Jumping Frog Fountain

When I was a kid, my folks took me to epcott just after it opened. My favorite part of the experience was the leaping frog fountains at the Imagination pavilion. The memory has stuck with me and I’m playing with the idea of recreating it in my yard.

Here is a video of what I’m referring to.

I’ve read up on laminar flow nozzles and feel reasonably comfortable that I can build everything using hardware store level supplies but I’m a bit stuck on how to get:

  1. A high enough powered flow to make the stream for 2-3 Seconds Intermittently
  2. Quiet enough to be minimally noticeable.
  3. Affordable enough to build 3-4 to make the effect work.
  4. Be powered by a 12v circuit. No AC.

I’ve got 2 ideas that I’m kicking around.

  1. Just using a boat bilge pump. I’ve got one order that’s affordable and claims 1100GPH which works out the 1/3 Gallon per second but then you have to start calculating head pressure etc and my eyes glaze over. My guess is that my flow is going to be way too weak.

  2. Pressurize some kind of air bladder pressure tank kind of like the new super soaker squirt guns. I could use some type of geared motor to slowly pressurize the talk then release it in bursts. I’m not sure what this would look like and what size motor/bladder I would need to make this feasible.

Any ideas?

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I am following along…but no good ideas yet.

I have seen lots of the laminar flow straw filter things, but never really considered the pump. Any way just to use like a sprinkler valve and your city water pressure?

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I think sprinkler valves are the right idea in that they are solenoids, but they are very slow acting. I know when my sprinklers turn off, there is a noticeable delay between solenoid actuation and water cut off.

I am not 100% sure, but I THINK the solenoid on a sprinkler valve controls a pilot of sorts. When the pilot is actuated, a build up of pressure turns off the main flow.

I think a strong solenoid that acted directly on the water flow would do the trick. The part I havent figured out yet is how to keep the reservoir(s) both pressurized AND properly filled. You are going to lose alot of water to wind and evaporation. Do you plan on maintain the water level manually, or automatically? Here is where city pressure could help immensely. BUT if you use city pressure, every time there is a “jump” you are adding water to the system. Eventually the ponds could overflow…unless you have it tuned to the point where the number of “jumps” correctly compensates for wind and evap.

I was right about sprinkler valve: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5rokXHhxRSw

For the most part. The solenoid opens the pilot which reduces the pressure on the valve, allowing city pressure to push it open. When the pilot is shut, city pressure builds on the top of the valve and shuts it again.

You’d have to build it like a hydraulic system on a tractor. The water is constantly circulating through the system, then valves divert it to the nozzles.

Thanks guys,

We are on a well so the PSI on the hose isn’t that great and it would be a lot of excess water if left on too long.

My thought was to build these in 3 gallon buckets that would recycle most of the water. If water level dropped below a certain level then a valve opens to top off the reservoir from my drip irrigation 1/4" lines.

What I’m attempting to do is generate bursts of pressure in excess of my city lines pressure for short bursts. I can wait for the system to charge between firings but need the high pressure for at least a couple of seconds to make the “frog”

It’s basically a super soaker… Fill reservoir with water, pump up air bladder with to high psi, fire, repeat. I’d use an Arduino controlled solonoid for the “Trigger” as Ryan suggests.

The piece that stumps me is figuring out how to generate the potential energy in the system with a cheap motor and limited water supply.

For the air pressure, use an air compressor with its own valve in between it and the “bladder”. The compressor itself is your pressure reservoir. Every time you open the valve between the compressor and the bladder, it compresses the air space in the bladder, creating your potential energy. Assuming the air volume in the bladder is sufficiently smaller than the compressor tank, this pressurization will be instant, and wont drop the overall system pressure too much, so the air compressor wont cycle very often.

Once pressurized, the frog can jump. You can then cut the bladder pressure to refill it with water as needed.

Yep that’s what I was thinking but need to scale it down somehow. I need an air compressor based on a 12v 3A motor that can achieve about 80psi

I found this design online


which gets the basic design just need to figure out a piston.

I also like Barry’s suggestion of a looped flow system. If all of your ponds are linked, and fed to the suction side of a water pump, and your system had a loop on the discharge side, that might be enough pressure to do the jumping, while not messing with the overall water level too much.

I’m thinking more of a solenoid ball valve with pumped pressure behind it. The solenoid itself should activate very quickly, bot turning on and off…

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What about this. One pump, 12V whatever, strong enough to make a jump. It loops water through the jump valves, as well as from the ponds themselves. Every time a jump is required, you simultaneously close the “pressure valve” at the end of the jump valve line, while opening whichever jump valve you want.

Once the jump is complete, close the jump valve and open the pressure valve. The system then idles on recirculate. Repeat as necessary. monitor your pond water levels and fill as necessary, manually or automatically.

Obviously, your jump valves are in or near the ponds, it was just easier to sketch that way.

