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Picture of Shock your Trick-or-Treaters
I'm always looking for a new way to scare people on Halloween. This year, I thought up a way to make people think they are getting electrocuted when they ring the doorbell! It is very simple, requires little to no knowledge of electricity, is cheap, and can be built in only an hour or two once you have all the parts. It requires no permanent modifications to your doorbell.

Important:
Do not do this if you have a wireless or electronic doorbell. This will only work on the old-fashioned doorbells that are simply switches. You could fry electronic doorbells very easily doing this!

More Important:
I am not liable for any damages incurred through the use of these instructions. Even though it is very hard to hurt people with this, it may freak them out and get you into a legal mess. Use at your own risk!

Step 1: Theory

So, how does this thing work?

The purpose of a negative ion generator is to give extra electrons to air molecules, "ionizing" them. Negative ions are good for your health and make you feel better. In order to give molecules extra electrons, the generator must create a very high potential (voltage) between the generator and ground. In the case of this negative ion generator, it creates 15,000 volts.

Now, isn't that dangerous???
In short, no. High voltage doesn't kill people, high current does. A little math:

V*I=W
12v*0.1A = 1.2W
1.2W = 15,000v * 0.00008A

What this says is that if the generator was 100% efficient, it could achieve a maximum current of 0.08 milliamps. 5mA is the minimum current required for any lasting harm to be done, and this is well below that.

You only have to read below if you are very interested in high voltage and shocks.

Most static shocks occur due to capacitance with ground. Basically, every person is a walking capacitor. They are one plate, the ground is the other, and their shoes (or air) is the dielectric. You get charged up due to the triboelectric effect, and when you touch somebody else, you balance the charges in your capacitors. If you touch something metal connected to the ground, you discharge yourself.

This is one way to create a shock. The other way is to provide a direct path for the electricity to go, for example, touching two metal plates at different potentials at the same time. This is what causes most electrocutions. In this example, you are not a capacitor, but a conductor. These shocks are more effective because they are more controllable and more powerful, due to lower resistance.

I tried both methods when constructing this device. Method 1 (human capacitors) works fairly well when you are barefoot, but can barely be felt when you are wearing shoes. Method 2 (human conductor) works amazingly well no matter what.
 
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Cool! The science behind pranks!

Your understanding of electricity is wrong & dangerous !! The resistance of your body is what determines the flow of current NOT the wattage of the power supply input. The human body is only 20-100 Kohms,depending on how wet your skin is,so ... 15KV / 20kohms = 750mA. More that enough to stop your heart !!! DON'T PLAY GAMES WITH OTHER PEOPLE'S LIVES !!
T3Hprogrammer (author)  Lectric Wizard3 years ago
Your statement would be correct if the output of the negative ion generator were an ideal voltage source. An ideal voltage source at 15KV would be able to source arbitrarily high currents. However, the negative ion generator is by no means an ideal voltage source. When you start trying to draw current from it, the voltage droops. This can be summarized in it's IV characteristic.

You can think of it like this: when you short circuit a battery, the voltage across it's terminals goes to zero (even if it is, say, 9-volts nominally.) Some finite amount of current (say, 4.5 amps) will flow through your short. This is known as the "short circuit current." Likewise, if you remove the short and measure the voltage of the battery, it will be sourcing no current, but will have 9 volts across it. Now imagine somewhere in between. If you load the battery with, say, a 2-ohm resistor across the terminals, you might measure a voltage of 4.5 volts and a current of 2.25 amps. If you repeat this experiment with several different resistor values and plot current versus voltage on a graph, you will find that you can (approximately) connect all the points with a straight line. It will intercept the voltage-axis at 9 volts and the current axis at 4.5 amps. If the battery were an ideal voltage source, this line would be completely vertical (no matter what the current is, the voltage will be 9 volts.) It turns out that you can approximate (model) a battery as an ideal voltage source and a resistor (not the load resistor, a new resistor, and not a physical one: one intrinsic to the battery.) In the above example, that resistor's value would be 2 ohms. This is often referred to as the "internal resistance" of the battery. Better batteries have lower internal resistance.

So how does this apply to the high voltage generator? The high voltage generator also has an internal resistance. If I were to short-circuit it, the voltage would also drop to zero, and the current would be finite, not infinite. This is how I determined that the machine was safe. I first determined that the machine would draw the most power when it was short-circuited. Then all I had to do was measure the short-circuit current. Since measuring the output side is hard, I used conservation of energy to simplify this measurement. I measured the power (energy per time) going into the input, and used the fact that the high voltage generator can not create power out of thin air. So, with the output shorted, the input drew 0.1 amps at 12 volts, or 1.2 watts. This means that the output will not be able to pump more than 1.2 watts into my body. At 15 kilovolts, this would only be 80 microamps.

There is a subtle misdirection here: if I am drawing 80 microamps from the output, there is no way it will still be at 15 kilovolts: the voltage will droop, just like the battery did. However, this can only lead to less current draw, not more, so my estimate is conservative. In fact it's not really an estimate so much as an upper bound to what the actual value is.

