For those that know (or those that frequent Google's everchanging homepage) today is Tesla's birthday. Just typing in his name into the instructables search brings up loads of Tesla coils but not much else. Some research into some of his other (lesser known/theoretical) inventions uncovered an idea for an ionocraft, a silent flying craft with no moving parts powered by high voltage.
(not the place to debate the origin of the invention, Major de Seversky is credited as the inventor of the ionocraft, I am just regurgitating a thought I had while reading on Tesla)

A quick search reveals that not only is it possible to build these simple machines, high school kids build them as science fair projects!
Although fascinating, this project is outside the realm of my ability for now (read: until my brain grows).
Anyone with an inkling?

Seeing how there's no end to dangerous instructables, what's one more?
(I'll even go the next step and provide you with some plans)

Picture of ionocraft
sort by: active | newest | oldest
Bruce Allan6 years ago
Every picture I have ever seen of an ionocraft has been horizontal on a table top. I see this as an engine to be used with something else. Could this engine be used as a silent drive on a blimp, where it isn't trying to overtake gravity, but merely propel something quietly?
PKM Bruce Allan6 years ago
I think there's a classic physics demonstration that does roughly what you are suggesting. An S-shaped piece of wire with sharp points is balanced on a pivot on top of a Van der Graaf generator. The ionic wind from the ends of the wire propels it around in circles like Hero's steam engine or a catherine wheel.

I'm not sure whether this type of propulsion requires a good earth connection or not. Theoretically if it didn't, you could attach the power supply to a helium balloon and achieve propulsion that way, but you could probably make more thrust silently running a 100mm CPU fan at low revs with greater efficiency and less risk of electrocuting yourself.

I suspect the reason that these are always shown working horizontally is that they are cool.  Somehow getting forward propulsion on a craft supporting its own weight by traditional means just isn't as impressive as a "lifter" lifting its entire weight using only electricity.

Speaking of practical uses, I did see a case mod done with the sole purpose of having no moving parts- there was no optical drive or hard drive, the CPU was passively cooled using a big radiator and convective airflow.  They ventilated the case using a similar design to this that electrostatically blew air through- massive overkill but fun to show that it was possible :)

Not sure I'd want a 15kV source charging up the air when a static shock of a few volts can kill a stick of RAM, but whatever floats your... aluminium foil UFO...
dombeef PKM6 years ago
I saw a little while back that someone created a remote control ufo thing It wasn't connected to the ground and it was powered by a bunch of 9 volts i think
Marsh7 years ago
 These are neat. The reason I never built one, probably like many other folks, is that it has no practical use. Even a powerful one only generates enough ionic wind to lift its own weight. Even then they are pretty unstable. If someone could show a good use for such a thing it might inspire more people to build them.
This was one of the technologies they explored on Mythbuster's Anti-Gravity exploration. See it here.
mikeasaurus (author)  Marsh7 years ago

I agree and disagree.

I agree that it has no practical use, yet.
Just because it's been done doesn't mean the applications have been exhausted. Even if it were the case that is had absolutely zero practical application it could still be a fun build, and used as a toy (albeit a highly-dangerous one).

I have seen a few of these made and videos online and agree that it appears that there is no practical use that can't be achieved faster/better/cheaper/less-danergous with other methods. The intent of this topic was to see if anyone could apply the concept to something relevant (and since we're talking Tesla here, how many 'practical applications' of tesla coils are there on this site compared with the number made 'just because').

I saw this as an example of technology that has been passed by many and felt it deserved to be explored further. 

matt17957 years ago
dude, i ve been on to ur website, i get how they work, i know how to build one, come out with something else, ur getting boring
Can I ask what your problem is?

You've been a member for five weeks, made five comments, and not one of them is particularly nice or constructive.

mikeasaurus (author)  matt17957 years ago
Make careful note that I have no affiliation with this particular person, the video chosen is to illustrate the idea

The intent (as this topic t is categorized under burning questions) is to ask my burning question "why is this not built here yet?". In a sense I'm throwing down the gauntlet to see if anyone will answer.

If what you've stated in your comment is true "i get how they work, i know how to build one" then maybe you can meet that challenge?
Think of this topic as an open invite to contribute to this community something it's lacking, an ionocraft. Good luck!