Introduction: Halloween Lightning - 5KV Electric Jacob's Ladder 萬聖節電光 - 5千伏電氣的雅各天梯

Picture of Halloween Lightning - 5KV Electric Jacob's Ladder 萬聖節電光 - 5千伏電氣的雅各天梯

Create a Frankenstein's monster laboratory lightening effect at home using an old microwave transformer!



Otherwise... please read on make sure you effect all safety procedures associated with your training!

There are two of my YouTube videos below that show you how to disassemble a microwave to salvage the parts, and also how to make this project. I have included a full description and circuit diagrams with detailed photos in the following instructable. Please make sure onlookers are supervised and kept at a safe distance.

Please subscribe to my instructables page and my YouTube channel (link below) to see more exciting mad science projects!



您有責任確保自己的安全 - 如果您沒有受過高壓電子/電路方面的訓練,我建議您享受影片就好,不要在家裡嘗試!

Step 1: Remove 5KV Transformer From Old Microwave

Picture of Remove 5KV Transformer From Old Microwave

Again I can not stress how dangerous this all is. Your safety is your responsibility. This is high voltage and high current and can kill.

Using a screwdriver - remove the case from an old microwave, and salvage the transformer (pointing with screwdriver) and mains cable.

Step 2: Make an Insulated Starting Stick

Picture of Make an Insulated Starting Stick

Using a non-conductive material (plastic or wood) make a spark starting pokey stick by screwing in a screw or taping some tin-foil to the end of the rod. Make sure the rod is at least a meter long so you can be a safe distance from the jacobs ladder when you poke it to start the reaction.

Step 3: Fix the Transformer to a Wooden Base

Picture of Fix the Transformer to a Wooden Base

Using some screws, secure the 5kv transformer to a wooden base plate. Ensure it is the correct way around so the 5kv output (taken from the chasis and the center tap of the transformer) is closest to where the conducting rods will be fitted. Ensure there is a safe distance (a few inches) between the conducting rods and the transformer so the sparks do not arc over to the transformer body.

Step 4: Wire the Mains Terminals

Picture of Wire the Mains Terminals

Wire up the transformer as shown in the schematic. The mains coil is normally the lower of the two coils and should be obvious as there is a live and neutral terminal on the transformer that are close together.

The 5kV output will have one terminal on the larger winding at the top, and the other terminal will be the transformer case or body.

Solder wires in place on all terminals and make sure everything is well insulated with electrical tape.

Step 5: Fit Conducting Rods

Picture of Fit Conducting Rods

Now the mains end is wired, using the two output wires - one on the chassis and one on the 5kv terminal, connect these to your conducting rods. Then drill two small holes in the wooden base and push the conducting rods in place so they are in a V-type configuration. Please see pictures!

Step 6: Turn on and Poke!

Picture of Turn on and Poke!


Use a circuit breaker or a fused socket. Stand well back! Turn on the transformer. A gentle hum may occur.

Holding the insulated end of your pokey stick, short the two v-shaped conductors together with the metalic end of the pokey stick. Please see video below.

Do this only a few times, enjoy the sparks... Turn everything off, unplug and check the temperature of the transformer. It will get warm.

You can tune the size and length of your sparks by adjusting the distance of the V shaped conductors. MAKE SURE IT IS UNPLUGGED BEFORE TOUCHING ANYTHING!!

Please make sure children/onlookers are kept at a very safe supervised distance.


Electron_flow (author)2017-10-18

This isn't cool - I won't deny that. BUT...Your disclaimer is not strong enough:

This project is EXTREMELY dangerous, and its voltage and current WILL kill you. I don't think the standard disclaimer was clear enough.

There are far safer ways to generate high voltage electricity. A microwave oven transformer (MOT) is not something people should be playing with - ESPECIALLY not someone who sees this project and thinks, "Wow! I've got a broken microwave, I should try this!" NO you should not.

I'm not bashing your project. It is cool, HV is cool. But someone who needs Instructables to show them how to make an arc with an MOT should not be attempting this. Imagine how you'd feel if a teenager decided to wow his Halloween party and died. That's not a far-fetched scenario here.

The term 'dead before you hit the ground,' would be appropriate here. You wouldn't even have to physically touch anything. Those sparks jump the gap because of the voltage is high enough to break the resistance of air. What does that mean? It means that if you just get too close to the contacts - bam! Dead.

There is not even using a resistor on the input to limit the current, so if you were to even graze it, the transformer could pull every last amp that your breaker will allow.

Here is a comment from (member: waht) that illustrates the point fairly well:

"MOTs are dangerous to play around for reasons stated, 0.5 amps at 2000 volts is lethal. the primary winding is usually pulsed by DC or the positive side of AC only, and the secondary of many MOTs is tied with magnetic core to serve as a ground, if you feed AC directly to primary then your whole MOT becomes hot, meaning if you touch your transformer you can be killed. As for current rating on the secondary, check the wire gauge, and look it up in a table. you can make a nice welder with a MOT, but I strongly advise against using it for high voltage."


That's a lot of bold, I agree. And I'm not intending to lecture here, but I felt that explaining how dangerous this is was something I just had to do - if only to save a life. I'm not going tell you that you should consider taking it down, but please, please issue a stronger disclaimer at the very least.

High voltage + inexperience could very easily = death. Even on your first attempt. You must understand the risks and safety requirements.

Even taking a microwave (or CRT) apart is a bad move for people who doesn't know what they're doing.

Thanks for listening.

About This Instructable




Bio: I'm a maker and engineer... I make mad stuff... check out my Robot Lawnmower project on YouTube... or Google Howard Taylor Robot Lawnmower
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