Giant Weather Predicting Storm Globe!!!

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Introduction: Giant Weather Predicting Storm Globe!!!

About: I am looking at the way the world is and all of the potential that exists in the space around us and the space between our ears. Asking questions that range from the ridiculous to the important and engaging w…

In the right environment with enough temperature variation Storm Glasses provide and impressive crystal formation show that looks like fog or snow! Changes in temperature impact the how the storm glass fluid forms fog and snow like crystals out of camphor that is in suspension. The rate that the temperature changes and the amount of solvent impacts what sort of crystals that are formed changing how the storm glass looks.

All of this work on storm glasses got me thinking and eventually searching for what the largest storm glass I could find and I was very disappointed. The largest storm glass I have seen is a tear drop shape that is only 10 inches tall and 4 inches in diameter that is probably only a few hundred milliliters or maybe the 750mL version that NightHawkInLight made in one of his videos. Why is there no larger option out there? How large am I talking? There are no 7000mL options out there and so the only way I knew how to get something 10 times bigger is to make it myself.

Since we are talking about snowflake-like (Read that unique) ideas one of the many thoughts that I had was that they look an awful lot like a snow globe but way cooler it it has its own active weather system. What if you made a snow globe out of a storm glass?!?! This seems like a super awesome fusion creating an active snow globe that changes based on its environment and it snows on the scene without ever moving!

I immediately set to making this giant storm glass that I could place a winter scene inside of to make it look like a huge snow globe. To do this properly I need over a gallon of storm glass mixture. This meant I needed to find out just how to make a storm glass as effectively as possible so that I could afford to scale it up. My research for finding a more cost effective mixture is in a different intstructable where I go through all sorts of recipes including how I made a $2 storm glass. Check it out!

Through this process I tested many recipes which I have not found anywhere else on the internet to come up with a solution that let me make this giant storm glass with the highest level of confidence that it would work great! All told I made with giant weather predicting snow globe for right under $100!!!

So since you are here now and you likely have no place to go then let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

FTC Disclaimer: I earn a percentage of the sales through the affiliate links provided through Amazon. If you click on the link it helps fund future projects but bear in mind it might not be the best price for these materials.

Supplies

Materials

Tools

Step 1: How Do They Work?

I have another Instructable that goes in depth into how storm glasses work and how I settled on the ethanol based recipe that I am using since it is different from what I have typically seen.

I am wanting to stay on point so if you have questions about how I came up with the recipe please check out my other instructable here: https://www.instructables.com/2-Storm-Glass-Guide/

I will give a quick explanation.

The camphor is dissolved into the liquid which is an solvent made from alcohol and water. When the temperature of the liquid changes the saturation of the liquid changes. As the temperature gets colder the liquid is able to hold less and less dissolved material to the point where the liquid starts to release the camphor which forms crystals as it comes out of the liquid. Check out hte solubility graph in the pictures where when the temperature of the solvent drops below a key point it can no longer hold as much material in solution or it can not keep the material dissolved. The result is that the material starts to do something called precipitate out just like how rain is call precipitation in that it is coming out of the air and forming the rain. The storm glass does the same thing only it is the camphor that is in solution in the alcohol and as it precipitates out it forms crystals that can look like fog or small snow flakes or even large beautiful crystals.

It is these large crystals that you can see in the fourth picture that more easily form in the ethanol that resulted in me choosing to ethanol over methanol.

When the temperature goes back up the crystals dissolve back into the liquid and disappear.

So how would one read a storm glass to predict the weather once you have one? Well what I have found is the following for the different features that could occur in your storm glass and what they are suppose to mean.

One interesting thing is that Camphor has a melting point well above boiling and yet it is so soluble in alcohols that it will dissolve into the alcohol even at room temperature!

  • Clear Liquid: Bright and clear.
  • Cloudy Liquid: Cloudy as well, with a chance of precipitation.
  • Small dots in the liquid: Humid or foggy weather can be expected.
  • Cloudy glass with small stars: Thunderstorms.
  • Small stars on sunny winter days: Snow
  • Large flakes throughout the liquid: Overcast in temperate seasons or snowy in the winter.
  • Crystals at the bottom: Frost.
  • Threads near the top: Windy.

