Who knew Jacob’s Ladder builds had so many options?

High Voltage Theme graphic

[Grenadier] has a thing for the high voltage and, as you can see, he’s found multiple ways to build the icon of HV toys – a Jacob’s Ladder.

The three look similar, but they use different means of generation the voltages necessary to get a spark to jump through the air. The exhibit on the left uses a neon sign transformer, the one in the middle is based on a transformer from an X-ray machine, and the example to the right uses a microwave oven transformer. [Grenadier] discusses the pros and cons of each method, then links to his in-depth posts about working with each one them. There are also videos for all three. We’ve embedded the video for the microwave oven transformer after the break. That version of the Jacob’s Ladder requires some way to start the spark and in the video he’s doing it manually. There is always the option to add a solenoid to do the job but he does mention that you can’t just let it run because that cheap transformer will burn out before long.

If you like what you see here, perhaps you’ll be entertained when he runs HV through some soda cans.

Comments

  1. filespace says:

    nice to see something posted that makes up for this complete and utter failure of a had branded youtube video….

    http://www.youtube.com/user/hackaday#p/a/u/0/N7xJxPSHTpI

    • John says:

      haha… I noticed you went to the trouble of posting your insult in both places. How very thorough of you.

      However, you do seem to have forgotten to post a link to your own highly intellectual and visually entertaining video series.

    • John says:

      Actually yes.
      Most good food critics have been in the restaurant business themselves for a number of years just as literature critics are (almost by definition) also writers. Most movie critics (at least the ones that anybody pays attention to) have a history in the movie business. A political analyst that is not an active participant in their own federal/state/local government certainly isn’t much use. That happens to be the difference between true criticism and mere opinion.

  2. Addidis says:

    The microwave one definitely looks the best.

  3. retepvosnul says:

    But can you zap weeds with them ?

    But how refreshing to see a combination of HV-fun and competence together in the same article.

  4. Chris says:

    Did the fuses blow at the end of that vid?

    I’d like to try this, but I have a deep sense of foreboding…

  5. default says:

    @retepvosnul
    Agreed. The weed zapping video should have been completely redone, properly, or scrapped. I was very disappointed.

    This post is great though. <3 HV. Thanks @Grenadier!

  6. medix says:

    It is interesting to note that a more stable arc can be had by increasing the current that the transformer supplies (30 – 60 mA for most – increase by removing limiting shunts in the core but at the risk of burning out the xfmr) or enclosing the electrodes in a tube (lexan, plexi) in order to shield the arc from rogue air currents.

  7. Chris says:

    I used an 10,000 volt electric fence transformer for the one I built for the seventh grade science fair… 32 years ago :/

  8. fartface says:

    Neon sign xformer FTW… can run for DAYS…. we had one under a glass dome running for 2 weeks straight in the window of the office.. Plus they are easily obtained. go to a sign shop and pick up older ones for near nothing.

  9. Ken says:

    ha ha ha ha “whoops” – Awesome.

  10. Drake says:

    Wouldnt you be able to start the arc with a flame … just saying what would be cooler then fire and electricity …

  11. Slanderer says:

    Using microwave oven transformers for this is actually the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen on HaD. Ever.

    Using neon sign transformers? Common practice. Using X-ray transformer? Eh, different, but still a high voltage, (relatively) low current source.

    Microwave transformer? Fuck that. They’re a great way to kill yourself.

  12. foolooo says:

    And I made this,

    Using Jacob’s Ladder to play music :)

  13. Vonskippy says:

    Burning hair smells, seared flesh, the adrenalin rush of yanking back your hand at a zillion meters/second.

    Who can forget their first HV burn.

    Good times.

    Good times.

  14. dalado says:

    A 3-phased one is missing for the perfect collection. And Drake’s idea with a flame-triggered Ladder is also a good thought.

  15. grenadier says:

    O hai guiz

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