist or adjust. Besides they fit snugly together and there were no signs of leaking in the tests. Do not paint your chiller until you have tested it for leaks around the hubs, arms, etc.

   I then went to test my creation. I even ordered the fog machine featured on GOTFOG's buying guide to keep the test, and ultimately my review, of this project pure.

   Here is my new fog machine in action for the first time without the chiller. (all test performed using high end premium low lying fog juice).
  I just can't say enough good things about the Eliminator EF1000. It produced so much fog when I was first playing with it that my neighbors came to check on me. This is a work horse! It was a great deal too at $56 bucks (brand new + free shipping) off Ebay.

   Next I attached the fog chiller completely empty of ice for test two!

   Even with no ice, the chiller helped place the fog lower on the ground!

   Test three involved the ice at long last! I only put in 15 lbs of ice (just enough to cover the tube). The chest will hold almost 40 lbs. Keep in mind two thing when you view this video. #1 Hurricane Irene was causing a very steady but mild breeze in my normally windless backyard. #2 it was 89 degrees  and humid as heck.
    Despite being less than half full of ice, despite it being hot and humid, and despite the constant breeze, it performed like a champ! I can't wait to unleash the full fury of this beast in the much milder and cooler weather of October.
   We performed a few more test. For test four, we just added a cardboard box with a long, thin slit cut out at the very bottom to help direct the fog.
   After test four, our neighbors walked by again to "check" on us.  At this point I am impressed all to heck with this thing. Then a full 10 minutes after I unpluged the fog machine, it was still performing!
   After it had dried out over the weeKEnD, I painted it black to help conceal it. I did not primer the unit as suggested by GOTFOG, but rather used a Krylon flat black spray paint that bonds to plastic. It took one and a half cans of this paint and it worked out perfectly.

Behold the wicKEDly built GOTFOG fog chiller!

 I cannot tell you how pleased I am with this project. It was cheap (well under 100 bucks), easy, and it works great! With most commercial fog chillers of this capacity you would pay $300 to $600 bucks and then I am not for certain it would be as effective. You don't have to go out and buy a big 1000 watt fog machine either. I am positive a simple 400 watt machine would do just as well (maybe even better as I think the fog would cool faster). 

For all this GOTFOG gets wicKEDly ranKED at a full FIVE Grimaces!

   While I was at it, I went ahead and built a couple of test tube racks out of some scrap wood. These will be great to hold shots of glowing go go juice at this years Halloween party (remember my Martha Stewart test tubes I bought over the weeKEnd?).

   So what are you waiting for? Head to GOTFOG.COM and check out the SPECIAL PROJECTS section and get to building your very own creepy fog factory! 

   Hmmm.... I wonder if I remembered to cut my fog chiller off.......


  1. Why did you use metal wire rather than dryer hose inside the chiller?

    1. Tried it with both. You get a better cold from the wire when you pack dry ice in the cooler


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