Why No Plane Parachutes? And Other Questions.

This week I was approached with a question. Why don’t passenger aircraft have emergency parachutes? Whole plane emergency parachutes are available for light aircraft, and have been used to great effect in many light aircraft engine failures and accidents.

But the truth is that while parachutes may be effective for light aircraft, they don’t scale. There are a series of great answers on Quora which run the numbers of the size a parachute would need to be for a full size passenger jet. I recommend reading the full thread, but suffice it to say a ballpark estimate would require a million square feet (92903 square meters) of material. This clearly isn’t very feasible, and the added weight and complexity would no doubt bring its own risks.

Continue reading “Why No Plane Parachutes? And Other Questions.”

Repurpose an Old CRT Computer Monitor as a High Voltage Science Project Power Supply

Finally somebody has found a good use for all those old CRT computer monitors finding their way to the landfills. [Steven Dufresne] from Rimstar.org steps us through a very simple conversion of a CRT computer monitor into a high-voltage power supply. Sure you can make a few small sparks but this conversion is also useful for many science projects. [Steve] uses the monitor power supply to demonstrate powering an ionocraft in his video, a classic science experiment using high voltage.

The conversion is just as simple as you would think. You need to safely discharge the TV tube, cut the cup off the high voltage anode cable and reroute it to a mounting bracket outside the monitor. The system needs to be earth grounded so [Steve] connects up a couple of ground cables. One ground cable for the project and one for a safety discharge rod. It’s really that simple and once wired up to a science project you have 25kV volts at your disposal by simply turning on the monitor. You don’t want to produce a lot of large sparks with this conversion because it will destroy the parts inside the monitor. The 240K Ohm 2 watt resistor [Steve] added will help keep those discharges to a minimum and protect the monitor from being destroyed.

Yes this is dangerous but when you’re working with high-voltage science experiments danger is something you deal with correctly. This isn’t the safest way to get high-voltage but if you have to hack something together for a project this will get you there and [Steve] is quite cautious including warning people of the dangers and how to safely discharge your experiment and the power supply after every use. This isn’t the first high-voltage power supply that [Steve] has constructed; we featured his home-built 30kV power supply in the past, which is a more conventional way to build a HV power supply using a doubler or tripler circuit. Join us after the break to watch the video.

Continue reading “Repurpose an Old CRT Computer Monitor as a High Voltage Science Project Power Supply”

Ion Propelled Tie Fighter Now Has a Laser!


[Steven Dufresne] has been playing around with ion propulsion using high voltage lately, and he’s added another spaceship to his experiments — Darth Vader’s TIE Fighter — and as an added bonus, he’s thrown on a laser too!

We originally covered his Ion Wind Propelled Star Trek Enterprise a few months ago, after someone had mentioned that the ion winds he was generating in experiments kind of looked like the warp drives on the Enterprise. Well, someone else pointed out that a TIE Fighter was an even better candidate for this. After all, TIE stands for Twin Ion Engines. So he decided to build one too. The ion winds look even better on this one as he’s turned the entire back of the fighter into the electrode, which creates a wide and very visible arc.

Oh, he also decided to add lasers to it for some extra flare — unfortunately TIE Fighters used green lasers — not red ones. Stick around for the following videos to see the TIE Fighter in all its ionic glory.

Continue reading “Ion Propelled Tie Fighter Now Has a Laser!”

Ion Wind Propelled Star Trek Enterprise

[Steven Dufresne] recently demonstrated ion propulsion using high voltage, and someone pointed out it kind of looked like the warp drives on the Star Trek Enterprise… so he went out and bought a model Enterprise and rebuilt his demonstration!

His original video on Ion Winds gives a good summary of the beginning of his experiments. In fact, it’s actually a recreation of a design he saw at the International Symposium on New Energy back in 1996 of the Electrokinetic Apparatus which was patented in 1960.

By creating a high voltage arc of electricity, it appears that the resulting “ion wind” propels the Enterprise with respect to the fixed testing apparatus. Did we mention he made the high voltage power supply himself?

[Steven] also points out that the propulsion might be occurring due to dielectrophoresis, but hasn’t discovered any conclusive evidence to prove that. Even the patent is rather vague on how this works:

The invention utilizes a heretofore unknown electrokinetic phenomenon which I have discovered; namely, that when a pair of electrodes of appropriate form are held in a certain fixed spaced relation to each other and immersed in a dielectric medium and then oppositely charged to an appropriate degree, a force is produced tending to move the pair of electrodes through the medium.

Regardless of how or why it works, it’s a fun video to watch, so make sure you stick around after the break to see it!

Continue reading “Ion Wind Propelled Star Trek Enterprise”

Homebuilt 30kV High Voltage Power Supply

If you have need for 30,000 volts to launch your ionocraft (lifter) or power other DIY projects then shuttle over to RimstarOrg’s YouTube channel and checkout [Steven Dufresne’s] homebuilt 30kV power supply. The construction details that [Steven] includes in his videos are always amazing, especially for visual learners. If you prefer text over video he was kind enough to share a schematic and full write up at rimstar.org.

The power supply can be configured for 1.2kV – 4.6kV or 4kV – 30kV at the output while requiring 0-24V DC at the input. In the video [Steven] tries two power supplies. His homemade DC bench power supply at 8V and 2.5A and also a laptop power supply rated at 20V 1.8A DC. A couple of common 2N3055 power transistors, proper wattage resistors, a flyback transformer and a high voltage tripler is about all you’ll need to scrounge up. The flyback transformer can be found in old CRT type televisions, and he does go into details on rewinding the primary for this build. The high voltage tripler [Steven] references might be a bit harder to source. He lists a few alternates for the tripler but even those are scarce: NTE 521, Siemens 76-1 N094, 1895-641-045. There are lots of voltage multiplier details in the wild, but keep in mind this tripler needs to operate up to 30kV.

Join us after the break to watch the video and for a little advice from Mr. Safety.

Continue reading “Homebuilt 30kV High Voltage Power Supply”