Step 10: SPARKS!!!

My marx generator works very well, it generates loud, bright, sparks that are up to 2 inches long (5 cm)! That is about 50Kv (50,000v) coming out of that thing!

Well I hope yours works when you build one! :)
And can you post a picture of your marx generator if you build one?

To let you know, all of the photos that has a few sparks in a single picture are 4 second long exposures.

I hope you enjoyed this instructable, and enjoy the photos down below! And the video I just uploaded!

Comment if you need help, have question, or anything! I like comments!

(UPDATE) I just uploaded a video of my marx generator working, sorry for the poor quality with no sounds, I had used my crappy camera. :(

<p>all of the spark gaps on mine are firing, but there is nothing on the big spark end. what is the problem?</p>
<p>in electricity / electronics world..my teacher ..an old guy..once showed us how in the old days he would apply the one hand rule in all high voltage situations..(120 volts and higher AC)..he said he always put one hand in his picket while he wet the tips of his fingers and touched the outlet he was checking..the theory is that electrical current always flows to the shortest path. He demonstrated it and yes go a minor shock through his hand as the current travelled in one finger and out the other of the same hand..while his other hand remained in his pocket..i dont advise doing this with alternating currents..since even a minor voltage can upset your hearts biorythyms and cause it to become irregular..which is bad..you then have to go to the hospital so they can refibulate your heart..always apply common sense when using electricity and stand on a rubber mat..wear insulated electrical rated gloves and test circuits to see if they are &quot;live&quot; ..with a volt meter. Remember..volts do the work when current flows and resistance is present ..high amperage is bad for the body..but pulsed current even at low levels can stop your heart..play safe my friends!</p>
<p>If you are using a 7kV power supply how can you use 4 kV capacitors? Or are you just taking the risk of blowing them out?</p>
<p>Why do you need resistors? Wouldn't they just increase the time needed to charge the capacitors?</p>
<p>They do increase the time, but if they weren't there the circuit would short itself out when it discharges. One possible way to overcome that though would be to use high-power diodes instead of resistors, but they are a lot more expensive than resistors.</p>
<p>Could someone please tell me, what are the red and black wires connected to?</p>
<p>may i use full wave Cockroft-Walton generator for this...?</p>
<p>some body tell me perfect technique .......to make HV impulse generator of 100KV ...</p>
I was thinking about using two aa batteries which feeds into a fly swatter circuit board creating an output of 3.5kv (from one source). Would I still be able to use the same capacitors and resistors as this example and would I get a fair arc out of it? Thanks
<p>I didn't know the resistor value at the moment of buying, so I bought 33 ohm ones. what could go wrong if I put them?</p>
<p>can we use electrolytic caps??</p>
you can, but you will need some diodes as well to prevent them form discharging into the power supply. I believe this is called a cockroft and watson cascade but please don't quote me
<p>Is it possible to use a flyback driver (with a lower mosfet, say 60 v) to power the main one, because i have 3 flyback transformers an 0 capacitor banks for the power supply.</p>
<p>if the values of the capacitor (pf, voltage) are changed, would you also need different resistors? I can't seem to find 1000pf 4Kv capacitors, and 6kv caps seem much more common, so could I use those instead without changing the resistors? </p>
<p>Hello. I plan on building your design, all the links are good except for the caps, which seem to have been discontinued. I found a few alternative capacitors so that's not too much of an issue. If I plan on using your power supply design and everything too, can I scale up the generator simply by adding more stages? Or would I also have to adjust the other component values? and how much would adding additional stages impact the spark length?</p>
<br> Can this really harm you? The idea that a special number of voltage or amperage will automatically kill you is not accurate.<br> <br> Scuffing your feet across a carpet and touching something metal also produces thousands of volts and large currents, but it obviously doesn't harm you, because the capacitance is small and the spark is very short-lived. Yes, it's high voltage and high current, but the duration is less than a microsecond.<br> <br> I'm sure it hurts, but I'm skeptical that it would actually cause any harm. How long are the sparks in cm?<br> <br> 10x 1 nF capacitors charged to 7 kV store a total of 250 mJ. Scuffing your feet across the floor stores maybe 60 mJ max by comparison.<br> <br> &quot;The effects of electrical current passing through the human body are covered at length in the International Electro Technical Commission document IEC 479-2:1987. In this document it indicates that a transient or capacitive discharge, as is the case with static electricity, requires energy in excess of 5 Joules (5000mJ) to produce a direct serious risk to health.&quot;<br>
