Instructables
Picture of Home Snowmaker / Snowgun - internal mix
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Hey everyone, this is my second instructable I think the big thing I learned from the last one is:

THIS IS A STEP BY STEP  PROJECT, PLEASE READ ALL THE STEPS BEFORE YOU COMMENT!

If you do that I'm sure we'll get along famously. 

This is an internal mix snowgun, meaning that the air and water mix inside the plumbing.  Because they mix inside the plumbing there is a risk that the air may back up the water, or that the water will back into the air lines.  I recommend using check valves on both the air and the water lines (not shown) in order to limit this risk. 

The author, instructables.com, and any supplier mentioned in this instructable is not liable for any damage or injury that result from following these instructions.  Please know that with all do it yourself projects there are inherent risks which may or may not be foreseen, and that precautions to protect yourself should be taken throughout construction and operation of the snowgun.  You will be working with high pressure water and pressurized air, both of which can be dangerous, please wear hearing and eye protection when you are using your snowmaker.

These plans are more detailed, but for a printable copy either print these plans online, or visit http://www.makesnow.net/FreeSnowmakerPlans.php for a selection of home snowmaking plans.
 
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Step 1: Parts List for the home snowgun

Picture of Parts List for the home snowgun
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Here's the parts, it's a pretty comprehensive list.  You can however add to it or modify it if you feel you have a better design.  You will need a pressure washer and an air compressor for this snowgun to work.

Snowgun:
Only use high pressure pipe fittings, using fittings not rated for high pressures may result in injury.

(3) 1/4" T fittings
(2) 1/4" Street Elbows (one side is male thread, one side is female thread)
(3) 1/4" Pipe nipples (male thread on both ends)
(2) 1/4" - 1/2" Bushings (1/4" female thread, 1/2" male thread)
(1) 1/2" gate valve
(2) 1/4" hoses (no longer than 10 feet) (www.princessauto.com)
(1) 22mm pressure washer fitting (we used a female one because we had hoses made up, you should use a male threaded one if you have a 22mm fitting on your pressure washer's hose)
(1) 1/4" air quick connect (female thread if you are using a hose, male thread if you are using your own hose)
(1) stand (needs to be at least 4 feet tall
(1) MSM0304 nozzle (available at www.makesnow.net)
(2) MSM0204 nozzles (available at www.makesnow.net)
(1) roll of teflon tape

Tools:
(2) Pliers

Air Compressor:
Must be oil lubricated, and produce at least 5.5CFM at 40 psi

Pressure Washer:
Between 1.3gpm and 2.5gpm

Step 2: Step 1 - Teflon Tape

Picture of Step 1 - Teflon Tape
use plenty of teflon tape, this will make sure that your snowgun doesn't leak.  Every male thread will need at least (don't be too worried about using too much) 3 layers of teflon tape, feel free to go up to 6 layers for added protection from leaks (and it's cheap, like a dollar a roll)

TIP: Try and wrap the teflon tape the same way as when you screw in when you're attaching it, this way you wont get loose end that come up and peel it off when you attach your fittings.

Step 3: Step 2 - attach your fittings to the hoses

Picture of Step 2 - attach your fittings to the hoses
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If you are not using hoses, ignore this step and just connect your adapters (the one for the pressure washer and the one for the air compressor where we say to attach the hoses with each of those adapters. 

Put the air quick connect on one hose, and the 22mm pressure washer adapter on the other hose. 

Reminder:  Teflon tape should be on these threads too!

Step 4: Step 3 - Build the snowgun

Picture of Step 3 - Build the snowgun
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So attach one of the street elbows to one of the T fittings on the top of the 'T' (see picture)   Brass is really soft, so be careful if you are using brass fittings not to overtighten, slightly tigher than hand tight is good.

Step 5: Step 3 - Build the snowgun (2)

Picture of Step 3 - Build the snowgun (2)
Now attach one of the nipples to the other side of the 'T' fitting from the last step.

Step 6: Step 3 - Build the snowgun (3)

Picture of Step 3 - Build the snowgun (3)
Now attach a T fitting to the hose with the pressure washer adapter on it.  (if you are using your own hoses this is where you would attach the pressure washer fitting directly to the T fitting).  

Then take that T fitting and connect one side of that T fitting's top to the nipple from the last step (see picture for final product)

Step 7: Step 3 - Build the snowgun (4)

Picture of Step 3 - Build the snowgun (4)
Now add another nipple to the open side of the T fitting from the last step.

Step 8: Step 3 - Build the snowgun (5)

Picture of Step 3 - Build the snowgun (5)
Now lets start a new section.  Start by attaching the air hose to the other street elbow.  And then connect that street elbow to a T fitting (see picture)

Step 9: Step 3 - Build the snowgun (6)

Picture of Step 3 - Build the snowgun (6)
Now attach a close nipple to the bottom of the T fitting from the last step (see picture)

Step 10: Step 3 - Build the snowgun (7)

Now attach a bushing to the open nipple from the last step.

(picture coming soon)

Step 11: Step 3 - Build the snowgun (8)

Now attach the other bushing to the other nipple from the part we finished with in step 7.

