Building a "Disney-like" Leapfrog Fountain is really quite simple. All you need you can find at any electronic store, such as Radio Shack and at your local Home Depot or hardware store.
Note: Since this project uses electricity and water, children should be monitored by adults when building this project and water and electricity should not mix. A GFI outlet or GFI circuit breaker should be used in this project.
Difficulty: Intermediate hobbiest
A Water Garden.
Submerssible pump (Big John about $90.00 or equivalent)
1" thin wall, PVC pipe. Length dependant on your Water Garden
"T" Fittings. Number dependant on your project. 8 for this example.
Electric solinoid valves. Number dependant on your project. 8 for this example.
Or go to an Appliance shop and remove the water shut off valves from 8 broken dish washers.
Brass plumbing fittings sized to connect the PVC "T" fittings to the electric solinoid valves. Number dependant on your project. 8 for this example.
Electrical wire. Lamp cord is fine.
Radio Shack X-10 Appliance Modules. Number dependant on your project. 8 for this example.
Wireless Hand Held X-10 remote control unit (optional)
Tube of Silicone.
GFI outlet, if needed
Always keep bare wires apart from each other so the will not short, always unplug the equipment when connecting wires so you will not short anything, and be sure to turn off the submersible pump when you aren't using it.
Hopefully, you already have a Water Garden. No? Build one - its not hard.
Drop the large submerssible pump in the water in an unnoticeable location and route the electric cord to a central location (see below).
Connect the PVC pipe to the pump and run it around the outside edge of the pond.
Every couple of feet or so, depending on the complexity of your project, add a
"T" fitting with threads.
Connect the electric solinoid valves to the PVC "T" fittings using the brass plumbing fittings making sure that the input side of the valve is connected to the PVC "T"
Aim the output nozzle of the valve towards the middle of the pond.
Connect the electrical wire to each solinoid and run each wire to a dry, central location
At the central location, connect the X-10 Appliance Modules to the wires from the solinoids
Be sure to water proof all your electrical connections for safety by covering each connection liberally with silicone.
Plug the X-10 Appliance Modules into your GFI outlet.
Adjust the X-10 Codes to control each solinoid valve separately. Use the directions on use of the X-10 System.
Adjust plants to hide your PVS and nozzles.
I got the wireless Hand held X-10 remote control unit as it has 8 buttons to controls all 8 of my jets. Plus, its fun to stand out in my yard and turn in on and off..
Hey, I Did it!!! As some of you may know I've been working on reproducing the Leapfrog Fountain for at least a year now, and didn't really think it would have been all this hard, So, I really have to hand it to the Imagineer who thought up this concept... I started with the thought it was an electronic Solinoid Valve that would merely shoot the water from place to place... But, Nooo, It has to be complicated... With Physics involved... Something called Laminar Flow... I got my Video Camera, and myself, all wet at Disney World trying to capture the details to research and document later. Here I am standing there aiming my camera right down the barrel of this thing not knowing when I'm gonna get pelted with water. If you get close theres usually some wear and tear around the tube that sticks out of the planters, (From those pesky kids doin' EXACTLY What it say not to on the little sign) Even getting enough nerve to look straight down into the thing is courageous.(Since there are more than one, you can get a slightly different angle from each one.) the one closest to the building where it appears to start from is the best one, It doesn't shoot nearly as often. Suprising enough the audio has helped confirm some of the Gate Mechanism components. I even had some of the water tested to see it is was a secret ingerdient (You know some kind of softener or Syrup??) NOPE, Regular Water... That leads to the Laminat Flow... I caught an Episode of "How'd They Do That?" And it showed how the Inventors Mark W. Fuller & Allen Robinson of WET Labs/Design produced it and many other amazing fountains. It showed the cylinder looking thing and a little description as to what makes it work. Of course my video recorder was rolling... I viewed this frame by frame so I could reproduce it later... I have no intention on making any profit nor reproducing it more than once, it's for myself, It's something I haven't done before, And I enjoy the challenge to create. Well Tonight I achieved Phase 1 of the Leapfrog fountain project!! I reproduced a full scale version of (What I call) the Laminar Flow Cylinder. Based on the inconsistance of the average home water pressure and the fact that recirculated water is cheaper than drawing more water through the meter. I used a 1/6" Hp Submerable Pump to supply the H¾O. Parts List: 1ea 1/6hp Submerable Pump 1ea Inline Hose Screen 1ea whatever to attach to pump)to 1" Male threads 1ea 1" Gate Valve 1ea Metal 1" Male Thread to 1" male Thread (NOT Plastic) 2ea 10.5" x 10.5" x .25" thick plexiglas or Lexan. 