Okay, you made a very good point, can my marx generator kill? Very good question, personally, I will NOT touch it even if its safe. I never really understand Joules as they are many other units of energy related to it. Each capacitor (1nF) holds approximately 4kV to 5kV, how do I convert that to joules to see if its safe(ish) or not?
<p>the formula for joules is volts squared times capacitance</p>
<p>no, it's 1/2&sdot;C&sdot;V&sup2;</p>
I already did that for you, but I was using 7 kV. :) The <a href="http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/Hbase/electric/capeng.html" rel="nofollow">energy stored in a capacitor</a> is given by 1/2 * C * V^2, so:<br> <br> 1/2 * 1 nF * (5 kV)^2 = 0.0125 J = 12.5 mJ<br> <br> Wolfram Alpha can do a lot of work for you:<br> <br> <a href="http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=capacitor+stored+energy+5+kV+1+nF " rel="nofollow">capacitor stored energy 5 kV 1 nF</a><br> <br> Multiply by 10 and you have 125 mJ total, which is 1/40th of the energy that document says is the minimum that will hurt you.<br> <br> I'm not claiming that this thing definitively can't hurt you. I'm just skeptical that it's dangerous. Even if it's not harmful to health, the shock might still hurt like hell. :D<br>
Its not all about just the Amp or voltage its how it travels through your body if it goes in through your hand and out your elbow (just saying this way you'll see why in a min) all it will do is is give you some bad burns no matter how high either the Amp or Voltage is but if the same current goes in one hand up your arm across your chest and down your other arm it will travel through your heart which will stop it resulting in death. It also doesn't have to affect your heart to kill you it can go through your diafram(sorry cant spell) and your lungs stop working which will cause you to suffocate, if your an electrical engineer you should have learned that in first year I know in my first year we weren't allowed to touch any of the equipment until we did a report on the dangers of electricity and the rick of burns in the lab to show that we didn't just know about the dangers but fully understood them.
For another example, I'm looking at a safety test certification document for EN 60065, and they limit the maximum energy of a discharge to 350 mJ.
The total voltage could be 70 kV, which means the arcs should be able to jump <a href="http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=70+kV+%2F+%2830+kV%2Fcm%29" rel="nofollow">about 1 inch</a>. Does that seem right?
<p>who says this procedure u jus mentioned (Scuffing your feet across a carpet</p><p> and ...) produces high currents???<br>currents than around mA value will shock u and more than 50 mA will kill u jus before u feel it !!!</p><p>and the tolerated amperage of ur body during the time is obtained from some equations expressed like the form: (i^2 * t) = cte (around 0.156 i think) so this fact that u mentioned doesn't hurt u cuz the values are lower than this equation. and ti is not related to the capacitance. there is a kind of a surge formation when u touch the metal with ur charged body. and the amount of current depends on the discharge resistance before and after its formation. which varies during the discharge time. so it doesnt hurt u cuz the values of volts and amperes are too low. and the idea that &quot;a special number of voltage or amperage will automatically kill you&quot; IS definitely ACCURATE. </p>
<p>&quot;who says ... Scuffing your feet across a carpet ... produces high currents???&quot;</p><p>People who have measured it. See <a href="http://www.wolfsonelectrostatics.com/04_news/index.html#current-and-time" rel="nofollow">http://www.wolfsonelectrostatics.com/04_news/index.html#current-and-time</a></p><p>&quot;so it doesnt hurt u cuz the values of volts and amperes are too low.&quot;</p><p>No, the reason it doesn't hurt you is because the *energy* is too low.</p><p>'the idea that &quot;a special number of voltage or amperage will automatically kill you&quot; IS definitely ACCURATE.'</p><p>No it's not.</p>
I saw on mythbusters that only a few milliamps across the heart will kill you.
But how much voltage do you have to apply to your body to get milliamps across the heart? And how long of a duration does the current need to last to kill you? if it's 10 milliamps for 1 nanosecond I doubt it will do anything.
