Trio of Magnetrons Power a Microwave Rifle

Can you build a working EM weapon from three microwave ovens? Apparently, yes. Should you do so? Maybe not when the best safety gear you can muster is a metallized Mylar film fetish suit and a Hershey’s Kiss hat.

Proving that language need not be a barrier to perfect understanding of bad ideas, the video below tells you all you need to know, even without subtitles in the non-Russian language of your choice. [KREOSAN]’s build is obnoxiously obvious — three magnetrons mounted on a tin can “resonator” with a foil-covered waveguide at the business end. The magnetrons are tickled by a stun-gun that’s powered by a pack of 18650 batteries. The video shows some “experiments”, like lighting up unpowered CFL bulbs from about 15 meters away and releasing the Blue Smoke from the electrical system of a running motor scooter. Assuming they weren’t added in post, the artifacts in the video belie the gun’s lack of shielding for the operator. We doubt any of the ad hoc safety gear would provide any protection from the resulting microwaves, but we also doubt that it matters much when things have gotten this far.

We’re not too sure about this one — some of the zapping stunts look a little too conveniently explosive. It’s hard to tell the details without a translation, so maybe one of our Russian-speaking readers can pitch in on the comments. Although this isn’t [KRESOAN]’s first microwave rodeo, having melted a few lightbulbs with magnetrons before. Even seeing this we still consider EMP Weapons a figment of Hollywood’s imagination.

Credit for the tip goes to [Maksim]. Thanks, we guess.

96 thoughts on “Trio of Magnetrons Power a Microwave Rifle

          1. A 2 kW taser ????? nonsense : a taser is very high voltage (x kV), very low current (unless you want to kill style electric chair), so low power ; a magnetron need some hundred volts, but enough current to provide enough microwave power. As an exemple of (lower) power needed, try to run a washmachine motor with a taser :-)

  1. The scary thing, is that’s built from readily available components. Here in Brisbane, there’s an annual clean-up organised by the council, and it’s not uncommon to see microwave ovens tossed out.

    That said, I wouldn’t give a person many chances if they were to go strolling down Queen Street with one of those over their shoulder before the police caught up with them.

  2. The 18650s run the filaments in the mags. The stun gun provides the high voltage to the mags, so yeah, it should work and give some nice high power pulses.

    Probably something on the scooter shorted and dumped the battery to ground.

  3. would you not think this is fake? they were in the house with 240v equipment around them that should of shortned iut their bulbs as well! as i dont believe their signal is straight like a sniper riffle plus their behavior was really strange

    1. thats true, with that type of aperture, the output should be more like a flashlight, ever widening, bouncing off of anything reflective.
      i used to work with microwave transmitters at a tv station. the truck style with the 40 ft masts. i had one pointed at me from 1/4 mile. the crew had turned off the compressor and the mast had come down. it gave me a headache so i walked around the block and put the compressor back on from behind the truck. that was only an 11 watt set but it throws a beam about 40 miles.

        1. But LiPo is Li-ion, 18650 is a size of rechargeable typically Li-ion battery and can be found with various chemistries. LiPo is actually a confusing term, because it can mean two thinks, the chemistry and the package, originally meant that uses a “polymer electrolyte”, through today the name is today most used for the casing in a polymer. Because of that a 18650 battery can be a LiPo if the original definition based on the chemistry is used.

  4. They will probably get pulled for being in possession of a stun gun. I remember earlier this year I saw heaps of microwave ovens sitting on the cub with their hearts (mags) ripped out.

  5. i’m watching these guys since their first magnetron video, surprised to see they’re still alive. but probably already got some kind of skin cancer or mercury poisoning right now. god bless their souls.

      1. cancer means damaged cell which isn’t aware being damaged and still tries to replicate, any high powered electromagnetic wave under 300nm wavelength can damage the cell. magnetron’s released output is one of them.

  6. If the mags weren’t all aimed towards each other but instead were angled more towards the wave guide and use something other then a tin can to try to contain the high energy EM.

