Van de Graaff generator built for a few dollars

2-dollar-van-de-graaff-generator

This Van de Graaf generator was built using mostly parts on hand. The only thing that was purchased for the project was the Christmas ornament shaped M&M candy tin that serves as the collecting sphere. We didn’t include the in-action shot in the banner because it’s so dark. But sure enough, this will generate the visible sparks that make the device famous.

The gist of the device is that it uses rotating belt to generate static electricity. This potential is stored in the metal collecting sphere on top until a path for discharge is provided. They’re an awful lot of fun in middle-school science class as long hair can be made to stand on end if you touch one while your body is insulated from ground. This build uses a long rubber band as the belt. The band is moved by the motor from a DVD drive tray which is housed in the PVC base. An empty prescription pill bottle bridges the gap between the base and the metal sphere.

If this one is too small for you consider moving to a 900,000 Volt version.

[via Hacked Gadgets]

High Voltage: Build your own 84 kV lightning stick

There’s a proverb that says ‘Speak softly and carry a big stick’. Now that stick can come in a high-voltage form factor. The device above, which reminds us of a side-handled baton with a coke can stuck on the end, is a portable Van de Graaff generator.

Although debated in the comments, the creator of this hack claims you can shock someone with 84 kV of electricity using the device. Of course as a weapon it’s lacking since we’re talking about static electricity; the voltage can be through the roof but the current is extremely low. Despite that, there are some fun things you can do with them. The video after the break show it throwing off sparks with the lights dimmed. [Yardleydobon] also includes a few other tricks at the end of his tutorial. He makes a set of Franklin Bells using two more soda cans with the aluminum tab from one suspended in between them. As he charges it up, the tab dances back and forth, ringing the ‘bells’ it runs into. Once they are charged, the ringing can be restarted by discharging just one of the cans.

 

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900,000 volts at your fingertips

van_de_graaff

[Nickademuss] has put together these great instructions on how to build a 900,000 volt Van De Graaff generator. For those unfamiliar, Van De Graaff generators produce massive amounts of static electricity. They are usually the things you see in science centers that make people’s hair stand on end. [Nickademuss] put a lot of effort into this, he created 3D models and diagrams for many of the steps and gave a very detailed step by step breakdown.

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