Introduction: Kirlian Machine

The process that we’re trying to replicate is called Kirlian photography, or electrophotography, and it is a way to capture images by ionizing moisture particles in the air around an object. Or… by exciting its aura. Basically, what we need to build a high-voltage, high-frequency, low-amperage signal generator that we can use to ionize stuff and take their pictures.

What we need is: a super high potential difference between two electrodes, like… 20,000 volts. What we’d like to have is: for this super high voltage to be accompanied by super low current, so we don’t kill anyone or anything.

We could just use a neon sign transformer, or build our own high-voltage signal circuit using an automotive ignition coil.

We're gonna build our own...

Step 1: Fast and Cheap Sparks

The first circuit we built was based on this schematic, that we found here, along with an explanation of how/why it works.

Materials needed:
x1 light switch dimmer
x1 ignition coil from a car
x1 1uF 220V electrolytic capacitor

This worked pretty well, and we made some fun sparks with it, but since the signal is more or less coming straight from the wall, its current is still pretty high, and it does not feel nice to touch the high-voltage wires. It would be pretty hard (and painful) to use this to take electro-pictures of living things.


Step 2: Second Circuit: Control and Finesse

What is missing from the previous circuit is some current-limiting components (resistor and a fuse), and a way to flicker the transformer on and off at higher frequencies. Both of these things should contribute to a less painful and dangerous aura-imaging experience.

Here’s the circuit diagram for the final version of our Kirlian Machine. It is based on a circuit designed by some people in the 80s, and it uses an astable 555 timer to control the frequency at which the coil turns on and off.

You'll need... 
x1 ignition coil from a car
x1 W06G rectifier
x1 1kohm, 20watts resistor
x1 500 mA fuse and fuse box
x1 680nF, 250V capacitor
x1 TIC126 thyristor
x2 10nF capacitor
x1 100 nF capacitor
x1 100 ohm resistor
x2 2.2kohm resistor
x1 100kohm potentiometer
x1 555 IC

Step 3:

Here’s a picture of the circuit on a board. That huge white ceramic rectangle is the 20-watt resistor, and that big yellow thing to the right is the ignition coil.

Now we can take pictures of our hands and fingers and other body parts.


alexkirlian (author)2015-10-04

Try using a CAPACITIVE DISCHARGE circuit in the primary coil.
Also try using a coil of electric fence.

thiagohersan (author)alexkirlian2015-10-05

Hi. Do you mean instead of the 555, or instead of the rectifier+RC?
Do you have an example of such circuit?
Thanks !

alexkirlian (author)thiagohersan2015-10-05

Yes, a circuit with 555 oscillating at 300KHz is essential. 60 Hz network does not give you a spark flies.

Rectifying AC 4 diodes, series resistor 1K or even 2K2 resistor ... Then after you connect a 680nF capacitor that goes to the primary of a coil, which can be common 4 turns of wire. The junction of the resistor with the capacitor you turn on the triac TIC226D. Thus the capacitor charges via resistor and discharge via coil (capacitive discharge).
The secondary coil can be electric fence (electronic security).

One more thing: put a transformer to isolate the AC if you're using to "shoot" PEOPLE.
I hope you have understood, even more I used Google Translator. ;-)

Regards from Brazil.

thiagohersan (author)alexkirlian2015-10-06

Sucesso ! Valeu Alex. Você não mora em BH, mora? Foi lá que a gente montou o circuito. Teria sido massa ter a sua consultoria. Próxima vez! Abraço.

alexkirlian (author)thiagohersan2015-10-07

:-) Não, moro em Cabo Frio - RJ.


MohamedW (author)2015-01-12

so so so bad

jfryar (author)2014-05-20

Just browsing and noticed what you had going on and I thought you might find it beneficial to look at a Tesla coil. The schematics can be simple and can give you some results you might be looking for.

atlaswalkedaway (author)2014-05-03

since were on the subject. bodily resistance only holds up so far as the dielectric strength of the skin does. if an arc made it through the skin to a blood vessel, well thats a different story completely. not to mention the pricipal of the path of least resistance which would be the progressively increasing size of the veins to arteries and thusly directly to the heart. but if you have it on good knowlege that your skin can withstand an infinate voltage then have at it. im not even going to go in to detrimental effects of having that many of your vital message carrying electrons stripped out of your body and not immediately replaced. brains dont need electrons right?

danqtoo (author)2013-11-20

My electronics knowledge is a bit rusty but it appears to me that it would *not* be safe to attach this circuit to any part of your body - because there isn't electrical isolation between the output side and the AC power. The current-limiting resistor (and the half-amp fuse) would allow many times as much current as it would take to kill you... depending on which part of your body it went through. If you do use this circuit, it would be prudent to be sure the object (or person) you attach it to is well-insulated from ground with no possibility of contacting ground (for example, don't do it at the kitchen sink).

I could be wrong, maybe more knowledgable people will help out here...

mrandle (author)danqtoo2014-05-02

I agree it all depends on the path its going through. As long as its not across the heart you "should" be ok... I imagine the control circuitry in step 2 would drastically step down the current from whats in step one. Those coils can give quite a zap if you've ever worked on older cars and felt leaky spark plug wires. We did experiments in college where we would light up light bulbs with cauterizing machines by attaching the -ve electrode to our body and holding on to the outside of the bulb and pressing the +ve (cauterizing knife) to the bottom of the bulb. Just make sure you turn on the device AFTER connecting yourself so you don't get the arcing burns that can result.

danqtoo (author)mrandle2014-05-02

tmrandle, I don't want to get into an argument, or in any way deprecate your project; I won't post to this topic after this one, you have a nice project and I don't want to be hounding you. But... I think it would be a lot safer if you could power it entirely with batteries; or fully isolate the house current from the project with a good isolation transformer.

My analysis of this second circuit tells me there are still significant hazards:

The user, if grounded, becomes the shortest path to ground during the "off" state of the SCR; or if the SCR should fail as an open instead of a short. Then at 120V the 1K resistor can only limit current down to 0.120 Amps, or 120 milliamps, which is more than enough to cook your goose; and the 500ma fuse won't even get warm at that point, and is likely too slow anyway, so don't count on it to protect anyone.

Of course that's only a problem if the user accidentally gets connected to a ground.

Nice photo at the top of the page!

thiagohersan (author)danqtoo2014-05-02

Project is mine.

And, yes, if you touch the two wires across the ignition coil, one with each hand, you're fried.

If you only touch one of the leads, it's not that bad.

You're missing body resistance in your math. 120V divided by 1K, plus whatever the resistance of your heart is... should be less than 120mA.