Mini Jacob's Ladder or High Voltage Climbing Arc

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Introduction: Mini Jacob's Ladder or High Voltage Climbing Arc

I saw another climbing arc project here and thought: Hey, why not make a tiny one!

Step 1: The Transformer

First you want to find yourself a good neon sign transformer. It can be anything from 6kv to 20kv. Anything under 6kv and the spark will not spark, anything over, and you could damage the small electrodes. For this project, I used a 9kv @ 30mA made my Allenson. It will run about $10 to $20 on eBay. Or, get one from a dumpster behind a bar.

Step 2: The Base

I used an old plactic container with holes drilled in it, and the electrodes hot glued into the holes. As you can see, asthetics were not crucial.

Step 3: The Electrodes

You can use pretty much anything here. No more than 16 inches though, remember, we are trying to keep it small. I used a metal coat hanger cun in half. The point at which the electrodes join the base can be any small distance, BUT the electrodes will need to be bentcloser, or else the spark will not start. The basic rule of thumb is about 20kv equals 1 cm of initial gap. As the electrodes go higher, they can be flared out, up to sometimes more than 3 inches.

Step 4: Wiring

If you are unsure of how to wire up a transformer, I'm not really sure this project is for you. But, for those determined enough, I will teach you.
1) Connect the wires to the electrodes (I went up underneath, but you can got to the top of the base) 2) Connect 1 electrode to one output, and the outher electrode to the other output. 3) Connect the 120v mains, making sure that the case is grounded properly.

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55 Comments

"First" should be a discussion about electrical safety. Great tutorial, terrible start and terrible show of concern for those ignorant of the potential for injury or death by making and using this.

I successfully made a Jacobs Ladder using a neon transformer. But when I ran two #12 AWG conductors about 40’ to two terminals so I could reproduce the effect on my outdoor deck, it didn't work.

Was that too far or were the conductors too small?

Would a gas fernace igniter be any good?

Now all we need is a instructable to do a Ven De Graf Generator and a Tesla Coil to complete the set of high voltage toys :) Good work Resurrecting, I might build one myself

Iv'e got state of the arc info on Van De Graaf Generators & Tesla Coils, plus slightly more modern solid stuff for the Tesla Coils - Both are great (especially the Tesla Coils) for ruining nearby radio & T.V. (I don't know about satellite gear, but nowadays I'm not so much surprised by things as somewhat bemused - no it's not old age - you get like this working with clients that ask you to make daft or just downright weird things for them). So, If you are interested I'll try & dig em out! T.T.F.N. THE LEEWIT. 'It ain't what you do, it's the way that you do it! And that's what gets results!

have you tried a trinary coil on a tesla coil? its just SICK.im in the process of of making one with a quaternary coil.

since you're making a quaternary coil, i assume that you've already made a trinary coil. if so, please, make an instructable of it. I'd really like to see how that works, and see the specs on it. pics of it in operation would be great, too. not to mention pics of the inner workings of it.

You're in luck, I have a Tesla coil in the works, and a nearly completed VDG. I just need a belt for the Van De Graff.