Ankle Bracelet Lets You Become Emperor Palpatine

Want to shoot lighting bolts from your hands to punish your enemies? You can (almost) do just that with this static electricity generator hack. Above you can see the charge jumping off of this guy’s knuckle and surging through the LED. But that’s not the only trick you can pull off when wearing just a bit of hardware around your ankle. The video after the break shows sand grains jumping around as a charged hand is waved over them.

The trick is done by powering a negative ion generator from a 9V battery. This can’t be done directly, since the ion generator is looking for an AC power source. But conversion is as easy as scrapping an inverter which is designed to plug into a car cigarette lighter. Everything is shoehorned into a glasses case, which can then be strapped on to your ankle. Why this fascination with the ankle area? One part of the answer is that this provides an easy way to interface the ion generator output with your skin. The other part of the answer is that you need to make sure the system is grounded (but you’re not) and the build includes a ring that goes around your shoe to achieve this.

Check out the demo and full build instructions in the video after the break.

[Thanks Nate]

57 thoughts on “Ankle Bracelet Lets You Become Emperor Palpatine

  1. thank god someone called this one out, yes. pika shoes was WAAAY back in the day, and yes!! I myself made a pair. they were WAY to fun. but you got shocked unhooking the battery lol.

    nice try hackaday, but us OG trolls are still here to mess up your good time. lol

  2. Is it just me, or did he just drop the black battery wire into hot solder? That looks like a really cold joint when it was done.

    Maybe he skipped the step where he tinned the wire, or it was pre-tinned. For all the other nice work, I’d hate to see it fail randomly because of bad technique.

  3. You can also get battery-operated “ionic air purifiers” if you want to avoid the inverter. I’m not sure how hard they are to find, but I got mine at American Science and Surplus for something like $10.

    1. Static electricity is DC, not RF; and so is the output of ionizer modules. The average power is in the microamps, not enough to burn anything.

      I’ve been using ionizer modules for about 15 years to put static charges on stuff. Like to keep my cats from messing with houseplants.

      Of course, I soon discovered the fun of holding onto a plant, and giving some unsuspecting person a zap.

      1. Yes, it can’t be grounded or it will be rendered ineffective. At the high voltages of a perceptible static charge (3-4kV), if the plant touches even a barely conductive object, the charge will quickly bleed away.

        No need to be careful during watering. I’ve never been zapped doing that, and even if I was, it’s completely harmless. I understand what the zap is, but cats don’t; and that’s a big part of what makes it work. Especially when they test it by seeing how close they can sniff without getting zapped, and the static attraction makes a leaf *move* and close the gap to zap their nose. That freaks them out and usually puts a permanent end to them messing with the plant, even if the ionizer module is then removed.

        A thin stainless steel rod driven into the soil conducts the charge into the plant, even if the soil is almost dry, and won’t rust.

        But if leaves have pointy tips, it may generate an slight ionic wind that dries the tips out quicker. Increasing watering a bit solved this.

        A couple of interesting ways I’ve used it:

        1) I lent one to an interested neighbor who wanted to see if it would prevent their Doberman from performing the usual annual destruction of the Christmas tree. I was doubtful about this one, given the size and potential for grounding; but she said it worked perfectly.

        2) I had a cat which hadn’t yet learned not to steal food from the kitchen counter. So come Thanksgiving, I attached it to the defrosting turkey, set up a remote camera, left the room, and hilarity ensued. ;)

        I seriously thought about marketing this when I first came up with it. But I never underestimate the stupidity of people. And I figure someone would do something like hook it up to a big Leyden jar, and get their grandpa with a pacemaker to touch it for laughs. Then sue me, because I didn’t explicitly include a warning label saying not to do that..

      2. Great, except the output is not DC because the whole thing works as a cockroft-walton multiplier, or a similiar charge pump circuit that has a relatively large capacitance inside it. You can even hear it in the way it gives off sparks.

        Any time you strike a spark, you discharge a bunch of capacitors that oscillate through the spark gap you’ve created, which is why it hurts to touch stuff with your fingertips. You are getting RF burns where the current is more concentrated.

      3. Sigh.

        Dax, do a Google image search for “ion generator schematic”.

        Yes, they’re typically based on Cockcroft-Walton multipliers; which of course produce DC. But also notice there’s a multi-megaohm resistor on the end of every one, expressly for the purpose of preventing rapid discharge of the internal capacitors; which could otherwise cause a harmful amount of current to flow.

        The human body is typically modeled as a 100pF capacitor. Assuming a 10M resistor, the time constant to charge the body to 66% of maximum voltage is exactly 1 millisecond. Whereas a spark discharge is around a nanosecond. A difference in time factors of ONE MILLION.

        So when you touch something, the entire energy of the spark comes from charge accumulated on your person alone. The idea that it creates a spark gap oscillator involving the multiplier’s capacitors is utter nonsense.

