Are you tired of those old black speakers that only just make sounds? Maybe sound reactive lights are just not enough to impress you? How about a Plasma Speaker?

A plasma speaker is a device that generates an high voltage electrical arc that makes purple light and music! Without any speakers or any moving parts! Sounds too good to be true? Well, you're wrong, the high voltage arc really does 'sing' by vibrating in the air. (Of course, you will need to give the device musical audio for it to work.) And just leave this instructable if you still don't believe me...

And this is something I always wanted to build - I have been dreaming to build one for about 6 months, until Kiteman has greatly boosted my encouragement to build one. (Thanks Kiteman!)

The video of my plasma speaker - early prototype.

Step 1: The Dangers You Must Know...

A plasma speaker is no toy...

Health Hazard
Unlike the ordinary speakers, the plasma speaker are dangerous high voltage device, do NOT attempt to build this device unless you know what you are doing... And do NOT even attempt to build one if you have heart problems or weak heart or wearing a pacemaker, because one little shock from this thing can put you out...
I am not responsible for any injuries or deaths caused by this device.

Why should you know all of this? it is because you can ONLY live once, and no more...
If you don't think that you shouldn't build one, just watch movies of it working instead, much better than risking your life to build and operate one.
If you think you are okay to build one without killing your self, then move on to the next step.