WOW!! U sure R a expert on electricity!! where u got all those facts from??
I'm an electrical engineer. :)
<p>where is the schematic for the inverter you used</p>
Thanks for your instructable! Since I'm still learning, I'm not up on all of the abbreviations. Can you please tell me what 'RB' stands for? Certainly not Rhythm &amp; Blues....&quot;humor&quot; <br>Thanks!
<p>Rb = Ballasting Resistor</p>
<p>Hi, i've made a 5 stage Marx Generator, with initial voltage &plusmn;10 kV (hard to tell i can't measure it reliably, but it's a CRT monitor flyback).</p><p>After some experiments, all the resistors between stages blew out (my ohmmeter shows &quot;OL&quot;). In your instructable, you used 1M 500V 2W carbon resistors. I've choosen 1.8M 1W 3.5 kV metal film resistors. I'm not sure how this happened ;)</p><p>My ballast resistors (rated 10kV) are still ok.</p><p>Any idea, guys ? I don't blame anybody but myself ;) but some opinions are welcome.</p>
<p>SNAP... YAY sparks! :D</p>
<p>I made it,but i have only 2cm long spark why????</p>
<p>What sort of amperage and voltage do you put into it? I was hoping maybe an electric flyswatter would be enough for a really small one.</p>
I love this very cool and simple to build
<p>Could this be connected to a inductor coil and be used as an EMP generator?</p>
<p>can i use a ceramic capacitor rated with 2000v inside 4000v because i cant find 4000v ceramic capacitor</p>
cool man!
Hey I just built this and the power supply but I have a question before I put any power to it how do I fully discharge it after words so it is safe to touch again, I know with a normal capacitor you just short out the ends is it the same with this??? and is there any way I can add a dummy resistor into it somewhere that will just drain the power away itself when the power is turned off. <br>Thanks in advance Pacina
I have a question if you don't mind, what guaranties that the spark gap won't fire before the capacitor is fully charged, if i'm charging to 8 kv isn't it possible that the spark gap fire at 5kv for example?
You just have to adjust the gaps until you get the maximum spark.
very helpful, very clear,Thanks a lot !
what if i made one of these with two 330 micro farad 200 volt Reservoir capacitors from a power supply
just for fun and because i could, do you think a MOT would work to power it? figured id just ask if you thought it would be safe. (don't want to blow up a bunch of capacitors, not because i'm cheap, just because it stinks)
Guys, let me offer a little advice in the hopes of preventing unnecessary injury. I was an electronics technician in the military and maintained high power communications and radar equipment. I have received two serious shocks, both causing heart fibrillation and requiring emergency medical care. One was from a -350 VDC bias supply on a CRT radar display and the other from a +1800 VDC plate supply. Both were my fault and were caused by a failure to follow safety procedures which I was well aware of. (Okay, I acted stupidly.) <br> <br>The worst case electric shock scenario involves a circuit completed through your heart via direct contact with blood in vessels. An unlikely event which would require piercing the skin at two points. However, the scenario shows how sensitive your heart is to electrical disruptions; a 1 milliamp DC current flow can initiate fibrillation and 10ma can be fatal (arrest). On a more realistic scale, I can personally vouch that a 350 volt potential across dry skin can send you to the hospital with a team of very worried paramedics. Of course, the current level is important, but if you can't compute the possible current flow, assume it is dangerous. <br> <br>My advice: Reduce the chance of a complete circuit through your heart. How? Observe the &quot;One Hand&quot; rule. When working around an energized (or recently energized circuit with capacitors), put one hand in your pocket. The current path from fingertip to fingertip is across and through your chest. High voltage will find a way to conduct, regardless, and the One Hand rule is NOT a cure-all, but it is a good start for safety. <br> <br>If you are not familiar with basic electrical theory and safety precautions, if you don't know WHY a circuit is either safe or dangerous, don't play with it. Period. I have a machine at home that will make almost as impressive a spark as this one and is electrostatic in nature (microamp currents from a PVC charging rod and a few water bottle/foil Leyden jars.) It HURTS, but I don't think it would kill me. <br> <br>If in doubt, just remember that TASER guns run off batteries and people have experienced fibrillation and heart attacks from being tased. And TASERs are designed NOT to kill. <br> <br>Sorry for the WOT, but it seems important to me. <br>

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