Have you ever wanted to create a unique low cost water sculpture that you can show off to your friends? Well now you can! This vortex fountain is a simple and low cost project that you can do with a pump and a handful of home sourced materials. The idea behind this project is flexible with the core of it being the vortex so it can be adjusted to whatever aesthetic appeals best.
- Water Pump
- Flexible straws or small diameter tubing
- Cylinder (Cup, Graduated Cylinder, Cylindrical Container)
- Container for water and pump
- Lid or Plank for cylinder to rest on
- Tape (if needed)
Step 1: Installing the Pump and Tubing
Take the container you have chosen to house the pump and water, and place your pump inside. Cut a small slit in the edge of the container above the water line to allow the power cord to pass through. Position the pump so that it is in line with the inside edge of the upper cylinder. Next install your straw or tubing and secure it on to the pump's output port. Seal it with either waterproof tape or glue to ensure it will travel properly.
Step 2: Setting Up Your Platform
Find the center of your chosen platform for the water cylinder, and drill a hole that is slightly larger than the diameter of your straw or tubing. This way the water will drain at the proper rate for the cylinder to fill itself while maintaining the vortex effect. Next to this hole drill a hole that is the same diameter of your straw or tubing to allow it to pass in to the cylinder. Place your cylinder on top of the platform and secure it. Next, drill small holes in to the platform around the outside of your cylinder. These will allow excess water to drain back in to the water pump housing. When your platform is set up, place it on top of the water pump housing, and thread your tubing or straw in to the cylinder. Allow it enough room to bend to the side, this will be necessary to create the force for the vortex.
Step 3: Creating the Vortex
With the cylinder and water pump housing set up and in place, the next step is positioning the tubing. After threading the tubing/straw in to the cylinder as described in the previous step, it needs to be positioned at a 90 degree angle facing the wall of the cylinder. This will allow the water passing in through the tubing, to gain centripetal force by pressing off the wall and being pushed back in to the center, this spiraling effect in combination with the suction from water draining will cause a vortex to form. The cylinder will fill to varying heights depending on the strength of your pump and the diameter of the hole through which the water is being drained. If your pump is bringing water in faster than it is being drained it will raise the water level until either the water overflows and the excess is brought back in to the housing, or the system reaches equilibrium and the amount of water entering the container and the amount being drained back in are at the same rate. If the drain is too large however the water will drain faster than it can be pumped in and the vortex will not form.
Step 4: Embellishing Your Project!
Once the core of your project is set up you can add whatever aesthetic improvements you wish. For our project we went with a simple ring of stones around the base of our vortex, however you can go as wild as your dreams allow you for this project. The only thing to remember in creating these embellishments is to not block your water drains. If they are blocked you will end up with quite the spill!