Catching 30 Kilowatts With Thor’s Hammer

Can you really catch lightning with Mjolnir, the mythical hammer of Thor? If you’re [James Hobson] you can get pretty darn close. He’s a long time writer at Hackaday who’s been building an epic following on his YouTube channel by making the digital effects of blockbuster movies into practical effects. Today he released a video showing how he channeled a jolt of lightning with hammer held high.

The lightning source for this hack is a huge Tesla coil held overhead by a telescoping lift. Humans and high voltage mix poorly, which is why you can’t actually tell this is [James]. He’s wearing a full body suit of grounded chainmail which serves as a Faraday cage, safely directing the current around him to avoid a literally heart-stopping moment. Check out the antics in the video after the break.

Longtime readers will remember [Caleb Kraft’s] take on Mjolnir, a build that placed the Tesla coil in the hammer itself. [James]’ version is undeniably more impressive, with the tradeoff that it’s wholly unportable. While we’re on the topic of mythical hammers, our other most favorite build is the delightful prank build which makes the hammer unliftable except by the recognized owner.

12 thoughts on “Catching 30 Kilowatts With Thor’s Hammer

      1. The chances of dying from being struck by lightning are surprisingly low: only around 10-30%. When covered in a lower-resistance path to ground than the bag of salt water we call a body, I’d imagine the chance of survival would go up, though the heat would still hurt.

        1. Putting it like that…. I’d take the normal hammer and stand there in my shorts… I can’t imagine you can get that stuff off quicker than you’ll be roasted like a thanksgiving turkey.

    1. They got it sorta correct. That coil is producing millions of Volts. It’s drawing probably slightly under 10 Kilowatts. Probably closer to 7200W. I say this mainly from experience – I built a coil of this size. But also, here’s a more “math” based analysis:

      Remember, a high voltage arc is approximately 1cm long for every 10kV. So this is wayyyyy more than 30kV right off the bat.

      Also, for a Tesla Coil, there is an estimate equation that directly relates arc length to input power. It’s L=1.7*sqrt(P) where L is arc length in inches and P is input power in watts.

      If this coil pulls 30kW, using that equation, they should be getting nearly 25 foot acs!

      Now, those arcs look to me to be under ten feet. So around 1/3 of 25 feet. So 1/3 the power input. I.E. closer to 10kW.

      Additionally, they say they are power limited in the video. A regular 240V ~30A circuit in a small shop as shown provides almost exactly 7200 watts. This gives ~12 foot arcs per eq above – much closer now!

      I have only seen ONE DRSSTC coil EVER to use more than 240V@30A. And that was a 20 foot tall, multi phase, monster built I believe in part by the famous Steve Ward called GIGANTOR.

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