Introduction: 500,000 Volt Van De Graaff Generator Using Cheap Parts

Picture of 500,000 Volt Van De Graaff Generator Using Cheap Parts
Lets build a 500,000+ volt Van de Graaff generator!!

I built this one in about a week, using scrap parts from a sewing machine and materials ordered from

I have seen the larger machines in operation at my local science museum and this one does just as well. I have made hair stand on end and even pie pans float up and off the machine.

For an explanation of operation go to Wikipedia:

ALSO, note that this machine can generate enough static to stop a pacemaker and any other digital device, keep people with heart problems away. Also if you dont wont to blow up you sensitive electronic devices make sure you either use the machine on a separate circuit or unplug everything you want to keep. I have also stopped watches and killed cell phones with it. The current is low around 27micro amps but that's a thousand times whats needed to kill say your flat screen TV or pc/laptop.

Well if your know anything about Van de Graaffs you know that the bigger and smoother the sphere or collector the bigger the charge. Any bump or lip on the sphere and all the charge will run to it and bleed off.

The recharge rate or time it takes to build up a charge high enough to jump from the sphere is determined by belt speed and width.

I used an art program to generate some diagrams and several pics of the completed unit, its a simple mechanism and you could upscale it for a larger machine easily topping 1,000,000 volts. all you need to do it increase the sphere size and belt width.

This one is an upscale version that I used to test equipment at work and I used the little one to determine the best belt material.
I tried plastic tape, rubber, fabrics, and the hands down best was a plastic coated fabric used in hotel shower curtains. Its easy to cut and glue and lasts for a long time. The charge it carries was easily 50% better than everything I tried.

Also to get the most of your machine you will need to get your hands on some Teflon and some nylon to make the rollers out of. I ordered mine from Granger (links in parts list) I used the Teflon for the top and nylon for the bottom or drive roller. You can also get the Teflon from stacking little half inch thick disks cut with a 2" diameter hole saw from cutting boards. You could also make the top and bottom roller out of the same material and coat the top roller with Teflon tape.

Also if you want to boost your storage and spark a bit build this:
Leyden jar of DOOM!

I will try to list as many tips threw this process as I can. Its been several years since I built the machine and its worked well so far.

Zachary M.

Georgetown, KY

Next up a parts list......

Step 1: Parts List (give or Take a Few Items...)

Picture of Parts List (give or Take a Few Items...)

Sphere-- Garden gazing ball, stainless (glass or plastic will not work)
4" PVC sewer pipe 24" long
4" PVC sewer pipe coupling
2" Diameter 2.75" long Teflon roller Grainger Item # 2NJA2
2" Diameter 2.75" long Nylon roller Grainger Item # 1UTY5
12" x 12" plywood 3/4" thick
12" x 18" plywood 3/4" thick
1/2" all thread (threaded rod) you will need enough to make four pieces 9" long.
1/2" nuts for the all thread, you will need 16 of them also 16 washers
4/40 by 1" bolts I used about 10 of them
Power switch, 120v 5amp
Sheet of copper, I got mine at the hobby store 9 or copper roof flashing at a hardware store.
box of stick pins
3/4 inch copper pipe around 14" long (I would get at least two feet so you have leverage to bend it)
120volt power cord
120volt sewing machine motor with drive pulley and belt. (mine was from a Brother) Or Use and Small pulley Granger PN 1X459
12" x 12" PVC sheet 1/4" thick (thick plexi glass will work just as well, and look cool to!)
Axel for top and bottom rollers (whatever you can find, I pulled mine from the sewing machine)
120v panel light, optional
PVC glue
Super Glue medium thickness for the belt
Vinyl covered fabric for belt (shower curtain or cheap strap)

Step 2: Belt Material and Were to Get It!

Picture of Belt Material and Were to Get It!

I had several questions about the belt material, and its the most important piece to the VDG next to the sphere.

