Check It out in my Art Exhibition: http://truscott-posthuman.blogspot.com/

Well, originally I wanted to make a Jacob's ladder which if you haven't already heard can be extremely dangerous! They are high voltage and if you complete the circuit with your finger it can be fatal...So, be very careful or just don't do it.

Most of the instructions I found used a transformer from a neon sign to generate high voltage and make the thing arc. I didn't want to go out and buy a transformer but I did have an old CRT (Cathode Ray Tube) monitor collecting dust. So, I decided to put it to good use and make a variation of a Jacob's Ladder.


Monitor (CRT)
Wire (12 Gauge?)
Plastic Tube
Materials for Insulation

Step 1: SPLICE

Open any monitor up, and one of the first things you will see is a big suction cup attached to the CRT. Attached to it is a wire that is at a few thousand volts higher than ground because there is a capacitor somewhere that is still charged up.

The first thing you should do is put on some oven gloves, and get a piece of insulated wire. Attach one end of the wire to a ground pin (look around on the circuit boards etc.) and poke the other end of the wire under the suction cup until you hear a spark noise. Do it a few times until you are SUPER sure everything is discharged, and even then use a multimeter to check the voltages of everything your hands come near.

A flyback transformer in the monitor generates a few kV that is used to accelerate electrons in the CRT to hit the screen. There should be at least two large leads coming out of the transformer. One goes towards the suction cup near the front of the screen (thats the super high voltage one), another goes to the rear end of the tube (should be more or less 0v).

Cut the high voltage wire that goes to the suction cup, splice in a wire of your own and solder.


Be sure to insulate the connection with excellent insulation materials such as paper towels and duct tape. (Just kidding, don't do what I did. Use some non-flammable materials to insulate.) This wire will go to one side of the Jacob's ladder.

Follow the other wire coming out of the flyback transformer, and see where it goes. If there is only one red wire coming out of the transformer like was the case with my monitor you will have to find a another place to solder the ground wire. I soldered my ground wire right where the power cable came into the PCB (Printed Circuit Board).

The ground was obvious in my case but you may have to do a little searching to get it right. If you don't ground the circuit right, the electricity will find its own ground, possibly somewhere else on the PCB and cook the whole monitor so good luck! Use a multimeter...


Like I said before, I originally attempted to build a ladder for the electricity to climb. I couldn't get it to work after a lot of time fiddling with it. I don't know if there just isn't enough voltage produced by a CRT to have it work effectively?

I built the ladder using wood dowels and copper tubing. The spacing of the tubing, the height off of the board, the spread at the top were all touchy and too critical. I could only get the arc to go up about 4 inches and most of the time the arc stayed where the tubing was closest. I was not impressed. After doing a little research online, I found out that:

A Jacob's Ladder works on the principle that the ionized air in the arc is a lower resistance than the air around it and heated air rises. The arc strikes at the point of lowest breakdown voltage - the small gap at the bottom. The heated plasma rises and even when it is an inch or more in width is an easier path for the current to follow. Eventually, the gap becomes too wide, the arc extinguishes and is reestablished at the bottom.

The gap between the electrodes at the bottom of a Jacob's ladder can be critical. Too wide and the arc won't strike, and too narrow and it won't make it all the way to the top. The lower voltage makes the gap even more critical. I found a slight enhancement that is supposed to work. It's simply a third electrode placed between the strike gap at the bottom of the vee. It is connected to either one of the main electrodes via two 1M ohm high voltage resistors.

When an arc should occur, the following happens...The voltage on the middle electrode floats to the potential of the electrode it's connected to via the resistors. It's easy for an arc to jump the short distance from the other electrode to the middle one. When an arc has struck and current is flowing, the voltage on the middle electrode flies up due to the high resistance value. The combination of high voltage at the middle electrode and the ionized path makes the arc strike all the way across.

That all sounded too complicated for the time I wanted to spend so I chose plan B...

Step 4: FORKS

So, I chose the next best thing Jacob's Forks! I found a couple of old forks and attached the ground wire to one fork and the high voltage wire to another fork. I clamped them down and plugged it in. The arc jumped back and forth inbetween the prongs of the fork. It was a far more spectacular light show than the failed ladder.