(picture coming soon)

Step 12: Step 3 - Build the snowgun (8)

Cover the threads on the bushings with teflon tape and then attach the gate valve between the two bushings.

(picture coming soon)

Step 13: Step 3 - Build the snowgun (9)

Picture of Step 3 - Build the snowgun (9)
Now it's time to install the nozzles.  Install the two MSM0204 nozzles in the street elbow and T closest to the top.  Remember the Teflon tape on the nozzles as well.  Make sure that the nozzles are parallel to the ground, otherwise you'll be shooting the water at the ground before it gets to freeze. 

Install the MSM0304 nozzle opposite the air hose in the T fitting at the bottom.  Again make sure that it's spray is parallel to the upper nozzles. 

The picture is a good illustration of how the parts fit together, except the gate valve in this one is 1/4" instead of half inch, but they are pretty uncommon. 

Step 14: Step 4 - Get ready

Check the temperatures, this snowgun will only work when the wetbulb temperatures are below -1C or 30F.  If you don't have the wetbulb temperatures on your thermometer, it will work anytime the dry bulb temperatures (the temperatures most termometers show) is below -2C or 28F.  The difference between the two has to do with the humidity level and the effects of evapouration have on the temperature (the faster water evapourates, the faster the water freezes.  Water evapourates faster when there is less of it in the air, or when the humidity is lowest). 

Position your snowmaker on your stand, ladders work well, or you can even just use a tall stake as long as it's got some substance to it, there will be a fair bit of pressure from the water spraying out of the nozzles.

Now Move your pressure washer and air compressor close to the snowmaker so that the hoses will be able to connect to them. 

Lay out your hoses and set up your extention cords (if you aren't using gas appliances), remember there is a bit of power being drawn here so you will probably need a dedicated circuit for each the pressure washer and the air compressor.

(picture coming soon)

Step 15: Start making snow in your backyard!

Picture of Start making snow in your backyard!
It's not quite that easy, follow these steps to ensure success.

1) Close your gate valve all the way
2) turn on your air compressor
3) turn on the water flow to the pressure washer
4) connect your snowmaker to your air compressor (you should be able to hear the air coming out of the snowgun)
5) turn on the pressure washer
6) open the gate valve slightly (the bottom nozzle should now have a very fine billowy mist coming out of it)
7) make snow!

If you are having trouble making snow at this point your probably have your gate valve open too much or it is not below 28F or -2C. 


The picture above isn't this snowgun exactly, I made some modifications to it, but it's essentially the same layout with an extra nozzle and pressure gauge.  

If you liked this Instructable visit my external mix snowgun guide as well:  http://www.instructables.com/id/External-Mix-Snowgun/

Here's a video of the snowgun running at the 1.5 hour mark, -4C (~25F)
http://youtu.be/xuviX086dPs 
MakeSnow (author) 1 year ago
FREE EXTERNAL MIX SNOWMAKER UP FOR GRABS...

We're giving away a free external mix snowmaker at www.facebook.com/makesnowdotnet.

Very simple instructions, to enter simply make a video over 1 minute in length describing what you would do with all the snow you will make.

On November 6, 2012 at noon whichever video has the most likes wins and the person who posts it will be sent a free MSX-250H external mix home snowmaker from MakeSnow.Net!
alecdisco24 days ago

hey i made one of these where did you get the nozzles

A great place for nozzles is www.snowathome.com

I've made several types of snowmakers and I'm currently working on a complete fan gun so if you have any questions feel free to ask or email me

f.mor201110 months ago
2 questions...

Aproximately how much did it cost you for these parts?

And is a snowmaker totally necessary or can you just use a hose on mist?

Thanks, and sorry for the stupid questions...
jgscott9872 years ago
That looks really cool. I'm dying to do it, but I have to question whether a typical consumer pressure washer and air compressor can stand up to running for hours on end.
MakeSnow (author)  jgscott9872 years ago
In my experience they generally will work well enough, however they are not meant for continuous duty, but many big box stores have a very good return policy on items that stop working.

The air compressor should be rated for continuous duty (generally belt drive and oil lubricated) but they are very difficult if not impossible to find at reasonable prices. That said most air compressors are under rated for period of performance (and over rated on horse power) and so if you keep them cool they will last for a long time. I have had the same air compressor for the last 3 years and it was $200 and I have run it for 8+ hours without any issue, but it was outside, so it was nice and cool.
That is an excellent question. I am not an expert but I use both on an almost daily basis. There should be no problem with the pressure washer running non-stop (remember to change the oil as per manufacturer's recommendations) but the compressor is a totally different story. Compressors have a duty cycle that must be observed your compressor's owner's manual will list the duty cycle. 100% duty cycle air compressor are also available.
angie122 years ago
Also when you say 5.5CFM at 40 psi, do you mean just a 40 psi pressure washer?
MakeSnow (author)  angie122 years ago
CFM means Cubic Feet per Minute. It's a measurement of the amount of air that is being compressed by the air compressor and at a pressure of 40psi. The pressure washer will need to produce a minimum of 1.3 gallons of water per minute at 500psi. (many pressure washers are rated higher than this 1500psi all the way to 4500 psi, but these are maximum pressures and when freely flowing generally operate at much lower pressures, but higher volumes - like when you put your thumb over the end of a hose, more volume = lower pressure, less volume = more pressure if everything else is the same)
angie122 years ago
If you mount it up higher does it work better?
MakeSnow (author)  angie122 years ago
You will get drier snow, but you will also get more drift (if there's any wind) and you will get more evaporation, so less snow (but it will be drier). Also you will be able to make snow in slightly warmer weather. So it's a toss up really.
MakeSnow (author) 2 years ago
The amount of snow you make is dependent on the amount of water you can put through your pressure washer and the amount of air your air compressor produces. This set up (in this instructable) is good for between 1.3gpm and 2.5gpm for your pressure washer.