Ok. Hopefully you have opened the other instructable to get a better understanding so that we can move onto the rest of the build.

Step 2: Selecting the Container

I had all sorts thoughts about what I wanted to use for this container. Maybe a fish tank? Maybe a giant mason jar? Maybe a big glass storage jar?

There were many options but most of them were either a little too small (~1 gallon) or they were getting too big (3-5 gallons). The other factor besides the size that was a key decision making factor was if the container could be sealed to stop evaporation of the solvent and the opening had to be large enough to fit the cottage/house i wanted inside. I finally found this great option that was 2 gallons.

What sealed the deal for me was that I needed to be able to fit my winter scene in through the opening in the top. I was originally very disappointed in that the premade houses that I had bought from the craft store were both just fractions of an inch to big to fit into the container, but I will get into that in the next step.

The flat bottom and the 5" diameter opening in the top gave me the most options I could find while keeping with the curved side look I was after. Getting this jar ordered helped me be able to wrap my head around what sort of scene I could fit into the container.

Picking a 2 gallon container defined how much alcohol solvent and camphor I needed. I am planning on about having about 1.5 gallons or about 7 liters of solution. I am going off the recipe that I settled on for the Ethanol in my $2 Storm Glass instructable of 16 grams of camphor for each 200mL of alcohol solution.

This meant gathering the following materials for the cook:

  • 7 liters of 40% Ethanol (~$40)
  • 530 Grams of Camphor (Pretty much 1.25lb of Camphor) {~$20-25)
  • 100 grams of Potassium Nitrate
  • 100 grams of Ammonium Chloride

Now if you read through my $2 Storm Glass instructable you may be wondering why I went with Ethanol even though I could make it so much cheaper with Methanol. Well this is where engineering decision comes in where you need to weigh the options. While the Methanol is cheaper it has a different appearance in the its crystal formation that while really fun when you see the absolute white out of snow it will obstruct the winter scene a little too much. I talk about this a little bit in the previous step. So after searching I found some really cheap ethanol that I am using for this project. (Also my wife's opinion matters a lot to me and she told me that she prefers how the Ethanol looks.)

You also may be wondering why I am using the Potassium Nitrate and Ammonium Chloride since the 40mL and the 200mL storm glasses did not need them. Well this is an interesting lesson that things doe not always remain constant and one thing I learned after testing this project with out the Potassium Nitrate and Ammonium Chloride for multiple days with out it working that while they are not part of the crystals themselves they dramatically influence the clarity of the solution and how the crystals formed.

Step 3: Gathering Materials

With the dimensions decided it is time to gather the materials

  1. 530 grams of Camphor (Second and Third Pictures)
    1. I chopped it up using a cutting board and kitchen knife to make it dissolve faster during the cooking process.
    2. Watch your fingers and make sure you wash the knife and cutting board thoroughly
  2. Buy or print your house! (Pictures 4 through 7 plus the STL File)
    1. I ended up printing my house because I found this great file on Thingiverse and none of the houses at the local craft store fit.
    2. https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:4216386/files
    3. I talk about this more in the next step.
  3. 2 Gallon Jar (Pictures 8 & 9)
  4. 7 Liters of 80 Proof Vodka (Picture 10)
  5. Fairy/String Lights for the house. (Pictures 11 & 12)
  6. 100 grams of Ammonium Chloride
  7. 100 grams of Potassium Nitrate

Once all of the materials are collected I moved onto to finishing my winter scene.

Step 4: Setting the Scene. Winter Scene That Is!!

I looked around for ceramic figures to create a beautiful winter scene in my storm glass terrarium!

This involved a quick trip to a local craft store. There are two big factors in selecting your winter scene:

  1. Does the scene fit? This is where I ran into problems with what I had available so I ended up deciding to print my scene on a 3D Printer
  2. Is the object going to resist the alcohol and camphor rich environment?

