10 unusual custom-made artificial wave generation ideas
Have you ever thought how cool it would be to design and build your own private, custom-made wave pool? Well, you're not alone. Here are a few examples of people who tried it.
Imagine you or one of your friends owning a small piece of land with enough space to dig a hole and create a pool-like structure.
To make things even more interesting, one of your friends is an engineer who is knowledgeable about fluid mechanics.
Unexpectedly, the ingredients you need to create a rideable homemade artificial wave are just in front of your eyes.
And with a little bit of creativity and the right tools and equipment, you can make dreams real and build an inexpensive surf spot in your backyard from scratch.
No one said it would be easy, but that is not the point.
There's good news. People have tried it with different levels of success, from high-speed flow standing waves to truck-powered ripples.
There are several fully tested wave-generating formulas or concepts available.
Most of them feature piston-powered paddles, pressurized air chambers, hydrofoils, plungers, water dumps, or rotating foils.
Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to embrace this knowledge and make it work your own way.
Here are some of the most innovative, unusual, offbeat, eccentric, and weird experimentations and proof of concepts ever to see the light of day.
Hopefully, they will inspire you to dream bigger and better.
Fred's Beginner Wave Pool
In 2008, Fred Coblyn, a 66-year-old enthusiast at the time, made a significant mark in the world of surfing by constructing a unique, eco-friendly wave pool in Sukabumi City, Indonesia.
Growing up in Indonesia, Holland, and Australia, Fred's love for surfing started early.
His passion led him to build his first surfboard at 13, and eventually, his dedication to surfing and creativity took precedence over his construction career.
The inspiration for Fred's Wave Pool struck during a surf trip to the Mentawais, where he was discouraged by crowded waves and environmental degradation.
Determined to create a sustainable surfing experience, Fred invested three years and $95,000 Australian to build his first wave pool.
This prototype, renowned for its zero-carbon footprint, used human or motor power to lift and drop a heavy block, creating beginner-friendly waves.
Despite its popularity, particularly among local children, the pool faced financial challenges and was partially disassembled.
Undeterred, Fred is currently seeking investors for a commercial-scale pool near Prague with the aim of producing more challenging waves.
Quiksilver's Dynamite Surfer
In 2007, two years after YouTube started, Jonas Arnby, a partner at The Brainstormclub, directed a Quiksilver video that became very popular online.
The video shows some young people by a lake.
One surfs on a wave created by a dynamite explosion, which another person throws from a bridge.
Simon Wooller, a creative director at Saatchi & Saatchi, came up with this idea.
Although the video looks like it was shot on a low-quality phone, it was actually filmed in high-definition and edited to look grainy.
The filming took place over three days at Copenhagen's Dronning Louise Bridge and a remote Danish coast.
They filmed the explosion and surfing separately, with a professional fireworks company's help, and then combined the footage using Flame software to make it look like a phone video.
The editing took 100 hours.
Simon Wooller said the goal was to make it hard to tell if the video was real or staged.
The actions in the ad did happen, but not all at the same time as the video implies.
He believed its success with the "YouTube generation" was due to its appeal on platforms like MySpace and YouTube.
The video, seen over ten million times, also sparked discussions about whether it was real, with some trying to do the same stunt.
The Portable Wave Generator
In 2009, Ocean Innovations unveiled the Portable Wave Generator, a wave-generation system that allowed you to choose the size wave you wish to enjoy.
The company claimed it could be installed virtually anywhere, from personal or residential waterfronts to public beaches or spectator events.
The Portable Wave Generator produced "consistent two-to-six-foot waves with an advanced model capable of producing waves in the eight-to-ten-foot range."
The developers proudly stated that "this state-of-the-art technology is credited for producing the first manmade barreling wave."
The concept was relatively simple and portable. Could it be expanded?
The Human-Powered Wave Pool
In 2015, a natural-born leader commanded a troop of swimmers to create a human-powered wave in a public swimming pool.
The process is more complex than it looks. It involves precise timing and coordination so that the wave period is not messed up.
The downside is that you will really need many friends to make it doable and rideable.
The Homemade Flowrider
In 2010, Derek Dewitt built a standing wave machine prototype in a warehouse.
He used an 8", 4,000-gallon pump per minute with 6-4'' nozzles and added 1" of hose to the ends so he could shape the flow a bit better.
The tank is 24' x 12' x 42'' high, lined with pond liner, which Dewitt also used on the surface.
He says it works well with only about two inches of water on the surface but only five inches of surfable flow.
For better results, get a bigger pump and make your manifold larger for less turbulent jets. You don't need much of a slope on the top - maybe 16'' over 10'.
Derek's is adjustable with jacks in the tank.
The Toyota Tacoma Wave Machine
In 2023, Ben Gravy and friends engineered the world's cheapest wave pool machine.
Inspired by videos of trucks creating waves in flooded streets, Gravy conceived the idea of using a truck to generate artificial waves.
The key components of his design included a Toyota Tacoma truck, purchased for $1,400, which served as the base of the machine, steel tubes and plates, and plywood, which Gravy believed could create a sufficient surface area to push water and form a wave, negating the need for additional weight.
Gravy's initial attempts faced challenges, including a moment when the truck sank into freshwater.
However, the machine was eventually revived and became functional.
The surfers discovered the optimal technique for creating a perfect wake and ride.
The project was well-received in the surfing community, sparking suggestions for improvements and modifications.
Gravy's invention, costing under $2,000, was a hit, allowing surfers to ride waves longer than many ocean waves.
The World's Largest Artificial River Wave
In 2022, a group of six friends from Oregon dug a small trench to divert a Portuguese river about to overflow, creating an impressively large standing river wave.
The Sickos YouTube collective admit they learned from Jamie O'Brien's identical experience in Hawaii's Waimea River.
Once the floodgate was opened and the Alcabrichel River started rushing toward the ocean, the channel got wider and wider as minutes passed by.
Soon, the first bodyboards and mats were testing it out, followed by the first stand-up surfers.
An hour later, the surfers had an overhead standing wave.
The Bodyboard Skimming Ramp-to-Wave Pool
In 2014, an anonymous rider built a wooden ramp connected to a pool.
Then, he grabbed a bodyboard and rode down the slope toward a small incoming wave generated at the pool's opposite side.
Last but not least, the rider, standing up on the board, skimmed a couple of yards across the water's surface and took advantage of the wave's face to get a small air.
The Constructive Interference Wave
In 2014, a man shot a video showing how to make three-foot waves in a 21-foot diameter swimming pool.
He applied the concept of constructive interference, a phenomenon that occurs when two or more waves overlap, and their displacements (or amplitudes) add together, resulting in a wave of greater amplitude.
For constructive interference to take place, the waves must be in phase or have a phase difference that allows their peaks (and troughs) to align.
This means the peaks (the highest points) of the waves add together, as do the troughs (the lowest points).
The Minecraft Vanilla Wave Pool
Need a virtual surfing fix? No problem.
In 2016, a YouTube content creator developed a unique and fully functional Minecraft "Vanilla" wave pool for a theme park.
The virtual model uses an air piston clock-style concept to create a set of 17 waves.
Minecraft "Vanilla" refers to the basic, unmodified version of the Minecraft game.
It's the original game without any additional modifications, plugins, or custom content that players often use to alter gameplay.
It's the pure, untouched experience of playing Minecraft as it was designed and released by its developers, Mojang.