What you need is 18 oz. Vinyl Coated Polyester

A very tough mesh fabric that is coated with vinyl making it waterproof with a high resistance to dirt, mildew, oil, salt, chemicals and UV. Outstanding strength. Made of top quality materials, will not tear, stretch, crack, rot or mildew. May be sewn or glued with HH-66 vinyl cement.

Were you can get it!!!

They have a 42 oz. version but I have not tried it.

I got mine in white, almost all the black materials I tested didn't do so well.

Step 3: Tools Needed (give or Take Again...)

Picture of Tools Needed (give or Take Again...)

Drill with bits
Table saw or equivalent (skill saw)
Dremel tool
Torch(optional but makes it work better)
screw driver for what ever screws you use...
Hole saw or jigsaw
hack saw
soldering iron w/solder

Step 4: Building the Base Step 1

Picture of Building the Base Step 1

Cut out your plywood base like the pic, or as long as you keep the top and bottom the same size you can make it whatever shape you want, it will be up to you to determine if you can fit the motor in it.
The top piece is 12" square with the hole centered in it. I recommend laying the two pieces on top of each other and drilling the four support bolt holes at the same time so they line up perfectly.

Step 5: Base Step 2

Picture of Base Step 2

Cut a couple of 3/4" rings off of the PVC coupler and glue one of them to your main PVC pipe using PVC glue about three inches up one end.

After it dries, fit it threw the hole in the top piece of plywood and glue the bottom ring on to hold it in place.

Get it as tight as you can and it wont slip on you.

Step 6: Base, Step 3

Picture of Base, Step 3

Next cut the all thread to 9" lengths and assembly like in the pic.
The reason I made it this was was so that you can adjust the belt tension and level the top roller to the bottom roller. You dont have to bolt the top on permanently just yet, you need to add the motor and and comb.

Step 7: Base Step 4

Picture of Base Step 4

look at the pics and cut the PVC sheet to make a small box for the roller to ride in. I used the shaft and bearing from the sewing machine. I added a couple of screws to hold in the comb.

A note on the combs both of them the top and bottom ones are nothing more than stick pins soldered in sheet copper. about 1/4" apart. the sharper the better. the bottom one is wired directly to ground.
the top one is touching a spring that contacts the sphere.

Step 8: Base Step 5

Picture of Base Step 5

Next add the motor and pully, then the comb on the back side of the roller, later when you put the belt on you can flex the soft copper of the comb to adjust the space between the roller and the pins, the closser the more charge gets transferred.

Step 9: Base Step 5 Another View

Picture of Base Step 5 Another View

Mechanical side of the base completed

Step 10: Base Step 5 Pic

Picture of Base Step 5 Pic

Note: the motor and bottom pulley needs to turn counter clock wise in the pic below.

The belt and matching pulleys came from the sewing machine.

The aluminum box I mounted the bottom pulley to is just a spacer, you don't have to build yours that way.

I made my motor clamp out of a couple of bolts and a scrap piece of metal with two holes drilled in it.

Step 11: Base (comb and Bottom Roller)

Picture of Base (comb and Bottom Roller)

The bottom comb position in relation to the bottom roller is shown below.

Note that the roller will be turning counter clock wise and that the pins are just above were the belt will leave the roller.

Step 12: Base Step 6

Picture of Base Step 6

Wire up the motor, power cable and switch, please shield everything and use a three wire power cable so you can ground it.

I had a left over modem case that I put my power switch in, you can use whatever you like as long as you shield it.

Note: after operation, if you dont discharge the sphere you can get a shock from the power switch.

Step 13: Time for the Top 1

Picture of Time for the Top 1

Make the top comb as shown, its just a set of pins that need to be held next to the side of the belt just before it touches the top roller. the long tale of copper is to make a spring to touch the inside of the sphere as close the middle as possible.

I put to 4/40 bolts in the top of the machine for this assembly to sit on, this is a very loose design, just get it close without touching the belt and it will grab a great charge.