I then created four circular cut-outs with my whole saw attached to my drill to create insulating plugs. I cut a path through one side of each of the plugs so that I could insert the fork.

Remember not to touch it while its plugged in - or until you have depleted the capacitor by connecting the two contacts until you hear a pop...

Step 5: FOAM and TUBE

Next, I attached a 3x3x5 inch block of foam to the top of the back of the CRT casing. I cut out a place for the clear tube that will hold the forks. This is to create a place holder and insulate the monitor from the wires. I then placed a clear plastic tube in the space cut out from the foam. The tube will add some protection from the temptation of wanting to grab both ends of the leads and shock myself to death!


I connected the lead wires inbetween the plugs to insulate and cut holes in the red caps for the wires. I tested the forks first to make sure it all works before I sealed it off. Looks cool huh?

I sealed off the red caps on the end of the tubes with zip ties and voila! Its done!

(Is anyone enjoying this red carpet?)


The electricity arcs back and forth between the tongs of the forks. You could use any number of metal objects to achieve different effects. Just remember to be careful.
<p>I made something similar but with a neon transformer sign. Interesting plasma effect.</p>
Does the monitor still function? Could it be put back together and used as a pc monitor still with the forks lit? That would be a sick pc mod
How do you handle the X Ray emission? As I remember, an open monitor, tv, etc, would emit a little amount of x rays. Even if the cover is made of plastic it shields the radiations. Now that it's open, there could be some of these. MOst of th CRT's have a sticker with a warning.
yell no the tube gets some power but not enoff becuse hes shorting it b 4 t gets to it
Will this still work if I disconnect the monitor 'tube'? I built this and I LOVE it, but I've been wanting to downsize it to just the PCB, no monitor.
yes pull out the pcb clip all the grounds you can cut all of the wire excpt fore ground and hv out be carfel ask if u need any help
Not back and fourth. That will only happen if the TV is ancient. If it's newer than 1985-1990 it will be DC. One way
I think he means it sparks between two random close tongs, but keeps switching between them. For example, numbered counter clockwise, like a chip, there might be a spark between tongs 1 and 8 for an instant then maybe 3 and 6 next and so on in a random pattern.
So, I've got a sack of high voltage transformers salvaged from CRTs, but the low voltage side has a ton of pins (10-15). Do these transformers normally use 12vdc? 120vac? Will Bad Stuff (TM) happen if I run them at the wrong voltage? These were all free so I think I will just experiment.
This instructable showed a way to power a flyback transformer: https://www.instructables.com/id/MAKE-A-HIGH-VOLTAGE-SUPPLY-IN-5-MINUTES/ I haven't tried it but it looks like it will work. It also shows how to determine the correct pins to power.
I've done this a couple o times. I get at least a 1 inch spark for about 2 seconds. Then a relay cuts the monitor off. I've considered bypassing the relay, but I don't want to overload the circuit and lose the driver. And I've tried putting 10w resistors, (2k) on our main line from the flyback. That weajend the arc, but it still cut off. What do guys think is the best solution to this problem?
do older screens have higher voltage flybacks?<br /> <br />
Use heat shrink and hot glue.
Do you mean <em>AND&nbsp;until you have depleted the capacitor?</em><br />
I really want to make thiis but all I have is the computer monitor curcuit. will it still work if the wires that whent to the monitor are gone?
https://www.instructables.com/id/MAKE-A-HIGH-VOLTAGE-SUPPLY-IN-5-MINUTES/<br />
i did this with a portable crt tv
interesting read! Thank you for taking the time to post this... and yes, we enjoyed the red carpet ;)
What do you do if you don't hear a spark sound.
awesome, i thought you might like to know that we tried it to and it looked great.... until the monitor died :-) thanks anyway!
Nice instructable :). I very much like your art as well, good luck.
The way you do it,you can play *insert author's fav. game here* while having a light show at the same time!<br/>
put a wiener between them and see wht happns
the BBQ of the futuer!!
bravo, a great design. probably not a beginner's project though...
And furthermore by the looks of your forks that monitors flyback has a capacitor in it (does it make a buzzing sound while running) so it stores up a charge then pulses. If your flyback didn't have a capacitor you would have a constant arc which would build up heat and rise. as far as I know all monitor flybacks have a capacitor in them therefore monitor flyback jacobs ladder is invalid and forks are boring
