Leon F. Wasinger
NWS Wichita, Kansas
The Tornado in a box was constructed to be a visual aid for, WFO Wichita KS, public weather training programs. The construction, shown below, is only an overview of the project. A good carpenter or handyman could incorporate different ideas to achieve the same results. The different parts and materials used to make this project came from discount stores and home improvement outlets. The dry ice used in this display came from a large grocery store chain but other sources can be found. Our over all cost of material and equipment was $135.00.
Criteria for the Tornado in a Box:
Construction of the Box: (Figure 1)
Lumber used on this project:
Screws that were used were, low profile wafer head Phillip drive screws #8 x1 1/4". The reason to use screws instead of nails was that they hold better and make it easier to take apart or to repair a section.
The frame was constructed from the 1x1 inch lumber. See pictures for details.
The floor section sealed the bottom and provided a platform for the dry ice pan. (Figure 5) Outside dimensions are 22x22 inches. To attain that, cut two 2x2x18 inch boards, and a piece of 1/2 inch plywood 18 1/4 x 18 1/4 inches. Cut a hole in the center of your 18 1/4 x 18 1/4 inch plywood piece, the size of your dry ice pan. Attach the two 2x2x18 inch boards to the bottom of the plywood where they are parallel to one another and do not obstruct the hole. The floor section was then attached to the bottom of the main frame with 1 1/4 inch screws. It is a good idea to place some kind of hardware to protect furniture on the bottom.
The top section holds the portable fluorescent light and portable camping fan. (Figure 4). The top section should not be attached to the main frame but remain a separate piece. This allows one to move the top off center, causing the vortex to rope and weaken.
To assemble, cut a piece of 1/2 inch plywood 20 x 24 inches. Cut a 6 1/2 inch hole in the center for the portable camping fan. Cut a opening behind the fan hole a little smaller than your widest part of your portable fluorescent light. This will allow the light to extend down into the display but not fall through. The fluorescent light illuminates the vortex. Painting the display white helped reflect the light.
Equipment and Supplies: (Figure 9)
*A note to remember in creating a good vortex, it's not how fast the air is moving through the display but how the inflow, outflow and dry ice induced smoke is balanced to each other.
An example of what the tornado will look like: (Figure 10).
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