Step 14: Assemble the Belt

Picture of Assemble the Belt

I used a piece of string to measure how long the belt needed to be, and I also left the top deck lowered about an inch so I could tighten the belt up later.

I recommend cutting the belt as pictured below, then gluing a patch over it. I put mine on some wax paper so I could use allot of glue and not stick it to my table. The patch I made was "V" shaped and about 3/4" wider than the seam. See pic in step 15 as well.

Step 15: Top Roller

Picture of Top Roller

I used the rest of the sheet PVC (you could also use Plexiglas) I made a slot for the belt to come threw and used some scrap plastic to hold up the top roller.

Step 16: Top Roller Another View and Belt Construction.

Picture of Top Roller Another View and Belt Construction.

NOTE the way I cut the belt in a "V" shape and used another piece to cover it, that way you wont have a lump in the belt. I measured for the belt and made it as wide as I could without it slapping the sides when its running. The teflon is so slick I didnt use bearings on the top! its just a solid non turning shaft. The belt is 1.75" wide. Not sure how long.

After you have cut and glued the belt, you can put it on, you simply use the four support bolts to tighten it up, don't go to far you just want it tight enough to spin, and not slap the side of the column when its up to speed, this will kill your charge. If your belt does not track right you can fix that by moving one side of the supports up a little at a time, go slow and make the belt center in the rollers. You can also "crown" one of your rollers, that is to make it "keg" shaped. The downside to this is that you lose a little surface contact and in turn a little recharge power.

Optional: you can make the top roller adjustable as well to help center the belt.

Step 17: Sphere

Picture of Sphere

Use a Dremel tool with a good cutting disk and cut a 4.5 inch hole your sphere and make sure it fits.
Take your time and cut slowly, the woven carbide disks worked best.

The first time I fired mine up it worked but had allot of sparks jumping from the bottom of the sphere, to solve or help this problem I fitted a copper ring for the sphere to sit on. This will fold the charge back up to it. If you dont have a pipe bender tape one end of the pipe shut, fill it with water and freeze it that way you wont kink it wile hand bending it.

After I got the copper ring bent in a circle I cut it and clamped it, so it could be soldered with the torch

I also cut several more 1/2 inch tall rings off the coupler and put them on the column, this keeps the voltage from creeping down.

Also make the sphere sit as high on the column as you can without losing contact with the comb inside, my sphere is around 4" down the column.

Step 18: Diagram

Picture of Diagram

1= dome
2= collector comb
3= top teflon roller
4=upward side of belt positive charge
5-downward side of belt, negative charge
6=bottom nylon roller
7=bottom comb
8=grounded ball
9= SPARK!!!!!!!!!

Step 19: Time to Play

Picture of Time to Play

Make sure the subject, in this case me, is standing on something insulated and have them touch the sphere, then turn on the machine, hair will stand.

You will also get a great effect on a humid summer night out side in total darkness, you can view the plasma coming from you and the sphere.

Also once its running good, tape a thumb tack with the point out to the top of the sphere, watch the plasma jet from it.

take five pie pans and stack them on top of the sphere and turn it on, one by one they will float up and fly off the machine.

Hold a florecent tube in your hand near it, it will glow! (you will get a few sparks to you doing this be ready and dont drop the bulb)

I would build a discharge wand to, or stick with a metal ball on the end that's grounded to the machine. You can use a large tin foil ball and a good insulated wire.

You can take it a step further with a leyden jar like the one here:
Leyden jar of DOOM!
Just be careful with any leyden jar they let you store enough current to cause you serious harm.

Also it will hold a charge for sometime after you turn it off. So discharge it before your curious cat looks at his reflection and gets popped in the nose like mine.....

Step 20: In Action

Picture of In Action
3 min, exposure in a dark room, the other ball is grounded and attached to a stick.

See it and other photos that I have taken here:
Nickademusss Photo Stream

Most of the best visuals with a Van De Graaff are in a dark room, the light is subtle.

