A joule thief is a simple circuit that can take 1.5 volts and put out as much as 5 volts. It can light an LED super bright! But have you ever heard about getting 120 volts out of a AA battery? The Super Joule Thief can do just that! It is perfect for lighting lights during power outages or just for a desk lamp. It can even charge cameras and cell phones! Watch the video for an overview.

I entered this instructable into the Make it Glow contest, so if you like it, please vote for me!! 

Step 1: The Parts

This circuit requires very few parts:
-TIP31 transistor [HAS to be a TIP31 because it works the BEST :) ]
-10k POT
-0.1uf-1uf capacitor (I used a .22uf)
-Ferrite toroid or rod
-20 to 30 feet of 30 gauge magnet wire
-3 feet of 22 gauge magnet wire
-heatsink? (Do you want to power it with more than 1.5 volts?)
-AA battery and holder
-AC output adapter (A 2 prong to 3 prong adapter works great)

Scissors, solder, and other tools will also help.
<p>Hello my friend!</p><p>Can you sell me this?</p><p>If yes how much?</p>
<p>yes I can, if u want I will sell for $ 72.</p>
<p>will this power a 110v cell phone charger, instead of just a light bulb? </p><p>thanks for kind reply in advence.</p>
this is DC dude...... you just need a good 5v
You said Using a TIP31 you can use a 4watt Transistor. What do I need to use a 9watt or 13watt led bulb. I've heard about using MOSFET, what do you suggest?
Hi men!!! <br><br>This is awsome, I'm thinking to use it with a solar cell or with a dynamo in the bike
<p>How is the wiring to the 2 prong adapter connected? And where is the small ring tab on the two prong adapter connected?</p>
<p>how long will it run on the 1.5 volt battery ?</p>
<p>can you make a step by step video of this.... can omit capacitor have any effect and can i wind toroid cuntinously</p>
<p>can you make a step by step video of this.... can omit capacitor have any effect and can i wind toroid cuntinously</p>
<p>Rewound it in a ceramic encased toroid (out of an old CRT monitor) still just buzz but no high voltage. i AM getting output but it is very faint. so i guess i need to replace the transistor</p>
<p>mosfet* with transistor</p>
<p>The only NPN i have that is over a tiny logic transistor is a </p><p>FJAF6812 (lol i know i have 5v logic transistors then jump to 1500V)</p>
<p>Lighting up an LED (no resistor) off a 1A 12V power supply -_-</p>
<p>I built one using an IRF630 but i had to use 5-12 windings on the primary and so far i have about 80-90 on the secondary so i decided to test it. i applied 6 volts to it and get a very high pitch wine (that means it is working!) but i don't seem to get anything from the secondary. i have a small neon bulb and nothing happens. i even touched the 2 leads and still nothing.</p>
First off, I wouldnt use a mosfet because this circuit is not meant for a high current output. A normal bjt should be fine. The most likely problem is that the secondary is shorting to the ferrite core or the windings are arcing over. This has happened to me. I covered my toroid in enamel before I wound the coils.
<p>I will attempt putting some tape on it and re-winding. :( and will the mosfet work? it is all i have that is over a tiny logic transistor<br>Also i seem to get a very tiny anount out of the secondary beacause i tried connecting a piezo speaker</p>
<p>Just did it with a flyback and it works fine (tiny arcs compared to my 555/2n3055) but that means my driver is fine so i am going to have to re-wind the secondary :(</p>
<p>Insulated and the same thing happens.</p>
<p>I'm starting to build this. How do you think 22 gauge wire would go with building this instead of 22 and 30? Would it increase or decrease voltage? Also, how would a 2N3904 transistor work instead? Would I need a beefier one or a smaller one if I can't use that one? Lastly, how would a 1uf capacitor work instead of a 0.68?</p>
<p>22 should work fine but that transistor is WAYY too tiny for this build :P as for the capacitor it has to be a film capacitor it can't be a small round one (electrolytic) since they have a positive and a negative.</p>
<p>When I searched film capacitor and looked onto images, it came up with those square capacitors (That's what I call them :P), however, it also came up with some square capacitors that are slightly rounded like those circular disk capacitors. That's the kind I have when I said a 1uf capacitor. I don't believe those have a positive and negative.</p>
<p>I just said film because that is what i call them :P but you can use any non polarized capacitor.</p>
<p>I personally am using a .47 uf &quot;box&quot; film capacitor rated for 300V (only one i have that is not electrolytic)</p>
<p>how about the transistor may i change to the other type....? please help me</p>
Yes you can. What type do you have?
is there a way to make a 13.4v version to jump start a car with a dead battery with (or similar) method?