    1. The aiming doesn’t make a whole lot of difference on domestic microwave oven units because they have a device in to de-cohere the output, because if they formed standing waves inside the oven they would make hotspots, i.e. melt a hole in the side of the cooking chamber.

      The tin can happens to be about the right dimensions for resonance at 2.4ghz, pringles cans are too narrow BTW, despite popularity for cantennas. So with “random” output magnetrons from ovens, it won’t get holes melted in it, especially if not continuously powered. Anyway, just because it looks like they used a random can, doesn’t mean they didn’t use the right random can.

      With that in mind, efforts to synchronise the firing of the magnetrons, or place them exact fractions of wavelength apart to reinforce each other, to attempt to improve performance, are probably going to be fruitless.

      1. Wouldn’t call it a de-cohereing device, it’s just that with an unregulated power supply, the cheaply built magnetron likes to do what’s called “moding” (there’s more then one way it it for resonance to occur)…

  7. I don’t think it’s actually that dangerous to people, as it’s only doing very short pulses – the avarage power will be very low.
    The blowing up of the hifi looks rather fake. Hard to tell with the other stuff.

    1. I’ve seen Hi-Fi equipment of about that age, and it often has like a hardboard back panel, so makes sense that it was unaffected when hit from angles where the metal case shielded it, but then when he got around the back of it it blew. Also the depth of it is a bit eyeball waveguidey for microwaves, so once they get in there, the metal case is a liability.

      I don’t know if anyone has seen TO-3 power transistors or large caps let go under duress, but they can make a quite impressive plasma ball and loud pop, followed by magic smoke escapage and they are all typically at the back of an amp like that. I would speculate that you could get a failure like that poking around in a powered up amp with a screwdriver i.e. randomly shorting stuff. So it’s not so much the energy in the microwaves did “all” of that, the energy in the amp did most of it, the microwaves just triggered the avalanche as it were. If it was sitting there unpowered, you’d probably have to get a camera up real close inside of it to see a few small whiskery arcs spitting between components when it was hit and that would be it.

      I would presume also that the power transistors in an electronic ignition module is what got popped in the scooter.

  8. Someone mentioned before about having a constant anode threshold voltage… this is true for continuous operation, however, in pulse mode this happens as an average after a number of cycles, the resonance of the device continues for a short time and anode voltage builds up. This means that initial pulses are weak, but device builds up to full power with several pulses. This matches nicely with what we see on the video, nothing happens “instantly” but after the device has pulsed several times, because the first couple of pulses at least are quite weak.

    1. Don’t over-think this. It is fake. They have no control of phase or polarization of each magnetron. You can’t run magnetrons the way they show. When you want to modulate the output of a magnetron you operate it with a continuous DC current (a current far higher than can be provided by a tazer), and modulate the intensity of that current.

      1. Agreed, something doesn’t check out here. Magnetrons are very high current devices. They pull energy in the kW. 18650’s can supply up to 25-30c under short duration, but the tasers transformer would certainly blow under that much current. The windings are very thin, so they certainly would heat up and burn the coating, shorting them out.

  9. This “taser” looks suspiciously like a WickedLaser torch/flashlight. at 4:00 in the video, you can see the “taser” from the front – looks like the mirror of a flashlight. also, they are very careful to not show the “taser”, most notably on the closeup around the 3:08 mark.

    the video in the sidebar (youtu.be/euBpVr_XhuU) shows that they do own a taser, but it looks drastically different (rectangular instead of round body)

  10. This seems totally fake to me. Magnetrons are fed with 700~1000 Watts, now even when shorting a single 18650, one might hardly get 70amps of current…Plus a stun gun supply, not really designed to deliver 3000W…

    1. So there’s 3 of, about 750W total, then if the fire time was 1/10 the cycle, that’s 7500W peak to play with. There’s about 20 Watt hours available in 3 crappy ones (2000mA/h) which means a run time of 1.6 Minutes, or 3.2 minutes if they’re good (4000mA/h) ones. So if you can catch them running longer than 3.2 minutes, call shens…. but the lengths of time they used it I think they have about “3 shots” worth per charge at least, bearing in mind it takes a few pulses to build the magnetrons to full power.