Enjoy email with questions :)


TeslaMax (author)2016-02-18

Cheap? That was not my
experience with this project. My final build cost is over $200. In part this
was due to having purchased two roller sets and two belts (explained below). The
stainless steel dome and roller/belt set will be your most expensive items.

My first build was a failure.
I used the Grainger rollers on my first attempt. The belt would find its way
off and get jammed. It would work for a few seconds and then come off. No
matter how I tried, I could not keep the belt in position due to the flat
rollers. This was in large part due to the fact that the rollers do not spin
in a perfect circle on my home build. This was an expensive lesson – the roller
set wasn’t cheap!

I was able to find a
matching set of rollers on a website called Sci-Supply for @ $40 (Part#
RR-LC2910C). I also purchased their belt (RB-LC2910-HC). The roller set included
the upper collector mounting bracket. I was able to find metric screws for the
upper bracket at Home Depot, which allowed me to move the upper roller up and
down to correct the belt movement.

I found a stainless dome
on a site called Aliexpress. It took me a while to find them because the
website search is terrible. I had to search for “stainless steel hollow ball”.
I purchased an 8” / 20cm for @$24 with free shipping. It was a lower grade of
stainless and delivered right from China.

Keep in mind that the size
of the dome correlates to total generator output. The dome acts as the
capacitor and accumulates the charges. The larger the surface area, the more
charges can accumulate. I would estimate that by reducing the size of my dome,
my generator output is only about 250KV.

Another tip… Rough up the
rollers with a bit of sand paper prior to placing them in service. I used
talcum powder on the belt as a drying agent too. Hope this information helps
any potential builders.

JeffG175 (author)TeslaMax2017-12-08

let's keep in mind, you have to have some type of mechanical knowledge achieve positive results. please read about other pricipales before posting questions

Nathan5802 (author)2012-08-25

I'm younger then 16, so I don't exactally have a lot of money, so I was wondering, how much would all of this cost. And also, the links to buy the rollers do not work anymore, please fix them.

fvckyourads (author)Nathan58022017-11-29

Links aren't immortal and he probably has a life besides updating everything he's ever posted to the net. Grainger no longer offers those parts most likely so you will have to Google your own links for parts (plastic supply sites like ePlastics is where I'd start). If you are broke and don't have a job then don't build it. Hobbies cost money but are optional and this is one of those things where if you need to ask you probably can't afford it.

nickademuss (author)Nathan58022012-09-05

NA I like broken links....

they are no longer available from Granger, try cole parmer or use bed frame rollers available from home depot....

Cost depends on how much used stuff you can scrounge, mine was around 150.00 or a little less if you go to a good thrift store and buy a 5.00 sewing machine.

Its also scalable, build a smaller one with smaller dimensions, it will be cheaper.

JDH_24 (author)2012-09-28

I am a little confused how did you calculate what your voltage would be for this generator

fvckyourads (author)JDH_242017-11-29

The real voltage is probably 375kV or so. A good rule of thumb is 25kV per cm radius of sphere size. Theoretical max is 32kV per cm but things like that copper ring at the bottom and even the column holding it, the humidiy in the air, etc reduce this.

Axl John (author)2015-12-15

it is safe to touch?

fvckyourads (author)Axl John2017-11-29

It depends. In essence this is a capacitor and anything over 10 joules of energy storage is dangerous (while 27uA is charging it the peak current of the arc is 10's and maybe even 100's of amps for a short duration). 1/2CV^2. He mentioned it was a 12" sphere = .000 000 000 017F, 25kV per cm radius is a good upper limit estimate if you can get the leaks under control in dry weather = 375kV = 1.2J which is fine but will still hurt. If this were a 30" sphere (largest common size of a gazing ball) it would be 18J = may or may not kill you and will definitely shock you silly and probably leave you laying on the floor. I have a 20" one and that one is about 5J = hurts when accidents happen and leaves a small burn mark/blister but won't kill me.