<p>When clevelandstorms says several amps he means around 650 cold cranking amps, meaning in cold temperatures. Car batteries are rated in Cold Cranking Starting Amps or CC: 650 CC or 700 CC for cold cranking amps. </p><p>Let's look at using an old standard 4 Watt 120 Volt night-light bulb. This bulb requires about 33 mA at 120 Volts. The circuit we make would still have to supply 4W but, from your 1.5V battery, which means about 2.67 AMPS of current. Which, to say the least, is requiring far more than we normally require from a single AA battery! The thing to remember is POWER, how many Watts does it take? P=I*E or in words, Power (Watts) = Current (Amps) times (*) Electromotive force (Volts) so 4W = I * 1.5V =&gt; 4W / 1.5 V = 2.67 Amps yet at 120 Volts 4W / 120V = 0.033 Amps or 33mA. This means to get the 33mA at 120Volts the 1.5 Volt battery (if supplying 1.5 volts) needs to supply about 2.67 Amps of current, and as the voltage drops the battery has to supply MORE current to produce the same power, Watts, to keep the bulb going.</p><p>Simply stated, to use this circuit to run an LED night light is, sort of, counter productive. Don't get me wrong, this is a wonderful demonstration of running a very small 120Volt device from a 1.5 Volt battery. But, if all we want is a night light, then using the standard Joule Thief circuit without that large coil (with its shock hazard) to simply run an ultra bright 3V LED directly would be far more efficient. You'll get about a week or more of operation from a dead (~ 1.2 Volt) AA battery instead of only 2.5 hours on a new AA battery for the 120Volt LED night light. It would be the same for charging a cell phone, if we could do it directly with a simple Joule Thief we'd get far more power transferred to the phone battery and far less power wasted just running the conversion circuits.</p>
Unfortunately not with this circuit. You need something that could supply several amps and this circuit will supply a few milliamps at most.
i tried it many times,but it did not work. plz plz plz help me.
<p>Note, the two shorter coils need to use the opposite ends of the wires: The starting end of one wire and the ending end of the second wire get tied together and they go to the + side of the battery. The diagram above makes it look like only one wire is going to the + side of the battery but it is actually two wires from the two short coils. I usually wind the two wires together then take the starting end of one &amp; the ending end of the other, solder them together and that goes to the + side of the battery. Hope that helps, it is usually the easy mistake to make using the two ends which are together but this produces a non-inductance circuit and so won't work. Look at: <a href="http://www.bigclive.com/joule.htm" rel="nofollow">http://www.bigclive.com/joule.htm</a> to see how he shows which wire to use.</p>
hi!thank you for your nice project.can you tell more about output frequency and how can i change it?
Awesome design
<p>Thank you</p>
im a little confused with one part of your schematics <br>the arrow at the end of the base of the transistor connecting to the resistor. Is that supposed to be ground?
That's the variable resistor's wiper terminal
About this : <br> <br>REMEMBER! THIS DEVICE OUTPUTS A HIGH VOLTAGE SO IF YOU TOUCH THE SECONDARY LEADS WHILE THE DEVICE IS ON, YOU WILL GET SHOCKED! <br> <br>It can't kill you, but it is quite uncomfortable. <br> <br> <br>Did you accidentally shocked yourself?
Yes and not accidentally! I had to see exactly what voltage was outputted and if it was enough to give a jolt. I'm basing a pen shocker on this idea
You're trying to make a pen shocker from this idea? Is it also a joule thief?
Has there been any improvement in the high pitch noise or any idea on how to inhibit it?
Coat the toroid in epoxy. Also, if you use a higher value capacitor, the noise will be less. This is not really a problem for most toroids.
This is a nice project and a well done instructable! <br> <br>Just a cautionary note: I think that it's important to consider the type of load that you put on the output - I confess that I haven't built this yet myself, but I will say that (without looking at the output on a scope), you would want to be careful of the frequency, and the shape of the waveform when powering anything other than a resistive load. You could damage some devices if you're trying to power them with something other than 60 Hz in the U.S.. <br>Mark
Yes you are right, the output is no where near 60 Hz. It is closer to 15000 Hz. You can hear it, as well as check with a scope. I'm really surprised his cell phone charger worked.
As others have also pointed out, there are a lot of unknown variables that could have a big effect on the output, both for the frequency, and the shape of the waveform (and of course, its amplitude). Some devices might not take the spikes that could be developed with too many windings on the output. Also, it's important to be aware, as also noted by others, that when trying to meter this with some DVMs, you may not get an accurate reading on your meter, so that's not always safe either. As you've done, the scope is the best way measure what's really there, for your own safety, and that of the device one is trying to power. <br> <br>Regrettably, I should mention that I fried one of my Fluke meters while testing the output of just such a circuit. <br> <br>Good luck to all - be safe and have fun! <br> <br>Mark
Thanks for pointing this out. It can damage some devices
Awesome project! Do you know how many amps are outputted?
The max output is about 250-300 miliamps. Thanks for viewing!
300 milliamps on 120V that is 40W even if the circuit is highly resonant on the 1.5V side this is nearly 30A. Have you ever seen a 1.5V battery delivering 30A....
I've tried this circuit with a large 20 watt bulb and my multimeter said that it drew 260 miliamps. It lasted for 30 minutes. Thank you for the correction though. I don't know the output, I just know what it can draw, and the max was 260ma.
This kind of circuit does not deliver sinus voltage. It generates spikes which can be really high but for a very short period of time(milliseconds or less). So a multimeter is of no use in that case. Multimeters are designed to work with DC or AC sinus (with low frequency up to a few hundreds of Hertz) apart from that they give erroneous informations. <br>An AA battery is 1.5V with around 2500mAh capacity. That is 3.75Wh let round it to 4Wh for ease of calculation. During 1/2 an hour it can only deliver 2W.

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