Step 2: 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.
<p>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.</p>
<p>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.</p>
<p>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.</p>
<p>I found a much cheaper website for the fabric</p><p><a href="https://www.tarpsnow.com/18-oz-vinyl-coated-polyester-61-width-x-1-yard.html" rel="nofollow">https://www.tarpsnow.com/18-oz-vinyl-coated-polyes...</a></p><p>7 bucks per yard for 60&quot; width fabric</p>
<p>what is production cost of van d graff generator ?</p>
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
<p>Hi</p><p>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.</p><p>Thanks</p>
<p>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.</p>
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?
<p>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...</p>
<p>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. <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O0fP76EpC2E" rel="nofollow">https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O0fP76EpC2E</a> watch in HD otherwise video compression cuts out the spark. I've read it before, oil and grease is a VDG killer. </p><p>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? </p>
<p>Hi Nickademuss</p><p> See images posted below, (not sure why some are showing up twice sometimes).. I'm still waiting for my 12&quot; 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&quot; 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&quot; wide. Anyway, let me know what you think. Best Regards Mick</p>
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&quot; 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.
Whats ur opnion about connecting the base comb wire to the motors body.....<br>
<p>should be fine, but it can send a charge threw the house current and zap things connected to the same circuit in your house ):</p>
<p>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&quot; from roller to roller? If so would widening the belt with this short distance compensate for its lack of length?Thanking you in advance.</p><p>Dave</p>
<p>This one throws 12&quot; 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. </p>
<p>When you say &quot;cheap&quot; 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 $100 so I wouldn't call it cheap. </p>
<p>I called it cheap because I scavenged most of my parts like the motor, wood base, pipe, and anything else from the junk pile. The sphere and rollers being the most pricy parts. The belt can be made from vinyl covered fabric from an old shower curtain. I guess if you don't have a junk pile it could cost a little more, or you could power it with an old thrift shop drill (3$) or a sewing machine(10$).... </p>
<p>For those in Australia - try these (you'll need 2!!)</p><p><a href="http://www.kmart.com.au/product/28cm-stainless-steel-bowl/124198" rel="nofollow">http://www.kmart.com.au/product/28cm-stainless-steel-bowl/124198</a></p><p>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 &quot;little help&quot; via HV DC electron spray will offset leakage. Try one of these - </p><p><a href="http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/AC-220V-DIY-Air-Ionizer-High-Output-Airborne-Negative-Ion-Anion-Generator-New-/400598863890?hash=item5d458d9012:g:dQYAAOxyM89Scw27" rel="nofollow">http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/AC-220V-DIY-Air-Ionizer-High-Output-Airborne-Negative-Ion-Anion-Generator-New-/400598863890?hash=item5d458d9012:g:dQYAAOxyM89Scw27</a></p><p>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. </p>
<p>Cheap? That was not my<br>experience with this project. My final build cost is over $200. In part this<br>was due to having purchased two roller sets and two belts (explained below). The<br>stainless steel dome and roller/belt set will be your most expensive items.</p><p>My first build was a failure.<br>I used the Grainger rollers on my first attempt. The belt would find its way<br>off and get jammed. It would work for a few seconds and then come off. No<br>matter how I tried, I could not keep the belt in position due to the flat<br>rollers. This was in large part due to the fact that the rollers do not spin<br>in a perfect circle on my home build. This was an expensive lesson &ndash; the roller<br>set wasn&rsquo;t cheap! </p><p>I was able to find a<br>matching set of rollers on a website called Sci-Supply for @ $40 (Part#<br>RR-LC2910C). I also purchased their belt (RB-LC2910-HC). The roller set included<br>the upper collector mounting bracket. I was able to find metric screws for the<br>upper bracket at Home Depot, which allowed me to move the upper roller up and<br>down to correct the belt movement. </p><p>I found a stainless dome<br>on a site called Aliexpress. It took me a while to find them because the<br>website search is terrible. I had to search for &ldquo;stainless steel hollow ball&rdquo;.<br>I purchased an 8&rdquo; / 20cm for @$24 with free shipping. It was a lower grade of<br>stainless and delivered right from China. </p><p>Keep in mind that the size<br>of the dome correlates to total generator output. The dome acts as the<br>capacitor and accumulates the charges. The larger the surface area, the more<br>charges can accumulate. I would estimate that by reducing the size of my dome,<br>my generator output is only about 250KV. </p><p>Another tip&hellip; Rough up the<br>rollers with a bit of sand paper prior to placing them in service. I used<br>talcum powder on the belt as a drying agent too. Hope this information helps<br>any potential builders.</p>
