Handheld Slayer Exciter Wand Makes For Easy High Voltage Magic

It’s often said that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, and when a DIY device lets you light up fluorescent bulbs with a flick of the wrist, it’s certainly not hard to see why. The latest creation from [Jay Bowles], this high voltage wand is actually a Slayer Exciter coil that’s able to boost the output of a standard 9 V alkaline or rechargeable battery high enough to perform some of the wireless power tricks we usually associate with the more complex Tesla coil.

We really can’t overstate how simple it is to build one of these yourself. Sure you’ll still need to wind the coil, but if you can chuck the 1/2 inch acrylic tube into a electric drill you should be able to make short work of it. Once you’ve wound your secondary coil from 32 gauge magnet wire, you only need a couple turns of common doorbell wire to make up the primary.

Think there must be some complex electronics hiding in the handle? Far from it. All that’s hidden by that faux-leather wrapping is a transistor to do the high-speed switching, an LED functioning as both the power indicator and the circuit’s diode, and a resistor. [Jay] put it all together dead bug style, but you could do it on a scrap of perfboard if you’d like something a little more robust.

Being a big believer in STEM education, [Jay] says the wand was designed to be as kid-friendly as possible so he could gift it to his young niece and nephew. Inspiring the next generation is certainly something we respect around these parts, though we think there’s plenty of adults who wouldn’t have been disappointed if they unwrapped a gadget like this over the holidays.

If you’d like to play around with a Slayer but aren’t into the whole Harry Potter motif, you might be interested in the larger and more capable version [Jay] built earlier in the year.

35 thoughts on “Handheld Slayer Exciter Wand Makes For Easy High Voltage Magic

    1. My google fu says

      STEM is a curriculum based on the idea of educating students in four specific disciplines — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — in an interdisciplinary and applied approach

      It’s a common acronym in the UK.

      1. You mean with out the A added in. STEM has been around for a long time, adding arts to the mix just happened recently. Some people are irritated by that, they say what does art have to do with science, technology, engineering and mathematics. I don’t really care, although I think it makes more sense to lump art in with literature and composition

        1. Art is part of engineering through industrial design, diagrams, drawings and illustrations, without which you couldn’t really do any of it.

          We were one of the last generations, if not the very last ones, who were actually taught how to draft by hand.

    2. A number of young students are left behind each year wondering what plant parts have to do with whatever is this catchy acronym. The “educators” failed as they planted the wrong idea in playing a game with words.

  1. “and when a DIY device lets you light up fluorescent bulbs with a flick of the wrist, it’s certainly not hard to see why.”

    I first read that as…
    “and when a DIY device lights you up like a fluorescent bulb”


    1. It kinda does, because the return path is through your body holding the other end of the wand. If you were to stand in the dark, someone could probably take a photograph of you and show some sort of corona discharge while using the device.

      1. Is it through your body though? That would be true for a tesla coil and the like, but I was under the impression that in this setup the bulbs were driven capacitively. As in, the changing electric field of the wand would move force back and forth in the bulb, but the electrons wouldn’t actually leave or enter the bulb. Am I grossly mistaken? Would somebody please help me understand? :)

  2. A free running oscillator and a step up coil. Great job!!! This is the simplest Tesla coil I’ve seen so far.

    Someone (not me) needs to start a ‘simple circuit’ contest. Something along the lines of who can provide different pre-defined electronic functions with minimal components?

  3. “Slayer-Exciter” is a great name for a circuit configuration. It conjures up images of heavy metal music and a video of the band playing in a factory where the primary products it produces is sparks and chains suspended from the ceiling.

  4. Pardon my ignorance, is this considered a EMP device? If not, what’s the difference between this and a ‘regular’ EMP gun that usually shows up on Youtube made with electric fly catchers and other household devices?
    Thank you.

    1. An EMP device is designed to emit as much electromagnetic radiation as possible, in the shortest time possible. Most electronics try and minimize EMI/RFI. But Tesla Coils are also built to emit as much EM and RF radiation as possible, but most focus it in the spark discharges. They still interfere with radios at close range, but inverse square means power drops off quickly with distance. They also usually achieve this with short bursts of high power in quick repetition (Tesla said, “1 watt over 1 second is insignificant, but 1 billion watts over 1 microsecond is a sight to behold”).

      The main difference is EMP aren’t repetitive, so they store energy over a long time period and discharge it as fast as possible, usually using some wave guide or directional antenna, at a frequency and power to damage, or at least disrupt, electronics. Hand held EMP “guns” are very similar to TC in that they have an air-cored secondary loosely coupled to a primary tank circuit. The capacitors charge up, then connected to the primary by a trigger device/circuit, and the dumped power rings down radiating EM. The smallest ones (altoids tin sized, marketed as Slot Machine cheat devices) forgo the secondary entirely and just ring the primary and use whatever you’re trying to disrupt as the secondary, although I doubt they work well.

