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Guides/Test of Dancing Waters

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Larynth's guide to Monumental fountain construction

O.K. , I'll break this down into three key steps. First you need to decide how many and of what size basins to build. Next you need to do some math on how many Nozzles you can afford. Finally we will discuss the manipulation of the mechanism itself.

Planning Basin Layout

Now if you are anything like me I envisioned building a fountain that would make the Belagio Casino green with envy. I built a maze of basins thinking size made some difference and proceeded to fill them with 60 nozzles firing in what I thought would be synchronous yet discordant patterns of beauty. What i didn't know, and you probably don't either is that there are several constraints on how many jets can fire at one time and staging them to come on at just the right time not to overload the mechanism becomes increasingly more difficult as you get more complex.

So let's dispel a few myths. The size of the basin only affects 2 things: how it looks and how much range of motion a jet has without spilling. other than that you can stack jets to your heart's content so you could easily overload the mechanism in a single small basin. That said, if used inventively multiple basins allow for a great many variations of tactics in staging your jets but they also limit you to some degree. The total number of basins can easily work in your favor, while the number of basins in symmetrical grouping works against you. For example if you had a "stepping stone" path of 10 basins you could fire them in a seemingly whimsical random pattern to your endless glee without ever loading up past 50%. While, if you had a 5 pointed star surrounding a central basin, firing 5 jets together works your display to the breaking point unless you are very frugal with your flow rates.

I hope that has helped you formulate some strategies in planning your basin layout. One last comment on basins: They all have a fill level at start and as a jet runs it pumps water either back into the same basin or into another thus raising the fill level on another, I strongly recommend building a diagram of your basins and planned fill levels at each stage of your display. This doesn't make a ton of sense to the beginner yet but it will, I promise.

Nozzle Economics

I will Preface this by saying this is a lot of trial and error, "The best layed plans of mice and men" if you will. I suggest starting very simple with a 5 basin 2 forward 3 back remember you can always re-position basins for free. Place a nozzle then another and another, play with them and get a feel for the windows and what they look like because the lower flow ones are, at least in my book, an aesthetic compromise and you will want to know where your marginal benefit/cost lines are. Now load in 4 dirty rain nozzles that start in the on position and add nozzles till the mechanism is overloaded, Pick up a 3.5 flow-rate nozzle and swap in a 3 or a 2 or a 1 until it will run, now you know what your maximum average flow-rate is before you break it. If you aren't sure what i mean look again at the test page where the nozzles are next to the ingredient list is a flow-rate. Now if you haven't already noticed there is a configure button on the nozzle control screen that will let you name the nozzle and change properties on it. I'll revise this at some point with images but this is a rough-draft. Now that you have some idea of where your threshold is and how you will react as you get close to it let's discuss flow management. You'll recall my suggestion to log water-levels in each basin, now we want to log flow-time-to-water-level relationships. take a single basin and fill it to 100 then place one dirty rain pumping to basin 2 and time it, do the same for each other nozzle. Now to see how all this fits together I want you to build a simple demo that will explain far more than words. In 3 basins place 50 water each to start and a nozzle in each firing to the next Clockwise all of them should have an on level of 75 and an off level of 25 but only one should be selected as on at start. So what you should get when you start this is a chasing pattern that simply goes CW rotation one to the next. Now add a nozzle to each that comes on at 75 and off at 0 firing strait up none of them on at start. They should fire as each basin is hit in cw order but NOT turn off. Now add one more basin with a fill level of 75 and place a jet in each of the other basins that is off at start comes on at 100 and off at 0. then place 3 jets in the 4th basin that aim one each at the other basins i wold use misty bubbles for the low flow rate then set those jets to on at start off at 0level and see what happens, you have now built your first sequenced display : ) Hopefully this gives you some insight on how to use nozzles and starting fill levels to do creative stuff. Remember the water starting in your basins is really a trigger for some other fountains on switch otherwise you would just start with a fill level of 0.

Nozzle manipulation

Without going over the top into the complexities there are a few must discuss options on our agenda. This is PARAMOUNT in your design: No matter what awe inspiring areal display you have planned it will only fire while it has water, The second half of that is that water levels are Boolean values a level of 100 is an on command for any trigger below 100. It is far easier to layer bringing on more and more nozzles than it is to remove them from your loop. I would strongly consider looking at your display as a cascade where you have a "kicker" basin that slowly adds the water that will trigger your other events and then have your display refill the kicker to start it all over again. I'll go into more detail once I do some screens of the windows and have a chance to get them all sorted out hope this rough first pass helps someone.