You might even be able to mess with the plumbing sizes to not require the “pressure” valve, if you pump is strong enough. Think, really big pipe feeding the jump valves, really small pipe returning the suction side of the pump. This way the jump valves are in a low speed, high pressure zone, but the rest of the recirculation is done at low pressure, high speed. You just need a bit of recirculation so the pump maintains a flow through.

Also, I realize I drew the jump valves wrong. shouldnt be in series like that. Should be in parallel arrangement discharge to atmosphere. I sketched it super quick.

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You guys are absolutely awesome… I post a random off topic idea and an hour later have 5 people trying to figure out how to engineer it.

I found something really close to my original concept:

It has all the basic parts:
Draws from an unpressured reservoir
Motorized pressure system
Fires about 35-50 feet
Runs off a usb charged battery

Now I just need to figure out the parts to get there.

Or maybe I’ll buy some overprice water guns to torture my kids with.

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When I was a kid, my folks took me to epcott just after it opened. My favorite part of the experience was the leaping frog fountains at the Imagination pavilion. The memory has stuck with me

Same here. I was excited when I saw the design on King of Random for laminar flow nozzles and remembering the frog fountains.

I don’t know what your size/cost constraints are, but my first thought is to pair a water pressure tank like this one with a low flow, higher pressure water pump like this one. Add a pressure switch, and you have a 12v water version of an air compressor. This is essentially your idea #2. If the pump lives up to its 2 gal per minute spec, and if each shot was roughly a cup of water, you get 16 shots per minute.


@robertbu that’s exactly what I was looking for just didn’t know that it existed thanks!

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Here is a water pressure switch that might work. The water pump I referenced might be a bit small. It depends on how much water is used in each frog. There are a lot of 12V water pumps out there. The max working pressure of schedule 40 PVC is more than enough to handle the parts I referenced. If you system works at 60 PSI, there are a lot more choices including this pre-built assembly. I was looking for parts that operated at 100 PSI or more.

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I definitely think a bigger tank with enough built up pressure is the way to go. And solenoids are very fast, just the irrigation versions that amplify the volume are slow. This is just a buying problem. We had pneumatic ones that ran on 12V DC for automating brake lines (tractor/trailers use air pressure for brakes) that would work go full open and closed in the blink of an eye.

I imagine this as two separate systems. 1) the pools, which will have each overflow go back to the reservoir. 2) the pressurized tank and piping, which sprays out the nozzles, but has no return. A leak valve in each pond may also be needed, especially in the first one. You need a pump that can run all day and pressurize the tank from the reservoir.

The real art seems like it would be in the pressurized tank. You need to pump out water, and you need to refill it. The simple solution might be to have the pump use water to pressurize and refill the tank. But if you have a 2 gallon tank and you spray 0.1gal of water in a single spray, then the pressure would drop a lot. Water isn’t compressible, so giving it any more room would deflate it. If there was 2gal of air in the tank, the air would expand that 0.1gal and be nearly the same pressure. That’s why the squirt guns work.

Here’s another design idea.

Put the tank on your roof. If you were 40 feet up, you would have a constant pressure of 17psi. You can have a float switch up there. When the roof tank drops, you can start the bilge pump and pump more water from the reservoir up to fill the tank. 17 doesn’t sound like much, but you just have to jump 6 feet in the air, so getting that from a 40’ drop seems plausible. Maybe 17 is even more than you need.

Here is the small scale test. Hook up a nozzle inside a bucket. Raise another bucket up on the roof and attach them with a hose. Kink the hose and open it quickly. You can adjust the height of the buckets to measure some stuff. You can play with hose sizes (bigger than you think would reduce the drag). Then you just need a very fast valve. I still think you just need to buy the right solenoid.

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Good idea, make use of the potential energy storage.

I think there’s a fountain like this at the Minneapolis airport. Almost missed a flight because of it.

Typical water pressure for a home is around 50PSI. I expect that a system similar to an in ground lawn irrigation system would have plenty of pressure for the frog jumps, as long as you have a fast enough acting valve. No need for special pressure tanks…

Progress! My $15 bilge pump showed up so I duct taped something together. The pump is rated at 1100gph according to the sticker. I assume the stick lies but it’s getting at least 10gpm which isn’t too shabby.

Uploading: C62D2E8C-E1B7-46ED-A16E-7E69D48D62CA.jpeg…

I don’t have any straws yet but I made a nozzle out of a soda can and some misc connectors.

I get semi laminar flow that shoots a 1/2 stream about 12 ft at a 45 degree angle. The flow starts breaking up around 5 feet out.

Phone died before I could get a vid but early tests look good.

Making a target run tomorrow to get a case of straws or sending the kids into McDonald’s to get a small soda and 500 complimentary straws… I’ll send the 5 year old he’s cute.

I’ll post a vid once I get the straws in.