Introduction: Taking Apart a Plasma Globe

Picture of 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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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!!!

Picture of 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?

Picture of 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


RedstoneM (author)2015-08-13

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

RobertB23 (author)2015-04-09

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.

izidor7 (author)2009-06-22

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!

freezier (author)izidor72009-07-12

not all flybacks are DC. i have several AC flybacks. i've even built a few(not recommended unless you have a coil winder)
more flyback information

izidor7 (author)freezier2009-07-13

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

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?

freezier (author)izidor72010-04-10

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. 

darryl.kinslow (author)freezier2015-02-28

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.

freezier (author)freezier2010-04-10

 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. 

-max- (author)freezier2014-01-24

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.)

-max- (author)-max-2014-01-24


izidor7 (author)freezier2010-04-11

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!!!! 

freezier (author)izidor72010-04-11

 here. Perhaps this will explain it. if you still don't grasp that flybacks and power transformers are very different, and it has nothing to do with what voltage drives them, i cannot explain it any better. as for smps, once again, there are multiple types of them, not all are flybacks.

Power Transformer Design

Inductor and Flyback Transformer Design

izidor7 (author)freezier2010-04-12

 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!

izidor7 (author)freezier2010-04-11

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!

Robert Powell (author)2014-09-24

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

Robert Powell (author)2014-09-24

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

sdaverede (author)2014-01-26

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?


sdaverede (author)sdaverede2014-09-10

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

bluemetaknight (author)2012-06-21

yeah. cover it in tin foil. ZAP...x(

oberon7785 (author)2010-07-22

i've done this before with my 8inch plasma globe, it does produce slightly long sparks than using a penny on the globe or covering it with tin foil, but that isnt all that cool, the only reason i've kept it apart like this is cause when the little spark is active, and radio/tv in about a 15 foot radius will go static

tinkerman92 (author)2008-08-13

u know u can do that without taking it apart right lol just put a penny on the glass the penny lets it escape the glass seal cause i got board n put 1 on it n just started burning myself with little blue sparks lol

-max- (author)tinkerman922010-07-18

the penny thing wolt work nearly as well as covering the globe with tin foil.

garyarmijo1 (author)2010-02-16

I built a tesla coil that gives 500 or more volts in the thin air around it, and I have yet to measure the current.
We began the Tesla by testing the small Plasma globe I bought at the smithsonian and found that a magnet did not read anything sitting on top of the globe. When we put a 2 x 2 inch x 1/4 thick piece of copper though, it read 200 or more volts.
I did not read the current, but that would only be to connect the meter in series with a wire wrapped around the base of the globe (bare) to a ground which we have been hammering a steel rod into the ground 2 feet. Ultimately a copper rod hammered or dug to a depth of 8 ft is Ideal.

bear199 (author)2010-02-03

i would smash the globe

volthead (author)2010-01-30

I'm sure that most people know what a electromagnet is, An arc is a conductive path like a wire. So what happens when a magnet is brought close to a wire carrying current: It moves. And plasma carrying a current has almost no mass so it responds far more.

chemicalvamp (author)2009-09-22

'Tesla coil' isn't the correct statement here. A tesla coil creates high voltage, high frequency by means of resonance rise. And in every example i've seen they are 'air core' transformers with secondary coils well over 100x larger than the primary. This transformer on the other hand is a fly-back transformer (a tiny version of the one in your 'old tube type t.v. AKA cathode ray tube or CRT for short) these have a ferrite (iron) core. While this is not a tesla coil itself, It may be an adequate power source for a small table-top version of one. But this is still a very neat hack! :)

freezier (author)2009-07-12

that little thing can't hurt you. well it can hurt you, but not kill you. unless you have a pacemaker. plasma balls can burn you, but its not going to stop your heart. not enough current. even if you were grounded with one hand and grabbed the electrode with the other hand, you wouldn't die. it would hurt. you would experience involuntary muscle contractions. if there was a high current power source nearby and your muscle contractions made you contact that, then you might die. I've taken the total output of 4- 1 gallon glass SWC's @120,000v across my hands, and while i wouldn't recommend the experience, I'm not dead yet.

ushirmaharaj (author)2009-05-17

can this thing kill me

ReCreate (author)ushirmaharaj2009-05-20

Depends,ITs only high voltage and low amperage,hook it up to a car battery and you can kill the planet,attach it to a 9V and You may Be fine.

