Ionocraft aka Lifters

It’s hard to believe that in five years we haven’t covered lifters before. This realization was sparked when [Tyler] tipped us off about a lifter project demonstrated at the Kansas City hackerspace called CCCKC.

Lifters, the casual name for ionocraft, fly without combustion or moving parts. We’re not going to tackle the particulars of what makes flight possible, but high voltage is required to feed the phenomenon that provides the lift. One of the first comments when we asked what to do with old CRT monitors was to use them for lifters. The flyback transformer puts out plenty of voltage if you can tap into it without killing yourself (no, seriously, that’s an issue).

This is the method that the CCCKC folks used. Take a peek at the video after the break. If you’re thirsting for more fun with lifters, stop by the Lifter Project.


  1. Adam says:

    If it’s been done on Mythbusters…..

  2. MS3FGX says:

    Quite a…graceful…flight there. Certainly looks to be adding to the probability of the operator killing himself.

  3. Laurynas says:

    It was done on MythBusters.

  4. AS says:

    Mythbusters, it was done on.

  5. eric says:

    Perfectly safe…

  6. Oler says:

    Mythbusters did it.

  7. Gert says:

    “Danger! Danger! High Voltage…”

  8. nachowarrior says:

    this would be better utilized in a fair or carni\/al as a ride, haha.

  9. tj says:

    Not efficient enough to provide the force for human flight. I guess there is possibly an application somewhere.

  10. Eminem says:

    Screw the Mythbusters (No not like that)

  11. Farris says:

    It’s really not that difficult to understand the physics behind this… it’s the same as the Ionic Breeze air filter dealies on Sharper Image.

  12. Pieter says:

    Ah, i’ve build one of these, also used a monitor. It was my final highschool project.(profielwerkstuk voor de nederlanders hier :P)

    I constructed it out of drinking straws instead of balsa wood, to make it even lighter.

  13. Fallen says:

    mmm Ozone.

    These are fun. But be careful, ozone pwns silver and a lot of other metals too. And peoples health in the long term.

  14. JohnnyTToxic says:

    Also, don’t let the fact that the flyback transformers look a bit like suction cups make you think about applying them to your body.

  15. Mav says:

    Ion Thrust is nothing new as for Mythbusters , thats psuedo science for rtards , my cheesy left toe takes a more scientific approach to questions ; lol

    Wouldn’t recommend hooking straight onto the EHT of a CRT to achieve this as its akin to russian roulette, you can get a really nasty (and certainly lethal if sustained) belt like this.
    I do like the safety precautions ;lol
    Sit huddled on a chair with METAL legs ,, sweet.

    Better off using a proper low current HV supply or a large diode ladder if that is beyond available mats or knowledge.

    Don’t try this one at home with a monitor HT unless you know what your doing and have a great respect for high voltages.

  16. ax0n says:

    I was there last Thursday for the initial setup. I know how to safely handle a CRT, and taught the guys in the hackerspace how to properly disarm the HV before touching things. Thursday, we couldn’t get it off the ground because something was arcing. Saturday night, Mike posted the link to the videos to our mailing list, then it was posted to the CCCKC blog.

    The reason the flight seems so erratic? It was fighting against a tether, so that the HV wires weren’t going to touch or get too close, nor would the flyer runaway and shock the shit out of someone.

  17. GhettoDuk says:

    Danger! High Voltage!

  18. Mav says:

    Some safety then :D Still would avoid a CRT HT and certainly worth mentioning the risks to those who don’t know to respect high voltage.

    Average run of the mill home-brew hacker is used to harmless LV circuits, taking a step (especially this one) into the unknown of HV is a great way to earn a Darwin award if you aren’t in the know :)

    I am used to HV and have seen my share of incidents.

    We would find a scorched corpse from time to time on our outdoor HV subs (66,000V no limit on current)as Gypsies would try to cut out sections of copper bussbar with hacksaws to weigh in as scrap, never a pretty sight. Happened so often infact we swapped out the copper for cheaper aluminium in the end.

    Ok a CRT HT isn’t likley to turn your body to a pork crackling but can happily kill ya all the same (just easier to identify).

    A friendly word of warning to anyone who wants to attempt this and doesn’t have experience… Ya cant see it , ya can’t smell it so take care :) Disrespect it and your worm fodder.

  19. ax0n says:

    Maybe I could update the CCCKC blog post to mention reverence for HV… but if all the warnings on the back of the CRT won’t dissuade the noobs, I doubt that a mention of danger in passing would help much.

  20. Mav says:

    Probably true , still at least you will sleep knowing you did your bit :D
    If they really want a Darwin award you can never stop em all ; lol

  21. Almost_There says:

    Did anyone mention that this was done on Mythbusters? “It is NOT Gravity Modification.”

  22. GhettoDuk says:

    Almost_There> Um…You can’t even read the first comment before posting? Comment Fail.

