Catching Lightning With High Voltages And A Kite

Flying a kite on a stormy day is not the wisest thing to do, except, of course, you’re intentionally trying to catch a lightning bolt. The guys from [kreosan] replicated the famous experiment, with which Benjamin Franklin once set out to prove the electrical nature of lightning.

After their first attempt to attract lightning bolts in a storm by flying a kite attached to a grounded metal wire, which surprisingly did not yield a catch, they came up with an even scarier setup: They hooked up the wire to the high-voltage rail of a well-grounded television tube to bias it with a few kilovolts. The experiment worked, and as you can imagine, the TV didn’t take the explosion well. The bolt evaporated its antenna, rampaged through its circuits, blasted off the rear cover and left weld marks on the exciting points before it struck into the ground.

The duo took a few safety measures to ensure that they would walk away with their lives, like a self-unwinding wire coil and a second, non-conductive steering line to launch the kite to higher altitudes. It’s still nuts. Take the video below with a pinch of salt and don’t try this at home.

Thanks to [Jack] for the tip!

44 thoughts on “Catching Lightning With High Voltages And A Kite

      1. Ehhh… Depends when you ask. Is Big Brother Vladimir looking, Then it’s Russia. Because, you know, Mobile Artillery and Petroleum.

        And on that note I love the moment of post orgasmic paranoia with the “Oh shit what if The Soldiers heard that” figurative dash out the bedroom window with their pants around their ankles.

      1. I mean the scariest part of this experiment for me was “and we ran home before soldiers showed up” lightning just wants to ground, the soldiers might wanna shoot you.

        also fun fact he referred to the kite as an air snake, which is a really cool way of describing the movement of a kite through air. could’ve been talking about the movement of lightning as well now that I think about it, those were the only two words I caught between the english dub, still a really cool visual image

          1. Whoops, so it is, can’t think where I got that idea, probably some other language that got misfiled.

            Wow, volant is a much abused word though, hard to tell if you’re driving, flying, stealing something or playing badminton. That’s gotta be the basis of at least a hundred French jokes, something like Father: This young man that has been courting you, what is his profession? … Daughter: un Volant … Father, stunned pause, finally: Oh a thief, he should keep you well, I thought for a moment you meant one of those womanising, hard drinking good for nothing pilots.

    1. Ukraine is a war zone, that hardly makes it the debris of society. Hearing you refer to it as such made me extremely and inexplicably angry (I’m not Ukrainian) so I’ll now go off to figure out why instead of staying here and saying potentially hurtful and regretable things

      1. Actually, if they mess around much with microwave ovens they might have a high chance of getting the Russian equivalent of one of these ruin their whole day….
        Because insurgents in other theaters have successfully decoyed that type of missile away from radar controlled AA artillery etc by use of microwave ovens. (The E version now in NATO service might be smarter than that now though.)

        Though it should be said also that messing around with TVs in strange locations is probably not a good plan either, since during the Balkans conflict, incoming strike aircraft could be detected by the echo off them from still operating civilian TV transmitters, and there were efforts to use multiple receivers to triangulate and track them. Anyway, trigger happy forces of either side detect TV receiver IFs sitting on a hill that’s theoretically the middle of a farm, and they might decide to mortar or bomb the location to be on the safe side.

  1. I now have a new favorite YouTube channel to watch.
    The slow-mo frames of the strike should be sold as posters!

    Blender, big industrial fan with metal blades, toaster with bread inserted waiting to be toasted, a plasma screen TV, anything from Apple, WINDOWS 10. :P

  2. Surely I’m not the only one thinking wet copper armour, where is their wet copper armour..

    “If complete and utter chaos was lightning, then he’d be the sort to stand on a hilltop in a thunderstorm wearing wet copper armour and shouting ‘All gods are bastards!”

    ― Terry Pratchett, The Color of Magic

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