Introduction: How to Get 100KV Out of Your Flyback!!! VERY SIMPLE SETUP

Picture of How to Get 100KV Out of Your Flyback!!! VERY SIMPLE SETUP

I saw this instructable on how to make a high voltage power supply with a CFL ballast circuit and and a long time after that it hit me, instead of breaking all my parents light bulbs why not use an electronic ballast? So I tried it and I was blown away by the results for, what would normally be a rather large circuit (not the CFL, a circuit with the equivalent power), just a ballast. *sorry about the blurry pictures, I had to turn the flash off on the camera and it messed up the pictures a little. Also I didn't get very many pictures because I had already made it before I got the idea to make an instructable.

NOTE: I see a lot of people burning up their ballasts or getting very poor results. Im not sure why but some ballasts just dont like it and some transformers dont give very impressive sparks. My advice would be to do some quick tests in open air without oil, if it works then set everything up, if not then try different ballasts/transformers. And this will eventually kill your ballast no matter what kind it is, mine lasted for a while though.

-=DANGER HIGH VOLTAGE: do not attempt if you dont have very much experience with high voltage=-

Step 1: Hook Up the Primary

Picture of Hook Up the Primary

I have an instructable for finding the primary and secondary windings on a flyback but you wont need to follow that for this setup. The first two pins on the transformer should be separated a little further than the rest, the are your primary, hook up the ballast to these and test it just to make sure, there should be lots of corona and will probably arc to the other pins. NOTE: do not let it arc for very long or the insulation will fail in a matter of seconds!!! You dont have to use a flyback with a core encase you have any broken ones but the results will be pore. 

Step 2: Insulate It

Picture of Insulate It

Because flybacks cant hold such a high voltage your going to need to submerge it in oil. Before you do that solder wires to your primary's and cut a length of the high voltage wire from the out put and solder that on the second output pin. I find that the small plastic Folgers containers wok well. After you have selected a container to put your transformer in and have soldered all the necessary pins put the transformer in with the wires sticking out of the top and fill it with oil until it covers the entire transformer. You can use vegetable oil, mineral oil, hydraulic fluid, and maybe motor oil but I'm not sure, I used vegetable oil and I'v been using this thing non-stop and it works great. After that cut holes in the lit to put your wires through and then do just that. After every thing is in place hot glue the wires to lid and the lid to the container to keep oil from leaking, make sure everything is dry or the glue wont stick. 

Step 3: Try It Out!!!

Picture of Try It Out!!!

The first part of the video was when I first made it, as you can see it arced to the next pin and caught on fire, in the second part I was using the oil filled Folgers container.


bhess2 (author)2015-07-01

I used a MOT (Microwave Oven Transformer) as a replacement for the flyback and got a 1 cm spark. I used the ballast but it fried my flyback either due to to much voltage on the secondary or too many amps in the primary and I did submerge it in oil but it just wont work anymore so i have to trash the flyback. I used a older ballast that only had two wires coming out of it and those were the hv wires . So I hooked those up and it fried it so i went back to my MOT and I need to submerge that in oil.(sorry for the typos)

Jimmy Proton (author)bhess22017-05-27

Yeah, it didnt take too long to kill my flyback from this, but certainly worth it. 6 years after build this I now have a box full of them, even after selling a bunch.

mb45380 (author)2016-05-17

Please see "Fire Extinguisher using Voltage Multiplier"

Jimmy Proton (author)mb453802017-05-27

thats pretty cool, I love corona wind

rlominick (author)2015-12-11

The electronic ballast puts out 600 volts... It has to be high frequency pulsed dc or ac, if not, it would not be able to run a flyback... Imagine how much you can get out of a flyback that usually runs on 12 VDC pulsed ?? I think the Fluorescent light ballast would have to have low current with voltage that high.. The ballast shown above is NOT a CFL ballast.. It is a fluorescent tube light ballast.. I know for a fact that CFL ballast are HF 600 volt pulsed dc..

namindu (author)2015-09-10

can I use 2 pin ballast to this circuit

Fearce1 (author)2014-06-07

I've obtained this ballast.

Will it work with my flyback?

