Snow F.A.Q.'s

These are some of the most Frequently Asked Questions received by Global Special Effects about our SnowMasters® product line.
Click each topic below or scroll down to view the questions, then click each question to view its answer.


Evaporative Snow FAQs


What is Evaporative Snow™ made of?

FG-100 Evaporative Snow™ is a laboratory formulated foam based solution that makes the brightest looking evaporative snow product. It is 98 percent water and two percent surfactant. Surfactants are elastic chemicals that make the hollow flakes. This solution, used in our snow machines, creates a realistic looking snowfall. The solution is air aerated at 1/10,000. The water starts to evaporate within seconds making the flakes become smaller and lighter until they disappear. The surfactant chemical becomes microscopic particles. The surfactants used in our FG-100 formulation are of the highest cosmetic grade possible. They are non-allergenic, biodegradable, non-toxic and non-staining.

Will the Evaporative Snow™ stain anything?

When the machines are used properly, they leave no moisture. For years we have been making it snow on millions of visitors in theme parks, and we have never received one compliant of staining. If the flakes are made very large, they can hold some moisture, which can remove the pigment of silk and lacquer surfaces like a baby grand. In these cases, the flake size has to be adjusted to a quick evaporative flake size.

Is it slippery?

The product, used with the right settings, can be run continually without causing any slippery surfaces. This can be achieved by setting the flake size to evaporate before it hits the ground.

We are the only snow provider that tests snow fluid for wetness - slippage on various floor surfaces, a coefficient of friction meter testing. We had several independent coefficients of friction measurement slip tests with major theme park clients and passed with flying colors. We also provide coefficients of friction measurement slip tests for our clients when requested.

A 0.50 COF or above has been recognized as providing non-hazardous walkway surfaces which is accepted industry standards as adopted by UL and the ASTM. OSHA sets many requirements of safe floors under 29 CFR-1910 referring to providing floors of anti-slip surfaces or maintaining surfaces in non-slip conditions in commercial building. It is generally considered in the industry that a walkway surface with a coefficient of friction higher than 0.50 is non-hazardous. In all cases, the coefficient of friction increased after the snow fell with SnowMasters® Evaporative Snow® fluid brand.

Our snow fluid test results found that floor surfaces are rated drier by 0.20+ after we ran snow for a long duration of cycles over time and tested the same surfaces when dry. No particle-accumulated weight on the surface either. That's why you only see Evaporative Snow ™ machines and Evaporative Snow® fluid brand used in theme parks worldwide.

Can it be used around food?

Many caters and event planners use this product as part of a display, entrance ways to a party or as a "wow" effect as guests sit to have a full course meal. It is also used for many weddings as the bride and groom cut the cake. It is even kosher.

Does it have an odor?

No, it has no odor or taste.

Is it fire retardant?

Yes, it is a water-based product, but will not set off a sprinkler system.

Does it have a shelf life?

Yes, it can be stored up to 2 years without being opened.

What is the difference in FG-100 and FG-100C?

FG-100 is a premixed formulation ready to use in a snow machine. FG-100C is the concentrated formulation that is not ready to use. It must be added to 120 ounces of water to be ready to use. FG-100C is made to save on shipping cost. A gallon weight is 8 pounds, and an 8 oz. bottle of FG-100C weighs under one pound.

What does De-ionized water mean?

De-ionized water is the base of all our premixed formulations. This form of water has no minerals, hard properties or chlorine. De-ionized water is the base ingredient in our formulation because it makes the best foam and leaves no water stains. It was originally used for the movie industry so that if the snow landed on a camera lens it would not leave a water ring. Since this formulation has no chemical, it dries and leaves no film.

Can I use regular Tap water?

If your event does not require the use of a movie camera or will not land on glass, it can be used. Be aware that if the tap water you are using has any hard agent, it can make poor looking snow. In this case, order FG-100 premix.

FG-100 Concentrate Warning!!!

Please read before mixing this product with water. Mixing instructions are 8 oz concentrate to 120 oz of de-ionized water. De-ionized water is not available in grocery stores and can only be found at medical supply companies.

The use of tap water, city water or well water can be used with the following warnings: Certain tap waters contain high mineral content and will produce a minimal amount of snow. These minerals will not produce a bright white flake. If de-ionized water is not available, use distilled water. Make sure you adhere to the mixing proportions.

Why does the snow tickle my throat and even make me cough?

