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I'm trying to create my own ultrasonic humidifier. I ordered the misting part which works great but it only functions correctly in shallow water. So I'd like to feed from a large water reservoir to a smaller one. My question is how can I fill the smaller reservoir to a desired water level? Will I have to use a closing/opening valve or is there a simpler way? (I was thinking a small balloon hooked up to a pulley that opens and closes a latch much like a toilet but I am trying to avoid complexity.) enter image description here

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closed as off topic by David Z Dec 27 '12 at 20:16

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as you write, the toilet cistern has already solved this problem, and is a remarkably simple and robust bit of kit. If you do manage to make it cheaper, simpler and more robust, then patent it quickly! –  EnergyNumbers Dec 27 '12 at 13:17
    
But I'd need a small version because the large water tank would be no more than a gallon or so. I wonder do they make smaller ones? –  stormist Dec 27 '12 at 15:35
    
Why is that a problem? The principle does not really change. –  Bernhard Dec 27 '12 at 15:51

3 Answers 3

up vote 5 down vote accepted

I recently saw an auto pet waterer. The intent of the device is to keep the same water level as the pet drinks the water. This is accomplished with basically a bottle of water turned upside down and the top of it submerged under the water level. If the water level falls below the top of the water bottle, then air bubbles make their way up to the top of the bottle, exchanging air for water and keeping the level the same.

This is a very simple solution, and this type of approach may be appropriate for what you're trying to do, but it differs from the other solutions proposed. There are some drawbacks:

  1. The pressure of the water reservoir has to adjust to accommodate its level
  2. The device can only make up for lost water - if you add water the level won't remain the same

If you're building a humidifier I doubt the second point would be a problem. You're only going to be removing water, right? The first point may actually be more troublesome. For one, you refilling it isn't trivial. You need to actually close up the water reservoir, turn it rightside up again, then fill it. If you just opened a plug, then it would all fall out and make a big mess.

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+1 In fact this is exactly how typical humidifiers work. –  Mike Dunlavey Dec 27 '12 at 18:16
    
Very interesting thank you for explaining this design! –  stormist Dec 27 '12 at 22:13

The possibilities are endless, a couple more options follow...

If you simply connect both reservoirs with some elastic pipe near their bottoms, the water level will be the same in both. So you will need that either the large reservoir rises as it empties, or the smaller one lowers. The former can easily be achieved hanging the large reservoir from apropriate springs. The latter could be easily made to work by having the whole small reservoir float inside the larger one.

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Spring action makes sense! Thank you for sharing! –  stormist Dec 27 '12 at 22:14

I don't think it's possible without moving parts, but here's a way to improvise a valve that would probably work:

enter image description here

When the water level gets too high, the ping-pong ball floats up and blocks the inlet. The main problem with this approach would probably be getting a good seal between the ping-pong ball and the end of the pipe - you'd probably need some kind of rubber thing on the end of the pipe, but maybe you can find something suitable in a hardware store.

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This is a great idea & Illustration Thank you! –  stormist Dec 27 '12 at 22:11

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