to stop break ins
The problem is of course that it will not have any effect on a burglar wearing gloves. And gloves are pretty standard burgling equipment.
And its highly illegal. Often the penalties are worse than breaking and entering so you could be committing a worse crime than you're trying to stop.
However if you want to make something shock without killing, buy an electric fence energizer from your local farm supply and hook it to ungrounded metal bits. Touching it will give a highly memorable shock.
This might burn down your house and is no way a good idea, but you can't say I didn't answer your question.
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Forget it. The Idea may be helpful in keeping away nextdoor cats from your doorknob but I don't think that's a real problem. If your target is an average human subject consider he unfortunately may have some unknown heart rhythm desease or , worst option, be a pacemaker or an ICD bearer. If that guy fortunately survives prepare yourself for a bad and expensive period . As a general practice do not overstimulate a criminal in such a way unless you too are a criminal or have little or nothing to loose . I had my mountain hut burnt by a bunch of vicious just verbally warned by my nextdoor neighbour, a local livestock breeder, while using my own barbecue in my property. My neighbour's barn was burnt down too. I must tell I don't live in a film set but in densely populated western Europe. I suggest to live a message on your door telling something like -wait for me, I come back with beers and other buds in a few minutes - and something worthless significative item like boots, books, bottles meaning you're in the sorroundings. The message should be hard to see from far away if you wanna use this trick more times. Unspecifically motivated burglars choose easy targets. Years ago burglars did a pick and go raid in my town building after lunch on a holyday and I had no kind of problem just because my outdoor was open and may be because they checked I was in.
As others have said, with exception, attempting to prevent break ins through an act of battery is not the way to keep your stuff safe. Especially when your method is something as arbituary as electric shock. If you want the shock effect, would best be to utilize agricultural fencing materials. Some of these are now solar. Those used for lambs utilize a fabric 4x4 grid. Again, this application may not be legal. Consult your local PD. More legal methods rely on improving the quality of your openings. Bars, resistant / stronger glass, and even high quality window screens. These are both passive and legal (provided you are not prohibiting escape route from a sleeping area). Consult your local Building Dept and Fire Dept.
First of all, I AM NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR WHAT YOU DO WITH THIS IN ANY WAY. With that said, first you need a voltage that is safe yet somewhat painful. Right now, for fun i take apart disposable cameras and solder 1 copper wire onto each prong of the capacitor (the little thing that looks like a battery but has 2 wires coming out 1 end). Now what you do is attach 1 wire to 1 side of the door knob backside (lets say left) use tape or something but make sure it is holding it on the doorknob.Now run the other wire to the otherside (right side) and place the tape on the doorknob first to make sure the copper does not touch the doorknob (otherwise the current would travel in 1 wire and to the other wire,not thru the person). Now, when the person touches the doorknob, about 400 volts will travel into 1 side of the hand and out the otherside) Painfull but i have never experienced any lasting effects at this level. If you were really going after it, u could try using a taser....the taser has an amperage above what the electrical impulses in our nerves is so its disrupts it causing it to become uncontrolled. Take any of this advice and use it at your own risk.
I wouldn't. Booby traps are illegal in almost all jurisdictions. You don't want to stop a burglar just to have them sue you for more than they would have taken.
I agree with orksecurity. If break-ins are a concern in your area, try organizing a neighborhood watch. Also, try wedging the back of a kitchen chair under the doorknob. That is a proven technique. Also leave one light on at night. Burglars usually won't try it if there might be someone home. You can also purchase cheap door alarms at a local store.