Jacob’s Ladder Using EL Wire

For Halloween [Paul] wanted to build a Jacob’s Ladder without the peril that working with high voltage might bring. He was inspired by a sequencer board for electroluminescent wire and decided to build a Jacob’s Ladder simulator using the glowing material. What he ended up with is quite convincing. Eight segments of EL wire have been mounted between two diverging towers. When a PIR sensor detects motion in the room, an Arduino switches on the simulation, playing a recording of the classic sizzling voltage sound while using the sequencer board to flicker the wires from bottom to top. See for yourself in the video after the break. We give [Paul] bonus points for constructing the base out of Lego.

But if you’re not one for being cautions, there’s always this real Jacob’s Ladder build. Or maybe you just want to make something glow with the EL wire.


[via Make]

19 thoughts on “Jacob’s Ladder Using EL Wire

  1. This was on Sparkfun a month or two ago. I’ll say the same here I said there.

    Being a fellow Evil Mad Scientist, there’s no substitute for real HV plasma. This is good for a 2 year old’s night light, but I’ll never give up the true sources of plasma around my workbench, and even on my desk at work.

  2. Now add some canned laughter and obama doing a ‘it gets better’ speech and you’ll have a fakery extravaganza?

    Nice for some tv-set on the background maybe, but if I was a director I’d tell to get the real thing even then.

  3. You people seem to be missing the point. He made this specifically because he has young children around and for some reason, he doesn’t want them electrocuted.

    Yes, I have worked with a real Jacob’s ladder. This is a pretty good alternative for someone who isn’t comfortable around high voltage equipment.

  4. I don’t think the intent here was to necessarily fool anyone into thinking it is a real HV spark. It sounds like it was more for the effect and to see if a convincing simulation could be made with the EL wire. If you take it for what it is and not for what it’s not, he still did a good job making a cool Halloween prop.

  5. @therian

    Yes, the kids could go on to become great hackers. Or, it could scare the crap out of them and turn them into the same people that think a flashing LED is a bomb. It’s double edged sword.

  6. A regular Jacob’s ladder can be made safe by encasing the rods in a glass tube, like every museum that has one has done. This is just a (well made but still) poor substitute for a fascinating phenomenon.

  7. It’s cool but it’s pretty clear even from a distance in a dark blurry clip it’s not real.

    Jacob’s Ladders have more of a ‘swath’ of arc as the ionized air moves up, rather than a single point of contact and a nice tidy single arc.

    Perhaps re-build with EL tape?

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