There was a time when making a high voltage project like a Jacob’s ladder took time to build or scrounge some kind of high voltage circuit. The neon sign transformer, Marx generator, or voltage multiplier was the hard part of the project. But nowadays you can get cheap high voltage modules that are quite inexpensive. [PaulGetson] picked up one for under $20 and turned it into a quick and easy Jacob’s ladder.
Honestly, once you have high voltage, making a Jacob’s ladder is pretty simple. [Paul] used a cheap plastic box, some coat hanger wire, and some stainless steel bolts.
If you haven’t seen a ladder before, the theory is pretty simple. The high voltage ionizes the air between the two electrodes. The ionized air gets hot and since hot air rises, the spark rises with it, and the electrodes can get further and further apart. Once the spark rises above the electrodes, the process starts over again. You can see these in many old movies to signify some sort of mysterious scientific equipment.