  23. meeeee says:

    Made one myself. When I was very sick and very bored. Used an over voltaged ion generator module I had left over from a pikashoe( ) project years ago. Took me less than half an hour to get a decent setup out of stuff around the house. Would take far less time if you don’t have bronchitis. Its really fun testing out different layouts to get the maximum thrust. I tested it out by seeing how quickly and how far away it could blow out a candle.

    Seriously check out afrotechmods if you never went when he was still active. Serious fun to be had and you wont feel bad about your own ghetto hacks anymore.

  24. meeeee says:

    By the way, I got quite abit of attention at the time for messing with my pikashoes at parties. Tell some drunk girl to rub her hands together real hard and if they do it enough it will generate static electricity. They were amazed at how powerful it was and how it only worked with me. Tee hee…

  25. tantris says:

    if you build one, start with a small lifter. otherwise, your son might crawl inside and everyone will have to search for him.

  26. tehgringe says:


    :D Best comment…

  27. Brandonman says:

    @tantris: Epic comment ;D

  28. Twide says:

    If anyone was interested in 12V ion Generators.

    Good Source for these has been found.

    and its based in AU. Great for all us kangaroo riders.

  29. alfmar says:

    As far as I know, Italian people at ASPS ( – warning, slow load) were experimenting non-newtonian propulsion since early ’70s, including ionic lift.

    ASPS (Association for Developing Space Propulsion systems) even demonstrated a few hundreds grams to a few kilograms payloads lift to officials of the Italian Army (Esercito Italiano), using a much smaller “aircraft”, but the I.A. officially declared to have no interest in it.

  30. EricZ says:

    A French compatriot has done few prototypes over the years. He has a web page (French version also available) with lot of video and reports of his past experiments.
    Talking about experiments, he even has an inhabited lifter :

  31. jeditalian says:

    lol ax0n thats what i was going to say, that thing flying out of control. hitting you in the face, shocking the shit out of you, and then you’re dead.

    also, if this emits ozone, and you are using aluminum foil, i would much rather do it in the garage than inside my house. not because of the ozone, but for the same reason i light my thermite outside. Al2O3. i think thats the formula for aluminum oxide anyways..

  32. ax0n says:

    Even a live flyback coil won’t be likely to kill you. Even though it’s HV, it’s High frequency enough that it would travel over your skin and not penetrate too deeply. Here’s most of what you need to know about CRTs:

    See also:

  33. ManOfGallifrey says:

    Ok,… not to sound like a jerk, but,…

    Do these people read before they post? 5 people in the first 10 comments or so ALL POSTED about it being on mythbusters,… dont you think thats a bit redundant?

    and then theres the guy down the chain a way with the “did anyone mention this was on mythbusters” comment. Seriously. You guys dont R E A D the posts before you throw up word vomit on this otherwise wonderful site?

  34. Almost_There says:

    >Ok,… not to sound like a jerk, but,…

    (It’s called “Sarcasm”… ever hear of it?)

  35. Oren Beck says:

    Many posters have had VERY good comments that are a credit to all Hackerdom.

    A few have been examples of how *not* to post in a forum.

    If you are uncertain of which category your post will end up being seen as? Think very carefully of how your post will make all Hackerdom look!

    Lead By Example.

    Will you be a good one or a bad one?

    Building a prototype and making it FLY is the essence of Hacking itself. Replicating a concept but using whatever materials etc you have on hand is also true Hacking. Kudos to my friends in CCCKC who took a Hackerspace from flying muffin fan&paper plate hovercraft to flying Ioncraft in literally less than a year!

    When and if you can Fly something not bought shrinkwrapped-post about it with videos like this thread started with. Or at least keep your comments to non-detracting ones. Were we to see the same level of energy applied upon crap comments applied to flights, I suspect we’d be a spacegoing species before this year’s end. That last one being constructive/instructive use of sarcastic exasperation. AkA- mindhacking:)

    You can be a good example, or a horrible warning by what you all do next.

  36. zacdee316 says:

    Just imagine what will happen when the lifter is perfected in full scale tests. It would be the beginning of HUFO (Human Unidentified Flying Object)

  37. Jag says:

    would it still be human or would it be C-LUFO

    (Corpse-Like Unidentified Flying Object)

    JK, I know it wouldn’t. Hopefully.

    and wasn’t this on Mythbusters?

    S illy
    A nimals
    R epeat
    C learly
    A…. obvious
    S illy
    M essages

  38. jeditalian says:

    lol. yeah i am not sure about the flyback in tvs. i know there is something in a tv that can kill you. probably just a big capacitor. i broke a plasma globe and disassembled it, continued to play with until it was just a bare flyback transformer with a bare red wire. you could feel it in your head, and it was good for burning things, but i cant recall whether or not i touched that 20khz hotwire. i want another. especially for times when i cant find a lighter, or have no fluid. except i cant imagine me sticking it so close to my face. maybe if i had a really long pipe, with a metal bowl, i would stick the wire down in the center of the plant matter, and inhale, letting the spark SPARK IT UP

  39. jeditalian says:

    somebody post plans to build a flyback transformer. i want to scale it up and put it in my silver surfboard, paint myself silver, and surf around on an extension cord all electrified.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 96,740 other followers