Hazard to Electronics
Since the plasma speaker generates high voltages, there is a chance there will be high voltage spikes on the low voltage side of the device, which can get onto the audio line and damage (or destroy) the player. They are some safety features to prevent the spikes damaging the player, but they can fail... So I am not responsible if your player gets damaged, and use cheap players like CD players, if you're rich, you can use expensive players if you want. :-)
Sweet speaker! Just read another Ible where the builder used 2 MOSFETs wired parallel to keep the temp down- his was operating at 70c, with heat sink and a pc fan- thought that might be helpful for your heat issue.
<p>Hi, great Project. can you tell me the name of that kind of electronics experiments box ? </p>
That's a Radio Shack Electronics Learning Lab. But there's all sorts of free plans out there for simpler homemade versions- google 'breadboard tester' or 'DIY breadboard station',maybe just 'DIY breadboard'
<p>Can I use a 33nF 400v capacitor instead of the 47nF capacitor? If not, i) is there any way I can find this component in broken electronics, and ii) is there any substitute capacitor with a different capacitance for the 47nF capacitor?<br>I might daisy-chain 2 or 3 capacitors to get the desired capacitance with the specific voltage. I know this question sounds silly.</p>
<p>The last video doessays: &quot;this video is private&quot;</p>
<p>Same here. :(</p>
<p>Decades ago I seen something like this.</p><p>An arc moving to music. At the time it was high science and cutting edge stuff. I am glad it is within reach of the average person now as it would make a great experiment for the cautious and intelligent :)</p><p>Keep up the good work :)</p>
<p>I just love this and Tesla would be soooooo pleased.</p><p>Others may have mentioned this (the comments are many &lt;sigh&gt;), but this is also known as a 'singing arc'--how cool is that?</p><p><a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Duddell">William Du Bois Duddell</a> was the <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electrical_engineering">Electrical Engineer</a> that first conceived the idea in the early 1900's. He was quite ingenious and would have loved <em>Instructables</em>. </p>
Just a little side note: the Smiths were a great music to test it out with!
<p>I gotta disagree...Morrisey's got a four, maybe five major-scale note-fixation, which I find grating at best, so probably not the best choice for a demo track. </p>
That is quite possibly one of the coolest things I've ever seen.
This is so cool!! How loud does it get? And what is the sound quality and frequency response like?
<p>Pretty lights, but don't look at them - plasma generates enough ultraviolet light to burn your retinas out...</p>
<p>Good point but what if the arc is enclosed in a traditional speaker box after removing the speakers themselves. Yes the fabric speaker grills will need to be retained. Perhaps doubled up too to prevent leakage of UV.</p>
My little knowledge of plasma speakers is they are higher frequency and might disappear in a box - think of them as tweeters (?)<br><br>Given that, maybe UV blocking glass? Flat black V with a plate in front, like <br><br> front<br> _______<br>\ /<br> \ X /<br> \ /<br><br>X is the plasma, the rest a sort of open, vertical horn.....<br><br>You've got a beautiful display potential, maybe make the front panel out of the UV glass? That'd probably be a lot cheaper and easier to find, too.<br><br>You'd want a fairly full spectrum blocker - I expect these things spray a LOT of RF, but don't know that for sure. Any AM radio will help you find that out.<br><br>I'll bet that plasma is hot enough to ignite most flammable material, so unless you can experiment, I'd avoid cloth!<br><br>Best of luck with this - I hope it works out for you!
<p>Agree with all that Kev13. Like the idea of the UV glass for the visual effects too. The RF spectrum could be contained in a Faraday Cage? Close woven 'chicken netting' stuff? lined on the inside like the acoustic wadding. Or metallised paint. Thanks for the vertical horn Idea Kev13.</p>
<p>why do you use 5 turns of wire instead of the primary pins on the transformer base ?</p>
<p>Nice project! I think one reason your MOSFET is running hot, and that some people might not be able to make this work is that there is nothing to actively drive the gate low during the off phase of the PWM so it takes a while to switch off, which makes it dissipate a bunch of power as the MOSFET (source to drain) resistance is between on and off.</p><p>You should be able fix this by using the second transistor (Q2) of the TL494 to pull the MOSFET gate low during the off part of the PWM. To do that, you'll need to connect C2 (pin 11) to the resistor that drives the MOSFET gate, and E2 (pin 10) to ground.</p><p>Also, be sure to wire OUTPUT CTL (Vi, pin 13) to Vref (+12v) so that you enable push-pull operation of the TL494's two transistors, Q1 and Q2. Otherwise they'll be exactly in sync (on at the same time) instead of exactly out of phase (one on when the other is off), and the circuit mods I suggest above would burn out your TL494!</p><p>To be sure, I'd like to put an oscilloscope on the gate of the MOSFET to see how quickly it turns off, but it sure looks like it would turn off slowly and run hot as-is.</p>
<p>Excellent stuff. Exactly the sort of project I follow Instructables for. Different, very interesting and do-able.</p>
<p>Pretty boring.....</p>
<p>Ok. So I tried to watch the last video but it is private...??? Can you make it public?</p><p>Cool project otherwise!</p>
<p>Cool! but what's the use of the diode in parallel with the mosfet? </p>
