Building the vaporizer

A project log for The Hackaday Prize Moisture Vaporator

I wanted to go to Toshi station to pick up some power converters. My boss wanted me to build a moisture vaporator.

BenchoffBenchoff 03/10/2015 at 16:330 Comments

The initial plan for the Hackaday Prize launch video was, "we can rent a spacesuit. This is LA and there are a ton of costume shops." This was a valid idea until we realized that most costumes are usually terribly made. I'm not expecting teflon-coated beta cloth here, but the suit was pretty much just a pair of canvas coveralls.

We rented the suit for a year. If anyone has a contact to rent/buy an Orlan space suit (or even an IVA or air force pressure suit), that would be much appreciated.

Realizing we needed better props, we came up with a new plan. We would go out to the desert, set up some spacey stuff, and shoot the prize video. Death Valley or any of the moonscapes in Arizona were a bit far, so we settled on the closest analog to Tatooine.

The Prop

No space-themed video is complete without a cool-looking prop. We chose to create the GX-8 Moisture Vaporator from Star Wars. The construction is actually fairly simple.

The base consists of a circle of MDF with an iron pipe floor flange screwed to the center. We screwed a giant iron pipe into this flange and built the rest of the structure around that. Modularity was the name of the game here, because we needed to transport this whole thing to the middle of a desert.

When you look at our copy of the vaporator, you're basically looking at three different parts. The first are the 'cakes'. These are the cylindrical parts. They were made by cutting a few circles out of 1/8" plywood, and stapling them to a few 1x3 spacers oriented vertically. The cakes were then wrapped in coroplast and spraypainted.

The cube part was all my doing.

That was built out of a 1x3 frame screwed together with the fucking awesome Kreg pocket screw jig. Yeah, it's not proper joinery, but we had about eight hours to build this thing. The cube was then covered in 1/8" ply and painted.

The rest of the build was just greebles, a word that totally fucking exists, despite the incredulity of everyone else at the Hackaspace that weekend. There are some HVAC vents, random PVC bobbles, and some duct work glued on there.

I'm pretty happy with how it came out, and I really can't think of a better way to spend my time in LA than putting this thing together.

If you're wondering, yes, we still have the vaporator in the Hackaspace. I don't know what's going to happen to it with the construction that'll be happening soon, but it'll be around somewhere.