So I bet after all this you are still concerned with V=IR where V is 15 kilovolts and R is your body, so I must be larger than I claim. The fallacy here is that V is 15 kilovolts. The high voltage generator has an open-circuit voltage of 15 kilovolts, but as soon as you load it when, say, yourself, that voltage droops. And so using my measurements and conservation of energy, we can find what it droops to. Assuming we are putting 80 microamps into the body, with the body having a resistance of 20 kiloohms, we see that the actual voltage across your body is only 1.6 volts! The reason it feels different from touching a AA battery is due to capacitive and other transient / AC effects created by the high voltage.

So it turns out, compared to the resistance of your body, the internal resistance of the high voltage generator is huge (hundreds of megaohms.) It's a really crappy battery. So you can think of it like touching a 15 kilovolt source through a huge resistor. Another way to think about it is that the high-voltage generator is a better current source than voltage source.

If you'd like high voltage with lower internal resistance, consider grabbing onto some high-voltage power lines. Then you can experience 750 milliamps of current through your body (but not for very long!)
LaxLuvr6 years ago
Where can I get a negative ion generator
T3Hprogrammer (author)  LaxLuvr6 years ago
Get it from Goldmine Electronics, http://www.goldmine-elec-products.com/prodinfo.asp?number=G9695 for $13.95.
they are no longer avalable from that site. I have searched all the places I know. Do you know where else to get them?
http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_nkw=negative+ion+generator+&_cqr=true&_nkwusc=negitive+ion+generator&_rdc=1
An old air cleaner would have one (120 volt version).
You canals use a transformer with a pushbutton
allelectronics
T3Hprogrammer (author)  ohswriting6 years ago
I do not know of any other place. If you keep watching that site, they will probably be back in stock within a few weeks or months. You can try the 120VAC version, but you must be much more careful.
techturtle25 years ago
lol
Madrias3576 years ago
Did this to keep the local teens from ringing the doorbell all night. There is a sign stating: "Doorbell malfunctioning, risk of electrical shock, use at own risk" posted just above the bell. Just in case. So far, people have quit ringing the bell a ton of times, and I finally have peace and quiet here to work on projects. Friends have learned to turn their fingers sideways to ring the bell so they don't contact the wires.
Thats why they learn to knock!
chaosrob6 years ago
Title should read "Shock-your-Trick-or-Treaters" and wind up in jail! :)
dip brussel sprouts in chocolate for both trick and treat
That is just disgusting. How about chocolate covered asparagus?
how about chocolate covered asbestos
also known as, "chocolate covered lawsuit"
then...how about chocolate covered arsenic?
much better, they die before they can file a lawsuit. watch out for angry families
or chocolate covered esparages (i know i spelled that wrong) and you can tell them it's a chocolate covered pretzel
chocolate covered solder
yay reproductive harm... hhahahaha
hehe :}
zimster42 Derin7 years ago
energized chocolate covered capacitors....its SHOCKING!!!
Lol 10 comments in a row
chocolate-covered chocolate! its chocolasticus, chocolicious and chocotastic!
Derin santy226 years ago
meh,the chocolote would melt when you poured chocolate on it
goeon Derin6 years ago
chocolate covered firecracker light it and throw it in their bag
cyrozap goeon6 years ago
chocolate covered severed fingers... mmmmmmm... salty-iron-chocolate flavor...
goeon cyrozap6 years ago
chocolate covered mercury
cyrozap goeon6 years ago
chocolate covered churches
wherever you live, remind me not to trick-or-treat there. :P
HamO7 years ago
How about the unsuspecting grandfather taking the kids Trick or Treating and the trick zaps his Pacemaker and he drops dead on your front porch. HaHa Funny!
T3Hprogrammer (author)  HamO7 years ago
I wouldn't expect any grandfather to be out on halloween, never mind push the doorbell himself, especially when there's a sign that says "Bell Broken" or "Don't Press". Plus, pacemaker zapping is only a problem with human capacitance. In this setup, the only electrified part of your body is your finger.
pace maker zapping can occur as long as the voltage passes anywhere near the pacemaker. but you are right that it should only zap across the fingers in most cases, as long as they make contact with both wires. however, if they were grounded and pressed to the side so that they only touched one wire, it could pass through in a way that could mess one up. so it's not impossible, just to warn you. but unlikely. but... that doesn't stop an angry parent from popping you for making their kid cry. i don't think they're going to want to wait to hear the explanation of why it wasn't harmful or dangerous before reacting. and i also don't think i'd appreciate my kid getting zapped even though i know it's not harmful in this case.
ok, put a "pasemakers users dont touch, im rly serious"
pyrotecnix7 years ago
good idea and Ramnosity i know how u feel i hurts touching the capacitor from the inside of a camera flash, i did it with a pro flash for photographers and after touching it i had two small holes the size of a headphone socket on the end of my finger. so yes i wil be wiring it up to my doorbell this halloween lol
T3Hprogrammer (author)  pyrotecnix7 years ago
i have touched the camera capacitor leads once, many years ago, and my arm was tingly and numb for like 15 minutes. possibly a good idea would be some sort of switch so you could turn this off for older people or little kids.
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