Introduction: Make an Ultra Simple High Voltage Generator

Picture of Make an Ultra Simple High Voltage Generator

Have you ever wanted to build a high voltage devices to make sparks like Tesla Coils, Marx Generator, and so on.. But find it too compacted or difficult to build?

Well, this instructable is for you! It can make create a few kilovolts of static-like sparks, and best of all... You can make it with only two things to make it, a battery and a simple mains transformer!

Before you continue, you should know a little bit of information about transformers, click here to find out.

Step 1: Get the Things!!

Picture of Get the Things!!
Like I said, you need only two things to make it, well, actually, three things - some wires.

  • 9 volt battery.
  • Mains transformer
  • Wires

The mains transformer, you can find those in just about any mains powered electronic devices, like VCR's, stereos, and stuff like that, you can also use a wall wart if you want. The best mains transformers you could ever use is found in digital alarm clocks.

Unfortunately, I burnt up all of my alarm clock transformers while ago... :( So I will have use a transformer from a VCR.

Step 2: Wire Up the Transformer

Picture of Wire Up the Transformer

Okay, before we attach the wires to the transformer, you need to take a look at it first...

The two leads of the transformer that are connected to the mains power source, is the primary (the high voltage side), and the other two leads are the secondary (the low voltage side).
We are going to connect the transformer in reversed, I mean the primary (the high voltage side) of the transformer becomes "secondary" and the secondary (the low voltage side) becomes "primary".

So we are going to connect the battery on the primary (the low voltage side) of the transformer and we will get some sparks from the secondary (the high voltage side)!

Right, attach the wires to the transformer!

Step 3: Connect to Battery and Have Fun!

Picture of Connect to Battery and Have Fun!

Connect either one wire from the primary (the low voltage side) to one terminal of the battery (don't worry, you can connect it any way round). Then bring two secondary wires (the high voltage side) very close to each other (about 2 mm) and then tap the other primary wire to the other terminal of the battery.

And then, you should see sparks on the ends of the secondary wires, and you may hear a little "snap" too!

Step 4: Add a Switch

Picture of Add a Switch

Instead of tapping the wire to the battery which can be a bit difficult, you can add a push-button (don't use the push-lock switch) switch into the circuit if you like...

Step 5: Enjoy!

Picture of Enjoy!

Well, I hope you find this instructable useful to you, and if you need help or have some questions, or found a error, please make a comment! I like comment! :)


mirabella.lydia (author)2017-05-30

Hello, has anyone tried this? I am woking on a show where we want this on stage. How safe is this around people? What do you suggest for this effect without hurting anyone?

First off, make sure you bring in your electrician/lighting team and talk with them about using an effect like this. I've run similar effects and without proper protections, it can really mess with the data streams for the lighting. Also, note that to be seen well from a stage, you will need to scale this up a good amount. After all of that, make sure that every single person on the stage is taught how to safely be around it. While it should be fairly safe for someone who knows to safely maneuver around it, a random extra or guest getting injured by this can have very bad consequences. Shows can even be shut down if someone gets injured, as most stages really don't want a lawsuit on their hands. Basically, if you do it safely and communicate with the entire team, it can be an amazing effect and is definetly worth pursuing. Good luck

HankPNS (author)mirabella.lydia2017-07-04

It can't hurt much the worst it will do is give you a little shock that doesn't hurt that much.

RajivK23 (author)2017-01-24

hi you using battery how DC will work with a transformer?

megasmileys (author)RajivK232017-03-06

the spark gap creates an alternating current that can pass through the transformer

wcoetzer (author)2016-06-19

Why not just use a 555 ic to switch the circuit connect that to a transformer and then use a simple cockcroft walton generator to step it up to hv dc this is a very simple circuit is is a lot more efficient than manually tapping it as you can accurately control the frequency all be it a bit more advanced.

BenjaminC98 made it! (author)wcoetzer2016-10-11

So I've been working on a 555 timer stun gun circuit for months now and with a 12 volt power source i've only been able to get about 700 V DC out of it. The 555 circuit is fine, my transformer is fine (about 280 Vp-p out the gate), the multiplier though is only outputting about 700 volts DC... In LT Spice I get 1.3 kV on the output I am doing this for my job and I would absolutely love to make this work... Any help is greatly appreciated.

EnriqueV29 (author)BenjaminC982017-01-08

My guess the resistance of the inductors, are working as a voltage divider, measure it using a multimeter, from your transforemer, and add it on the simulation, in series to the inductors, or right click on the inductor to modify the properties.

EnriqueV29 (author)BenjaminC982017-01-08

seems great!, the values you use for the inductors of the transformer, you choose it for the simulation, or actually are the values of your transformer?

RobertC393 (author)wcoetzer2016-08-10

It's not simpler since this only needs a transformer.

Bob Clark

Teo3N (author)wcoetzer2016-07-01

I'm quite sure who made this instructables does not know about "complex" electronics.. And yeah 555 circuit would be way more effective.

yacer.ahmidi (author)2016-12-31

i like it
Thnx man
i finally found a way to automatically ignite my flame thrower *-*

digi18 (author)2016-12-18

will it give continuous high voltage supply...

pchowdhary1 (author)2016-11-30

check this out ppl... look how does 3.5 MILLION VOLTS look like .... beautiful

Umniscient (author)2010-06-25

So I have to repeatedly switch the current on and off, amirite?

