244 9 Volt Batteries In Series – Arcing Ensues!


Here’s another hack that we would definitely discourage you from trying at home, 244 9 volt batteries wired in series. There’s really not much more to it than that, but [jersagfast] takes this setup through its paces arcing through air first, a LED light second, and then a CD. The air arc is probably the most impressive, but a CD doesn’t look happy after this kind of abuse either. Around 4:38, a capacitor is abused for yet more arcing.

In theory, 244 9 volt batteries in series should be nearly 2200 volts, but as measured (in sections), it “only” came out to a “measly” 2000 volts. Still plenty of voltage to be harmful or even deadly depending on the current emitted. Passing on this hack at home is strongly encouraged. On the other hand, you should watch the video after the break to see what happens. Much safer. Arcing starts around 1:44!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8hwLHdBTQ7s?rel=0%5D

Thanks to [@DIYourFaceoff] for noticing this sweet “DC hipot” hack via twitter!

49 thoughts on “244 9 Volt Batteries In Series – Arcing Ensues!

  1. Does the shape of 9V batteries allow for snapping them together at right angles to “fold” layers into a shorter pack?

    Some 9V batteries contain 6 AAAA cells, suitable for separation and use in other devices, or simply saving a few grams of weight by removing the outer casing. The excessively frugal person could crack open several 9V batteries of the same brand and mah rating to sort out individual cells with good voltage left and re-assemble into 9V packs.

    The other common 9V contents are six stacked rectangular cells, sealed in plastic. Can’t separate them because of the way the cells are made.

    1. It would be possible to emit wavelenghts this short but they would propably be absorbed by any atom in their way and they would emit some longer wavelengths. Or would be too weak to cause enough ionisation to harm anybody.

      1. When I was doing sound every night we had a TON of 9v batteries left over at the end of the night. You don’t want to send your artist on stage with a battery that isn’t brand new. If the mic dies while they are on stage it is your fault… regardless of whether that is true or not.

        1. I agree completely. Doing sound for a church, we’d establish guidelines for how long a battery could be used, with one exception – weddings, funerals, or other “special” events always gets new batteries for everything. Seriously – regardless of the cause, hundreds of people automatically blame the sound guy when anything goes wrong.

          1. In my church, hundreds of people blame the sound guys even when the service is supposed to be totally silent. (sigh). But still, we change the batteries before warmups every Sunday. Makes for quite a pile for the kids to play with at the end of the month.

        2. Seconded
          I recently did lighting and sound for a fundraiser. We were having mic issues (and with £500 a piece mics, this was new. After the second song,all the mics turned to shit. We then realised that somebody had done the right thing and changed the batteries, but put in cheap shitty pound-store ones, that lasted about 5 mins. :-(

          The moral of the story…

          On another note, we do have ridiculous numbers of lightly used 9 volt batteries, but I have just seen were we put them, a metal biscuit tin (hmmm, not good methinks)

          1. Yeah, this is really a very old gag. I’ve seen piles made up at least this big and even bigger. In the entertainment industry, especially in the 80s, 9v batteries were used for everything, guitar effects, microphones etc. As several remarked, it’s false economy to skimp on batteries when the whole performance depends on everything working. A fresh 9v is cheap job-security, especially when you’re not the one paying for it. Now they’ve largely gone to AAs for wireless stuff, and battery eliminators for everything else. But during that ‘golden age’, there were HUGE batteries built up; and all sorts of mischief accomplished with them…up to and including just shorting out the whole mess and watching it (from a distance) go up in smoke.

  2. Wow, I can SMELL the danger there! But the bit that REALLY made be cringe was when he arced those batteries on his lovely polished dining table… the REAL danger here is if his WIFE sees him doing that! ;)

  3. I got a box of electronics junk once that had a lot of 9 volt batteries in it. They were kind of old but we hooked them all together anyways. What we learned was it is difficult to get them to make great contact with each other. Those clips are, well they just don’t work as good as I’d think they would. It was a long time ago I did it but I think we only managed to get up to 280 volts or something. We had to fiddle with the clips with pliers a lot to even do that.

  4. The dual flash looks from the white LED looks really funny when you pause the video. The first flash, shows nothing coming from the LED and a very distinct cut off from the light just under the LED. The second flash the LED looks to be the source, and again, a distinct cut off just under the LED. I smell post production editing..

  5. The nine volt battery is a curse. It is often used too hard, it’s the shrink it all to a thin sliver design. The clips are not reliable without external spring pressure to stop glitches. There is no spring in the clips to speak of. It snaps on (good) but it will wiggle around, pop bang no go!

    1. Yes, that’s a design that should have died a long time ago. Originally I think, designed to give small “transistor” radios the voltage they needed with a single batter, not needing voltage step up circuits. Small package, higher voltage, but it’s shortcomings were acceptable in it’s applications (kids radios). Today, it’s a loser, still hanging around, simply because “that’s the we have always done it”.

  6. I found out about this, to a lesser degree at work a long time ago. I used them ignite a rather large tantalum capacitor. That dang thing burned though almost an inch and half of workbench top. Once it got lit, there was no putting that monster out.

  7. Yeah, the reason it arcs with the cap there in series is because it’s internally shorted. If it were still functional, it would be preventing that beyond a very brief spark possible during the initial charging. Troubles me a little that someone doing this kind of thing doesn’t realize this.

  8. If you are going to shoot arcs, take some more care with your camera. Specifically, use a tripod, point it at the area you expect the arc to be, and manually stop the iris WAY down. Maybe even switch on the ND filter, or shoot through a piece of welders goggles. That way we might actually see an arc instead of just a flash. Also, you could close the circuit from a distance. And doing this, if things go awry, you might just blow your camera up, rather than your camera AND your face. It’s a LITTLE safer I guess.

  9. After you reach enough voltage to break the skin the major danger is from current not voltage. 2000V @ 500ma is only 1000W. 120V @ 15A is 1800W, both dangerous and both lethal when applied to the right parts of the body. While 2000V will jump and arc farther than 120, its relatively no more dangerous than plugging in a lamp.

    I do not understand the needless fear mongering regarding electronics. Anything is dangerous when done stupidly. The way he did it was dumb, no goggles, etc.

  10. Personally I would have went to the auto supply store to get some non-resistance spark plug cable. something I would expect to have insulation rated higher that what looked to be RS test jumpers.

  11. This exhibition is dangerous and foolish for the lay person to attempt. You could easily be killed if you came into contact with this type of voltage and amperage. A 9 volt battery can deliver an amp of current. 2000 volts at 1 amp will send you to your grave.

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