It has a "Starter". Any knowledge about it working or not will be appreciated. TY

bhess2 (author)Fearce12015-05-10

in the ballast there is a small glass tube (you will have to open it up)that is called the starter it will flip an internal switch. You can take out the tube if you want.

Fearce1 (author)bhess22015-05-27

I have since made other flybacks and abandoned the use of this ballast. I did find that the glass tube/starter was attached in series with the external wiring. I just removed it from the circuit when experimenting, to no avail for use with my flyback. It is now a fixture in my parts bin for any projects in the future.

Thanks for your input on the subect. I appreciate any knowledge that others take the time to share.

Jimmy Proton (author)Fearce12014-06-15

I havent tested very many ballasts, I just know for sure the one I used works. All I can really say is some might, some might not, it doesnt hurt to test it though.

hubert.trahan.1 (author)2014-10-23

I finally got the 2-3 inches arc I was looking for, simply by changing my connections. But, after less than a minute of testing, my ballast started smoking and burned. What should I do to prevent this? Is there a better kind of ballast than the Phillips' one that I used? Would a CFL be better? Thanks for answering!

CFL's usually only give a couple kv, about a tenth the size of your cm long arcs. I just know that some transformers give very small arcs and some very big, I would say your ballast is the right kind, just try more transformers, its okay just to test it with no oil to see if it works

chiranth (author)2014-11-08

hoping for a quick reply, i used a 400v capacitor in series for connecting the ballast to the primary coil of the flyback cs otherwise the ballast wouldn work, but then the ballast burns up after a few seconds of spark.... i need help already burnt two brand new ballasts in 10 secs! :/

Jimmy Proton (author)chiranth2014-11-13

I dont really know how any of the circuitry works, i guess i just got lucky playing around. All that ive found is that some ballasts work and some dont and same goes for FBT's.

hubert.trahan.1 (author)2014-10-07

I've been using a Phillips ballast and a Samsung Flyback Transformer for my setup, which you can see on the pictures. But I cannot make an arc that is up to my expectations. It only gets to a centimeter, or less. I checked the polarity of my pins to be sure to get the maximum voltage, and submerged my flyback in oil to avoid burning. What can I do to get a longer and bigger arc?

Kutluhan made it! (author)2014-08-29

Hey i have made it today (morning) but i tried for some time and my
sparks are now shorter. And voltage is less too. But my ballast's
transistors are good. What is the problem can you help me? My flyback is swimming in oil but i think it has burned.

acrissinger (author)2013-10-18

Can this kind of flyback work for a Jacobs ladder when hooked up directly without a circuit? I'm curious because if it'll hookup directly, I can still add a capacitor to the THT output. Any suggestions?

Dat Acetate (author)2013-08-10

I found an old lighting ballast in the shed of the house that I recently moved into but as BFeely said, the older ones have an output freq of 60Hz. The ballast that I found is old enough to have this trait and will not work for this project. Anyone have a good idea where to find a cheap or free ballast?

my wookie (author)Dat Acetate2013-09-12

well i got a "broken one" and after popping it open i found out the copper on the PCB around one of the transformer had been burned up, a little wire and solder and it works great!

my wookie (author)2013-06-24

i got the old ballast my dad replaced in the kitchen a while ago, what i want to know is what made it fail and how to fix it so i can try this.

R.A.T.M (author)2012-05-16

Were dose every one get ballast i cant find any

OVERLOADED (author)R.A.T.M2012-10-29

any hardawre store home depot is one

somebody12345 (author)2012-01-14

i have read this afew times now and i don't fully understand whactch wires you used from the ballast

the flyback just has to have 11 pins, ive tried multiple 10 pin transformers and they do not work well at all. i have no idea what kind of flyback i used for this, and for the ballast, just use the two wires that go to the lamp

OVERLOADED (author)Jimmy Proton2012-10-29

dude are you still answering questions on here?

lamentola (author)2012-07-23

Question: If you have a Ballast for two lamps(Like I think you do) 2 Blue, 2 Yellow, 2 Red. Would it give you double the power if you ganged the two reds to the + side of the primary and ganged the 2 blue or 2 yellow for the negitive side?