The capacitor in the circuit is the monitor itself, detach the high voltage leads from all of the parts of the monitor (including the suction cup), and it should work fine.
Correct me if I'm wrong but if your using any ground that isent directly on the flyback/before any components after the flyback aren't you risking frying the drive circuitry of the monitor
I tried making this, and it works! Or it did. Let me tell the whole story. I went out and got an old CRT monitor for free that was destined for the garbage. I took it apart and it had the suction cup thingy on the back. I tried to discharge it, and there was no zap. So I assumed it was discharged (it was). I then began to cut the wire going to the suction cup thingy and attached a 12 gauge wire to the end going to the transformer. There was another wire coming out of the transformer, but I decided to go with grounding at another spot (probably where I went wrong). I looked on the pcb for something like GND or GRD but couldn't find anything. Near where the power came in, the ground plug (biggest plug, on the bottom) split into two wires. One of the two wires went off somewhere, one went to the metal casing. I decided to attach my ground wire to the metal casing right next to where the ground wire attached to it. Then I put the plastic case back on, running the wires through a hole I made near the back. I bent the wires, already stripped, into a shape where they were pointing towards each other. There was a gap of about an inch. I hooked it up with an extension cord, and sure enough it worked. It wasn't very loud at first. The arc wasn't very bright, and it was kinda red, maybe a little orange. I came back to it after lunch and made a ghetto jacobs ladder out of some bailing wire, duct tape, and styrofoam. This didn't work. It seemed like the electricity was going through the styrofoam, so I shut it off and unhooked it. I put the wires back into their original shape to try it again. The arc was the same color and brightness as it was before for a few seconds. Then it suddenly turned blue and bright like I expected it to be at first. It also started making a rather loud buzzing sound, not like any jacob's ladder I've heard before. I tried moving the wires apart some while it was turned off and turning it back on. It worked, but it started sputtering and then eventually shut off. Now when I turn it on, it just makes a short soft humming noise every few seconds. I tried playing with the gap of the wires and tested the power socket, nothing worked. I'm going outside to try it again to see if it works. I'll reply to this with what I find.
yeah, still getting nothing but a noise every second or so. i think the ground wire may have come loose cause i didn't attach it too well. I'll try opening it up again and see what I can do. if i dont reply again, that means nothing worked and i'm probably gonna go back for another monitor pretty soon :P EDIT: It's broken. I even tried hooking it up right, but I already fried something important. But, I will be going out to get another free one on monday (writing this saturday night). One thing that was odd about mine was that it never held a charge after I unplugged it. When I first got it and tried to discharge it, I didn't get anything from it. Then once I started it up (grounded to the body of the monitor instead of the other transformer lead) and unhooked it, it still didn't hold a charge. But I'll post how the next one turns out.
bit of a delayed response It probably went arye because using the mains ground probably fried a few things on the monitors control board it didn't happen to this guy so I guess it wont destroy some monitors but it isent a good idea
Hes right this is just plain dangerous
this is not something I wanna do! well if I had a workshop, maybe.. this thing is really dangerous. I once tried to put back a computer I just took all the pieces apart, it kinda worked, but I wanted to see if the big cooling block is too hot(from the power supply, which wasn't in it's case) and got shocked, cuz I didn't connected all the ground wires. it was quite pleasant, more like a wave going across my hand, but this thing can kill u
Perhaps you shouldn't be taking things apart you know nothing about. Computer power supplies were NOT made to be taken apart by the end user. I've taken many apart however, and usually the heat sinks themselves say 'RISK OF SHOCK- DO NOT TOUCH'
that is bacause the two big capicitors in it were still charged, if you had let the PSU sit for a little while you wouldn't have got shocked.
i had a similar thing happen but a wave not so much more a tsunami of pain and rapid contraction of muscles that i didn't even know i had lucky i just suffered to burns on my fingers and not a heart atttack
