Ever heard of a Lichtenberg Figure? It’s the branching electrical discharge you can sometimes see on an insulating material… That’s right — when the voltage is high enough — it’ll find a way. Using one of our favorite low-cost high voltage transformers from a microwave, [TheBackYardScientist] shows us how to make our own Lichtenberg Figures!
It’s actually pretty easy. All you need is an old microwave, some plywood, and water with baking soda mixed in. First, you’ll need to take the transformer out of the microwave — a simple hack we’ve covered many times before — you’ll need to wire it in a way that allows you to get a few thousand volts out of it.
Then by mixing baking soda in water, you can increase the conductivity — let the wood soak it up overnight, and now you’re ready to go! By attaching the leads to either side of the wood, it’s now conductive enough to allow the electricity to branch across the wood, burning awesome patterns as it goes — just take a look at the following video!
And if you want to get even fancier — why not put epoxy in the burn marks? Maybe even… glow in the dark epoxy!
28 thoughts on “Making Lichtenberg Figures In Wood”
That was very cool. I might try it on a larger scale for a coffee table or dining table.
Oh Cool, I’m gonna make a Lichtenberg table!
Umm. Easy, yes. But still potentially more dangerous than this summary lets on.
you think that’s bad? watch the video, safety isn’t even mentioned until half way through burning a piece of wood.
Dangers of high voltage should be pretty common knowledge on this site. Otherwise there would have to be disclaimers every time a table saw is used in a video..
Yes but a Microwave transformer is especially dangerous due to the high current available.
Many hobby HV projects like flyback transformers, CW multipliers, ignition coils and even messing with mains voltages have minimal risk of actually killing you.
2kv at 500mA will FUCKING KILL YOU
And everything you ever loved.
I especially like the ‘ it will hurt the whole time you’re diing’ part
????????????! The Darwin Award can always use more talented candidates.
There’s a B.C.Rich Warlock sitting in my shop waiting to be refinished. Challenge accepted! Burnt lightning bolts are very metal.
One foot in jail – one little mistake playing this way with the MOT – death by 100s of Watts at 2 kV!
My, what a short memory HaD has. http://hackaday.com/2015/07/04/high-voltage-wood-and-resin-result-in-fractal-art/
Give a break over something over something so minor. Even those who have been around in 07, those who weren’t would have the memory. I have found searches of Hacakaday irregular imperfection myself.
“Around in 07” means July.
There is a link to that article in this post… I’m not sure why, it seems to be the same video.
INspired by the previous hackaday article, I built this: http://imgur.com/Oa9QLpA (photo taken before varnishing/sealing). Sadly the finished knife slipped off my belt while climbing and was never found… Such a great process though, when done from a safe distance :)
Perhaps best to do this outside. I’d get in trouble. Safety? Don’t any of you remember how to make electric hot dog cooker with wood, cord and 2 nails published in CHILDREN’S BOOKS? “Be careful to unplug it before touching the hot dog.”
However the books address safety correct? For most outside would be best, but I would do this in my shop, where arc welding and use of a cutting torch is routine. However the cord would be plug into my shop’s switched outlet(every experimenter’s and hacker’s shop has switched outlet right?) with the fire extinguisher.
How do you plug a fire extinguisher into an outlet? ;)
But 110VAC is really much less dangerous than the 2kV 500mA that a magnetron transformer is capable of. Especially if you’ve got your earth leakage breaker installed, which of course you do. These things are really dangerous, and will kill you with no questions asked, no second chances, without tripping the earth leakage breaker.
Removing a transformer is a “hack”? We always said “stripping it for parts”.
But using it parts for uses other than their intended use part of the definition of hacking?
If you get the conductivity right, you could do this at almost any voltage. You simply need a different solution. P=V^2/R
Are these really Lichtenberg Figures? I thought Lictenberg Figures were made by static discharge.
Bah! Lightning has been doing this to trees since forever.
I bought a Franceformer 9000 volt neon transformer for burning Lichtenberg figures but this one has a ground fault circuit and I am making a big ground fault so it shuts off. It has 2 white wires, on black one blue and one orange wire going to the ground fault circuit.
Does anyone know how I can disable this ground fault circuit by cutting/, joining etc. these wires controlling the transformer?
Dude I have the same exact transformer and problem. I can’t figure it out yet.
is there a good and safe to control the power coming out of a microwave transformer.
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