I should at this point stress the dangerous nature of this project. Though very simple in principle, we are still dealing with very high voltage here. Kids, don't try this at home!
Step 1: Gathering materials
Step 2: What you need
Step 3: Composition
Step 4: Assembly
The center drawer support rail was removed from the night stand to make room for the guts, and the old varnish was stripped away using Jasco paint and epoxy remover (nasty stuff, gloves and goggles mandatory).
Step 5: Drilling holes / Wood treatment
Step 6: Metal work.
Step 7: Wiring
These wires are attached to the ends of your electrodes. Any long skinny metal thing will do, I used salad tongs. The electrodes are attached to a non conductive base (plywood with a thick rubber mat on top). The trick is to place them just far enough apart that a strong arc forms between them, and that they taper away from each other at a rate sufficient to allow the arc to climb up until the gap is too great and it breaks.
The neon transformer was fastened inside the night stand and the leads were run up inside the vacuum cleaner base to make this arrangement work. I then used a foot pedal (sorry no photo) to act as the main switch. It is important that you place the switch in the input power line, and not the output one!
I wanted to use some of those cool old meters and switches as well so I decided to make an instrument panel from an aluminum baking tray. A small wall transformer was used to make one of the meters work, as well as a green indicator light.
I find that it is always best to build your electrical circuits with test leads first before committing to more permanent connections.
Step 8: Finished!
Overall I was very happy with the outcome of this project. The effect of a Jacob's Ladder may be simple, but it still never fails to capture the imagination. I felt that by enhancing the presentation of this effect, an already good thing was made a even better.
If you would like to see more of my sculptures, please visit www.nemogould.com