I should say right off that making snow is HARD on a compressor...it will be running continuously, so unless you have complete confidence in yours, dont try this.
Now, man-made snow is nothing
more than frozen drops of water....the trick is to spray the water fine
enough, and keep it in the air long enough that it will freeze before it
hits the ground. Actually, if you just filled an automotive spray gun with
water you could make snow, but it wouldn't amount to anything:)
The whole gun can be less than 18" long using 1/2" pipe. Length wont have much affect here. 12-18" is fine.
Now, although this is much less technical than the machines used to cover whole ski areas, some attention must be paid to airflow.
First, always make sure the air runs straight through and the water intersects it...in the above diagram if the air and water lines were switched, output would be almost nothing. The reasons involve velocity and turbulance, neither of which I care to get into here.
Next, make sure you keep the airway as smooth and restriction-free as possible. Never use "quik-couplers" on the air hose at the gun or anywhere outside...condensation travels through the airline and any edge rough enough to catch one drop will start freezing the air line. Use a ball-valve at the gun instead(it's a good idea to have an air valve here in case you have to turn it off quickly). Use a decent separator at the air source to eliminate as much condensation as possible. As for the "suitable" orifice, or tip, a simple pipe cap will do, with a hole drilled in it. very simple, but effective. To get a good idea of how big to drill...I have a 2.5HP/9CFM compressor and an 1/8" hole works perfectly, holding 80PSI.
Once you get a basic gun working, you can play around changing tip sizes and shapes and even make water inlet tips to get better results.
You may want to make some type of stand to set the gun on out in the open. However this gun is small enough that I just prop it on the old grille out back or in the railing on the front porch:)
Once you have constructed
your masterpiece, it's time to wait for temps.
Now I should explain the
water/air thing a bit. The colder it is, the faster water will freeze and
the more you can put through the gun, which will put out more snow. Also,
the more water going through the gun, the less air it will use. So, in
general, the colder it is, the better, and since this system isnt really
an engineering marvel, it needs all the help it can get:)
Well, this is definitely the quickest lesson I have ever given on snowmaking. However I love to talk about snowmaking and would be happy to answer any questions you have regarding it, or just talk about it in general. So, be careful, and make sure to have fun:)