About: Last time in my life that I saw the moon that close to me... I was born in the capital city of a country that no longer exists.... I'm in my own timeline and an Electronic Engineer... Received a BSEE degree f…

This Steam-Punk Storm-Glass was updated April 20 2013 in Juneand again in december
The Fitzroy Storm Glass was first introduced by botronics and his fine ible.
( he also joined the ibles community 3 days before I did :-)
When I needed a really nice gift for my wife's bornday celebration and this was what I chose to make.

During the early 1700's, the Admiral Fitzroy glass was used by sailors attempting to forecast ocean weather.
For the next 200 years they relied on the changing crystal formations to predict the weather.
Today one supplier actually believes that the electromagnetic solar changes can affect the crystals patterns inside the glass.

The instrument is a fragile glass vial with a clear water like liquid.
I chose making this in Steam Punk as my daughter likes this style very much.
A single White LED and bit of electronics allows a strikingly detailed night observation.
The hanger is made of plexiglass and metal to firmly hold the storm glass and act as an illumination night light.
You can get a storm glass from Klockit..


You have to like this very simple LED circuit. .... Only Four Components including the Light Emitting Diode.

Still the circuit is worth bread boarding before publication

Circuit Operation ;

See the circuit diagram. A normal DC wall wart has a 3' to 4' foot cord and as such
it is good practice to put a capacitor at the far end where the regulation occures, to avoid micro power drop outs.
The LM317 and 68 ohm resistor make a standard constant current regulator that is set
to about 20 milliamps in series with any LED.

The Components ;

  • One White LED of your choosing.
  • One LM317LZ Regulator TO-92
  • One 68 Ohm 1/8 Watt Resistor.
  • One Tantalum 22uF to 47uF 25V Capacitor.
  • A small Wall Wart ( 5V to 24Volt DC output )
  • A matching Coaxial connect Receptacle.

Special note
You may use a TO-220 regulator as well as the smaller TO-92 package.

See a cluttered electronics work bench ( No clear level surface:)

I used the smallest Wall Wart which has a ( 6Volts DC Output capable of 200 ma ) and
a Coaxial delivery plug



A Feathered Fern Pattern is a Certain Signal of a Meteor Storm coming soon.

As Crystals forming, the solution they were dissolved in, is less dense and begins to drift upward.

Today one supplier actually believes that the electromagnetic solar changes can affect the crystals patterns inside the glass.

How to Predict the Weather:

  • If there are large flakes throughout the liquid, it will be overcast in temperate seasons or snowy in the winter
  • If there are threads near the top, it will be warm or windy
  • If the liquid contains small stars on a sunny winter day, then snow is coming
  • If there are crystals at the bottom, this indicates frost
  • A cloudy glass with small stars indicates thunderstorms
  • If the liquid is clear, the weather will be bright and clear

BTW as we have turned on the swamp-cooler in the 2013 summer heat.
Our Storm-glass has goon into overdrive, creating very dramatically different crystalline displays.

Perhaps they are much more predictive in the moist environment of ocean life
for which they were designed, where temperature energy transfer through fog, spray and
minute water droplets is more effective then normal household environmental conditions..

NOW in COLD December I'm lucky that my wife likes her gift enough that it has been allowed as a 24/7 night light
in a cool corner and has not been touched or disturbed for half a year.

The fun UV laser provides holiday RED and Blue-Green colors.

Ingredients for Storm Glass

  • 2.5 g potassium nitrate
  • 2.5 g ammonium chloride
  • 33 mL distilled water
  • 40 mL ethanol
  • 10 g camphor natural !

" Dissolve the potassium nitrate and ammonium chloride in the water; add the ethanol; add the camphor. Place in corked test tube.

Mark Ford, who has been making storm glasses for years, states that man-made camphor, while very pure, does contain borneol as a by product of the manufacturing process. His experience is that the synthetic camphor doesn't work as well as natural camphor, perhaps because of the borneol.

Mr. Ford advises dissolving the nitrate and ammonium chloride in the water, then the camphor in the ethanol. Next, slowly mix the two solutions (adding the nitrate & ammonium solution to the ethanol solution works best). It also helps to warm the solution to ensure complete mixing. Mr. Ford never uses a cork, preferring to seal the mixture in small glass tubes.

No matter what method is selected to construct a storm glass, the reader is advised to use proper care in handling the chemicals.

