Here are two electrostatic versions of a retro Click-Clack toy that were popular in high schools back in '70s. Version 1.0 is the super-budget model. Parts (excluding the power supply) amount to almost nothing. A description of the more expensive and upgraded 2.0 version pictured on the Intro page appears at the end of this i'ble.

   I used conductive spheres to shuttle electric charges between the poles of a high voltage (HV) DC source. This shuttle assembly was made from two, foil-covered spheres joined by a non-conducting, plastic tube. The assembly was sandwiched between two stationary, dumbbell shaped electrodes. When the upper dumbbell was grounded with respect to the negatively charged lower dumbbell, the shuttle began to bounce between the HV poles with a clacking noise as charges were transferred from the lower to the upper electrode. This rocking motion completed the HV circuit.

   I powered the project with an electronic air ionizer purchased at a rummage sale; but other sources of HVDC, such as a Van de Graaff generator could be used to rock this clacker. For a video clip about the project, click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eQrXRCu066c .

 If you choose a commercial air ionizer as the power source, use a model powered by a low voltage AC adapter. A line powered ionizer can be a serious shock hazard!!

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Step 1: Tools & Parts

   You probably have many parts to build the super-budget clacker among the disposable items left over from home delivery of fast food that end up in kitchen drawers. Exact dimensions are not crucial; but the shuttle assembly must be balanced carefully before it will rock with fairly steady beat. (With some minor tweaking, the 2.0 version can serve as a metronome for musicians : >D). 

   You will need: white and CA glues, cellophane tape, small hammer, scissors, a ruler, a small metal saw, an electric hobby drill with 1/8" and 1/16" bits, an electrical continuity tester as well as the following items. Remember, for this type of project there's always room to improvise.

A. Shuttle Assembly
       Spherical Core Forms (2)               Newspaper sheets to make ~1" dia balls.
       Al Foil                                                  Foil (for wrapping hot heros to go) to
                                                                      cover cores.       
       Dielectric Connecting Tube (1)       Just a geeky name for a 5" x 1/8" non-conducting,
                                                                       plastic straw (or use a 1/4" dia empty ball point
                                                                       pen cartridge for better support).
       Axle (1)                                                 paper clip.

B. Stationary Electrodes
Spherical Core Forms (4)                Newspaper sheets to make ~1-1/2" dia 
     Al Foil                                                     Foil for covering cores.     
     Connecting Rods (2)                          6" x 1/8" lengths from a heavy duty coat hanger.

C. Stationary Electrode Mounts
       Dielectric Support Columns (4)     5-1/2" x 1/4" thick shake straws or something similar.
       Stand-offs (4)                                     Small plastic or stryo thread spools w/1/4" center hole.
       Mounting Hardware (8)                    1" x 18 gauge nails.

D. Shuttle Mounts (2)                             4-1/2" x 1/2" dia, x-tra thick, smoothie straws or
                                                                      something similar.

E.  Project Base (1)                                 Whatever works; try fast food take-out tray or 1/8" cardstock
                                                                        cut to appropriate L&W.   

F. PowerSupply & Accessories 
HVDC Source (1)                             Small, commercial electronic air ionizer, such as the Micronta
                                                                     Air Purifier (Radio Shack cat. no. 63-643) as shown
                                                                     in picture or Van de Graaff, etc .

       Input Terminals & Leads (2)         Color coded, plastic push pins & insulated wire.
<p>Hi wanted to make this for science project but have no idea of air ionisers, checked on net and they look without an output lead, so how do we make that a power source and connect to the click clack.</p>
<p>Once you have a suitable ionizer, attach an insulated wire to the HV output terminal (the point where ions are generated). A return wire connected to the ground of the ionizer is optional; or you could attach the return to an earth point such as a metal cold water pipe.</p><p>B'08</p>
<p>Thanks a ton :)</p><p>Padma</p>
<p>Good places to find negative ion generators are yard sales or Good Will outlets. Small units that operate on 12 volts DC are safer. When the click-clack is balanced properly, you won't need a high wattage power supply; even a tabletop Van de Graaff will work.</p><p>Good luck w/your science project. </p>
This is going to be a great help for my next science fair. This is cool!
Good luck w/your project!
Why can't we use AC current there? Can you explain me?
&nbsp;&nbsp; If you switch the input polarities manually to simulate <em>very low </em>frequency AC, the project still works. Higher frequency AC would change too quickly for a simple mechanical shuttle to operate properly.
How much voltage and current is needed for the whole project? Does normal supply of 220V works?
The input for the air ionizer is 12V at 125 mA, supplied by an AC adapter. Ionizer output is around 7,000 VDC in the microAmp range. An ionizer that runs directly from 220V mains would work, but there is a shock risk.
An intro to your Instructable is now on my Blog:<br>http://faz-voce-mesmo.blogspot.com/2011/05/um-instructable-dum-lusofono.html
Thanks for featuring my project!
Anytime, keep those projects coming...
Could you use the plastic mirror style christmas tree ball instead of tin foil?
Be sure these ornaments are conductive; some are just silver or gold colored plastic.
couldnt you just use tennis balls instead of paper wads?<br>
Try ping-pong balls; tennis balls would be too heavy.
You could possibly use a CRT TV as a HVDC source.. Just put a sheet of aluminium foil on the screen (it'll stick) and that will be your +, a wire to a water pipe or something and you're done
Don't recommend that, I did that and touched it with an aluminum rod in hand. Really bad idea, but didn't hurt, it did when I touched the tinfoil though. The tv shut off and restarted once and then I noticed that the screen would go goofy behind the tinfoil when I drew an arc, it would produce a good spark too especially for me as the negative thing, whatever it is called, can't think of it right now.
Very good, well written instructable. Love the science behind it!
Thanks for the + feedback!
Thank you for publishing this. Our high school had a Van de Graaf static generator and a Wimshurst static machine back in the 1960s, but I had never seen one of these. It would have been a good addition to the science demonstrations.
The project has generated alot of interest at jr &amp; high school science fairs. Thanks for viewing this i'ble.

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