        It takes 5 joules of energy to cause a 2nd degree burn to one square centimeter of skin. A 100pF body at 3kV stores 450 MICROjoules. Enough to activate a few sensory nerves, and perhaps harmlessly burn off a few microns of the higher-resistance dead outer layer of skin; then the miniscule amount of heat will completely dissipate before the next spark.

        Now, if despite all that you still think this causes dangerous RF burns or “blood poisoning”, I know not to waste further explanation on you in the future.

    1. That’s how i constructed my version of this. Since i wear antistatic work shoes i can’t be charged up. so i built a 20kV unit using a CCFL driver made for 4-8V input, 2 LiIon batteries, a 16 step diode/capacitor voltage multiplier and something like 50 megaohms on the output for protection.

      I then built this into an old nokia NMT cell phone housing and use it to charge up insulated things like people wearing cheap shoes, shopping carts etc.

      It was originally constructed to prove that car tires do in fact conduct electricity, which they do.

      1. ^Really? So I couldn’t use something like this to keep people from touching my truck, as the chassis is(through the resistance of the tires) grounded?

        What I really want is a way to keep cats off of my newly washed truck, without using ammonia, the motion sensing pest repeller(which didn’t work), or the water jets I am currently using…

        1. That’s correct, the type of rubber used in car tires conducts too much electricity to allow the car to hold a static charge. Contrary to belief the car doesn’t get charged when you get shocked, the person gets charged.

          You probably won’t be able to measure the resistance in the tires with a multimeter, but a 500V isolation tester should be able to.

        2. I have a feeling the thing you are trying to shock would need to be grounded though, so it may stop cats from rubbing against the vehicle, but they won’t feel a thing if they jump onto it.

          You need to either
          A) insulate the truck and ground the cat
          B) put the generator on the cat (but then they’ll get just as shocked on the driveway as they do on your truck).

          *** I do not condone the pointless shocking of cats. Park your truck in the garage if you’re so damn picky about it.

          1. You are right, the cat will likely jump onto the hood or other part not being grounded, I dont know why I assumed that if you insulate the car, everything else in contact with it will be grounded.

          2. Well, if you charged up a metal tent frame around the car enough to start having a corona, and insulated the ground around the car the cat would get charged up as it approached, and discharge as soon as it hit the car… But to be frank, you might as well just hire a kid with a broom at this rate.

          3. Nice little hacky solution there, well done. Its a shame that it is significantly less work to just park your car in the garage, and even if you had no garage, you might as well just clean cat stuff off your car.

    1. Depends on what parts of the body are involved. If you used an insensitive part of your body (say, your knuckles) to get a sensitive part of someone else’s (the end of the nose, maybe) they’d get a nastier jolt then you.

      However, if you, say, tried pranking someone by giving them a literally shocking kiss, then you’d get zapped, too.

  4. I’m not going to say someone marketed this as a magic trick a few years back for like 170$ with the addition of a reed switch on one shoe and a magnet on the other. But I totally bought it when I was in the 8th grade.

    1. In the video they show how to disassemble a car inverter (like $10 at wallmart or any dollar store). You can also find ion generators that take 12V already (like the one on the ebay page I linked to above) then you don’t need to worry about the inverter and can just hook the 9V directly to the ion generator.

    1. I have spoken to a couple of pacemaker manufacturers, they agree on one thing: If an electric shock is strong enough to damage a modern pacemaker it will definitely kill any human, pacemaker or not. The words “burned black” came up at least once.

      However, people with pacemakers often have other heart problems which can be triggered or worsened by an electric shock and should therefore stay away from such.

    1. First off, give up 9V batteries, they have a low energy density, low maximum current and high price. It’s basically the most expensive source of energy available to consumers.

      Those things on ebay might work, if they actually contain ion generators and not just blue LEDs

      1. It’s only like £5 for a rechargeable one, but I was only really suggesting it as most of the tutorials for these things use 9V batteries. Might purchase one of these to see if it’s any good.

        1. I ordered one of those things just because it was so cheap, received today.

          It does include the same type of flyback driver you would find in a plasma globe, meaning it has no rectifying diode. In order to shock people using your body capacitance you need rectification, so a few 1kV diodes in series on the output should do it.

          I can smell the ozone and hear the hissing of high voltage AC, so it is working at least.

          1. that’s the one i got, but on amazon… hopefully it’ll work, has yet to ship to me… i need a rectifying diode though? thanks for the tip!

  5. I have never done anything like this but think it would be a fun experiment with the grandkids. Really don’t have the tools and know how to make one so am wondering is there a place on Amazon or Ebay I can buy one? Something strong enough that we can move grains of sand. I am not sure if it would be strong enough to lift a few strands of hair but I am sure you guys get the idea. Any help would be truly appreciated! Thanks bunches in advance!

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