If not I guess you could drive another Flyback.. Just wondering if there was a way to use the other output...

OVERLOADED (author)2012-02-10

jimmy why did you remove the 100kv video? its no longer available are you still on istructables? can you pls reply id love to talk to you about my project

OVERLOADED (author)2012-01-25

Jimmy do you still reply to your instructable? I would like to ask several questions as I have tried to make the same thing but having trouble with diffrent kinds of ballasts similar to yours, also you said it wont work on 10 pins so maybe thats why, too bad I blew my old one that had 11 pins but one it still had 10 on the horseshoe and one outside so is this the 11 pin one?.

OVERLOADED (author)2012-01-23

HI Jimmy, I kinda had the same thoughts after seeing that inst too, then I saw your posting, nice lightsaber (handle included) luke skywalker would be proud your skills are complete my son lol also ghost busters would be proud (nice proton wand). I am seriously wondering how you were able to pull back the arc so much till it cut or was making corona without you getting zapped? cause after buying a few diffrent types of electronic ballasts myself (and returning them hihi) I finally figured the best one is your model and it has to be one made for 4 lamps not one or two, the one i got was ICN-4P32-N its the same one they just changed the SC part I read about it and has no signifigance, now i had also same model made for 2 lamps,the 2 lamp one made a decent short arc about maybe 1" but the 4 lamp made sick long arcs i couldn't measure maybe about 4 inches plus and thats just the distance between electrodes the actual arc is longer but as i said how where you able to pull them that far? cause when I did it the arc I think blew out and I got seriously jolted for like a split second holding the hot lead before I droped it with some pliers that I tought were properly insulated but it didint matter cause the voltage corona was so high once that sucker blew it looked for another path and it was me I felt a bit of burn on my fingers and the jolt went from my arm down my right leg I am so lucky I didint die or seriously fry . I think this happen cause I had no grounding, the damn balast had no ground wires its simply said to ground it I need to put it like 1/4 inch from the metal reflector whatever that means cause I tried a continuity test with my voltmeter on the case of the ballast and due to the paint there was non,,so how the hell was I suppose to ground it? even with a wire on it where would I put the end of that ground wire? would I need a 3 prong plug? I suppose if the voltage was high enough the paint wouldn't matter but was yours grounded properly with that green wire u got on yours? also after I jolted my self i noticed there was no more humming noises so I shut it off and brought the spark gap closer then turned it on and it was dead, after a while I realized I blew something in the ballast thankfully not the flyback. so please tell me how you hooked yours up did it have a ground? is that what helps prevent shocks when u pull the arc? I think the voltage musta raised so high on the balast when I pulled it that it blew a fuse or something maybe there was a safety thing cause I only got fried for a second lol. but seriously as much as I love this stuff those silent purple one strand arcs are hot almost flaming lota current I suppose since they heated my return tungsten electrode, I will stick to 12 volts for now I preffer the zapping freq noises they make and there purple or blue white color is nice. I would seriously advise ppl to be very damn carefull with this setup its not a joke anymore with these voltages even the slightes milliamps will hurt or kill you at such high densities due to the high voltage push, trust me I am a welder and still scared of this stuff if its not properly constructed, on my tig welder i can pull arcs about 2 inches long on my fingers it only feels slight tingles no jolting or burning unless i close the gap on my fingers, i am trying to figure out how i can do that with a flyback? One thing I figured out to improve the arc on 12 volts is to put a lead from the return wire to the feedback wire that goes to the voltage divider resistors,it makes the arc go from dull purple to intense whitish blue, i think its somehow gives the transistor a boost or something but it works without any damage or over heating to the parts. Ok i got alot more to say and even give more pointers and tips but for now pls tell me how you had yours setup so it was safe to do what u did. thaks keep up the lovely mad work.


Jimmy I got another ballast same model as the one that worked great like last time before i blew it,,but I was very disapointed at the results this time, for some reason it only made 1/2 inch arcs and they keept dying ??? I wait and run it again sometimes it would run and sometimes not but it only made crappy lil arcs for a few seconds??? why??? it was the same model? ARgghhhhh Im gonna pull my hair out I've already returned 2 ballasts to the same store lol this is crazy I keep having to come up with excuses but I have no idea what went wrong ? had the exact same setup went over every detail several times, my only conclusion was it was a faulty ballast, i dont know thats bloody electricity for ya so unpredictable, what do you think?.