Zettu (author)2008-05-22

The magnet turns the coil into an inductor, it has to do with electromagnetic fields resonating and collapsing, if anything i said is wrong, feel free to correct me, but that is how i and many other people understand this effect.

Spedy (author)Zettu2008-06-08

Any coil of wire acts as an inductor, no extra magnets required. This time of coil, when ran at resonance, will burn out. That ISN;T a tesla coil. Its a type of transformer know as a flyback, or LOPT. Tesla coils, as they are generally known, are air-cored resonant transformers. As for the last picture, the plasma is very sensitive to magnetic fields. There is more than 1 lead coming out of the HV winding, its just on the bottom. Hope this was informative.

ElectricUmbrella (author)Spedy2009-04-19
You're right, It's not a Tesla coil, but it produces high voltages at high frequencies and low current, like that of a Tesla coil. That's why people tend to get them confused.
If you stick a plasma globe (just the globe by itself, I mean, without the power source) on the breakout point of a Tesla coil, you should get some nice results.

Did you make an instructable on that?

No, I didn't. Like I said, the video isn't mine, and neither is the coil or globe.

Just to be clear, that video is not mine.

last_decoy (author)Spedy2008-07-15

a LOPT is not a transformer. but essentially you are correct.

rivetgeek (author)last_decoy2008-09-15

You are kidding right? LOPT stands for Line OutPut Transformer...

Spedy (author)Spedy2008-06-08

Arg, typo attack! there should be an "edit" button. "time" should be "type" And more on the magnets and plasma: Like the Aurora Borealis, which spirals around the earth's magnetic poles, the plasma in the globe will do the same same thing in a magnetic field!

last_decoy (author)Spedy2008-07-15

sorta; Aurora is charges praticals being accelerated into and down towards the poll, smashing into molecules in the upper atmosphere and causing the electrons in them to either leave 'ions' or to produce photons. as the electrons fall back into their stable orbits. hence the cool lights... the ionised gas in the globe,and the ions are being attracted to the magnetic poll. on the magnet.

kaboom05 (author)last_decoy2008-08-14

yes chargeed particals also come off fly back transformers thats y u hav only 1 main high woltage wire the other is the earth with watever the spark touches now becomes the earth

kaboom05 (author)Spedy2008-08-14

THANK YOU some 1 understands

maker12 (author)Spedy2008-06-11

alson in old scanner cfl drivers, ans ALL CRT TVS! BIG 28KV ONES TOO!

Spedy (author)maker122008-06-11

What? I assume you are talking about where to find flybacks. I'm pretty sure CFL drivers aren';t flybacks though.

Derin (author)Spedy2008-06-19

it isnt

maker12 (author)maker122008-06-11

i ment also....

Zettu (author)Spedy2008-06-09

sorry for sloppy info, i'm still learning :) thanx for the info i'll remember that for later There are so many types of coils, its insane I have been working on making a Bedini Motor, or SSG as some have termed it, the Simplified School Girl Motor, YouTube it if you would like to see some of the peoples replications of it.. Cya

TheDeviant13 (author)2009-04-17

the magnets make the plasma globe's arc stop hitting the glass because plasma which is what the arcs are made of is affected by magnetic fields because it is made of only ions

LaxLuvr (author)2009-02-28

I like this instructable because you showed some effort but it is NOT a tesla coil! if you didn't know that then you are lucky to be alive. These can kill you. Please be careful when dealing with high voltage power supplies. Please remember that wood is quite a good conductor when you dealing with high enough voltages. I have a few questions. What happens when you remove the cover and leave the red wire un-grounded? How do you measure the output voltage? How long does the battery last? Is it possible to make a small jacobs ladder out of this? I would appreciate any help.

Mark Rehorst (author)LaxLuvr2009-04-02

This device is a USB powered plasma globe. USB can't supply more than 5W (5V x 1A) so the device is relatively safe. It generates a few thousand volts at a very, very low current. It might be unpleasant if you touch it, it might burn your finger, but it won't kill you by electrocution. If you turn it on and generate a spark in an environment with a lot of dust or chemical vapors it might blow you up.

i agree i've taken apart one of these and i burn't my finger a small bit when i touched high voltage wire. a slight tingling sensation is all because its low current, but the current and voltage depends on each plasma globe

About This Instructable




More by funwithpower4242:Taking apart a plasma globe
Add instructable to: