Taking Apart a Plasma Globe





Introduction: Taking Apart a Plasma Globe

How to take apart a USB plasma globe, which contains a tesla coil, wire it to work on a battery, and get neat little sparks from it. It can set thin paper on fire ... and it does something weird when a magnet gets near it ...

As I will explain later this deals with HIGH VOLTAGE so please, if you are a minor, do this with the supervision of an adult, and if you are an adult, dont do this alone in case you zap yourself and need CPR. Warning! Danger!

That said, I got this globe at Best Buy for $20 bucks (USD) in the computer section.

Step 1: Open the Box and Take Out the Globe

on the bottom will be screws ... use a philips head screwdriver to remove them, then put the screwdriver into one of the screw holes to gently pop out the bottom of the base

Step 2: Pull Out the Wire From the Globe

Use the screwdriver to pull the red wire up from out of that black plastic tube in the center of the globe. Its just stuffed up in there so it should come out easily.

Step 3: Take Out the Circuit Board

This step is optional, and in later steps I have put the circuit board back INTO the base. So you may want to hold off on this step until you have another good container to mount the board into.
But note this first pic as it details whats what on the power wires going into the circuit board.

Use the screwdriver to remove the two screws that are holding the circuit board from the plastic case. Take care not to touch the metal parts of the circuit board in the process.

Step 4: Hook Up to a 9 Volt for Battery Power

Now we can wire this up for battery power. (pictures may explain this better) Connect a battery clip to a 9 volt, then connect the RED wire from the battery clip to the part of the power connector that has the RED wire soldered to its back metal post. Then connect another wire from the BLACK wire connection on the power connector to the BLACK wire on the battery connector. Red to Red, Black to Black - red is positive, black is negative. MAKE SURE that the switch is OFF on the tesla coil board BEFORE connecting the wires and DO NOT connect to the thicker red wire that you pulled out of the center of the globe!!!!! That is a special HIGH VOLTAGE output!!!
I am not liable for any damage you do to any equipment or yourself if you mess this up.

also do NOT let the positive and negative leads, or the high voltage wire, touch any of each other or it will short out which is a bad thing for the equipment ...

Then power up, and voila! Tesla coil plasma ball on battery power! If you know how to solder, then you probably see how it would be simple to just solder the battery connector to the two wires where the input is. If you know what you are doing, you should be able to make battery, or usb, or wall socket adapter for 3 ways to power this baby.

Step 5: Making Single Bright Sparks With the Tesla Coil

DANGER!!! WARNING!!!: this part involves close contact with HIGH VOLTAGE. Only ever put ONE HAND near it at a time, put your other hand behind your back, and do this with another person there to perform CPR if you zap yourself badly. If you use 2 hands on it and the zap goes across your heart, YOU MIGHT DIE or something bad like that. with ONE hand for like 1/10th of a second i got zapped and it went right up my right arm (which is only slightly preferable to the left arm, as your heart is a little to the left) and all the way up my shoulder INSTANTLY. and it HURT. had to shake it off, sit back and catch my breath. I was lucky as it tends to tighten the muscles and push your hand CLOSED around whatever you are holding, making the shock worse. By continuing to read this you agree that I am not liable for any damage to any property or yourself, up to and including total destruction of any part of anything or part of yourself, or death from attempting this.

Ok ... with those safety warnings out of the way, what I did was to place the globe base upside down in a roll of duct tape. The globe diamater was about right for the cardboard in the center of the roll, but be careful as it may slide down the smooth glass. I actually screwed the circuit board back in for this part, but left the wire hanging out over the edge of the base/ balance is important so it dosent fall.

Now, the electricity needs to go to a conductor, so i used an adjustable clamp thing i had to hold a penny up to the wire. The gap between the tip of the big red wire and the metal surface should be 1/4 inch or less but not quite touching.

Step 6: A Spark! and FIRE!!!

turn on the coil, and with minor adjustment, you will have a spark! very carefully, again, with ONE HAND, adjust to make a standing spark! Tesla coils have a reputation for being loud, but this little one is not that loud at all. It kinda sounds like a bug zapper. The spark is bright, the photo gets the color but u gotta see it in person to get it clearly. this is trimmed down from an 8 MP camera.
You may have to lean in the upside down globe (again, only move the non-conducting base, for example by the duct tape holder or the glass base) so that the wire is almost touching the metal (in my case the penny) to get a spark. you should then be able to pull back, gently and slowly, a spark to get to be around 1/8 to 1/4 inch long

Note: i was watching game 4 of the world series when i tried this, and the high frequency made from this little spark caused static patterns on my tv screen. The size of the spark had something to do with the pattern of static, from across the screen somewhat evenly to slightly slanted lines .. this was on an old tube style tv, not a flat screen plasma or lcd tv. It left little burn marks on the penny too.

When I put a piece of tissue paper between the wire and the penny, it caught fire! See the video .... i knew i was gonna need a bowl of water there!

Step 7: Or Use a Screwdriver to Make Sparks .. and Wasup With Magnets?

When CAREFULLY holding a wodden or plastic handle screwdriver (where NO metal is touched on the skin in the handle part) with one hand, you can bring the metal of the screwdriver up to the tip of the wire to make sparks. Pay attention to what you are doing and enjoy the little light show.

And if anyone know why putting magnets near the assembled plasma globe causes the purple glow to stop flowing to the inside of the glass, but gust contain itself to an 'eye' at the center - please reply and let me know ...

Well, this is my first instructable. it was fun to make. please leave any constructive feeback, comments, notes or suggestions, or other ideas as to what else can be done with this little high voltage power supply .... like how can i measure how much volts/amps is coming out of it, epsecially where theres only one lead going out? the manufactureres website says nothing about its electrical ratings



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    194 Discussions

    Does anyone know how much power does one of this small plasma globes draw?

    I want to use it in an energy harvesting application where every mW matters. I found one USB-powered plasma globe that draws 500mA@5V but I think this is just a value to say that it consumes less energy that the USB is capable to provide and doesn't reflect the real energy consumption (I hope is much less).

    Could please anyone measure one experimental value for the current and voltage?

    Thank you!

    I got pretty much the same globe, only the crating was another one and it was for 5€ (around 7USD)

    Moving charged particles experience a force in the presence of a magnetic field. The force responsible for this phenomenon can be understood using the notion of Lorentz's Force; which, is essentially a mathematical expression for the electromagnetic force acting on a moving charged particle. What we see here is that the plasma is contained by the fields produced by the magnets.

    Hy all This is a nice example of a dude who likes to see how it works (like me)! Respect man And for you all folks, just to mantion, this globe dosen't use a Tesla coil, (that you all had seen) but i think you didn't knew that the treansformer isn't a flyback. There is a litle confucsion about this. For you who don't know, A FLYBACK has a diode on the secendary and it is beed driven by a single electronic switch, (with a positive vave form), this is why it's called flyback, because while the high state on the primary on the secendary flows no current because of the diode, and while the voltage falls on the primary the secondary discharges . and that gives you a pulsed DC voltage whitch voltage dependes on the pri/sec turns ratio. even those 5V flybacks are the sam elike the crt flybacks 30 kV.... Because of the special construction the flyback transformer is the most eficient transforer. but, fot a plasma globe it isn't good, and that is because it gives only DC voltage. and for the plasma globe you need a AC transformer with one pole grounded. The transformer used for the plasma globe is a normal transforer, and depending on the freq on whitc it works there are been used some cores... like steel (for 50Hz) for an example the MOT transforer, and the ferrite transforemr, (50-100kHz) for some hogh power SMPS , Inverters and so on... and the air coiled transformer like the tesla coils..... Depending on the freq you use you'll use some of those transformers . but it must be a AC transformer for a plasma globe and that's why it's imposible to use a flyback for this. I hope you understood what i said! By!

    11 replies

    Funny, that was my opinion, untill i found out the facts....

    one month ago, i would agree with you, but, i can't

    Listen the name and the term, FLYBACK is being used in general, but the real meaning is a litle bit diferent. the so called AC flyback transformers aren't flybacks at all, but they are being so called just to refer to the todays HV transformers...... what i whant to say is. the old AC flybacks where AC. the thing is. for the tv tube you need dc. and in the old tv'os you got it from a AC transformer and some multiplirers like this http://www.play-hookey.com/ac_theory/ps_v_multipliers.html

    The so called AC flybacks where flybacks,! but the flyback was concidured the AC transfrmer + the multiplier, because with it it is a flyback, but when you remove the multiplier. it is only a AC transformer, and i guess you didn't connected a multiplier to your diy transformer???

    The new flybacks work the same way but you can't remove the multiplier without destroying the flyback.... because of the epoxy reisin.


    every transformer being driven with a single positive puls waveform and a one way anty directional rectifier is a FLYBACK.
    And all the other transformers aren't!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! was that clear?

    you misunderstand the definition of flyback.
    a voltage multiplier is not needed to make it a flyback. it is the type of coil that makes it a flyback. 
    build your own, then you will understand. 

    He's correct. A flyback without a rectifier is just a high voltage AC transformer. A flyback can run at quite high frequencies, high enough that the arc from the one in a plasma ball can burn you. The only thing crucial about the air gap is that it increases efficiency of the transformer. A flyback can saturate rather quickly depending on the circuit, parts used, and the amperage of the power source used. The simple flyback circuit on Google is a great example of a circuit which saturates the flyback fast. Even my own experience of swapping parts for different ones and better ones still resulted in the flyback saturating in under 5 mins under load.

     what i mean is that a "regular transformer" does NOT contain an air gap in the core, nor does it operate at such a high frequency.  the air gap is crucial. it is what makes all the difference. a flyback transformer can never become saturated. 

    You can find the flyback effect on wikipedia. It is actually the entire configuration. the transformer is not critical unless operation under specific circumstances is required. No core in the transformer means the magnetic permeability (energy transfer between coils) will be minimal, however, there will be minimal losses due to Hysteresis (core's resistance to change in magnetic flux) Eddy current losses (especially for solid steel core transformers), and many other losses. This, along with trying to avoid saturation (when primary inductance is too low and starts acting like a short-circuit once the core is saturated) Joule losses (basicly resistive loss) forces engineers to use the the most appropriate materials for the core, based on frequency, mode of operation (resonant, flyback, etc). Qualiticly, there does not appear to be a difference from my observations of a flyback transformer operating with, or without a gap in the core. (I had it connected to a ZVS driver, which operates on the basis of LC resonance though. My 555 driver never worked in the flyback configuration because no load on the transformer would cause nasty transient voltages across the MOSFETs and blow them.)

    If you mean by a regular transformer the thing the industry Puts in some devices , then yes( newer day's they are putting SMPS . they contain the flyback design, they are light weight, more efficient and cheeper!)
    But, FLYBACK'S are just transforers that aren't that simple like the old ones!!! but work rather good for some time... (a litle bit longer then the warenty of the device) because they need the certain feed, and control. with much electronics.. witch is complicated compared to the old one. with just a fiew colils and a metall core. with no big electronics!!!! 

     Yes, that was my point, and I awius  didn't got it through

    They shure loock diferent. and taste diferent. but they both obay the same law of physics!!!!!!

    My point was. a flyback can't be a AC transformer, if that says somewhere in the second toturial you posted above. about flybacks...  plese tell me what the page. because i read 10 times that.. and I'm layzee to read it again! ( I awiusly missed that part :-/    )

    My conclusion :
    ---Power transforer:
    AC input <=> AC output
    DC->into a driver-> into a transforer =>DC output
    ---Pulse transforer (SMPS)
    DC->into a driver -> into the transforer -> AC output -> into a rectifier =>DC output
    --- in case of  the SMPS it looks like a flyback, but it isn't cuz it goes a AC squere like vave into the pulse transfmer and AC goes out that is turned then into DC. the mutual thing of the flyback ant the pulse transformer are the airgaps and the ferrite cores that leed to high work freq.

    What is wrong with this conclusion???

    Thanx for the paitence and for the help!

    ok, let's forget for a moment at witch voltage the secundary  and the primary are! for a moment.

    What is a transformer.??? it is some kinda device that transmits energy between two coils. without physical (wire to wire) contact .  There are some cored transformers and some without cores.. the core is critical because the different core need's a different freq to work properly.  For instance. the metall core is ment to work on 50/60 Hz.. ok, the losses are high but  who cares...  the industry dosen't .. and there are the ferrite cores .. depending on the mix of materials  the freq are higher...  and there are the air coiled transforers.. like the sesla coil... 

    A flyback is a transformer driven by a positive squere-like vave signal. ( no negative , below the ground zero voltages accure from the source) on the primary and with a half-wave rectifier on the secendary. ( multipliers are also rectifiers!!!!!!!!!!) and that is a transformer. a FLYBACK! transforer.
    the airgap in the coer is to improve the efficiency  and decrease flux going aroud and messing up radio signals! 
    Over all, the FLYBACK is the most effective way to make a power supply..  because the losses are smaller then by any other way you could make a supply! take for instance the SMPS .. also flybacks...

    If I'm wrong, plese truy to explain what am i missing!

    You could connect a fluorescent lamp to the wire and it should light up a little

    You could connect a fluorescent lamp to the wire and it should light up a little

    i have a problem with my plasma ball, is the same as the one on this post, and due to a bad AC-DC transformer, the capacitor got broken, so i need to replace it, unfortunately i took it off from the board and now i dont remember the numbers of the one i need to buy, could you pass me this data?


    1 reply

    people! someone remembers the capacitor information? i need to replace them! thanks