      1. It looks like each “shot” produces a corruption pattern in the video recording. Looking at the average thickness of each line, and the minimum distance between two corrupted video lines (in a 50fps progressive frame), I’d say the fire time is actually in the order of 1/100-1/150 per cycle…

          1. Cheapo Chinese 18650’s never reach their advertised mAh ratings. Ultrafire is notorious for having totally BS ratings, often sporting less than 1000mmAh when tested.

          2. Those are fake. They are labeled as such and cost very little in comparison to a genuine 18650. There are plenty of videos on YouTube and websites debunking these batteries. The best batteries you can acquire are Panasonic ncr18650’s which run at 3,100mah. Anything higher is bogus, it is beyond the theoretical energy density.

        1. Not even. 20 A ones can go up to 3000, and 30 A ones are only somewhere between 1500 – 2500. These are from Sony and LG. The ones with 3000 mAh or up are re-wrapped, and most likely exaggerated specs.

          1. Panasonic has a new line at 3350mAh cells, the ncr18650B.

            But that’s, as far as I know, the top end of 18650 cells. There are no cheap Chinese knockoffs anywhere close, despite what their ads say.

      2. “good 4000ma/h ones” 4000mah 18650 arent even available yet.
        also the 18650s are just for powering the magnetron heater, the main power comes from the taser, which can deliver a lot for a very short duration. (see hv cascade)

  11. To make the the tubes work you need a combiner and a circulator in the output otherwise the reflected power from the tubes will probably burn up the tubes……also it should be continuous rf out not pulsed for emp.

  12. It is funny, but it’s not real. The fluorescent light has been modified as is evident by the marks on the base. Also when the stereo explodes you can see the thin igniter wires. Not to mention the power requirements and alignment of the magnetrons…

    1. Not sure what you mean by “igniter wires”. I thought I saw something like metallised ribbon, which, I assumed, came from a blown capacitor, but it turned out to be a reflection of the guy’s metallised suit in the polished table on which the stereo stands. As for the CFL, it really doesn’t take much power to make it glow. Besides, if they really wanted to fake it, they could have just filmed an intact lamp and then attached it to a power source with thin wires, which would be invisible at this distance. No need to open the lamp to tamper with the ballast inside.

      1. If you freeze the stereo “blowing up” you can see pretty clearly the explosion is *behind* the unit, not within it (unless something in one of the speakers is what blew, but that would never smoke as it’s not powered, and they showed him “fixing” the stereo after. I think it’s a well done hoax.

  13. The taser wouldn’t be able to provide anything like the KW you’d need to run even one of those magnetrons properly. I doubt it’s even a couple of watts. You’d either need a lead going back to a mains socket (or probably 3 sockets), or an enormous generator on a trolley.

    However, assuming a hypothetical working version, if you were hit by microwaves, would you feel the damage? Would the heating be very localised (at, say, the 3KW you’d get from 3 microwave ovens)? Or would it be like radiation where you don’t notice the damage til it’s too late?

    1. For a “taser”, that spark is probably 100s of mA at 100s of kV, it definitely does put out kilowatts of power (that’s what makes it hurt so much), but only for couple of miliseconds, much like a high power laser range finder has optical output in kilowatts, but the pulse energy is just fractions of a joule, so it lasts only a couple of microseconds…

      1. Incorrect. Tasers do not put out kW of power. Taser is a brand that uses triangle wave pulses. These guys are using a cheap chinese built stun gun which probably claimed 1.8 million volts. The reality is, they hit around 1-2kV, deliver around 1-3mA. To deliver kW of energy into the body, it would require amps of energy and fyi, that’s fatal. The best case scenario is their stun gun puts out around 40-50 watts.

        The reason stun guns hurt is because of the rapid pulsing of muscles. This rapidly depletes glycogen and releases anaerobic acid. If you’ve ever seen someone after being stunned, they appear incapacitated. It’s not because they are literally stunned, it’s from the exhaustion of the muscle tissue, and the pain they experience is the lactic acid.

