Handheld Van De Graph Genarator




Posted in TechnologyScience

Introduction: Handheld Van De Graph Genarator

Build Your easy to make Van de graph generator thats portable!

Step 1: Materials

Stuff from think geek ( and your fridge):
Soda can
Fun Fly Stick http://www.thinkgeek.com/geektoys/science/af4c/
Alligator clip
Xenon tube (optional i used this to make sparks)

Step 2: The Can

Use a can opener to top the top section of the can off.
Pour the soda into a glass (enjoy it)
Clean the can out

Step 3: The Stick

Take the cardboard part of the stick off by pulling it firmly from the bottom part.
Attack one end of the clip to the copper tab at the top
Attack the other to the rim of the can
Put the stick through the can, now you have a portable van de graph generator.

Step 4: Information

This gives off about 500 - 1000 volts

In order to use this device use this device press the button with your right hand, and use your left hand as a grounding contact Or vice versa

This device is pretty safe do to the low current, but i cannot be held responsible for any harm done to you or anyone around you, Always use common sense.

Step 5: Fun

A fun trick If you have a .5" - 1" xexon flash tube you can make small (or large) sparks appear in it

Small Sparks. hold the tube using 1 contact put the other on the can and watch the sparks appear.

Large Sparks: Hold Tube by one contact and put it parrel to the can so the glass tube run along side the can, this works because you have more surface area which ='s more current which ='s bigger sparks.



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     does anyone else realize he took a pre-made van de graaf and just put a can on the end for a bigger discharge area?
    i was looking for a way to build one not buy one but i guess he doesnt actually say how to build it

    3 replies

    This may be to your liking thestyrofoampeanut:


    Does anyone realize stryofoampeanut posted an extremely stupid comment considering a VGM needs a collector dome rather than the levitation wands ion Spreading tube? I was looking to get comments from people who think things out before posting comments

     whoops i meant graaff
    somebody probly wouldve got on my case for that....

    Im so confused!!... where does the bottom comb go? where does the wire go? It it grounded?


    its graaff

    thanks you!!!! sorry forgot the a in my rage....

    Can't we be nice to everyone?  No matter, but please, everyone, use a spell checker.  Some of you are coming across like 8th graders as far as spelling and grammar goes.  I thought this Instructable was for actually building a VDG, not just attaching a larger wand to a generator.  Could you try that (actually building the generator) next, or maybe buy a kit to put together.  Still, I applaud your efforts.  At least you took the time to build this and make an Instructable about it.

    Why? the rim of the can has no paint, thus it is as conductive as the inside.

    The Van De Graaff takes advantage of the Faraday Ice Pail effect, meaning that if the charge is applied to the outside of a conductor it can only charge to the input voltage, but when applied to the inside of a conductor the charges move to the outside and can collect to a higher voltage than the input voltage.
    Check out the Van De Graaff Group on Yahoo. http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/VanDeGraaffGenerator/ for a wealth of Van De Graaff information

    This probably generates more than 500 - 1000 volts... And can you take clearer, more accurate photographs. No pictures of sparks give us no proof that you actually made this work. Also, if you know that its "graaf", and not "graph", then please change it.

    7 replies

    There's really no way to photo the spark seeing as it lasts .001 seconds, aside from that i wouldn't be lying -.- whats the point in that lol?

    Not true, taken with a standard Digital camera under normal lighting conditions.
    I had a few misses but not to many.


    ts either long exposure, or, you took a video and found teh rigth frame, i am not kidding, its physically impossible

    Sorry, no trick photography, no video frames, the Van De Graaff was discharging multiple times per second so I am sorry to say that you are wrong.
    You can see the arc meanders through the air, if it were a long exposure then there would be multiple arcs in the pic, and there is clearly only one; also there is only one point of origin and one destination again if it were a long exposure the would be mutiple. I don't want to argue but I have built and photographed many Van De Graaffs and you can capture the discharges here is an earlier one of mine. In this one you can see me taking the picture if you still have any doubts.

    Be happy


    Incorrect, you can take a long exposure photograph.

    I have thought of this, lets say i am really good with the long exposure and can do it in 1 second, the spark is .001 seconds that leaves .999 seconds of no spark, the spark woud be so dim. it would be 100th of its normal light.

    First of all, I don't know where you're getting the "0.001 second" statistic, but I suspect that it is wrong because this depends upon the voltage, current, humidity, and gas that you are creating the spark in. Additionally, long exposure would work, as the camera keeps the shutter open the entire frame, so that if you did this in a dark room, almost all of the light that it would capture would come from the spark.