Plasmana (author)Umniscient2010-07-02


adam 101 (author)Plasmana2010-07-12

Could you wire a 555 circuit to switch it for you? I can see no reason why not. Does anyone else see a reason that you shouldn't do that?

bilden (author)adam 1012016-11-04

To keep it simple..

It works, ive created inverters that way

Umniscient (author)adam 1012010-07-17

I believe it will work. I'm trying that myself.

adam 101 (author)Umniscient2010-07-19

a 555 can only source 200 mA of power. is that a problem?

Lenny24 (author)adam 1012010-11-28

Just use a big MOSFET, like the IRF740 or so...
And, if you use a Powertransistor, dont forget to use a diode anti-parallel to your transformer. in case you dont, it could Kill your transistor!

ARJOON (author)adam 1012010-09-14

yes especially when charging a capacitor bank. That is why is use zvs driver

amos33 (author)Umniscient2010-10-15

Would a Pulse Width Modulator "PWM" work in place of the switch? Just curious.

hydranix (author)amos332016-10-20

use he pwm signal to drive a transistor to pulse the battery

Tesla_cool_maniac (author)amos332016-01-24

Square wave generator is better, use a irf620 and a astable 200 hertz 555 circuit

sikder1 (author)2016-09-18

It will be more easy if we use ardunio for switching

asad amir (author)2016-07-22

how much volts will it make?

SimonH33 (author)2016-04-28

So im guessing that this is similar to the ignition on a gas cooker that only uses 1AA battery? ?

joshwhitesub (author)2009-08-17

i just looked up direct current and transformers and according to the internet, you cannot use a battery of any kind it has to be alternating current, check this website

john12692 (author)joshwhitesub2009-12-05

according to the internet......


comment directly above you explains it

i'll post it again for you...

Yes transformers use collapsing electrical fields and so AC input is required. However AC input can be simulated by rapidly switching DC voltage on and off to produce the required rising and falling field to induce high voltage in the secondary coil. This can be achieved mechanically in several ways and is how the high voltage for the early experiments with Giessler and Crookes tubes was produced, leading eventually to the discovery of X-Rays. google Ruhmkorff coil for more info. "

joshwhitesub (author)john126922009-12-11

 this project does not use pulsed direct current voltage therefore how can it work? 

*sigh, you create the square wave by tapping wires together fast, NOT taping, TAPPING

john12692 (author)joshwhitesub2009-12-14

the instance you connect dc to a circuit it is pulsed dc it goes from no current to having current

we have been suggesting to use a timer which would repeatedly turn the current off and on creating pulsed DC or simulated AC instead of doing it manually by connecting and disconnecting a wire or pressing a switch over and over again

You aint using a dc constant source, by tapping wire to wire fast enough you create square waves, which can run a transformer

coilsinamotor (author)2010-12-22

transformers are met to work with ac or pused dc currents does this really work?

Yes, the input is a square wave pulse

by tapping the switch you are creating pulsed dc

Umniscient (author)2010-07-21

Wait, I don't understand. The mains transformer takes around 120 Volts and converts it to the 5-12 Volt range. Even if the transformer is used in reverse, how will it generate a few kilovolts?

Google "flyback effect", youll fugure it out

che567 (author)Umniscient2011-02-05

its the ratio of turns that alters how the voltage will be changed, double the turns on the secondary coild and the voltage doubles on the secondary coil, this can work in reverse

Umniscient (author)2011-06-23

At first, this guide confused me.

Mains transformers take 110 or 220 volts (depending on where you live) and convert it to around 10 volts. If you reverse the transformer, inputting 9 volts, you should get the same amount as your mains supply. This would mean that the output is not in the several kilovolts range, but actually much lower. But then how would the relatively long sparks be generated?

I think, now, that this works through inductive kickback. When the 9V supply to an inductor (the transformer's primary) is interrupted, a much higher voltage is generated. This would then be induced in the secondary, producing the static-like spark. I don't think this works with a perfect sine wave, only a square or sawtooth wave.

Only a square wave, its the flyback effect, good job figuring that out on your own

tom10122 (author)2011-12-10

is this dangerous? i.e should i not touch the high voltage wires?

It shouldnt kill you,(shouldnt!), but it hurts

Erkel97 (author)2013-06-10

since increase in voltage means decrease in amperage (right?) and amperage is the biggest danger to humans with electricity, Can this be used to shock people?

Please dont, i was once working on a high voltage power line and was shocked so badly that i lost consciosness for three days, so i know how it feels, im not saying that will happen with this thing, but please be considerate of hurting others, epecially with electricity, as it can kill people with pacemakers or heart problems, skin effect or not

indy1970 (author)2013-09-06

try this on get mechanical relay with a normally closed contact .
take the + from the battery go to the relay coil>> out of the relay coil to the transformer>> from the transformer to one side of the normally closed contact.
Then take the - battery to the other side of the normally closed contact. it will buzz the relay sending pulsed dc to the transformer stepping it up and giving you a higher frequency spark.

apillai5 (author)indy19702014-03-29

Can U Tell Me How Can I Get Continuous Supply From The Transformer ? By Using A 9v Battery

You need a pulse circuit, look up "555 timer high voltage generator"

About This Instructable




Bio: ––––––––––––––––––––––– "Energy cannot be created nor destroyed!" –––––––––––––––––––––––
More by Plasmana:How To Build A Simple But Powerful Flyback DriverZVS Flyback Driver - VideoClose ups on electronics
Add instructable to: