900,000 volts at your fingertips

[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.

13 thoughts on “900,000 volts at your fingertips

  1. Van de graaffs are no longer shown in UK schools for health and safety fears apparently, shame really – no wonder kids dont find science as interesting any more – they’re taking fun things like this out of the scene!

  2. You sick son of a bitch, you stole my letter.

    Here in the U.S. we play it like real men and chain the whole auditorium together, walk out into the hall like a giant people-tentacle, and laugh each the time last person slaps passers-by with a huge shock randomly.

  3. The van de graaff generator at the museum of science in boston is very impressive – one of the biggest in the world. I went there when I was 13 and I still remember it. My high school teachers and 1st year physics prof had small ones like this and it was a really good teaching tool.

  4. That is one of the best home-maid van de graffs I have seen with an excellent guide to it. Looks pretty close in dimensions and power to one I built, just much sturdier and better built.

  5. @radon222 – yeah, I saw the one in Boston this summer. it is incredibly loud! awesome.

    and yeah we had one at our uk school back when i was doing physics gcse 6-7 years ago, i’d be surprised if they got rid of it! school science is all about doing dangerous unauthorised experiments. my favourite was the biology lesson involving ether…

  6. I built one of these with my father back around 1995 – we used a washing machine motor and a big rubber belt made from rubber-band stock tube cut length-wise. Two aluminium lamp-shades for the dome. A major factor is actually the materials used for the rollers – polycarbonate and polythene I think IIRC. Also, mill the rollers to be slightly convex (no, not concave, yes it’s counter-intuitive!) to keep the belt centred on the rollers. Use finer steel wool for your brushes for more effective electron transfer. We got arcs of up to 1 metre in length and blew up several electronic devices in the vicinity, including the home computer motherboard.

    We tried a high-tension electron ‘injector’ at the base but it didn’t really make much difference. The original design was plenty good enough.

  7. Thanks for the great comments on my little creation, Im gonna post a leyden jar next made from a 5 gallon bucket, its a super way to store a little power but very dangerous. When I get the money I think Ill build a 1,000,000 volt VDG. I want a 20″ sphere on it thats the pricey item….

    Be well and be safe, well mostly safe?


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