<p>it is safe to touch?</p>
<p>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.</p>
<p>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.</p>
<p>thanks for the input!</p>
<p>I should add that I want to constantly discharge the electricity while the machine is on.</p>
<p>is it possible to use plastic as the collector and then place metal on top?</p>
<p>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.</p>
<p>Any belt material will work! i used a wide rubber band</p>
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...<br>A faster reply will be appreciable
<p>How large is your metal ball?</p>
<p>He said it was a 12 Inch Steel gazing ball in one of the pictures</p>
<p>Can I use this motor http://www.ebay.in/itm/High-Torque-DC-12V-Multipurpose-DIY-Brushed-Motor-/191215763246?pt=IN_Toys_Games_School_Stuff&amp;hash=item2c8558ff2e&amp;_uhb=1 ?</p>
<p>Would foam PVC sheet work well or would that be too weak? How do you recommend I attach the PVC sheet &quot;box&quot; (with the bottom roller in it) to the base? Screws/glue/both?</p><p>Thanks</p>
<p>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.</p>
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? <br> <br>
<p>sorry for the delayed response, As mentioned in this instructable vinyl belts work best with my design.</p><p>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.</p><p>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</p>
<p>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.</p><p>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?</p><p>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. </p>
I found some great rollers at Walmart. They were nylon bed casters, about 2 1/4 inch wide, and fatter in the middle to keep the belt centered. I used on as is and wrapped another in Teflon tape. I drilled the rivet out of the caster and just used the roller on my own axle (it needs a 1/4 inch axle). Everything I could find about this product from other web sites says the roller is nylon, though you can't get that info from Walmart. <br> <br>Here's the Walmart product link: <br> http://www.walmart.com/ip/Soft-Touch-Bed-Caster/16782119 <br>
i am unable to find teflon roller an nylon rollers in my area now what can i use?can i wrap a bed roller in teflon tape to use it instead of teflon roller?THANKS IN ADVANCE
I just got done building mine and it works great! Thanks for the instructable.
Here's a picture
and another
GREAT JOB! looks awesome!
I have one question: How did you get close to 900kv with this small 12&quot; sphere? It is just impossible, for instance the absolute maximum theoretical voltage you could get out of a 12&quot; sphere is V = 3x106r= maximum of 450kv but in reality it would fall below 300kv.... How come you got huge sparks, you see?
Is stainless steel positive or negatively charged or neutral and would it work for the gazing ball??
does anybody know how to make a discharge wand?
Hi, thank you for a marvellous instructable! I am planning to build a machine based on these instructions. I have a question: in your instructions, there is a platform implemented at the top of the tube to mount the roller and charge comb on. But my friend and I are thinking about mounting the top roller on an axle that simply rests in cutouts in the side of the tube itself. Of course, it would protrude a little meaning that the hole in the sphere would need to be enlarged a bit - at least where the axle pokes out. But can you think of any fundamental reason why it wouldn't work? The whole thing would be within the radius covered by the copper ring that the sphere rests on. Thanks so much for your opinion!
I have a doubt, if this Van De Graff generator can produce 900,000 volts, then why can't we use it for electric supply for a house? or other purposes?
it does not make energy, it feeds of a battery or wall power, and converts that into a high ponental static electricity. <br> <br>even though the voltage is high, the current is super low. try to make a light bulb light up or a motor spin. this type of high voltage/low current will just shoot straight though any low-impedance load. (coils of wire in a motor, or a filament in a lightbulb).

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 cheaply Restoration - New life out of a busted 1930's radio  conversion Ultimate Computer Microphone Conversion 
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