36" length of 8" PVC Pipe (or Lexan Tube, Yeah,right) 1ea 4" Diameter x .25" thick plexiglas or Lexan. 1ea Yard Fiberglass Screen Material. 1000ea .25" x 8" Plastic Drinking Straws. 6ea Stainless Steel Bolts .50" long with 10-32 Threads 1ea Piece of 100 Grit Sandpaper 1ea Piece of 220 Grit Sandpaper 1ea Tube Silicone 2ea Tubes of 2 part Epoxy (Plastics Formula) 1ea GFI Outlet (Recomend Highly!! It'll save your life) Optional: 3ea .375" x 36" long All-Thread 12ea Washers 12ea Lock Washers 12ea Nuts Specialized Equipment: 1/2" Drill 1" Hole Saw 2" Hole Saw 4" Hole Saw Blow Torch Scissors Cigarette Lighter Use Horizontal Band Saw Jig Saw File or Rasp Drill Bit Index Tap & Die Set Utility Knife Laminate Trimmer Router Bit Safety Glasses Get one of those inline hose screens you see on some of the better yard sprinklers, place it inside between the pump and adapter. You'll thank yourself later, (It'll be even harder to clean the bigger screens inside the pipe.) I then started with a Female Hose (Or what ever you need to connect to your pump) to 1" Female tread adapter fitting. Then a threaded 1" Male to 1" Male Fitting. Then 1" Valve (This has to be adjusted down as needed.) Then 1" Male to 1" Male. Make sure the inside diameter of all these fittings and valve is equal to the 1" Pipe, In other words when you put the pipe fittings and valve together, you should be able to see right through it. With the valve fully open that is.) This will be referred to as the Inlet Assembly. I then cut a 1" hole in the center of a 10.5" x 10.5" x .25" Thick Plexiglass. By heating up the metal 1" Male Threads with a blow torch you can thread the Plexiglass into the 1" hole. (Let it cool on the Plexiglass before removing it.) A little Epoxy on the threads will glue it good. (If you plan on epoxing this all together skip this next step) Drill 6ea .375" holes spaced evenly around and 4.50" from the center. This is referred to as the Bottom Plate. I then cut a piece of 8" PVC pipe to 13" long.(I used a horizontal band saw.) then I cut 4ea 2" sections and 1ea 4" section. I then cut these though the sides to make like a retaining ring that would fit INSIDE the 8" Pipe. (I removed something like 1.25" worth of material.) File all the burrs off the PVC pipe Then I bought some fiberglass window screen and about 1000 straight .25" x 8" Straws, Which I cut in half to 4". Then I placed the tube with what will be the top on the floor. then slide one 2" ring into the pipe. then placed some of the screen over the opening of the pipe. then placed one of the 2" rings into the pipe pushing the screen into the pipe, When the ring was flush with the pipe I cut off the excess screen. I repeated it with another 2" ring and followed with the 4" ring. then I placed all the 4" straws side by side into the 4" space. (Keep jamming them in there till you can't get another one in.) Then, even though there isn't any reference to it I added another piece of screen after the straws with the final 2" Ring. (Just in case the water happens to push the straws backwards and out of place.) This I called the Tube Assembly. Ok, Then there's the Top Plate. I again used 10.5" x 10.5" x .25" Thickness Plexiglass. Cut a 2" Hole in the center. Once again if you don't plan on Epoxing these together you will have to drill the 6ea .375" holes as described above, To ensure these are gonna line up you may want to drill the Top and Bottom Plate at the same time. Then I cut a 4" diameter piece of .25 thick plexiglass and placed a .50" hole in the middle. then I used a router bit used to trim formica to make the hole convex. I still had to sand it smooth with first 100 grit sand paper and then I used 220 Grit. It has to be really smooth. I then heated it up a bit with a lighter to clean it up even more. This I call the Port Disk?? (What would you call it?) (It is important for this to be a perfect hole, the cleaner the hole the more glasslike consistancy you will get. It there is the SLIGHTEST flaw it will produce what I refer to as a "Vain" in the side of the water flow. Even mine some. I'm sure laser cut would be preferred, But remember this is Backyard Imagineering) I attached this to the Top Plate with 6ea Stainless Steel Screws .50" long 10-32 threads. which I drilled the holes into Top Plate and the Port Disk at the same time. then tapped the treads into the Top Plate. then drilled the holes one size bigger in the Port Disk. attached this to the Top Plate with a bead of silicone around the screws. I then used 6ea .375" x 36" All-Thread with washers, lock washer and nuts. to sandwich the Tube Assembly between the Bottom Plate and the Top Plate. Now that I'm positive I have it right I'll be glueing the Plexiglass to the 8" PVC pipe with Epoxy as I could never get it tight enough to stop the leaking. Well, thats what I came up with so far... If you notice something I missed out or something that will make it Better/Easier/Cheaper please let me know... Next is Phase II (the Gate Mechanism) Thanks... Jerry@beachlife.net
REPORTED: Jerry L. Schauer 09 AUG 97
Note: Be sure to turn off the submersible pump when you aren't using it, as you will burn it up since the water has no place to go when there are no valves open.
