Instructables
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.

 
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Step 1: The dangers you must know...

Picture of 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. :-)
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You can modifiy a atx computer power supply to give you around 20a, its realy easy
Plasmana (author)  htc1094 years ago
You can use a car battery...

Power supplies are not recommended as they have 'noise' in the lines, it will interfere the performance of the plasma speaker.
 i have a power supply which is 30v would a capacitor to filter the noise?
3 12 volt batteries in series would give you 36 vdc with less ripple. if you have a o-scope you could always take a look at the ripple with the power supply you currently have.

If you use a oscilloscope's AC coupling setting it will reject the supply's DC and reveal any ripple
a car battery will work
havent tried it yet, nor have i built this plasma speaker, but i do know car alarm transmitter batteries are rated at 12V

 http://www.radioshack.com/product/index.jsp?productId=3538773&clickid=prod_cs

radioshack isnt the best place for components but batteries should be fine lol
arianen3 years ago
I've been looking around at all of the websites mentioned in the comments, but still haven't been able to track down the 22K potentiometer. If someone could give me a link to where I can buy it, that would be great!
A 25K potentiometer will work fine.
http://uk.farnell.com/jsp/search/browse.jsp?N=731+2031+202462&Ntk=gensearch&Ntt=22K+potentiometer&Ntx=mode+matchallpartial


and

http://uk.farnell.com/jsp/search/browse.jsp?N=731+2031+204275&Ntk=gensearch&Ntt=22K+potentiometer&Ntx=mode+matchallpartial

might be what your looking for
Not to be rude or anything, but next to the audio jack on the Schematic where the capaciter is, the Schematic says 47uf 250v but i am finding it verry hard to get one.

I am wondering if you mean 0.47uf or 0.047uf at 250v becuse i am bulding one this weekend (4 days away).

I was also wondering if i could use the cpu cooler from a dell poweredge 1850 server.

Thankyou verry much.
nof-z2 years ago
the last video is private. i cant watch. does the radio shack basic electronics kit you used in the prototype have all of the pieces in it?
I found a great website to buy flyback transformers,
http://www.collectiblearcadejukeboxespinball.com/flyback-transformer/
i am probably not going to build that one, i like stuff like that but someone might accedently touch it and die
mymridon2 years ago
We just finished our basement and we have a home theater room but my dad is too busy to find/make/purchase/etc a sound system so I was thinking of easy/fun/cheap/cool solutions. I was thinking of making five of these and maybe figure a way to make a sub out of one and make transparent boxes for them for cool effect.

Any ideas to contribute or counsel for/against this idea? Thanks
sciencetor22 years ago
hey, i was reading your circuitry diagram, and i'm sorry in advance for being picky, its kind of in my nature, but in your illustration of the flyback transformer you used the symbol for resistance, rather than inductance, and a trasformer uses inductance. but over all this is a very cool project, I would like to build something like this in Tesla Coil form, but it appears to be much more difficult(or impossible, i'm not entirely sure how that degree of fine tuned modulation would work in a Tesla Coil) but currently i think ill settle for a regular musical Tesla Coil due to the complexity of this project.
how much voltage are you giving to the flyback coil?(12-40)
im afraid not to burn the mosfet (irf 640)
i created a profiole to ask you, or anyone, will this work with a Tesla coil, all i want to do is make a tesla coil guitar amp and this would be a major step for me getting there. and the more people help me the sooner i may be able to make a page on how to do that. so please help me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
http://www.instructables.com/id/Audio-Modulated-Solid-State-Tesla-Coil/
A tesla coil works much differently than the device here. Not to mention running on much MUCH higher frequencies. If you could do it, it would be highly unlikely that the sound quality would be any good, and if you got anything wrong, it could short back into the guitar.

However, a higher voltage version of this device is not impossible, so you could try that (within reason. you're not going to get a considerable volume out of anything you can run off 120v wall source.).
Maybe someone mentioned this elsewhere, but it's probably a good idea to optically couple your input (like with a really long fiber optic cable) if you're dealing with high frequency at even marginally high voltages. High frequency AC can see a fully conductive path even across insulators in some cases.
N3v3rm0r34 years ago
ok, i've built the s[eaker(school project) and.... that bloody mosfet blew up when i was presenting it to the classroom :(. thankfully, i had another one and just replaced it, i haven't soldered the mosfet to any cirquit board, it was beeing held in place by crocodile clips. another thing: would i fix the problem by putting a computer fan on the mosfet??
Just buy a bigger fet, there cheaps as chips on ebay
Plasmana (author)  N3v3rm0r34 years ago
I had MOSFET's blowing up in my face before, not fun... Using a fan may or may not fix the problem, but it will certantly allow you to run yout plasma speaker for longer.
Seems I'll just have to try(thankfully I have a dozen of those MOSFETs xD)
try putting a big heatsink. Its definitively worth it.
I'll put it inside of my computer and I want to be VERY sure that it'll not blow up(or at least it'll not take anything with it...) Haven't yet tried a fan, the heatsink works, but better keep your fingers away......
This is my first soldering project fyi, but just a funny bit of information, when I hooked my circut up to a speaker(at a lower voltage) it was not playing MY music but intead it was picking up AM1100 radio, what could cause this? Its kinda funny XD
Make two of these for stereo sound XD
I have a question: Could you use a plasma speaker for the delivery method of a RIFE machine? (If you dont know what a rife machine is google it, it can cure many diseases including lyme)
So from what I understand as to how this works is that the high frequency (inaudible) allowes the voltage to be driven accross the coils on the transformer at a much more efficient rate, thus allowing the lower (audible) frequencies to be transfered at the much more efficient rate, am i right? Also I have a question, is there a way to modify a normal self-powered computer speaker so that it produces these high frequencies? This is for my science fair which is on electro -magnets.
GASSYPOOTS2 years ago
saftey box maybe?
widownt2 years ago
Okay, so i've got an plasma globe and i wanna use this for a plasma speaker, i know it can produce the sparks but i;ve got a problem, what should I change to get sound out of this? Please help, help is appreciated a lot!
geek101023 years ago
could i use a IRF510A
-max- geek101022 years ago
i would get something better, but it will work.
No, it is too weak for this.
-max- geek101023 years ago
what are the specs on it?
makrohard2 years ago
One more successful project. Turning the 22k poti to max instantly kills the mosfet. I can't run the circuit longer than a minute without overheating the mosfet.

Dutch_Razor2 years ago
Looks like a very nice idea,the sound is good too!

Wouldn't it be much easier to drive the MOSFET with a micro controller though? You'd pretty much only need 2 components (aside from the flyback stuff).
jrr90422 years ago
I don't know if anyone is still concerned by the burning out MOSFET problem, but you might just try using a silicon controlled rectifier. They allow for much higher currents and have a much higher break-down voltage than the IRF540 that is suggested here.
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