<p>in my opinion it isnt really needed as mosfets have diodes built into them anyways </p>
<p>Yes but reduces heating by externalizing that function, and somewhat better/faster at it. </p>
To help absorb emf puose in the oposite polarity, to protect misfet<br>
<p>Why is the last video that you posted &quot;private&quot;?</p>
<p>Cool project! Do you think we may be able to get more musical &quot;action&quot; out of the arc if we added a partial enclosure? - Enough to slow the escape of ionized air, but not block the audio? </p>
Heat = wasted energy. I would guess that a mosfet driver and a shottky diode to the power rail instead of ground would be an improvement. <br>Also the frequency should be matched against the inductance of the transformer and the duty cycle range of the pwm to the desired maximum/minimum current.<br><br>For those of you choosing a mosfet, the wattage of the fet is NOT the maximum power it can give to the load but the peak heat dissipation(wasted energy in the fet).<br>Example from the comments, irf3205 110A x 55V = 6050W max switched load.<br><br>In this design, poor switching of the mosfet may be the limiting factor for the current since there is no driver for the mosfet. But without matching the duty cycle to the current draw, it might burn up the psu, leads or the transformer! xD
Interesting stuff. I think I'm going to build one of these sometime soon. Looks like all kinds of fun to play around with.
<p>Is it possible to give specks for Xformer</p>
<p>Wow......................</p><p>where can I buy one ?</p><p>compliments</p><p>RAM51</p>
<p>Since the music is being modulated on top of an ultra-sound frequency be aware that any nearby dogs (and other animals) will be hearing a constant &quot;beeeeeep&quot; while you listen to music. Similar to what we hear at 0:52 in the video at the top but constantly playing over the music.</p>
<p>you'll get MUCH better sound if you introduce a DC bias in your secondary. You want everything offset so it doesn't reverse polarity.</p><p>Introducing ions into the arc will also help, as will using two sharp electrodes.</p>
<p>I can't watch the video ;(</p>
<p>Hey, how do you think we could go about the build if we replace some of these components with a CFL driver? Is it feasible? </p>
<p>Just curious, is it possible to modify an electric arc lighter to do this same thing?</p>
Hi, i have a problem. I also built this speaker, but when i start it, my mosfet instantly dies :) i tried to take a pulldown resistor, but it also doesnt work. Could anybody help me?
Dear Plasmana, <br> <br>I used my plasmaspeaker for over a year now but I have a problem. <br>I always used a laptop power supply (90 watt) for the flyback transformer and last week I bought a heavyduty power supply (50 volt/16 amps, 800VA) and now I killed my MOSFET (IRF640). My question is; wich MOSFET can I use for pulling a few hundred watts without killing it. The max the IRF640 took was 26 volts and about 3.80 amps (at 30 volt and 4 amps it blew up). I had a 2SK1082 MOSFET laying arround but that doesnt work very well. I got a very little arc from that one. <br> <br>Please help me, I really need a MOSFET that can handle much more current/voltage and still give a nice big fat arc from the flyback. <br> <br>Greetings, <br>Jochem
<p>irf3205 it has 110 amps of current handling and 55 volts</p>
I gave eight of those, they can make 7&quot; arcs when used in this circuit at 40 volts, 30 amps
<p>there made for car batteries</p>
It's not really about the MOSFET handling current but rather the switching. Get some IRF540's on Ebay for about a dollar a piece and they're 100V, 30A.
Thnx for the reply,<br> I got 2 irfb20n50k's now. 500V 20A and I guess they can handle 280 watt at 25 degrees celcius. Atleast that is what I read in the datasheet. :) This MOSFET works great at 35V and 3.4A but I don't want to blow it up, haha. Got a 50V 16A (800VA) toroidal transformer attached to it with a variac and a 100V 22000uF capacitor.<br> This MOSFET don't get that hot with a CPU cooler attached to it and I got a pretty long and loud arc. But I guess the MOSFET can handle even more! :)<br> Here is a movie of my power supply and plasma speaker (only on 25V) :p<br> <div> <iframe frameborder="0" height="360" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/XtfuMuHwWTk?rel=0" width="640"></iframe></div>
Sweet setup and spark! =)<br>When ever I bother myself to make another of these I think I'm gonna add a 148watt Peltier cooler. Might help those poor MOSFETS from dying? =)
good idea about using a cooler but one side of them gets really hot so your just moving the problem. im probably wrong. will the cool side being heated by the MOSFET cancel out the other side from overheating.
<div> Hey Crimson-Deity,<br> Here is just another video of my plasma speaker at 34 volt this time.<br> The arc is now longer and louder! :)<br> I will probably crank the voltage up some more in the near future, but I really hope I don't pop the MOSFET. :P<iframe frameborder="0" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/YvvjjsOXlFk" width="560"></iframe></div>
Thnx, I still need to build the variac, bridge rectifier and capacitor in a box :) <br>And maybe I will build a volt and amp meter in it aswell. Looks alot better then a separate volt and amp meter if u ask me! :) <br>I bought this stuff a week ago so that's why it lays all over the floor. :p <br> <br>About dying of MOSFETS, I guess if u stay in the voltage, amps and watt range of what they can handle, u will be fine and keep them cool as possible. :)
how much current requirement of FB transformer...?
how much current requirement of FB transformer?
Hi, 47nf capacitor or 47uf capacitor?

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