Reverse engineering something can be a great form of both entertainment and education. I’ve often purchased items just for the satisfaction of disassembling them to determine how they function and how they are designed. Along the way you can learn a great deal, improving your own design and debugging skills.
The unit that will be investigated and described herein is what is called an electric fence charger. It is the unit that generates the high voltage used to drive an electric fence for containing pets or livestock.
Personally, I find anything that generates high voltage is inherently interesting. This applies to all high voltage items in general, be they Tesla coils, stun guns, automobile ignition systems, or whatever. Hopefully you will find this investigation interesting and educational.
Of couse, since this also means that a safety disclaimer is in order:
The device described here is powered by 120 VAC. Excercise caution when working with 120 VAC, as contact with it can be lethal! Unplug any 120 VAC device from power when investigating it!
The output side of this device is used to drive an electric fence, and can generate kilovolt pulses causing pain when contacted!
Exercise extreme caution when working with any high voltage device or 120 VAC powered device! Experiment at your own risk!
Step 1: An Overview of Fence Chargers
Fence chargers come in a variety of forms. The type you need in practice will depend on how long the fence is, what kind of animals it needs to contain, and whether or not it has to operate with weeds or other foliage contacting it. Some are designed for battery powered operation in remote areas, and may include solar charging capability. Others are designed to be powered by 120 V AC.
The particular fence charger examined here is an ACC2 Fence charger manufactured by Zareba. This is a lower priced unit, which sells for about $25 at a local store. This charger is intended for shorter lengths of fence, smaller short haired animals, and for operation only in relatively weed free areas. This charger operates from 120 VAC.
So, here you have a low cost, off the shelf unit that generates a high voltage meant to deter an animal. What’s not to enjoy?