Most instructions for building a Van de Graaff generator (VDG) are for tabletop models; however VDGs grounded through a person work well enough to make a handheld version possible. The Fun Fly Stick, a popular toy, is an example of a handheld VDG. This instructable will show you how to make your own handheld VDG capable of producing sparks up to an inch long with a few common items.

WARNING: Keep the VDG away from all electronics, including pacemakers, hearing aids, and the cell phone you forgot was in your pocket. A VDG is an ESD monster!

Step 1: Materials and Tools

[1] 3/4" Schedule 40 PVC pipe
[1] 3/4" PVC Tee
[1] 3/4" PVC Cap
[3] 3 1/2" x 1/4" Rubber bands (No. 64)
[1] Super Glue
[1] Hot Glue
[1] 3 ft 16 AWG Stranded Wire (can be taken from old extension cord)
[1] Motor (like Radio Shack #273-223)
[1] 4xAA Battery Holder (like Radio Shack #270-391)
[1] Wooden Dowel
[1] Aluminum Foil
[1] Aluminum Can
[1] Wide-mouth Plastic Bottle like a 32 oz Gatorade bottle
[1] Paper clip
[1] polyvinyl chloride electrical tape (Scotch 3M 33+ and 35 both work)
[1] Teflon tape
[1] glass bead [url:http://www.artbeads.com/czech-glass-rondelle-9mm.html]

Pocket Knife
Can Opener
Wire stripper
Drill or Lighter, Nail, and Screw
Hot Glue Gun
Alligator Lead or Stiff Wire hooked at the end
Paper clip

Before starting, wash your hands and prepare a clean work area. The three enemies of a VDG are oil, water, and dirt. Therefore you should clean and thoroughly dry every part before construction. Use nonsoapy water only since soap can leave a conductive film. Before touching the rollers or belt wipe your hands to remove any excess oil.