On the low end (1.3gpm, -2C or 28F, high humidity) it will make about 30 cubic feet of snow each hour.

On the high end (2.5gpm, -7C or 20F or colder, low humidity) it will make about 70 cubic feet of snow each hour.

Snow's density varies but is usually between 2 and 3.5 gallons per cubic foot (uncompacted). So you could cover an area 20' X 20' in about 6 hours with 6" of snow on the low end, or an area about 30' X 30' in 6 hours with 6" of snow on the high end.
If roughly one foot of snow equals one inch of water, then 20' X 20' X 6" of snow is about 125 gallons of water.

- 20' X 20' X 6" = 200 cubic feet
- 1 cubic foot = 1728 cubic inches (12" X 12" X 12")
- (1728 cubic inches per cubic foot) X (200 cubic feet of snow) = 345,600 cubic inches
- 345,600 cubic inches of snow / 12 = 28,800 cubic inches of water (12" of snow = one inch of water)
- 28,800 cubic inches of water = ~125 gallons of water after 6 hours

That's a lot of water. And 30' X 30' X 6" of snow is about 280 gallons of water over 6 hours.
MakeSnow (author)  smmiller5062 years ago
yes, it takes a lot of water to make a lot of snow :P
haleswd2 years ago
You have two MSM0204 nozzles up top and one MSM0304 nozzle at the bottom. Why the different nozzles?
MakeSnow (author) 2 years ago
http://www.makesnow.net/News.php There's some pictures from the latest run here. Check them out!
globuhov2 years ago
wooo... good thing.
MakeSnow (author) 2 years ago
Here's a video of the snowgun in operation at the 1.5hour mark. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xuviX086dPs
L.Henk2 years ago
good news is you make snow, bad thing is it's complicated :(
MakeSnow (author) 2 years ago
As for external v. internal mix snowmakers, there's very little difference, however you do have to watch the internal mix snowmakers more closely, as there is a remote possibility of air backing into the water line, or water backing into the air line. As long as the valve is closed when you start up and closed before you turn off the air you should be ok.

The other difference is that the water is premeasured with an external mix snowmaker, while an internal mix snowmaker requires some work to get it set right, but after you get it set once you'll be able to quickly get it again.
MakeSnow (author) 2 years ago
@jgscott987: when it comes to pressure washers most household ones work well, we use a typical one it was about $70 and it works great. As for an air compressor, make sure that its oil lubricated, it will be quieter and will be designed to run longer. You will have a hard time finding an air compressor which the manufacturer will say can run constantly, however we have not had any difficulty and we've run ours for many 5+ hour runs without an issue.

@BrettB0727:Yes: At 1.5gpm that would be 90 gallons an hour, or 540 gallons for a 6 hour run, for a 2.5gpm that would be 900gallons for 6 hours or 150gallons an hour.

@angie12: For a pressure washer just about any will work, typically the running pressure will be between 400psi and 600psi. The higher you mount it the dryer your snow will be, however the further the snow will drift away, in general it needs to be over 4 feet from the ground. As for the 5.5CFM at 40psi that's an air compressor rating. 5.5 cubic feet of air per minute at 40psi.
angie122 years ago
How powerful a pressure washer does it need?
Like how many PSI
Thanks
looks cool
BrettB07272 years ago
So for 6 hours you are looking at 900 gallons of water, at the high end, correct?

Any preference as far as internal mix or external mix goes?
MakeSnow (author) 2 years ago
Also since I think it's buried in there, it needs to be -2C or 28F before it'll make snow reliably, but lower humidity levels will allow you to make snow at higher temperatures.
MakeSnow (author) 2 years ago
Without the hoses it was probably about $100, with the hoses about 160.
Appollo642 years ago
Really cool! About how much did it all cost?
That's pretty sweet! Now we just need some cold weather in South Texas for this to work!
Hah good luck on getting that cold weather! We'll be lucky to have some here in north Louisiana. I'll remain hopeful though!
Dr.Bill2 years ago
Snow guns on Ski Slopes must use an insane amount of water !
I can remember skiing through the fog night skiing.
Reminded me of being in a white out in the Aleutians.

You suppose an inch and a half fire hose could be used at home to snow the front yard before the neighbors get it ?
bertus52x112 years ago
Very nice!