Drive A Plasma Ball With An ATV Ignition Coil And A 555

[Discrete Electronics Guy] sends in his short tutorial on building a high voltage power supply from simple things.

The circuit is a classic, but we love the resourcefulness shown. The ignition coil comes from a three wheeler, the primary power supply is a ATX supply from a computer and the oscillator is powered by a 9V battery. We do wonder whose vehicle stopped working though.

He gives a great explanation of how the circuit works and was constructed and then moves on to build his own Plasma bulb. Despite expecting something more complicated the end result was achieved by putting a lightbulb on a stick. Fantastic. The circuitry was nearly packaged into a takeaway food container and the entire construction was called complete.

All in all it shows what someone can accomplish if they’re resourceful and understand the basics. However, it’s probably that you don’t electroBoom yourself to death if you can avoid it.

7 thoughts on “Drive A Plasma Ball With An ATV Ignition Coil And A 555

  1. If you ever want random automotive parts without having to wait for a convenient vehicle to stop working, check out a local “Pick-and-Pull”!

    They’re sort of like junkyards, but you can go in with your own tools and yank parts out of the wrecks. Usually you just pay on the way out for whatever you got. You’ll probably be able to find at least one ignition coil.

    Just make sure you’re up-to-date on your tetanus boosters first.

  2. Unlikely, the coil has a very large inductance and only outputs lower frequencies with moderate rise/fall times. The biggest problem with that circuit is that a 2N3055 is not rated to deal with the high voltage transients from the coil and will fail in short order. I used this same circuit SO many times when I was a kid, and it never lasted long, a horizontal output transistor from an old CRT is far better suited.

    It’s also worth mentioning that with the low frequencies the coil puts out it will shock the hell out of you if it arcs to your finger, unlike a real plasma globe supply that will burn you without the massive shock an automotive coil will produce.

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