MickP8 (author)2016-04-07

Huge thank you nickademuss. Your great write up instructed me on the basis of VDG operation and the design enabled me to complete my first ever VDG build. Managed to capture a couple of pictures of the unit in action. The sparks almost don't look real but they are.

nickademuss (author)MickP82017-08-16

looks great!!!

JadO1 (author)2016-05-23

I would like to say thank you for this great tutorial ... I proudly made it as project for the end of this semester .. It is working very well and it is rising hair very well also .. I've made some simple modifications like using a rubber belt instead of the vinyl and a Teflon tape wrapped on the polyamide roller instead of a Teflon roller .. This was cheaper ... At the end I want to say really thank you for this

nickademuss (author)JadO12017-08-16

fantastic build!

stonebreaker (author)2017-02-22

I helped my son make one of these a few years ago for a science project. This is a pretty well-thought out design. I do have a few improvements though. 1) put casters on the bottom of the machine. It makes it a lot easier to move around. 2) for the rollers, find a machinist on craigslist (you'd be surprised how many retired guys there are with lathes and mills in their garages) and have them machine the rollers and insert axles. I had mine done for 12 bucks. The axles were perfectly centered and the rollers were crowned, which keeps the belt centered on the rollers. 3) Use pillow block bearings (Grainger) to support the roller axles. You can run the rollers at much higher rpm and generate more sparks faster that way. 4) I found a 2.5 hp used fan motor on ebay for 8 bucks. It turned at 3600 rpm, and I put a 3 inch pulley on the motor and a 1 inch pulley on the bottom roller, which stepped up the roller rpm to about 10,000 rpm. This is why I needed the bearings. After some initial tuning, My machine was able to generate 18 inch sparks twice a second.

nickademuss (author)stonebreaker2017-08-16


stonebreaker (author)2017-02-22

Definitely like that copper tubing idea to mitigate leakage from the bottom of the sphere. When I made one of these, I never did solve that problem and ended up putting a bigger motor on the generator to generate charge faster than it could leak away.

nickademuss (author)stonebreaker2017-08-16

its was the hardest thing to bend and get right, but it makes it work so much better!

Lisa.Muise (author)2017-03-21

I have a very old, well loved Van De Graaff build byCambosco Scientific Company, Boston, MA. The motor is dead. I removed it, but can't find any information on it to know what to replace it with. Any help would be wonderful.

nickademuss (author)Lisa.Muise2017-08-16

sorry I don't check here often, if you still need help, email me at

ninnjamonkeyy (author)2017-01-17

I found a much cheaper website for the fabric

7 bucks per yard for 60" width fabric

sarthak acharya (author)2016-10-09

what is production cost of van d graff generator ?

DJayant (author)2016-04-08


I looked at Teflon Roller, 2NJA2. It is no more available. Also does it need to be Brother Sewing machine for parts? I have a Singer machine to spare.


MickP8 (author)2016-04-02

Hi. I've loosely followed your design, thanks. My setup works great when I first turn it on but after the first couple of large spark discharges the intensity starts to drop off. Any idea why this might be?

nickademuss (author)MickP82016-04-05

Odd, try running it in total darkness, it sounds like you have a High voltage leak. You will see the leak as blue light streaming off of it. It would help is you posted pictures of your build...

MickP8 (author)nickademuss2016-04-05

Ok, sorry for the multiple comments. Well I could not stand to wait for the weekend so I implemented an alcohol clean of the VDG and hey presto it now works like a charm. It's not as wild as your build but I'm happy with it. watch in HD otherwise video compression cuts out the spark. I've read it before, oil and grease is a VDG killer.

Question: Should I try the vinyl coated polyester belt again? (cut the width down so I am sure it is not touching the edges of the tube) Or now I have a working setup with a rubber belt, should I just leave it alone?

