Build your own tornado machine

tornado machine

This looks like a pretty cool toy to build. At the top of the cylinder is a fan that removes air from the center column of the device creating a low pressure zone. This air is then blown back into the cylinder to feed the rotation. Besides the regular construction supplies you’ll need a squirrel cage fan and speed control. The most expensive part of this project is the mist generator. The nice thing is, you can construct the entire device and make sure it’s functioning before you dump money into the mister. I saw a really large one of these last year at NCAR in Boulder, CO. It was pretty cool, but naturally I was there to see the Cray-1A [via]. Lately we’ve been creating our own path of destruction so we’re hosting the pdf which was originally found at

[thanks seesoe]


  1. Matty D says:

    I remember seeing something like this at the Natural science museum in Philly… Theirs looked like it was using smoke instead of mist. I’m wondering if you could make one of these with a cheap (hopefully used and cheap) smoke machine…

  2. Hal Hockersmith says:

    seems like this would add a good amount of moisture to the air. This for long periods of time cant be good. Also a smoke generator would probably work but would also begin to smell after time. Interesting project.

  3. blacknoir says:

    Anyone know where you could get some of the electronic parts for this? Preferably in the US. I checked eBay with no luck.

  4. Elliott says:

    How about using a block of dry ice instead of a mister? Way cheaper

  5. zatrix says:

    this is so “popular mechanics for kids”

  6. Zziggy00 says:

    I built one of these for my middle school science fair. I just used a bunch of incents at the bottom though… they smoke a lot, are cheap, and makes the area around you smell good! Won “Best Visual”. Pretty cool back in 7th grade.

  7. Get a Dyson :-) Cleans the house, and it’s cool to see the dust twist.

  8. IMWeasel says:

    How about a tornado of fire?

  9. micah buckley-farlee says:

    matty d, the problem with smoke machines is that they use relatively expensive special fluid to operate. besides, they have a similar large smoke machine at my local science museum (the science museum of minnesota), and as far as i can tell it used a mister.

    elliott, the same goes for dry ice. dry ice is actually quite expensive if you plan on operating this thing for any substantial amount of time. furthermore, it is constantly vaporizing and so you only have so long to use it after you buy it.

    with a mister, all you ever need is water after buying it for unlimited operation.

  10. weirdguy0101 says:

    I live in BOulder, so I go to see that cray-1 and tornado machine alot.

  11. blackmage says:
  12. Kevin Rose says:

    I did a similar project in middle school for a science project. I used a cheap humidifier to provide the steam to make the twister visible.

  13. A.Dawg says:

    yeah, I saw a sweet one of these at the Orlando science center; it was open on two sides, about seven feet tall, and definitely used a mister of some sort…my hand was very wet when I pulled it out. I could have probably walked through it. It was right next to the earthquake simulator. Fog machines aren’t that expensive to keep filled, but they do often take a break, the funnel could run for a couple of minutes and rest for a couple. I got a fog machine once after Halloween for $20, and a pint of fluid cost something like $8 (I have only bought one).

  14. seesoe says:

    as i recall U don’t need any thing to make the ting but U need the fog smoke or wut ever U need so U would be able to see the tornado.

    would u be able to use one of these
    it can also be used as the light for the eye lol

    any one know of some GOOD blowers:)

  15. sammy says:

    I have a fogger I used for Haloween and it seems to be similar to the unit used. It works well with distilled water and is nearly free to operate.

  16. Lord towers says:

    He says the mister will cost 100$ but those little misters can be had for less than 20 now a days, so this project can actually be done on the cheap

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