Try Not to Look at this Giant Plasma Tube

Everybody loves plasma globes, but if you are like [zrgzhv], building them as large as possible is the challenge! Definitely a beautiful project, at 7 feet long and 1 foot in diameter, this monster tube makes an impressive display of plasma filaments that slowly move inside. Heck, they almost seem to be alive following the movements of his hand and it’s hard not to become mesmerized by the motion.

seven-foot-plasma-tube-thumbThis tube follows the same principle of operation as its smaller cousin, the plasma globe. Air is evacuated and the tube is filled with a mixture of noble gases, with the particular mixture being responsible for the color of the filaments. Then, high voltage AC is applied to an electrode, which causes the moving tendrils of colored light to extend from the electrode to the outer glass, a phenomenon known as glow discharge. In general, gas-filled tubes can have other uses such as lightning — in the form of fluorescent, neon and xenon lamps — or high power switching as in the thyratron tube, among other applications.

The tube has a weight of over 65 pounds, and needs 300 watts of power to operate from an also homemade power supply. In another video, you can see 10 tubes of different colors working at once. Plasma always makes a great attention-getter; another nice example of its use can be seen in this steampunk lamp which incorporates rotating contacts on the outside of the glass.

17 thoughts on “Try Not to Look at this Giant Plasma Tube

  1. So awesome…………….. it put me out of my rant mood :).

    (For the curious the rant mood was caused by: battery pack X blew up an X86_64 tablet by manufacturer Y that I just got a linux distro booting on, may still do a video….)

  2. Can somebody explain me why these arc move so slowly? Almost all video I saw about things like this or made myself, moved way faster, just look at a plasma globe, why so much difference?

    Nice project otherwise!

    1. Best demonstration of different gasses and pressures are from Carl Willis:
      https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCGN8m6iGkxnmQnGezVxxnmg/videos
      He has several videos of tubes he’s made but I like this one for showing differences:

      In one of them he talks about why some gasses for better filaments and move slower.

      Gaslinger has some good ones too:

      He has lots of neat tube videos and has been seen on Hackaday before. I personally get a bit creeped out by seeing an old man working in a shop while he’s wearing a dress, though.

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