MickP8 (author)nickademuss2016-04-05

Hi Nickademuss

See images posted below, (not sure why some are showing up twice sometimes).. I'm still waiting for my 12" gazing globe but the Ikea bowls were doing pretty well. I did not touch them between experiments. Bottom roller is nylon, top is a PVC pipe wrapped in teflon tape. The top roller is on bearings, see pictures, I heated a pvc tube and pressed skate bearings into it, worked really well. Belt is rubber exercise strap glued. Top comb uses brass pins soldered into a pcb board with a copper plate backing. Bottom comb is similar but standard tin pins. I do not think I have leakage from the bottom of the bowl thanks to the copper ring, but I know it's pretty small. Things I know I need to fix. Bottom comb is too far up on the belt, i'll lower it this weekend. Again, it was in this position when I was generating the big sparks. Tube sticks too far into the bowl, I misread your instructions and thought the tube was supposed to stick up far into the bowl. I'll raise it this weekend when I have the system apart for cleaning and finishing. Any advice would be appreciated. Also, have a look at the pic with the white belt, do you think the belt is running too close to the tube walls which is why I built up no charge? The issue is that bottom nylon wheel is wide, 3" wide. It's great for belt tracking, zero issues, thanks to this combined with the top roller with bearings. However it leaves the belt very close to the tube walls, belt is 2" wide. Anyway, let me know what you think. Best Regards Mick

MickP8 (author)nickademuss2016-04-05

Hi! Thanks for the fast response. I'll take some more picture and post later today as I didn't document the build very well. This is actually version #2. Version #1 was a quick build and produced reliable 1" sparks. #2 build changed top and bottom pulleys to support a Vinyl coated belt (just like yours) however the belt produced zero charge. I swapped back to a rubber belt. I think the combination of the larger pulleys and wider belt left the belt rubbing on the sides of the tube. I might modify again to try again with that material. With the rubber belt I now think I have a dirt issue, maybe oil on the pulleys. I no longer get an initial large charge. Anyway, when I strip down the build to clean I'll take pictures. Thanks for taking the time to offer your assistance.

zhakeerhuzzain (author)2014-11-18

Whats ur opnion about connecting the base comb wire to the motors body.....

should be fine, but it can send a charge threw the house current and zap things connected to the same circuit in your house ):

davidjwhittaker (author)2015-03-07

Zachary, what is the reason for the long neck leading up to the dome. Can the length of the belt be shorten to stay 3" from roller to roller? If so would widening the belt with this short distance compensate for its lack of length?Thanking you in advance.


This one throws 12" sparks at low current, the base is considered ground or minus and the sphere is positive. if they are to close you cant get any charge built up. So you need at least 2x the height as the sphere diameter, this will give you a chance to develop a charge.

ScottieDigital (author)2015-10-10

When you say "cheap" you didn't list the actual price of all the listed items needed for this project? Now my guess is that this would be over $100 so I wouldn't call it cheap.

I called it cheap because I scavenged most of my parts like the motor, wood base, pipe, and anything else from the junk pile. The sphere and rollers being the most pricy parts. The belt can be made from vinyl covered fabric from an old shower curtain. I guess if you don't have a junk pile it could cost a little more, or you could power it with an old thrift shop drill (3$) or a sewing machine(10$)....

Parrotile (author)2016-02-20

For those in Australia - try these (you'll need 2!!)

At $5 each that's a BIG saving on a Gazing Ball, and the stainless is fairly soft, so easy to polish to a mirror finish. As described this VDG Project relies on triboelectric excitation, so if you live in a humid climate (Tropical Queensland :-( ) you'll find charge transfer is poor. In such a case providing a "little help" via HV DC electron spray will offset leakage. Try one of these -

Substitute an aluminium roller for the bottom roller, and attach one output lead to the roller axle, the other to your comb spray. Charge transfer is MUCH more efficient, and recovery is faster too.

this is my user name (author)2014-10-23

Would it be fatal to discharge it using my body? As in connecting the negative to my ankles and arcing the negative charge through my hands to the positive charge on the globe.

i dont think this low a current will be damngerous. but you should test it first by connecting it to your wrist so you only shock your hand at worst. starting with the ankles means it may arc through your heart, which is not good.

thanks for the input!

