$1 Electrostatic Levitation Toy (Video)

Introduction: $1 Electrostatic Levitation Toy (Video)

About: Travelling since 2013. I'm currently in Australia for some reason. --- I’m Calvin Drews, and I love to learn, experiment, invent, create, repair, and generally just do things myself. A sort of modern jack of …

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This is a curious effect I've been experimenting with over the last week, and I've finally decided to make a how-to-make video about it.

This effect is REAL. It's called Van Der Graaf levitation. It's been around for awhile now, you can even buy a commercial toy version of this device. However, the commercial one uses batteries and costs about $30...

Basically, it's a statically charged PVC pipe that can levitate some thin mylar plastic. It's an awesome effect, and so cheap to make. It would make a head turning Christmas gift for sure! (did I mention how cheap it is to make !??!?!!?!)

What you need:

14'' 3/4'' diam PVC pipe ($0.75)

Fuzzy fabric. Get a scrap of fleece at a fabric store. Fake fur works the best, hands down.

Mylar film (negligible cost). You can find mylar at any store that has a good selection of tissue paper. I got a lifetime worth of it at Michaels Craft store for $2. The mylar on mylar balloons should work also. There's another video out there that shows you how to make this, and he uses christmas tree tinsel. Personally, I think tinsel is a pain to deal with on account of it being so thin and easily tangled.

NOTE: This thing a lot more fun than it looks. Try it for yourself!

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    91 Discussions

    0
    turner_chris1

    If you have trouble with humidity, put the tube on a central heating radiator and the piece of plastic bag or other warm place for a while.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8VYcbBV0NKk

    0
    nepheron
    nepheron

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    I'm pretty sure...but I've never seen one before. If the material is thin like tissue paper, than it'll probably work.

    Regular cellophane works great, tissue paper works OK...if it's thin and light, it will work.

    Except plastic shopping bags...they don't work and I don't know why :\

    0
    turner_chris1
    turner_chris1

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    the very thin plastic bags from super markets works just rub it on your hair (no conditioner!)

    0
    timnitro
    timnitro

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    the affect is something to do with atoms the shiner the material the better it works. see the pcv sees it self in the Mylar film so it acts differently than with a clear product

    0
    day-veed
    day-veed

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    I agree with coast2coastcreator! What on earth is that supposed to mean? =D

    0
    mlefering
    mlefering

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    here is a link to some information bout it, just have a look at the table, you'll get it http://www.rmcybernetics.com/science/high_voltage/contact_elec.htm

    0
    logical
    logical

    7 years ago on Introduction

    It's a fun effect but there is no such thing as "Van Der Graaf Levitation", at least not within the scientific community. You are confusing this with the Van Der Graaf Generator which works in a similar way to the PVC tube and fluffy cloth you have here.
    Both are ways of generating static electricity using mechanical means. James Whimshurst's Influence machine is another example of mechanically driven friction-based machine.

    The commercial product you mentioned while still an electrostatic device is very different in that the static electricity is generated electronically using a voltage multiplier. It is basically a handheld air-ioniser, often used to attract and removes dust particles from the air.

    What you are looking for is the "Triboelectric Effect" and "Triboelectric Series", see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triboelectric_effect and it is directly related to the principle you are using to charge the PVC pipe.

    Basically, the bigger the difference between the materials used, the bigger the charge. This is why some cloths work really well and others are pretty useless.
    See www.school-for-champions.com/science/static_materials.htm

    With the above, you should be able to find a better alternative to the PVC pipe though your choice may cost a little more. Have fun :)

    0
    sj28550
    sj28550

    7 years ago on Introduction

    I do this. & its working successufl... Thanks a lot ..

    0
    laldridg3
    laldridg3

    7 years ago on Introduction

    if you had a square of pvc pipes about 10cm x10cm and had a moater attached to a brush spinning against the pipes to maintain the charge would this be able to hold the Mylar sphere in place above it

    0
    turner_chris1

    look up -turnerchris1 flying hydra - for my version
    use very thin plastic bag cut it into thin strips levitates easily on a dry day - play tennis wih it.

    0
    rimar2000
    rimar2000

    8 years ago on Introduction

    I bet that when this instructable was published, I made a comment. For two reasons: 1) excellent toy for surprise kids and adults; 2) thank you for putting subtitles! I can read English, but no hear and understand it.

    0
    cart562
    cart562

    8 years ago on Introduction

    Our physics teacher showed us this today!! He actually has a nice thing he bought that if you hit the switch for a few seconds that replaces the fuzzy part and it levitated a much larger ball of mylar but to think I can now make it! Nice!

    0
    Oblivitus
    Oblivitus

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Expelliarmus! You were too slow, your spell fails. Lol.

    0
    nepheron
    nepheron

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Cellophane works but it's very hard to see.