Van de Graaff generator built for a few dollars

2-dollar-van-de-graaff-generator

This Van de Graaf generator was built using mostly parts on hand. The only thing that was purchased for the project was the Christmas ornament shaped M&M candy tin that serves as the collecting sphere. We didn’t include the in-action shot in the banner because it’s so dark. But sure enough, this will generate the visible sparks that make the device famous.

The gist of the device is that it uses rotating belt to generate static electricity. This potential is stored in the metal collecting sphere on top until a path for discharge is provided. They’re an awful lot of fun in middle-school science class as long hair can be made to stand on end if you touch one while your body is insulated from ground. This build uses a long rubber band as the belt. The band is moved by the motor from a DVD drive tray which is housed in the PVC base. An empty prescription pill bottle bridges the gap between the base and the metal sphere.

If this one is too small for you consider moving to a 900,000 Volt version.

[via Hacked Gadgets]

Comments

  1. jsngrimm says:

    Very fun to play around with when the air is really dry in the winter. My dad has a nice stainless steel one he built in college that throws some nice sparks

  2. Ren says:

    Would the VdG generator have to be broken apart to replace the rubber band?
    Or should the rubber band last a year or two?

    • jsngrimm says:

      The band should last a pretty long time, my dads uses a wide trashcan rubber band which has survived on and off use since he was in college (hes 49 now, pretty impressive!)

  3. tzj says:

    Should’ve used an M&M’s Minis tube instead of the prescription bottle, just to maintain the theme ^_^

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