I should add that I want to constantly discharge the electricity while the machine is on.

SarahF3 (author)2015-03-30

is it possible to use plastic as the collector and then place metal on top?

john.pisanic (author)2015-02-27

Using a larger ball connected to ground will increase the size and energy of the spark quite a bit as well. A good safety device is a straight paper clip. You can touch any machine without getting shocked at all if you approach it with a pointed piece of metal.

Nishi2001 (author)2014-12-26

Any belt material will work! i used a wide rubber band

zhakeerhuzzain (author)2014-11-18

I was making one and has a dought with the top comb that. Both the combs are on the same side or not.u sayd that the comb should be placed just before the belt touches the roller...
A faster reply will be appreciable

JamesH8 (author)2014-09-14

How large is your metal ball?

He said it was a 12 Inch Steel gazing ball in one of the pictures

Can I use this motor ?

ninnjamonkeyy (author)2014-06-09

Would foam PVC sheet work well or would that be too weak? How do you recommend I attach the PVC sheet "box" (with the bottom roller in it) to the base? Screws/glue/both?


mmiller64 (author)2014-01-26

Hi I have built the Van de Graaff generator to the best of my ability. I have one problem. The bigger pulley near the bottom roller has a inner diameter that is slightly than the diameter of the rod used. Because of this the pulley isn't able to roll the roller which is a crucial par to this. What can i do to fix this? I cant get a different pulley as there aren't any other sizes available.

jreuter (author)2013-12-29

Help! I'm stumped! I build a VDG following these nickademuss instructions with a few ideas from the Mark Rehorst site. I used a rubber belt (Sports Authority exercise band) and nylon rollers, one wrapped in Teflon tape. I used the IKEA bowls for the dome. It is definitely generating charge, I can even see a blue glow around the bottom roller before the belt passes the pickup comb. But around the dome I can only get about a 1/2 inch spark. However, I can get much bigger sparks against the column below the dome. I added some vanes going down the column to try to help (disposable plastic plates), and now I can get even bigger sparks (6 inches) down the column (and through the plates, it seems), but still only 1/2 inch anywhere else on the dome. Anyone have any ideas what I'm doing wrong?

nickademuss (author)jreuter2014-01-25

sorry for the delayed response, As mentioned in this instructable vinyl belts work best with my design.

ANY raised edges on the surface of your collector cause the voltage to bleed off into the air, it has to be a smooth dome or torid to hold the charge. First try the right belt, then get yourself a garden gazing ball like the one I used.

Also if you don't have the copper ring for the collector to sit on, you will lose allot of the charge at the base of the sphere. Hope this helps

jreuter (author)nickademuss2014-01-25

Thanks for the response! I could not find the vinyl fabric to use for belts locally, so I went with the rubber belts. I don't think that's the problem, as I can draw a 30cm hot visible spark down the column, just not out perpendicular to the unit.

I have the dome on a copper ring, but it's 3/8 inch tubing, not 3/4. I could not find any 1/2 or 3/4 inch that I could bend without breaking. What did you use?

My suspicion now is that the IKEA bowls are brushed stainless, not a mirror smooth finish, and that may be bleeding off a lot of charge diffusely. I can get a blue corona discharge from a pointed rod as far as a meter away from the dome, and a car ignition wire tester (neon bulb in a wand) will illuminate steadily even further away than that. So there is a lot of charge in the air, and a rod in the area must discharge that before enough can build up to make a big arc.

About This Instructable




Bio: Electronics engineer with allot of mechanical design expertise
More by nickademuss:Taking your HO scale slot car track to the next level cheaplyRestoration - New life out of a busted 1930's radio  conversionUltimate Computer Microphone Conversion
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