High voltage Thor’s Hammer: Mjolnir at 80,000 volts

[Thor’s] hammer, Mjolnir, is pretty freaking awesome. It can only be picked up by [Thor], he can use it to fly, and probably the coolest part, it can summon lightning. After watching the first movie, and goofing around with the guys at ArcAttack, I had this idea that I could stuff a tiny tesla coil into a mjolnir and end up with a really cool prop.

At this point, I had to make a decision. I was either going to go portable and live with small arcs, or make this a stationary piece and hide a giant tesla coil in a base. It would have bigger arcs, but I couldn’t carry it around.  While I may re-visit the stationary version at some point, I ultimately decided I wanted to be able to wander around and play with this thing.

I had seen some videos of [Staci Elaan] showing off her battery-powered coils and I really liked her results. I figured, with her experience, she could probably do a better job than I could on getting the most bang out of a small package.  She was happy to be involved and delivered a small 12v powered coil for me to work with. I should also point out that the coils [Staci] makes are usually donated to educational groups. This woman is awesome.

She had built this big flat head on it, with the initial plan being that it would be the front “face” of the hammer. It didn’t really work out that way though. I ended up having to increase the size of the head a bit and change the orientation of the coil. I experimented with different types of foam and you can see in the “making of” video what I finally ended up using.  The blue insulation board you see in the pictures melted way too easily.

After the hammer was all constructed, and ready to film, we shipped it to California.  As you might know, Hackaday is connected to a studio there, now called inside.com. When it arrived, it had suffered a tiny bit of damage and the arcs were a bit smaller. They had gone from roughly 4 inches down to maybe 3. We filmed a few videos and had a ton of fun. Unfortunately, I learned a month later that all the footage for [Thor’s] hammer was lost.

I had them ship the hammer back to me in Missouri, and this time it was very damaged when it arrived. I modified the design a little bit, re-assembled it, and tested it out. The arcs were still roughly 3″ when going to another piece of metal and I was finally going to be able to share this project.  I cobbled together a quick costume out of a t-shirt, some foam board, and hot glue and now you see the result!

For those who would like to learn more about the coil itself, you can find the circuit and an entire lesson on solid state coils here(pdf 8MB).

Lets jump into some pictures!

[Staci] supplied pictures of the various parts of the coil during construction. Keep in mind, she didn’t have a lot of time and I asked her to get this done pretty quickly.

The Boost converter:

The controller card:

The HV coil:

RF inverter:

This was all initially going to fit in the handle, but I gave her the wrong dimensions. It ended up being millimeters too wide.  It now resides in the head of the hammer with the coil.

The initial design that was way too melty and didn’t work very well:

The final design, big but functional:

The whole time, I was scared someone else would beat me to the punch. It is such a simple idea. I think a stationary one that could do arcs of several feet would be fun to see as well, but I’ll have to save that for another time.

42 thoughts on “High voltage Thor’s Hammer: Mjolnir at 80,000 volts

  1. All I can think of is making it out of a really thick metal and then somehow make the tesla coil make sparks so when you hit the ground with the hammer it sends sparks everywhere. >:D

  2. Now all you need to do is add a feature that directs the HV (or a portion of it) to the handle and some form of authentication.

  3. May I be the first to say how AWSOME this is.

    I might have gone with a “semi-portable” solution. A small battery backpack (unnoticeable under the cape) to power a larger coil (maybe if it had to reside in the handle), with the power cord concealedin the hammer’s strap.

    1. if you go the that route, you could hide the cables in the arm and have some sort of connector on the palm (with short protection so you can still hold beer cans) and then you’d have it only working with the owner

  4. All hail Thor! And is it just me or does Caleb look really natural as a Viking? Maybe next he could make a Jacob’s Ladder “lighting” sword?

  5. I was kinda expecting the camera to go out when the hammer was put up to it. I’m sure it was just a matter of perspective though and never really got close enough to arc to the camera…lol

  6. I like the idea of a stationary hammer that is constantly throwing out giant bolts of lightening. Would be awesome as an exhibit in an art museum. You’d have to surround it with a Faraday cage so that bystanders don’t get zotted, and the coil would probably have to be hidden in the room below.

  7. Say, if you were to now cover the whole head of the hammer in foil, would the whole things give off loads of tiny sparks?

    1. That was my first thought. Use the hammer surface as a “toroid” by covering it foil.

      However, thinking about it further, I don’t think this would be a good idea; at least with the current coil. Given its small output, with too smooth a surface, no sparks would break out at all. Too rough, and it could indeed produce loads of tiny sparks. But the key word is tiny, and a few larger arcs are more impressive IMO.

      It would be hard to adjust for the right balance, and simultaneously make the foil look attractive. Mjolnir should not look like it’s made of aluminum foil! Some nicely oxidized and distressed lead foil could look fantastic though. Norse gods laugh at ROHS compliance.

      Maybe Caleb will continue tinkering with it. This is the most enjoyable HAD post I’ve seen in a while, and I’d love to see updates. Although bigger arcs are always desirable, the costume is top notch and I agree Caleb pulls off the Thor look very well!

  8. I second the PKE meter idea.
    That or there are plenty of other superheroes with awesome toys that you could try to re-create.

  9. I was just thinking earlier if it would be possible to create a Kakashi cosplay with a small discharge point in the palm of a glove to give the look of a Chidori forming. (I know this sounds really nerdy, but hey, I’m allowed to be nerdy right?)

    1. It’d be tricky, but maybe. A bit of argon gas would brighten and extend the discharge. Not sure where you’d find a tiny argon cylinder, but at least Kakashi has plenty of pockets to hide such things. Nerdy is good.

    2. If someone does this, I only hope they include a few speakers hidden about their person and an mp3 player + amp to recreate the *sound* that accompanies Chidori!

  10. That was great. A couple of years ago I dressed up as Thor and built a portable subwoofer connected to me and my hammer by Bluetooth. While I didn’t have any sparks like you, the resounding boom I could summon by shaking my hammer was very satisfying and I recommend it. Of course I can to carry my sound system in a shopping bag I would deposit in the corner of any location I hung out in.

    1. “Of course I can to carry my sound system in a shopping bag I would deposit in the corner of any location I hung out in.”

      Nice idea, but will it work with “If you see something, say something!”

  11. I hate to be “that guy” but seeing this made me read up on Thor’s hammer, and I didn’t see anything about it enabling him to fly. I think Marvel Comics added that bit. I guess people are more familiar with that one, but FYI Norse mythology is pretty interesting on its own… You can start here if you are bored


    1. yeah, if you look at the costume, I was totally going for the movie version. I agree norse mythology is pretty cool, and I always preferred loki as a crow anyway.

  12. That would make a bad-ass taser, too!

    In all seriousness, why not throw two more coils in there, and have one for the top and both faces of the hammer?

  13. Hello everybody,
    I am an German engineering student participating in an exchange programm with China.
    I just saw excerps of this video in the Metro TV of the Shanghai subway. I am not kidding! they showed a few scenes, like the one with the neon tube.

    Here is a proof:
    Sorry for the bad quality, but i only had my mobile with me.

    Best regards

  14. Call it the Nerd in me but I’d love to see you make a hoverboard like from back to the future II

    1. Most likely not. It would take a lot of time, especially since I’d probably design the coil a little bit differently. It would end up costing much more than it was worth.

      1. People commission 200lb steel replicas of Mjolnir, I’m sure someone would think it was worth it at any cost.

  15. lol had the same idea only a lot more complicated been working on it for a year now but I must tip my hat to you sir

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