High Voltage Hacks: shrinking coins

The anthem for the Great Recession might be something along the lines of, “That we’re gonna do it anyway, even if doesn’t pay.” Some men just want to watch the world burn, so Hackerbot Labs posted a great walkthrough about shrinking coins and in the process making our pocket change worth just a little bit more.

Their build pushes 15,000 Joules (from a 10kV 300μF cap) through a coil of wire wrapped around a coin. This creates a magnetic field in the coil and the coin. These two fields repel each other, and there’s only one way that it can end: the coin shrinks and the coil of wire explodes. The team at Hackerbot Labs linked to a great theory of operations that does a great job explaining the physics has some awesome pictures.

During our research, we saw a few questions about the legality of altering currency. According to the U.S. Code, shrinking coins only illegal if it’s done fraudulently, like shrinking a penny down to the size of a dime to fool a pay phone or vending machine. Check out a video of the Hackerbot Labs setup putting as much energy as 100 heart defibrillators into a coin after the break.


  1. b1r6m4n says:

    Photonicinduction tried this recently – failed because he needs more power!

  2. xorpunk says:

    “and in the process making our pocket change worth just a little bit more”

    yeah because when merchants no longer accept it, it becomes more trendy and kewl..then people like Johnny Depp will buy it from you.

  3. Ryan Mercer says:

    FYI If you don’t want to do it yourself but want one, http://capturedlightning.com/frames/interesting1.html sells shrunken coins :)

  4. Svengali says:

    FYI according to the website http://www.ramint.gov.au/designs/ram-designs/using.cfm Defacing and or Destroying Australian currency is illegal and can attack fines of $5,000 and 2 years in prison for individuals. Apparently you can also be charged with counterfeiting money if you alter it, They then go on to quote some random act of the copyright that could be infringed upon because of alterations.

    That being so i would hesitate about altering our currency, stick with the foreign money! :P

  5. Mike says:

    They have high speed video capture of shrinking too! http://www.flickr.com/photos/hackerfriendly/3618163583/in/set-72157613645586248/

  6. This is very cool! …and those would make great xmas gifts for coin collectors ;-)

    • Spork says:

      As a (not very serious) coin collector, I’d have to disagree. Most collectors want rare coins in perfect original condition, rather than smashed with 15kjoules.

      The engineer/scientist in me would love it though!~ Just be sure to tell me how you did it.

  7. I have a bunch of ancient UK half penny coins here if someone wants to have a go at this :-)

  8. kj6epl says:

    How many Farads was that cap?

  9. user four twenty says:

    popular science had this in an article appx ten years ago…

  10. Joe Bonasses says:

    The anthem for the Great Recession might be something along the lines of, “Don’t let conservatives and their banking buddies rewrite banking and finance laws.”

  11. Eric says:

    Uh, didn’t you cover this in 2008?
    I even had the article printed out.

  12. Eric says:

    Oh wait, the article only linked to it.


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