Introduction: DANGER: CRAZY HIGH VOLTAGE ARCS (Jacob's Ladder)

This project was created by Adam Meikle, Colton Berge and Aidan Hutchison, WHS AP Physics Period 5.


The Jacobs ladder works by taking a high voltage current on one copper wire and bridges to the other wire by arcing. The current follows the path of least resistance which is the second copper wire. The electron field pulls apart the gasses in the air creating a plasma which is what you see as the arc, and the current moves up the wires because the heated air is rising.


1 Microwave Transformer, it's power cord and wires connected to the transformer.

1 Soldering Iron

5-10 Screws

5-7ft. 8 gage Copper Rod

2 Baseboards (Wooden or Plastic) with 4 3-6inch wooden pillars To hold up the top portion of you ladder if you so wish.

1 Footlong Wooden Board

1 Extension Cord

Step 1: Breaking Things Apart

Break down your microwave and remove Transformer and power cord

Step 2: Don't Be Stupid

Mount your components to a non-conductive wooden or plastic base. (Please Note that if you use a metal base… You will probably die.)

Step 3: Cutting Deep

Cut the ends of power cable the end with three wires sticking out of it, (Black White and Green in color)

Step 4: Starting to Come Together.

Solder the black and the white wire to the primary Transformer winding. The primary winding will be thicker than the secondary winding. Move the green wire out of the way of the transformer. Refer to the picture in step 2 for reference.

Step 5: Bending Into Shape

Bend into a straight line the two 8 gage solid core copper wire to the point to where it is at most 2 ½ feet tall with bending in the wires like in the photos above.

Step 6: Further Wiring Together

Now wire one black wire from the secondary coil to one of the solid core copper wires, and wire another black wire from the base of the second copper wire to the base of the transformer.

Step 7: Finishing the Hard Part

Now mount the copper wires to the baseboard with the wirings underneath the solid core copper wire. You can mount your wires to either the baseboard or the top board like we did.

Step 8: Double Checking Your Work.

Check your connections with an ohm-meter to make sure that your connections work. There should be zero resistance in all of you connections.

Step 9: Finishing Touches

Hammer a nail or a spare piece of wire to a wooden board that is at least a foot long. This will be used to bridge the gap between the two wires

Step 10: Testing Your Ladder

Activate and hope it doesn’t blow up. (Just a Joke)

Use the board to connect the wires at the base and watch the arc. They should arc up similar to the video and the like in the photos above. If it does not arc up but stay in the same position the unplug you ladder and bend the bases further apart, but keep the wires above close together.

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    2 Discussions


    4 years ago

    This is so cool, I can't understand why it isn't featured!

    DIY Hacks and How Tos

    This is one of those cool science toys that I really want to have in my house but my wife would never let me.