Added a 9th nozzle that is aimed towards the sidewalk. When kids walk by shoot the water at them using the remote control!
I want to synchronize it to music using a Midi Device or microphone or connection to my stereo like Disney's Epcot of course!
I haven't been able to figure out the Laminar Flow Theory (all molecules flowing the same direction) to recreate the short tubes like Disney. Ideas?
It was shown how they did the flow for the water. You must elimate the turbulance in the pipe. They solved it by placing drinking straws in the pipe. I cannot remember the exact way it is set up . That is the basic design
REPORTED: tim g. 06 SEP 98
I can supply submersible solenoid valves and pulse controllers for home brew leapfrog fountains. Erich (visit atlanticfountains.com)
REPORTED: Erich Altvater 18 MAR 99
I don't know if this information is still wanted, however, it has to do with controlling the leap frog fountain. I myself have been trying to build this for my front yard for 2 years now. I was going to use SPRINKLE SOLENOIDS to open and close the water spurts, but I found first-off, that many pumps, while strong enough to shoot the water, are NOT strong enough to allow the Sprinkler solenoid to Close fast enough (has to do with how they work). I believe the company is JOHNSON Valves or something, they make High Quality electric solenoid valves for high pressure gasses and fluids. I use this type of valve on compressed air confetti systems I design. This I trhought would work great on the "Jumping Fountain" as I called them. I never actually got to try it with the Johnson valves, but I am going try the advice you posted here. THANKS. However, THE REASON I AM WRITING is about CONTROLLING the valve system. You mentioned that you wanted to control it via MIDI or something. I do lighting and Special Effects for a living and I would recommend using lighting control packs for the valves. At many DJ stores, you can find SOUND ACTIVATED relay packs for basic DJ Lighting. They are made by LightCraft, American DJ, Gemini, VEI etc. A 4-channel "chaser pack" is about $75-$100 and basically, it has 4-6 channels, you plug each valve into each channel (circuit) and through an internal microphone, it will chase randomly through the channels to the beat of the sound coming into it. The only DRAWBACK of this, is that if there is not sound, it will leavea circuit ON until the next beat. Thus if ou don't have loud enough/fast enough music, your valves will "take turns" rather than "jump or leap" ANOTHER WAY TO CONTROL this, however a bit more expensive is to use Stage DIMMER/RELAY packs. This is what theaters and concerts would us eto control lighting in their syste,s. There is a pack, that has several (4-6) Circuits in it, and they can be turned on and off, and dimmed from a controller that can be remotely located through low voltage cable. These packs and controllers come in a variety of types, qualities, abilities, and prices. One company NSI Corp. makes a wide variety of devices. For this project, the use of RELAY packs rather than DIMMER packs would be desired, because you are only turning the valves on and off, The dimming woudl be useless.. ALSO, RELAY packs are cheaper than Dimmers, however Dimmers can act like Relay packs if that is what you have. THE CONTROLLERS for these packs cal also range from simple to COMPUTERIZED. ($100-$50,000) Obviously, for this application the lower end of the scale is what we want. Controllers can be purchased that are only manually controlled, Completely Pre-Programmed, Randomly chased, or sound activated. A simple pack that lets you record a CHASE and then repeatedly play it back would be Perfect for this application, and if MIDI is still really desired, they have Contrrollers that can be programmed, and then ACTIVATED for playback with MIDI signals. I think sound activated would be best, this way you can play ANY MUSIC you want. Off hand, I would recomend the following items for control. AMERICAN DJ (http://www.americandj.com/product.asp?ProductIDNumber=97&cat=Lighting_Controllers) This is a BASIC SOUND ACTIVATED CONTROLLER with a remotely located RELAY PACK. The LIST price on this is only $269.00 MORE SPOHISTICATION: NSI corp (www.nsicorp.com) makes a wide variety of Lighting/Relay/Dimming controllers and packs. Check out their site for specs. I think the AMERICAN DJ stuff would be good for this project though.. with out going overbaord. Jason
REPORTED: Jason Lipset 20 FEB 00
The short tubes at Epcot are created by cutting the main laminar stream with a secondary water supply with a small nozzle on it. The nozzle is similar to one that you would find on the end of a wand at the local car wash. When you want the jet to jump, the separate supply is turned on via a solenoid valve running at higher pressure than the jet supply. You may need a booster pump to get the pressure up. The nozzle is aimed at the exit point of the jet on top of the nozzle housing and when it comes on it diverts the main stream down or away from the desired trajectory. When you want the nozzle to jump you turn the cutter jet off and on quickly and you end up with what ever length tubes you want.
REPORTED: Dominic Shaw 03 NOV 99