        1. In addition, when you get hit with a high power, high voltage line, you cook too. So, muscles literally vibrate at 120hz causing you to sieze, they heat up rapidly from the high current, you cook. That’s what kW of power does. KW of energy is a death sentence. Even short pulses can stop the heart or send it into atrial fibrillation.

        2. The few mA is at the no load end, under load yes they drop to 1-2kV but the amps rise to 2-4ish. This happens extremely briefly. The reason it doesn’t do burn damage is the same reason you don’t burn your finger if you tap something to see if it’s hot, the quantity of heat over time is too small against the specific heat capacity of the bit of finger in contact. For HERF purposes though, it only needs to be very brief energy burst to establish a break down path between conductors, ionising air, putting a carbon path through or across an insulator. Then current already flowing in the device can short across when the hard work is done. In some cases it could be residual energy from any coils that got energised that finish the job. Most PCBs just “look like” a card full of antennas to 2.4 ghz… You’d probably get the same effects from about 2-10ghz given spread of trace lengths. But blam something with a few megawatts at 500mhz and it would hardly pick any up.

  14. Just did a spitball range of all the lowest variables for it to just work, and a top end close to as good as you could get, and the range of instantaneous (and very brief) Effective Radiated Power is 0.1 to 6.5 MegaWatts.

    Just works would be marginal crappy taser, marginal small microwave magnetrons, lowest cantenna gains reported, top end would be high power taser, largest domestic magnetrons, close to theoretical best gains from cantenna system.

  15. A few RF engineers were discussing this at work. The video is utterly and completely fake. The antenna design and the magnetron placement is poor coupling and aiming of the beam and would not concentrate it, and the power required to cook a scooter with a HERF (not an emp device) from the distance they showed would be enough to severely burn the guy on the scooter.
    That and a few other factors (all of the effects being faked) and the issues with emp devices in the real world… it’s fake, but enjoyable.

    1. They cheated with the scooter, they had a parabolic collector on the front with a device inserted in it capable of working as a 1/4 wave antenna, and had it hooked up to the rest of the scooter’s electrical system… devious!

  16. They aren’t putting enough power into the filaments of the maggies to get them to ever turn on. Not even pulsed, not even for a small amount of duty cycle.

    Cold filament = no thermionic emission = no RF = no dead electronics, no ‘sploisions

    This is fake as fake gets and the fact that some of you are even entertaining that this might be real is as hilarious as it is absurd.

    Have you ever taken a look at a microwave oven transformer? Only about a tenth of its weight is from the step-up winding.
    Its mainly a high current low voltage affair for powering the filament, and there are three here in this example.

    A few vape batteries are not going to provide the proper amount filament current into what would basically be a dead short for any amount of time without exploding, and even if they did, the about of on time would not be high enough to get the maggies to put out enough power to kill electronics at any kind of range.

    Not to mention that stun guns put out high frequency pulsed or AC voltage where a magnetron would need either high voltage DC sustained for long enough or an extremely high current pulse at high voltage ( thousands of amps @ thousands of volts) to get any real power out of this thing. A stun gun doesn’t come close to providing the current needed and the voltage into a load like this would probably be a major mismatch for the output circuitry.

    If this was ever going to work they would have just used an extension cord and left all regular microwave oven guts intact. while heavy as hell, it might have actually been a little bit believable.

    And those are just the flaws with the supposed “death ray” set up.

    You people forget that there are hundreds of thousands of radar systems in operation as we speak, all over the world with WAYYYYYYY more power output, with antennas more directional than this. And while I wouldn’t advise standing in front of an active radar array, its still not a death ray.

    Even if these guys got the maggies to turn on for a second, which I highly doubt, they still wouldn’t have enough power to kill electronics at range with a wave guide antenna. Else planes would be falling out of the sky and every piece of electronics within a 10 mile radius of a harbor or airport would all be bursting into flames…..

    Critical thinking is a nice skill to have.

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