I was looking for house figurines that had lights inside but sadly the options I found all ended up being too big but maybe you have better luck. I ended up finding a really great house model on Thingiverse at the link here:

https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:4216386/files

On top of this I was able to fill the house with remote control fairy lights that can change colors and have a timer all of which can be controlled by remote meaning I can control the lights without ever opening the container!

I made the mistake of not printing a hole in the chimney so I had to drill one out to be able to feed the lights through the chimney.

Placing the figurines around the bottom of the winter terrarium was a lot of fun with the lights inside. I am using Velcro command strips to hold the battery pack to the lid of the container.

NOTE: I ended up having to re-print the cottage after I took these phots because there was an error in the file that made the roof pop off the top of the house. As a result I reinforced the walls in TinkerCAD and added the hole through the chimney. The file is in the previous step.

Step 5: A Storm Is Brewing!

Now it is time to make the Storm Glass recipe to fill up the terrarium!

Starting with a large stock pot.

Add 7 liters of Vodka (Four 1.75 liter Handles) to the 2 gallon jar

Next add between 500 - 560 grams of camphor. I had 532 grams on hand so that is what I used.

I chopped up the camphor to make it dissolve faster so that I would lose less of the ethanol mixture to evaporation.

Also add the following:
100 grams of Ammonium Chloride

100 grams of Potassium Nitrate

Slowly heat the concoction using a sous vide water bath in the 16 quart stock pot with the lid on the jar until the camphor is fully dissolved. Having the lid on is important to reduce the loss of the solvent due to evaporation.

Step 6: Finish the Build and Seal It Up

Be careful in removing the jar because it is hot. Mine was heated to 145F and it is heavy and wet all the perfect storm to drop it, have it shatter and make a mess everywhere. No one needs that type of natural disaster from their weather prediction globe.

It is good to be careful for a whole host of reasons

  1. The container is hot and the liquid is hot and waxy you could burn yourself
  2. The alcohol is flammable and should be treated with respect.
  3. The container is slippery.

Once it is out of the pot give it a stir to mix it all in and then lower the house using the wire for the lights.

Depending on what container you have there might be a need to make sure that the container has an airtight seal to manage the evaporation. Thankfully my container has a simple screw on lid that is up to the task.
I placed the battery pack for my fairy lights on the inside of the lid so that it would be hidden but the control signals could still pass through the glass. This is where the screw top on the top of the 2 gallon jar I selected really comes in handy because it is easy to get access to the battery compartment to change the batteries when they die.

Step 7: Sit Back and Enjoy

Place it in a location that experiences temperature swings such as a window and enjoy the slowly developing show as the snow and fog comes and goes around your own Thomas Kinkade winter scene.

The general thoughts for how to interpret you observe in the glass for weather prediction are as follows:

  • Clear Liquid: Bright and clear.
  • Cloudy Liquid: Cloudy as well, with a chance of precipitation.
  • Small dots in the liquid: Humid or foggy weather can be expected.
  • Cloudy glass with small stars: Thunderstorms.
  • Small stars on sunny winter days: Snow
  • Large flakes throughout the liquid: Overcast in temperate seasons or snowy in the winter.
  • Crystals at the bottom: Frost.
  • Threads near the top: Windy.

Step 8: Summary Thoughts!

It is always fun to get to figure out a new way of doing things. Learning through this process has been both frustrating and rewarding. The feeling of have a project that you have spent a bunch of money on and days of effort not working out can be nerve racking but it is important to not give up to keep pushing and try and find new ways of doing things but still at the same time not scoff at the old ways because they how a lot of learning too.

Where are you stuck and looking for different solutions to what seems like the same old problems or questions? What are some of the ways that you have tried to solve those things and come up short? Try taking a step back and approaching with a fully open mind that is not blocked up with how things have been done or should be done and it can be amazing what new possibilities start tumbling out when the old blinders have been removed.

What sort of scene would you like to see inside of a storm globe?

If you like this project that I would ask that you consider following me here on instructable and on my youtube channel. Your support makes these projects possible.

