This site gives information for building an electrostatic motor from 2 plastic soda (pop) bottles. To see a video of the motor in operation, click on the file "cap0001.mpg" below. Be patient - it's a big file (17 MB). For additional information on the procedure, click here.

Step 1: Base

Picture of Base
Drill a hole in the wood just large enough for a bamboo skewer. The hole must be drilled as vertically as possible. Insert the skewer in the wooden base. The skewer serves as the axle for the rotor to spin on.
john5002 years ago
i have a question, one part of copper wire goes connected to earth and to a static electricity fuel or to a baloon, the other part of wire... goes where?
seccheus6 years ago
Will this design work in an linear format? If so can you build and example? I am working on a way to recharge an electrical vehicle. We should get together and do some experiments. Dante' 910-977-3607
John Chase (author)  seccheus6 years ago
Not sure what you mean by "linear format". The original design used 3 bottles side-by-side - linear I guess. See link to William Beatty on my website. http://members.shaw.ca/jachase/
Also will the motor work if I use a battery or does it have to be a VDG- high voltage- direct current?
John Chase (author)  seccheus4 years ago
Has to be a source that generates static charge through electrons or ions.
Will the motor work as a generator if I turn the center peace?
John Chase (author)  seccheus4 years ago
naitik0074 years ago
about how much power or electricity can it produce???
John Chase (author)  naitik0074 years ago
It doesn't produce electricity. It spins as a result of static electricity. As far as power is concerned, it's not a strong "motor". Pretty low torque I would imagine. Mostly for fun to demonstrate another way to make an electric motor.
toddjwood4 years ago
I loved this instructable! it was the basis for my motor (see pic below).
I even added neon lights between adjacent plates and it works and lights up while turning! Thanks for the article!!
John Chase (author)  toddjwood4 years ago
Woah baby - that thing is really spinning!!! What did you use for the static charge? Or do you have some other electrical source? And you said "neon" lights? as in gas-discharge neon? Are they also powered by the static discharge? I bow down to the master!
I have used my Van De Graaff and I also have a 7.5KV negative Ion generator that I use as a HV power source. The neon light were from panel indicators and are slightly smaller than a tic tac. Here is a couple of pics for reference.

Thanks for the inspiration!!
ghij4 years ago
jayski205 years ago
im just a little bit confused about our project.... how to make an electrostatic generator out of a ceiling fan motor?.... and can i have the materials used in making such thing...pls... and is an aluminum foil a good conductor of electric charge?....
John Chase (author)  jayski205 years ago
My project was an electrostatic motor. I don't know how to make an electrostatic generator, but there are lots of sites on the internet. Aluminum foil is a good enough conductor for hobby purposes. Not as good as copper or other metals.
ftmatif6 years ago
i have this sience thing comping up... its kinda like the intel sience olmpiad only on a national level, so i need a project that is not only easy to make, but impressive.it can either be physics, biology or chemistry..... i need help and quick.....
John Chase (author)  ftmatif5 years ago
You want easy and quick and impressive. Tall order - not sure I can help. Building an electrostatically powered machine would be impressive, but not easy. But just the motor part might do.
 how does the electrostatic charge cuse the rotor bottle to spin

John Chase (author)  divyanshu0075 years ago
The foil on the inside bottle gets the same charge as the foil on the outside bottle, so they repel each other and the inside bottle spins to "get away".  Then the charge gets dumped off the inside foil, so now it attracts the outside foil, and it spins back again.  The cycle repeats over and over - pick up charge, repel, spin away, dump charge, attract, spin back, etc.
yeah i kinda figured out that bit myself :) thanks anyway
bizz6 years ago
what can I use this for? x
John Chase (author)  bizz6 years ago
Nothing, really. Not very powerful compared to similar sized electric motor. Impress girls and be more popular?
dedub6 years ago
The tabs are a little confusing to me. Are there only two? One on each side or four, one on each end? Anyway, great project. I just finished my own VDG and I plan on doing something similar.
John Chase (author)  dedub6 years ago
Yes, just two tabs. One tab dumps charge from the stator plate (the one connected to the generator) onto a rotor plate, while the second tab bleeds the charge from the rotor plate onto the other stator plate (connected to ground)
this looks cool even though i have no idea what you are saying coould i kill someone with this???
you cant kil someone with a vande graff it olny produces 200,000 volts and 5 microamps
grg cris11337 years ago
Five Microamps are about four more than are necessarty to kill a full grown man. Sufficientl voltage to pass the amperage is lethal even at microamp levels. Never take electromagnetic for granted.
daywalker42 grg7 years ago
ummmm.......I'm pretty sure it's five milliamps it takes AT your heart to kill you but...point still correct, always respect electricity, oh, and to answer the cheese's question, no you couldn't kill someone with this...just annoy the crap out of 'em
what daywalker says u only get killed when it goes trough ur heart, so u got 2 get a schock at your chest to get killed. if u touch it with ur hand the schock will go through ur arm to your leg in the ground and youll only get a big bang and feel toast or something
Uh, have you ever seen two vande graffs together? ... well, go look it up...
JOEDUPONT7 years ago
why not try this with a kite with a long wire..away from electrical wires.. put some magnets on it and some coils an you have a generator..
mdj8178 years ago
I tried to do the foil on the tv thing (making franklin's bells), but I recieved one of the biggest high voltage shocks of my life. not really pain - but it threw me back a few feet. that was right up there with the disposable camera tazer!
zachninme8 years ago
If you don't have a Van De Graaff generator, just use a homemade lyden jar. I think there is an instructable on that. You could use a soda bottle for that, too!
John Chase (author)  zachninme8 years ago
I hear you can tape some foil on the front of a TV screen (tube type) and pick up charge that way. One lead to the TV, the other to ground. Never tried it myself, as I have access to the Van De Graaff.
Camster9119 years ago
This is in a school? About the only place you could use them unless you have a van de grefffff, build one powereed by batteries, or capacitators, the future batteries.
Beelzebub9 years ago
i like it, very neat :). just the whole i done have a van de graaff thing.
RyanPotter9 years ago
Hmmm... Now where or where did I leave my Van De Graaff Generator? I guess I'll just run to the dollar tree and pick up another one...
austin9 years ago
so now i just need to make a bottle van de grapff