OVERLOADED (author)2012-01-23

I forgot to tell you not to keep that sucker on longer than 3 minutes or it will replace the air in your garage with ozone, your place will be odorless and smoke free but you will get major headache and who nows what other health issues lol

somebody12345 (author)2012-01-14

What is the exact modle and brand of the flyback you used? my parents won't let me take a TV apart and i will have to buy mine on ebay, so i figuered why make finding the pins harder than it has to be.

Shagglepuff (author)2011-10-18

Nice ible. As it turns out, my electronic ballast is a pretty good source of high voltage by itself. If I disconnect the wires while the flyback is hooked up, the ballast will actually provide enough power to weld the wires together with an arc!

youper0 (author)2011-03-16

Don't Flybacks work on High Frequency like 15Khz not 60hz?? or does florescent ballasts work on HF too???

BFeely (author)youper02011-08-31

This is an electronic ballast which turns the 60hz from the mains to a high frequency in the tens of kHz to eliminate the flicker that plagues old-fashioned magnetic ballasts. It has the beneficial side effect of being able to drive a flyback transformer.

Jimmy Proton (author)youper02011-03-17

not sure but it works.

youper0 (author)Jimmy Proton2011-03-17

ok, umm can you post a picture of the completed wiring??? I'm wondering if its a fast start ballast... The reason I ask is in the video the arc don't sound like 60 hz, and I just wounding if the ballast is maybe stuck in start mode?? and thats how its working.

Jimmy Proton (author)youper02011-03-17

The third picture on step 1 (made in paint) is all the wiring I did to it, and I don't know what you mean by "start mode", I've never studied these I just like to play with them.

youper0 (author)Jimmy Proton2011-03-17

Well, what it is.
There are 2 ways to start a floresent light 1. Heat the filements at the end of the tube, and then jump to conducting between the end of the bulbs, or..
the ballast, if it only has 2 wires, im assuming, is whats called fast start, or rapid start or something like that, but it does that..snap snap snap thing, where the lights flickers on... and that is high voltage high frequency pulses,.
what I think is happening is the ballast stays on start up mode.. which is cool..
i'm going to try it when I have the parts,.. Dang wish I would have kept all of my flybacks I collected in high school.

Jimmy Proton (author)youper02011-03-18

That makes more sense and I don't think it stays in start mode because on the label it only shows one wire at each end of the bulb and I think it has an automatic timer to turn it off start mode because when I first turn it on it will only make a tiny sparks (like what you get when you short a 12V wall wart) but after about 4 or 5 seconds it makes the big sparks.

MROHM (author)2011-07-20

Another Insane Instructable!!! Mr.Ohm Loves IT!!!!

Jimmy Proton (author)MROHM2011-07-20

Thank you!

Shagglepuff (author)2011-05-22

I have a ballast with 5 wires. Two of them are red and grouped together, so I am pretty sure that they are the output leads. The other 3 are black, white, and blue. Do I hook up the black lead to +120, the white lead to neutral, and the blue lead to ground?

Jimmy Proton (author)Shagglepuff2011-05-22

Yeah that sounds right, most of the ones I've seen had a diagram on what wires go where.

Shagglepuff (author)Jimmy Proton2011-05-31

As it turns out, that was the wrong type of ballast. I bought a new electronic ballast (which happens to be the EXACT same model as yours). If it wouldn't be too much to ask, can you tell me what wires you hooked up to the primary coil?

Jimmy Proton (author)Shagglepuff2011-06-02

Yellow and red, it really doesn't matter, if you look on the label, just hook up the wires that are on aether side of the lamp and those are the ones you hook up to the flyback.

science kid (author)2011-05-29

I am going to try this!

RocketPenguin (author)2011-05-24

are the sparks constant?

Yes, did you watch the video?

fire_fist_ace (author)2011-03-27

Does the type of container matter? i was planning on using a glass jar filled with olive oil.

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