We have seen that happen only in rooms that have very bad ventilation. The evaporative snowflakes are evaporating so fast that small snowflakes are landing on the back of your throat and causing you to cough. Simply moving the air in the room usually solves the problem. Turning on the air conditioning unit or applying a fan may also work. If that does not work, then just increase the size of the snowflakes. This will make the flakes heaver and fall faster to the ground and not into your mouth.

This product is available in a premixed ready-to-use form. Ask for FG-100 premix. If you have any questions, please call our sales office or our tech support 24 hours a day at 256-229-5551.

BACK TO TOP



Evaporative Snow Machines FAQs

Are SnowMasters® snow machines 50 hertz or 60 hertz?

These machines can be run on 50 hertz or 60 hertz. Since our snow machines are used all over the world, the hertz were a design factor in the initial requirements given to our engineers.

Can SnowMasters® snow machines be left outside?

Snow machines can be left outdoors as long as they have a weather cover.

Can the snow machines run outdoors in freezing temperature?

Yes, as long as you keep the solution warmer than 32 degrees. You can use a heating blanket or a battery warmer.

How low of a ceiling can you use the snow machine with?

It depends if you want it to totally evaporate. If the floor is non-porous then you have to watch the flake size. If it is a porous floor then you can use a larger flake.

Can you color the snow?

The best way to color the snow is by lighting it the color you choose. If you add a dye to the snow, it can stain.

BACK TO TOP



Faux Snow FAQs

How do you use Faux Snow?

It is very easy to use by adding ordinary water to a powdery substance. Within a matter of seconds, the water is absorbed by the faux snow powder and turned into snowflakes.  There are many applications for faux snow -- cover the yard, steps, window ledges, tree branches, roof, automobiles, back deck...the possibilities are endless!

Does Faux Snow look like real snow?

It is the most realistic fake snow available on the market. For the past few years, photographers and the movie industry have been using this product instead of shaved ice.

Can Faux Snow be shaped?

Faux snow can be shaped and mounded. Even snowmen and snowball fights are possible with this product. Footprints and snow angels show up really well in faux snow.

Can you play in Faux Snow?

Yes, you can even ski in it.

Can you add coloring to Faux Snow?

Yes, but it is not recommended due to possible staining.

Is Faux Snow environmentally friendly?

Faux snow, once used, can be mixed with potting soil.  This mixture makes for a great space-aged moisture holding soil.

How do you clean up Faux Snow?

When faux snow is used indoors, it can be simply vacuumed up with a shopvac or shoveled into a garbage receptacle.  It is extremely simple to clean up.  When used outdoors, it can be raked into a pile and tossed into the garbage.

What does Faux Snow do to my skin and clothing?

Nothing at all.

What happens if you get Faux Snow in your eyes or mouth?

Since faux snow is a polymer based, expanding powder, it is always best to try to avoid direct contact with the eyes or mouth.  If it does come in contact with your eyes or mouth, rinse thoroughly with water,

How long does Faux Snow last indoors?

Faux snow can last for weeks or even months, as long as water is added regularly (use a spray bottle) and it is fluffed up.

How long does Faux Snow last outdoors?

Faux snow is designed to break down once it is exposed to direct sunlight.  The breakdown process begins after twenty-four hours. It can be rejuvenated by adding more Faux Snow.

Does Faux Snow kill the grass?

After use outside, faux snow should be raked up as best as possible.  If a small amount is left on the ground, the grass should be fine.

Will Faux Snow leave a residue?

Faux snow is easily cleaned up. Once removed, the area should be wiped down with a damp cloth or sprayed with a garden hose in case small granules were left behind.

Does Faux Snow feel cold?

It is a perfect illusion.  People say it feels cold.  In reality it is only a few degrees below room temperature.

Can Faux Snow be used in cold environments?

Yes, since it is water based, it will freeze.

BACK TO TOP



Amazing Snowman FAQs


Since thousands of snowmen have been sold in retail this year, these are the common problems people have been calling about.

The snowman turns on but no snow is coming out of it?

This is normally caused when the pump becomes disconnected from the solution line. Simply take the pump into your hand and check to see if the solution line is connected to the pump. If the solution line is disconnected, place the solution line into the pump.

Snowman does not turn on?

Take the remote control and place it on its back. Remove the black tab and try the remote. That black tab connects the batteries to the remote. Do not replace the tab.

Snowman does not make snow but foam is coming out of the jug and nozzle?

This is normally caused by foam building up in the pump and the solution line. This is simple to fix by two methods.

   1. Just let the snowman sit off for 15 minutes and the foam will turn back to liquid.
   2. Take the solution line out of the pump and blow air to remove the foam. Install the solution line back to the pump and try again.

