Peltier Snow Globe Features Snowman Who Dresses Himself In Real Frost

Self-frosting snowman

We doubt that few of us ever thought that snow globes contain real snow, but now that we’ve seen a snow globe that makes its own snow, we have to admit the water-filled holiday decorating mainstay looks a little disappointing.

Like a lot of the Christmas decorations [Sean Hodgins] has come up with over the years, this self-frosting snowman is both clever in design and cute in execution. The working end is a piece of aluminum turned down into the classic snowman configuration; the lathe-less could probably do the same thing by sticking some ball bearings together with CA glue. Adorned with 3D-printed accessories, the sculpture sits on a pedestal of Peltier coolers, stacked on top of a big CPU cooler. Flanking the as-yet underdressed snowman is a pair of big power resistors, which serve as heating elements to fill the globe with vapor. [Sean]’s liquid of choice is isopropyl alcohol, and it seems to work very well as the figurine is quickly enrobed with frost.

But wait, there’s more — as [Sean] points out, the apparatus is 90% of the way to being a cloud chamber. Maybe we’ll see a less festive version after the holidays. Until then, enjoy his ornament that prints other ornaments, his blinkenlight PCB tree-hangers, or his tiny TV that plays holiday commercials.

22 thoughts on “Peltier Snow Globe Features Snowman Who Dresses Himself In Real Frost

  1. I tried to make a peltier cloud chamber. It’s not easy. You really need to get that temperature at minus 30 or 40 deg C.
    I had one that worked with a single peltier, and a chunk of aluminium that i put in the freezer first for a few hours. This allowed me to reach the minus 45 degrees for a short time, which is cold enough.

    A second attempt i did with 4 peltiers with the hot side in almost frozen brine, but i never got the cold side of those at the right temperature.

    1. I made a stacked unit using 6 pairs of TECs sandwiched between two brass plates. On the hot side, water cooler blocks. The hot side got so hot I couldn’t remove heat fast enough.

      There are flat “anti-griddle” devices which I considered pairing with my device but they also do not remove enough heat.

      TECs are hard mode cloud chamber.

    1. Don’t look into the efficiency of a fridge indoors in the winter or what is passing for such right now. At some point when its cold enough a fan should be enough to chill or freeze stuff.

    1. Since the heat is conducted through the snowman a thin wall would take longer and might not happen at all because the thermal resistance would increase over being a thicker thermal conductor. While the heat to be removed from a smaller mass of aluminum is smaller, the ability to then conduct heat from the condensing and freezing humidity would be seriously decreased – which is why heat sink bases aren’t hollow.

  2. Great idea, I’m going to build a similar decoration, but using candle-powered absorption refrigerating (calcium chloride + water + air in low pressure, almost vacuum) or compressor one (i.e. syringe as compressor, hand or electric powered, with water or i.e. isopropanol). I started building a small absorption fridge from cans joined by epoxy glue and with valves from some old rubber belt I found outside.

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