The premise of the functioning of the storm glass is that temperature and pressure affect solubility, sometimes resulting in clear liquid; other times causing precipitants to form. The functioning of this type of storm glass is not fully understood. In similar barometers, the liquid level, generally brightly colored, moves up or down a tube in response to atmospheric pressure. Certainly temperature affects solubility, but sealed glasses are not exposed to the pressure changes that would account for much of the observed behavior. Some people have proposed that surface interactions between the glass wall of the barometer and the liquid contents account for the crystals. Explanations sometimes include effects of electricity or quantum tunneling across the glass.''

Step 3: TOOLS and PARTS

Power Tools
Drill Press
Band Saw
Vertical Mill or a Hand Grinder
Hand Drill
A 25 Watt Soldering Iron

Other Tools
A   hacksaw
Two circular Saws a 2.3/8"  and a 1.1/2"
Assorted drill bits
A 1.7/8" Forstner Bit
An 8-32 Tap and Tapping tool and a #29 drill bit

Clear Base Plexiglass 1" or 7/8"  Thick  and 4.5/8" Deep x 3.1/8"  Wide.
Dark Back Wall,  I like the Purple Smoke_Plex,  1/4"  Thick about 11" High and as Wide as the Base Plexiglass.
A Copper Door Handle Stop. Just use the ring portion as thee Glass Rim.
A good looking Banister support for the Tip Top Storm Glass Hold.

  • One White LED of your choosing.
  • One LM317LZ  Regulator TO-92
  • One 68 Ohm 1/8 Watt Resistor.
  • One Tantalum 22uF to 47uF 25V Capacitor.
  • A small Wall Wart ( 5V to 24Volt DC output )
  • A matching Coaxial connect Receptacle.


The Tip Top Holder is made from, a re-purposed banister support, pot. metal casting.

Simply hacksaw cut the banister support wings off of the fixture as demonstrated in the pictures.

Then drill a 7/32" hole, roll the bit about the hole, and smooth the edges.
If anything the bottom opening should be wider then the top... see pictures.

You will need this part to center the Clear_Base in line with the Top.



Make the Base out of 7/8" Thick Clear Plexiglass 4.5/8" Deep x 3.1/8" Wide ( its what I had in stock :)
With a 1.5" hole and a 1.7/8" Diameter for the Storm_Glass_flat to sit in.
Center the Clear base Plex Hole 1.625 to each edge Yours may be different center.
Banister Tip Hole is about 2.3/4" out from Wall

See the  A, B, C, D, E, F & H  Pictures below ;
  • Once you have your Base Plex cut to size and found the center point.
  • A)  Use the Drill press to drill a 3/16" Pilot Hole 
  • B)  Again Drill press a 1.7/8" Frostner Bit to a well depth of 1/8" to 3/16"
  • See if the Storm Glass sits well in the cut
  • C)  Use the Drill press and 2.3/8" Hole Saw to cut the Copper Rim Ring
  • Again test if the Ring fits over the Storm Glass
  • D)  Now Drill the 1.1/2"  Through Hole.  Depending on conditions you may have to drill both sides.
  • Now is a good time to Band Saw the final Rectangular Shape of of the Base.
  • E)  Drill the LED passage tunnel.

Make the Wall out of 1/4" Thick Purple Smoke Dark Plexiglass 10.1/2" High and as the Base
Use a dark backing to highlight the Storm Glass for day viewing.

  • Butt the Black_plex against the Clear_Base Firmly.
  • Pilot Drill two 3/32"  holes centered about 1.3/4" apart.
  • Now drill two #29 holes ( sorry that is the only tap drill bit for 8-32 ).
  • Tap the holes for 8-32 machine screws.
  • Drill a 3/16" clearance holes for # 8 in the Black plex.

Step 6: CUT and FILL the CAVITY


You do notneed to make a bothersome cavity for the LED regulator.
Just place the four circuit components in a suitable in line box and
skip this step

Go to CUT a Cavity
To make this cavity I started to use a hand grinder as you can.
But my hand is much to unsteady and I had to use a vertical mill.

See the pictures of the process.


Assembly  of the Storm Glass Display

  • After successful LED illumination,
  • Firmly attach the Back_Wall to the Base using two Flathead  Brass screws
  • Lay the unit down Carefully with the Storm-Glass in place
  • Mark this position of the Tip Top Hold along the center line of the Back-wall ( second picture ) 
  • Then drill a third # 29 hole and tap with an 8-32 thread.
  • Attach the Banister Tip Top Hold with a Brass Flathead screw

Storm Glass
Has a Glass Base 1.7/8" Diameter,  a 6" Tall 1" diameter body and
raises to a top point 8.5" High.

Banister Tip Top Holder
The re-purposed Banister Tip Hole is about 2.3/4" out  from  Back Wall

Base Ring
Copper Ring 2.3/8" OD re-purposed from a door knob wall bumper

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