Where can I buy the solution SMF-1C 4 oz?

You can buy it from SnowMasters® directly. Please call our sales office at (256) 229-5551.

BACK TO TOP



Auto Refill System FAQs

What is the Auto Refill System?

The Automatic Fluid Refill Station System maintains the fluid levels in small machine reservoirs by refilling them automatically from a bulk storage container. It is especially useful for extended machine operations or in installations that make reservoir refilling difficult.

How many devices can one Auto Refill Station be connected to at one time?

The Auto Refill Station is designed for one devise to be refilled of fluid. If you need more than one devise, use multiple Auto Refill Stations.

How far can you draw fluid from horizontal?

We have tested 200 feet, but in theory it should work up to 1000 feet.

How far can you draw fluid vertical?

We have pumped 75 feet but in theory it should work up to 200 feet.

What kind of warranty does this product have?

Because this item has wearable parts such as the values in the pump, we can only warranty them for 30 days. If the pump is run dry the warranty is voided.

What happens if the Auto Refill Station is run dry for long period of time?

First, the warranty is voided. After 10 minutes on dry use, a thermal switch will actuate and shut down the auto refill station. It will require a cool down period of 20 minutes.

What if the pump is not pumping fluid?

It is best that you set the pumping station and snow machine on the ground first to set up the unit and make sure the pump is primed. The pumping station needs a drop of fluid to prime. A dry pump will not move the fluid. You may need to blow fluid into the intake stem. This could be done with a bulb or syringe. You need to squirt fluid through the pump while the pump is turned on. If the pumping station is making a loud noise, the odds are that it needs this process done. Make sure the inlet hose at the receiving bottle is below the flotation device. Remember that if you disconnect the hose from the pump on top of the machine, the fluid in the house will run down the hose including some of the fluid in the bottle. Make sure the pumping station is a short distance from the bulk fluid. Make sure the hose is on the bottom at the bottom of the bulk fluid container. You should wire tie a bolt to the end as a good anchor.

How far shall the pumping station be from the bulk storage container?

No greater than 6 feet.

What other fluid has been run through the Auto Refill Station?

Fog, bubble fluid, water, haze and snow fluids. This unit is not intended for corrosive/explosive fluids.

BACK TO TOP



DMX-512 Protocol FAQs

What is DMX-512

DMX-512 is a standard protocol which allows lighting, controllers, and control desks to communicate with other lighting equipment. It was designed to allow equipment from different companies to be used together easily.

Where Did DMX Come From?

The first dimmers/fixture functions were actually controlled by levers on the dimmers/fixtures themselves. During a show, it could take several people to move these levers and someone else to coordinate them. This kind of control was quite cumbersome. Later, control wires were run from each dimmer/fixture function to a control console. If you had 300 dimmers/fixtures, you had to have 300 control wires!! To improve this, manufacturers started using digital signals sent down one control cable. At first each manufacturer used their own protocols, meaning that different manufacturer's equipment could not be combined. Finally, DMX-512 was adopted as the standard lighting control protocol.

Standard DMX is based on 512 individual channels, which can be set to a level between 0 and 255. If a dimmer/function was addressed to be on channel 1, and the level of channel 1 was brought up to 255 (100%), the dimmer/function would be sending out at full power. Therefore, a color/gobo or other functions are assigned a number from 0 to 255.

Example:

Channel 1 (GOBO)
    0   = Blackout
10-20 = GOBO 1
20-30 = GOBO 2
30-40 = GOBO 3
This means anywhere
Between level 10-20
GOBO 1 would be visible.

DMX-512 - 512 represents the number of channels one DMX cable can carry. It requires only 3 pins. Older systems, known as 5-core DMX, may be seen (two pins will not be used and are reserved for a 2nd data link). The data is sent serially to 2 pins (the third is the ground pin) known as positive phase or hot and negative phase or cold. Pins 4 & 5 are reserved for a 2nd data signal or talkback. At the console end, the channels are fed into a multiplexer (MUX) which takes the individual channels data and encodes it into a format suitable for sending down the DMX line with all the other channels' data. At the dimmer/fixture end, the data is fed into a demultiplexer (DEMUX) and split up again into the individual channels to be fed to their respective circuits. In practice, the MUX & DEMUX will be incorporated into the console and dimmers respectively, though standalone MUX & DEMUX units are available to convert analog systems into DMX.

The DMX Advantage

DMX is advantageous because the DMX cable is less bulky, cheaper, and less cumbersome than a 48 conductor cable. If the cable were to run long distances, any repeaters/amplifiers would only have to amplify 2 signals instead of 48. DMX also allows control of many different pieces of DMX equipment, such as smoke machines, scanners, dimmers, etc. from a central location.