Jacobfork, have you ever seen a 'trick' using a paper towel tube, two pieces of aluminum foil, a 9v battery and some type of RC circuit, that will cause an increasing, building shock if the two pieces of aluminum are connected between the hands?
haha - so entertaining.
Can you cook weenies with them on the fork?. Love the red carpet.
Probably not enough power to cook the weenies. You can, however, cook weenies with regular household current. Attach the forks to a lamp cord, or some such. It's a good idea to plug into a power bar that you can switch on and off. Two warnings: 1) Don't touch the forks while it's powered up! 2) Don't use "good" forks.
3) don't eat them as any water will be converted to a hydrochloric acid due to electrolysis.
Was this response posted on April 1 and lost in the aether for 2 days? It dinna sound kosher to me, having ate many a 'cuted wienie,suffering no ill effect and tasting no acidity. In addition, my vague recollections of chemistry (and a quick Googling) indicate that electrolysis of salt water yields chlorine gas, hydrogen gas and sodium hydroxide solution. The only gas I ever detected was wienie steam. Hydrogen and chlorine require ultraviolet light to react. Maybe if the wienie was sliced and placed in the sun before any of the possible minute quantities of gas dissipates, you might get some HCl, but it would be neutralized by the NaOH, yielding good ol' brine again. It might be interesting to test the pH of the wienies before and after their electrocution... I suppose "pickle glow" is actually deadly ionizing radiation?
electrolysis is really only a concern with dc.
Yeah, none of those chemicals are even remotely toxic, not even a drain-cleaner's main active ingredient. Perhaps the general wording of your post proves my point, as you seem almost drunken and disoriented. FYI, chlorine is one of the most toxic elements known, as it kills everything in even minute concentrations, and an ultimate antibiotic disinfectant for all surfaces. Sodium hydroxide (lye, or "caustic soda") dissolves flesh on contact (everyone needs a caustic oven-cleaner in their diet for proper nutrition), and hydrogen is not exactly part of the nutrition pyramid either. Where do you get this religious-right science that says hydrogen and/or chlorine need anything to react with anything else to become toxic? UV has as much to do with their toxicitiy as a penlight lit on the surface of Saturn has to do with the gastro-intestinal tract of a rodent in New Guinea after a lunar eclipse when Jupiter is in retrograde. Jumping Jesus H. Particular Christ, have you read the research in the past 60 years? All of the above is not FDA-approved for a healthy diet (or even a surviveable one), and even though it's the FDA, I still agree. I mean, really......seriously? You admit to the toxins and see no problem? Have you voted republican in the last 7 years? Are you a direct descendant of Harry J. Anslinger or a relative of George Walter Bush? I strongly recommend a CAT scan, and perhaps a skilled neurologist to determine the severity of your last concussion. I mean really, if you're going to contest my point, don't do it while proving it for me. It kinda hurts your case, if you didn't know. That was your argument to prove me wrong, right? I sure hope not. I expected better from you from your previous comments.
Perhaps when you sign up for remedial Chemistry, you might consider remedial English, as well as Anger Management. My point, while not stated outright, is the quite obvious one, that cooking wienies by direct electrical resistance does not yield <em>any</em> of these chemicals, just a warm, slightly singed wienie. Even if it did produce HCl (which it doesn't) it would be nowhere near the concentration of the hydrochloric in your very own tum-tum. (&quot;battery acid&quot; is sulphuric, not hydrochloric, as you misinformed poor tech-king, below)<br/> Ummmm &quot;admit to the toxins?&quot; I stated the reaction products of saltwater electrolysis. I then stated that none are detectable in an electrowienie. No taste or odour of chlorine, not even as much as one can smell or taste in ordinary tap water. No slippery feel of sodium hydroxide, not even as much as might remain in a bowl of grits, after they're rinsed and cooked. As for hydrogen, horror of horrors, <strong>you're breathing some right now</strong>!!! Too high a concentration might deprive you of oxygen (lighting one up probably wouldn't be the best plan either), but this would be quite a few orders of magnitude more than one might get from a li'l ol' wienie.<br/> Regarding the ultraviolet, I never said diddly about it having anything to do with toxicity of either gas, rather that uv or heat or some other initiator, is required to get a mixture of hydrogen and chlorine to react to produce your fabled hydrochloric acid, that you referred to in your original post. I was also trying to make a point about how the actual products of this (hypothetical) electrolysis might be worse than the surmised HCl. (Apparently subtlety is no longer in high demand)<br/> Drunken huh? I might possibly have been a little high (I'm sure Harry J. Anslinger would not have approved) but much more coherent than your response.