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    15 Comments

    0
    ScarletStar
    ScarletStar

    10 months ago

    No it doesn't. It's really simple when you think about it.
    What does weather depend on:
    - temperature and temperature differences between your region and surrounding regions
    - humidity at your location and surrounding regions
    - pressure at your location and surrounding regions

    Those metrics all depend on each other. That's why it's so hard to make predictions. But simply put, weather really is nothing other than those metrics across regions trying to equalize. Temperature differences make airmasses rise and fall leading to wind, different humidity levels and temperature lead to air being able to take in more water or precipitate water leading to arid weather or rain/snow etc.

    That means that weather is ALWAYS dependent on not just those metrics at your location but also surrounding locations.

    Now what can the storm glass actually measure? It's closed off, so it cannot really measure pressure or humidity. All it can measure is temperature and only at your location. (And it may measure different forms of radiation like light, but that's not really influential on weather)
    So a storm glass does not have nearly enough information to predict weather. It basically only tells you about temperature and maybe how quick temperature changes.

    0
    RyanMake
    RyanMake

    Reply 10 months ago

    Thanks for taking the time to give such a detailed answer to the question!

    0
    Estrattori di succo
    Estrattori di succo

    10 months ago

    Centrifuga Estrattore
    di Frutta e Verdura Digitale in acciaio inox a 2 velocità Estrattore di Succo a
    Freddo e polpa estrattore fruttahttp://amzn.to/34llhMO

    JE2.jpg
    0
    ScottM6
    ScottM6

    Reply 10 months ago

    Misposted or off topic

    0
    ScottM6
    ScottM6

    Reply 10 months ago

    Misposted or off topic

    0
    RyanMake
    RyanMake

    10 months ago

    That is a good question. It does not predict the weather as far as I can tell. But it is a really fun project that looks cool as it changes.

    0
    cyndielou
    cyndielou

    11 months ago

    I have been wanting to make a Fitzroy storm glass forever. I do have a smaller version but I'm a big glass jar girl . Excited to see this instructable. It is my sincere desire to make one of these soon.
    these are jars of bear fat that move around of the weather.

    1609413312483719140109.jpg
    0
    RyanMake
    RyanMake

    Reply 11 months ago

    That would be great to see! Let me know if you end up working on it and if there are any questions!

    0
    krajesj52
    krajesj52

    Question 11 months ago

    Hello! Can you vary the ingredients to change the temperatures at which the "snowflakes" form? I'm guessing that is one of the reasons for such precise weighing of the ingredients. Could it be done such that the flakes would form at, let's say 70 deg. F rather than a lower temperature? We have a mfg. globe that is hard and confusing to read. Thanks!

    0
    RyanMake
    RyanMake

    Answer 11 months ago

    Hello! That is interesting that you would ask. I have another instructable that looks at different concentrations here: https://www.instructables.com/2-Storm-Glass-Guide/
    The lower the lower the concentration of the camphor the lower the crystallization temperature so if you are wanting the cyrstals to form at a higher temperature than a larger amount of camphor should be used.
    Thanks for asking!

    0
    MattGyver92
    MattGyver92

    11 months ago on Step 8

    If this works from temperature, does it work well indoors? Also more importantly, I now have a valid excuse to purchase a large quantity of vodka.

    0
    RyanMake
    RyanMake

    Reply 11 months ago

    It is important to have it near a window where it experiences some good temperature swings such as cold at night and then warm in the sun during the day.
    If you make this once the camphor is in the vodka please do not drink it. I am pretty sure camphor is toxic to ingest.

    0
    uncle reamus
    uncle reamus

    Reply 11 months ago

    Real camphor is used as a flavoring, known as edible camphor. However the " Cinnamomum camphora" tree or bush is not the only source of camphor and many of the other sources are indeed toxic. (Bet ya cannot guess what else we get from the species "Cinnamomum")
    Camphor wood was used to make tool boxes. The camphor prevents rust on tools such as files that cannot be oiled.

    0
    RyanMake
    RyanMake

    Reply 11 months ago

    That is really interesting to learn! Thanks for sharing the knowledge.
    All that I had know about camphor was that the box said not to ingest it and that it was used to help prevent rusting on tools.
    It is always great to learn new things.