      The only reliable way to produce far reaching EMP is detonation of nuclear devices. Although battleship mounted systems are also feasible for targeted use.

    2. Those are just false advertising – unless you take EMP to mean any random source of EMI, in which case flicking a wire across a 9 Volt battery terminals is also an “EMP gun”.

      This is a relatively powerful source of high voltage RF current, which makes it jump through the air (capacitive coupling) and to the ground, from which it goes up your leg and arm back to the wand. In other words, this can potentially be very dangerous because you might cause yourself nerve damage and RF burns, but fortunately it appears that when you overload the circuit by providing a lower impedance return path (touch the metallic case of the battery) it stops oscillating.

      1. Relative to what?

        Looks like a super high impedance, low power and inefficient toy to me. Perfect for it’s intended application. Even though it does look like a steam punk dingus.

        Here’s something for comparison… You have to try super hard to accidentally get an RF burn from a plasma globe. The inexpensive ones I’ve torn down gobble about 15W from a 12V mains adapter. The RF burns there are only when sufficient capacitive coupling is achieved to produce an tiny arc to an unsuspecting bit of skin. He addressed that with the faux leather insulation and using 1 rather than 3 batteries. Not convinced a 9V battery is going to put out much more than 15W as internal resistance will hamper that.

        Non arc related RF energy should be quite safe as the continuous output and low power will not heat a finger up very fast and the ouch reflex will be ample should a bit of skin be the focus of this energy. Specifically, if there’s an optimistic 1W of output energy being dumped into 1g of finger tip, it’ll heat up by 1 degree every 4 ish seconds. I wish soldering irons heated misplaced fingers up that slowly!

        The plasma channel chap is quite creative and puts a lot of effort in, and has clearly thought at least a bit about safety. Let’s support that.

        If countless kids can play with plasma globes without incident, then hurrah for this.

        If I had to ask the easy question of whether I would five one of these to my 6 year old pet human – hell yes. But only if the aesthetics were altered. Once you see a steampunk dingus, you can’t unsee it.

        1. >He addressed that with the faux leather insulation

          Yeah, sort-of, but not really. The only real safety in the circuit is that it goes so grossly out of tune when the load increases that it stops oscillating.

          1. Nope. It’s a self resonant circuit and so increased output capacitance will lead to lower frequency operation and likely lower output power. Would take a short on the output – perhaps even one with reasonably high resistance to stop it oscillating.

            He literally mentions low power and the insulation to stop any tingling. So I call really on that and irrelevance on going out of tune.


          2. > increased output capacitance will lead to lower frequency operation

            1) The oscillation relies on feedback which is phase shifted. When you change the whole circuit impedance, the phase shift also moves around and at some point the circuit stops oscillating.

            2) Since it’s a resonant circuit, by changing the load impedance, you’re changing the Q factor of the circuit, meaning that at some configuration it loses more energy than it gains with each cycle, and the resonator becomes a damper: it stops oscillating.

          3. >He literally mentions low power and the insulation to stop any tingling.

            No. He claims it puts out 5 Watts, and mentions not to touch the output coil ground wire because it stops oscillating when you do that. THat is the reason why he wrapped the handle in plastic.

            He also mentions that if it was any more powerful, it would start giving off sparks and streamers. That doesn’t sound safe at all to me.

        2. Plasma globes can give you an RF burn if you put something metallic on top to concentrate the current, and then touch that. The globe only puts out a tiny current anyways, but the thing is, an RF burn doesn’t necessarily hurt at all until it’s too late, and you don’t need visible sparks and streamers to get one.


          ““For the first half-hour or so, all I could see was a tiny dot on my fingertip, and I didn’t think much of it. As the day went on, it hurt more and more, and by the end of the day there was a big, deep, dark blister that covered my entire fingertip and hurt like hell. It took weeks to heal.””

          “There are reports of people getting fingertip burns by touching the top of the antenna connector on a relatively low-power handheld VHF transceiver (5W)”

          The guy claims this wand puts out about 5 Watts in the video.

          1. Thanks to the skin effect, where the current is transmitted through a thin layer just under the skin, it’s actually rather difficult to feel RF currents, and the heating is more localized.


            Touching an energized antenna with your fingertip, you may pass between 200-400 mA of current before the “ouch” reflex, whereas for low frequency AC the threshold of pain is about 2 mA. The threshold of perception is 0.4 mA at 10 KHz, and 100 mA at 20 MHz. At the higher frequencies, the sensation is not pain or tickling but warmth, and it takes 10-20 seconds to notice – by which time you may have already burned yourself.

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