December - snowflakes You are here: Home Techniques How to build a tornado machine

The vortex machine in action


The document available on this page describes how to build a tornado machine. The tornado machine is a vertical cylindrical box of about one meter high (3 to 4 ft) with a front opening. Air is rotating and rising in the machine, and with the means of a fine water mist a tornado vortex will form.

Can you build this? Yes! However, the design of this machine is more elaborate than it would need to be to just produce a vortex - it is meant to be put in your living room or somewhere else that requires it to look nice. If you follow the construction plans carefully and methodically, you will find that building this machine does not require a lot of work, and the results will be well worth it!


  • I make these plans available free of charge, provided that you ONLY BUILD THIS MACHINE FOR YOURSELF and you do not gain any commercial revenue by building this machine or distributing these plans. If you distribute the file, you are required to keep the file as-is without modifications and do not benefit from it commercially or otherwise; doing so is an infringement of copyright.

  • Highschool students: you are encouraged to build this machine for a research project, but anything of this document that ends up in your report should be properly and clearly quoted and the source and copyright noted, to avoid plagiarism (using ideas or text of this document as being your own). Plagiarism is very serious and is usually treated as a copyright infringement (which it is, in fact). Also, I provide the plans as-is: you can build the machine, but it is up to you to do sensible experiments with it and decide whether the machine will be worth the money and time for the project. I do not have the time nor do I have the machine at hand to help you make suggestions. If necessary, you may print out the entire document and attach it with your report as an appendix, to be turned in to the teacher; but then I require you to not distribute your report further than only to the teacher for evaluation.

  • I do not sell tornado generators; I have no time and am not in a situation for the coming years that I can build these machines commercially. Maybe I will do this later on, by special request.

  • I am planning to put online the design of a bigger machine (7 ft high or 2 meters) but I cannot test the design now and there are some design flaws that I have to solve first. It may take until 2006 before I can put online that design. Meanwhile, you can experiment with this design, by scaling the machine by some factor to make it bigger or smaller. Except for the need of a more or less powerful fan, this should be straightforward to do.

  • Please do not email me about trouble locating the fan! These fans are really easy to get, so look around in electronics dump stores or mail order companies. I see these fans in every electronics pawn shop or dump store I walk in to. I call the fan a radial fan in the document (as opposed to axial), but they also go by the name of tangential fan, squirrel-cage fan, blower fan, or centrifugal fan. There are always several of these fans in all sorts of sizes available on Ebay.


You can download the construction manual in either English or Dutch language. The plans are in PDF format and you will need the Adobe Acrobat reader, available for free from the Adobe website.

I heard from some people having trouble with the PDF file. The images would not show up, or all be black. If the PDF document doesn't appear to show correctly on your computer, try downloading and installing the newest Adobe Acrobat viewer. Version 5.0 should work. If that does not solve your problem, download the postscript (PS) file.

English version - How to build a tornado generator [523 kB PDF] [1574 kB Postscript]
Nederlandse versie - Bouw van een tornado generator [534 kB PDF] [1569 kB Postscript]