Who Publishes The Standard?

The DMX-512 standard (actually USITT DMX-512 - 1990) is published by the U.S.I.T.T. and is now maintained by ESTA. For more information on standards, go to ESTA.com

Wire And Electrical Details

DMX-512 is RS485 serial at 250K baud, as such any installation must meet the requirements of EIA-485. In particular, use of suitable good quality cable is important (we would not recommend mic cable for a permanent install, although we have found a good quality mic cable is suitable for mobile use).

Pin Out (Go to DMX Index)
DMX-512 3 PIN:
Pin Function
1 ground
2 - DMX data
3 + DMX data

DMX-512 5 PIN:
Pin Function
1 ground
2 - data
3 + data
4 nc
5 nc

Protocol Wiring Practice

The DMX-512 standard (actually USITT DMX-512 - 1990) is published by the U.S.I.T.T. and is now maintained by ESTA. For more information on standards, go to ESTA.com

Line Termination

All DMX lines must be correctly terminated if reliable operation is to be obtained. If not, signal loss can occur. Some fixtures have a switchable line-terminating resistor built in. In these cases, make sure that only the last fixture in the chain has the terminating switch set to the on position. If the last item (farthest from the data source) does not have a terminating switch, then an external line-terminator is needed. To make one you will need the following parts:

1 Male 3 Pin XLR
1 110 ohm 0.5W Resistor

To make the line terminator, solder the resistor across pins 2 & 3 of the XLR. You may want to back fill the XLR with epoxy resin to provide protection. Line termination will not correct a bad cable or interference from running a DMX cable next to an electrical cable. High power electrical lines will cause interference.

What Is Addressing?

Because the DMX protocol is so basic, each intelligent light's range of controlling DMX channels must be set manually. Each light's DMX address corresponds to the first of the light's channels.

For Example:
You have two intelligent lights that use five channels each.
You set the DMX address of the first light to 1, and the DMX address of the second light to 6. The reason for this is because the first light is using channels 1,2,3,4 and 5 - so therefore the second light starts on channel 6. You may also have to set up your intelligent light console for the type of lights you have and their DMX address before you can control them.

Planning Your Addressing

You may want to do a little planning before you start addressing your lights. Put all of your lights in a logical order; it will help you figure out which light is which later. Next, find out how many DMX channels each light uses - the lights manual should tell you this. Now that you know what channel to start addressing your lights at, you can figure each light's DMX address (except when your controller banks channels, see Controllers). Take the first light's DMX address, add the number of channels it uses, and you have the second light's DMX address. Then, take the second light's DMX address, add the number of channels it uses, and you have the third light's DMX address. Do this until you have all the DMX addresses for your lights written down.

Controllers

Some controllers give you settings automatically and some controllers use banks of channels. Whether your fixture uses 4 DMX channels or 10 DMX channels, it will still require you to set up your fixtures based on it's banks.

Example:
CX-5 banks all fixtures in 14 channel intervals so your first fixture will always start on channel 1, and your second fixture will always start on channel 15. DMX-40 banks all fixtures in 16 channel intervals so your first fixture will always start on channel 1 and fixture 2 will always start on channel 17. Show Xpress allows you to use all the channels.

Setting Up Dip Switches

Read your fixture's manual to find out how to address your light. Many intelligent lights use binary dip switches, while other lights may use a small display and buttons to set the DMX address. There is always a minimum of 9 dipswitches if your fixture uses them (there may be 10, but the last one is used for a standalone/self-test/focus/invert/etc.) Each dip switch has a corresponding value.

Dipswitch
DMX Channel
1.
1
1.
2
1.
4
1.
8
1.
16
1.
32
1.
64
1.
128
1.
256

If you have a light that needs a DMX address of 1, then your dip switches will be set with only 1 in the 'on' position. If you have a light that needs a DMX address of 40, then your dip switches will be set with 4 & 6 in the 'on' position. If you have a light that needs a DMX address of 393, then your dipswitches will be set with 1,4,8,9 in the 'on' position.

The exception to the above is if you have a controller which banks channels, if so, see the controller section above.

We have included a DMX Chart for all 512 channels.

DMX Pin Settings

DMX pins for all snow machines are as follows:

1.ScreenInterference screen, and ground reference
2.BlackDMX512 Data -ve
3.WhiteDMX512 Date +ve
4.GreenNo Connection
5.Red+25V DC

BACK TO TOP