<p>Is there anyway to produce long sparks? I mean like foot-long+?</p>
I have to say, great job on your Instructable. I did this project and it worked perfectly the first time I tried it. It's simple, fun and educational for my kids. Thank you!
<p>What is the estimated price and construction time of this project?</p>
Can someome help me with part 5 and 6 I need this done soon , 1st I dont gey how the aluminum can comes to play with the coke can and gatorade bottle, then I domt understand the part wwiththe bead and the final assembly please help!!!!
so just to be clear, This can't make anything fly?
It will make a flier float but if you move the DIY wand around too quickly it will probably stop working and lose it's charge.
Hey I was having troubke understanding the part where you have to use the gatorade bottle and aluminum can and also thw steps after to out it together please email me I need this done soon @ omidkaderi@gmail.com thank you
can i use something else instead of a pvc pipe? is an aluminium foil roll or a simple plastic roll fine? Also, can i use ptfe tape instead of teflon tape? its agreat thing you've made there
Nice, i was looking to build something like this. Thanks! <br>Btw, i saw the fly toy video, and was intrigued by the fliers. Do you know how i can make them? <br>Thanks
You are probably better off buying replacement fliers. I think they are made out of mylar. I tried cutting up a &quot;mylar&quot; (not really mylar) balloon to make my own fliers. It didn't work well. The real fliers don't work well with the DIY version because it's unwieldy and if you disturb it to much it will stop generating charge and you'll have to fiddle with it to make it work again.
Van de Graaf Generators at www.physicsplayground.com
im having trouble understanding steps 5-6 could anyone help?
Here's a new instructable I'd like you to check out.<br> <br> <a href="https://www.instructables.com/id/Super-Mario-Bros-Warp-Pipe-Sound-Effect-Toilet-To/" rel="nofollow">Super Mario Bros. Warp Pipe Sound Effect Toilet Touch Sensor</a><br> <br> It's shows how you can make your toilet play the Super Mario Bros. Warp Pipe sound effect when you flush. It also shows how to make a little warp pipe to hold the circuit. It's in a contest until December 5th so please vote for it!
The design is great, and i mostly followed it but ended up using 1&quot; pipe to fit my bigger motor and 5/8&quot; rubber bands. I used teflon tape on the bottom roller (to see if it worked) and a glass fuse on top, and positioned the combs about 2/8&quot; away. I tried it on several occasions and it does not work at all. (one tiny zap first time then nothing)<br> Have I done anything wrong?<br> (also, it is not fully assembled just the column and collector)
These can be insanely frustrating to get working. Sometimes it will work beautifully and sometimes not at all. The position of the combs can make a huge difference. I didn't secure the bottom comb so that I could experiment with different distances while it was running. I tried teflon tape. I don't recall it working very well. You might want to try making a mounting base for it and grounding the bottom comb wire to ground so that you have both hands free to fiddle with it and can move around it as it's running to inspect it. Using a hair dryer to blow out any moisture may also be helpful.
I think I might just change over the roller material, the bottom roller to PVC tape and the top to a glass bead, to stop the belt from rubbing on the side of the column. <br>Also, i tried adjusting it while running and hooked up to a microamp meter, but still absolutely no charge. At least then i could determine if it was the rollers or the combs. <br>You were definitely right when you said that these things could be difficult to get working. :P
i have a metal orb that would be perfect for this but it has a 1/8 inch hole. Does that matter and if so how could i make the hole bigger?<br>
you could use a dremel tool with a good cutting disk to widen the hole, just make sure not to leave any sharp edges.
Will this have enough power to get someones hair to stand on end?<br>If not how would I make it so?
No, it's not powerful enough.
can i still put my hand on this and shock people?
I had this idea so many years ago, but never actually did anything...<br><br>This is awesome. :D
About how much does it cost to make?
it cost me considering i had the rubber bands and soda can 12.00
sounds like you got it completed. great!
yeah it works great and i won 3 in a science fair with<br>
Congrats on 3rd place..<br><br>Jax
$15 or less depending on how much stuff you already have. $15 if you have absolutely none of the materials.
And btw, mine 9v fits GREAT.
9V motor ? :D
Can I use the black electrical tape ? And have the same results ? Better or worse ?
Can I simply modify a fun fly stick to be more powerful???
maybe put in a faster motor?
What would happen if I had my phone in my pocket while using this. What exactly does it do to cell phones?<br>
high voltage is bad for electronics. it will destroy a MOSFETs oxide layer ruining the chip. of course people generate high voltage static electricity all the time and cell phones are designed to cope with this, but why risk it?
It will also ruin the touch-sensitivity of touch screen electronics. this is virtually impossible to repair.
i was using it with my phone for 3 hours and didnt do anything to it
do you think small ID vinyl tubing for the bottom roller (maybe some cellophane tape to thicken the motor shaft up a bit) and a small ID nylon spacer on top will work as well? i took a look at the triboelectric scale and these are opposites. Plus, it's all I have around. I can't find the electrical tape.
i have the exact same bead just green <br>
next time i make it own
technicaly speaking, could this produce a near constant arc, that could be used to ignite gas in a potatoe launcher?
i dont mean to complain or anything, but, theres not quite enough images orf the vdg generators internals, perhaps if you cant get some more photos, try some illistrations, i stil dont get how it works because i dont see what it looks like inside, you know what i mean
wow cool wish i had one looks like i got to do it soon
I saw a commercial for this once. The ad boasted it used &quot;Weird Science&quot; to do all the things it claimed to do. It said nothing about electrostatics or it being a VDG. It really is frightening when the youth of America can recognize Ronald McDonald at age 4, and know how to update a Twitter status, but they don't know how their own toys work.
&nbsp;in step 8, you said the dielectric breakdown of air is 84kv/inch or 3.3kv/cm, but it is really 8.4kv/inch or 3.3kv/cm. please fix.
It says: &quot;Since dielectric breakdown of air is approximately 84kV/in (33kV/cm) this tells us the collector voltage is around 84 kV!&quot;<br /> <br /> From the <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_voltage#Sparks_in_air" rel="nofollow">wikipedia article on high voltage</a>: &quot;The dielectric breakdown strength of dry air, at Standard Temperature and Pressure (STP), between spherical electrodes is approximately 33 kV/cm.&quot;<br /> <br /> (33 kV/cm)*(2.54 cm/in) = 83.82 kV/in<br /> <br /> From the <a href="http://hypertextbook.com/facts/2000/AliceHong.shtml" rel="nofollow">Physics Factbook</a>:&nbsp; &quot;&quot;The dielectric strength of air is about 3&nbsp;&times;&nbsp;10<sup>6</sup>&nbsp;V/m&quot;<br /> <br /> 3&nbsp;&times;&nbsp;10<sup>6</sup> V = 3000 kV, 1 m = 100 cm<br /> (3000 kV/100 cm) = (30 kV/cm) = (30 kv/cm)*(2.54 cm/in) = 76.2 kV/in<br /> <br /> No correction will be made, as no correction is necessary.<br />
okay, I concede that the dielectric strength of <em>dry</em> air between <em>large spherical </em>electrodes is 33kv/cm, but I have a 6,000 volt cockroft-walton voltage multiplier that can spark 1.5 centimeters, thus proving that the dielectric breakdown of air can fluctuate greatly according to the shape of your electrodes and the dryness and pressure of the air. judging from the fact that most people's hands are not smooth spheres of metal, the spark length of this vandegraaf generator is probably extended due to the brush discharge effect. the skin on a person's hand is generally kind of rough on a small scale and this can cause a lower voltage to jump considerably farther.<br />
I'm having a really difficult time keeping the first roller in place. If anybody knows, what can I use to to keep the paperclip in place inside of the PVC?<br />
I&nbsp;never had a problem with the paper clip moving around. Did you tape the paper clip to the PVC? You could take the eraser from the end of a pencil and stick that on the end of the axel that's opposite the bend, then wrap tape tightly from the eraser, around the PVC, around bend and back around to the eraser a few times to secure it the paperclip firmly in place. This will make disassembly more of a pain though.<br /> <br /> A wandering roller is the biggest problem with this design. Try fine tuning the tightness of the belt by pushing/pulling the column in/out of the Tee a little. You can also try twisting the column to give the belt a bit of a twist.<br /> <br /> It's nice to hear from someone that's actually trying to make it.<br />

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