<br/> The bit about pH testing was a highly veiled reference to that mystical branch of sorcery known as &quot;science&quot;, practitioners of which do things to &quot;test&quot; their theories before browbeating others with their sage wisdom.<br/> Please excuse any inferred hostility or sarcasm. None was intended, but it has been a somewhat trying week for me. I can only conclude that your posts were written under similar circumstances.<br/> By the way, just who the Hell is George Walter Bush and why must you malign him so? I'm sure George Walker Bush and his fellow GOP'ers might appreciate my vote, but they ain't gonna get it due to my not being American, and my having about as much regard for their party as I do for the Conservative Party of Canada, which is none whatsoever.<br/> Thanks for reading. Please be mindful of that pale orange bar, under the reply window, lest you hurt my little feelings.<br/><br/>Ta ta<br/>
Hydrogen is a minor atmospheric constituent. The globally averaged atmospheric mixing ratio of H2 fluctuates at present around 500ppb. Yes, 500 parts-per-billion. We ingest many more dangerous elements at far greater quantities. Okay, so your point on how I am already breathing it in? Yes, wet-cell batteries are sulfuric in nature. You may believe it or not, but that was intended as a preface to even responding to the post. Well done. "The only gas I ever detected was wienie steam. Hydrogen and chlorine require ultraviolet light to react. " The heat you claim not to exist is in the electrolysis of the weenie in question. History betrays you... Your candor is admirable, and your content amusing in a shield of relevance. No hostility taken BTW. As far as my remedial english, you don't have a leg to stand on really, as I speak fluently and do not speak your dominant language of French. Enough from me on this, I fold to relevance to this project, not from your reply. I have no need for the last word.
electrolisis turns water into hydrogen and oxygene. how do you get hydrocloric acide?
Fresh water alone. Add some salt and you produce battery acid, and you know weenies have salt. The hydrogen will bond immediately to the chloride. Any water in your weenie will have salt in it. Perhaps I should have clarified this first.
You won't get battery acid from salt in water electrolysis.. You can get hydrochloric acid that way since Cl2 is passed at the anode, and H2 at cathode.. Battery acid (lead-acid car battery) is about 35% sulfuric acid.. You can make that by burning sulfur and salpetre over water, but it would need to be boiled stronger.. Making any strong acid at home is way more work than its worth, and EXTREMELY dangerous on large scale.. Hardware stores carry most, and this biodiesel fad is making purer products easier to get..
Energize a lead peroxide plate and a lead sulfide plate and you get sulfuric acid, hence the name "lead-acid". I have capably produced many gallons of sulfuric acid for my high-school lab eons ago. Manufacturing sulfuric acid at home is extraordinarily easy, as well as hydrochloric acid, and hardly more work than it's worth, unless you are impatient. No, you won't get "battery acid" from just salt-water in electrolysis, but you will get hydrochloric-acid quite easily. I demonstrated this as a teacher's aide in physical sciences by not only creating acid, but demonstrating it burning through the metal container it was produced in. It is only dangerous when you don't know how to handle it, and what to store it in. Hydrochloric acid and sulfuric acid can be stored in glass or plastic containers, can you name which one goes in which without searching the internet? I warn that I am schooled in old-school film developing that employed both acids, I think I know what I am talking about. The sulfuric acid content in say, a car battery depends on it's charge. This is how hydrometers can measure the state of charge and the health of such a battery. Sulfuric acid can also be produced when electrolysis comes from an AC source and you throw in a match. You also seem to have missed the hidden trivia in my original post. You fail for not reading fully before responding. You are also not aware of the hydrochloric content in electrolytic batteries. I think I already agreed to drop this, so I am doing so now. GOOD DAY to you, sir.....I am forever blocking any further responses on this topic via script, so do not expect that I will see this topic again. The script is active as soon as I close this window, which is the moment after this post is ACK'd by the server, INIT QRY starting now.

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