Van De Graaff With Household Parts

Introduction: Van De Graaff With Household Parts


Levitate aluminum foil, bend water, and make your arm hair stand straight up! In this instructable, you will learn how to create your very own 9V Van De Graff generator!

Step 1: Parts

Parts Needed:

- 2x Vacuum Tubes

- 1 Small Wooden Box or Block

I am using a small wooden tea box that is roughly 3.25x3.25 inches and lifts my Van De Graaf off the ground a bit.

- 1 Soda Can
We will use the aluminum Soda Can as our positive collector at the top of the Van De Graaff.

-1 Bic Ballpoint Pen

We will use the back section of the pen as the Motor Spindle.

-1 Metal Spindle

This will be used as the top spindle, holding the glass fuse and allowing the rubber band to slide over it.

-1 Rubber Band
The rubber band will act as our charge collecting belt between the vinyl electric tape and the glass fuse.

-2x Frayed Copper Wires
One wire will be used as a bottom collector wire, collecting the negative charge to the ground wire. The other will act as the top collector wire, collecting the positive charge to the soda can.

-1 Glass Fuse
This will be our top spindle. Use a fuse that is about 3cm wide.

-1 9V DC Motor
This will be our powerplant that creates the static charge between the vinyl electric tape and glass fuse.

-2x 9V Connectors
We will use these connectors to wire our motor to a switch and 9V battery.

-1 Power Switch
On/Off switch for our Van De Graaff.

-1 Chopstick
The Chopstick will hold our aluminum positive charge collector(can) to the tubes.

-1 9V Battery

TOOLS: Box or Wire Cutter, Hot Glue Gun, Lighter, Needle Nose Pliers, Electrical Tape; any other tools are useful but not necessary.

Step 2: Drill Holes in Vacuum Tubes

Step 3: Add Spindle and Electric Tape to Motor

1. Create a spindle for the motor using the end of the ballpoint pen. I used the last 3cm of the pen, and poked a small hole in the backing of the pen. I then pushed the 9v motor spindle into the small hole, and hot glued it in.

2. Wrap some electric tape around the middle of the ballpoint pen spindle. Make sure that the electric tape bulges up in the middle as seen in the photo; this will ensure that our rubber band belt will stay locked on the bottom spindle. You can do this by wrapping a larger piece of electric tape around the spindle, then wrap a skinner piece around that.

Step 4: Align Your Generator and Hot Glue

Align the Bottom Tube, Electric Motor with spindle, and Rubber Band on the wooden base. The 9v Electric motor goes into the large 16mm hole located at the base of the Bottom Tube.

Hot Glue the Bottom Tube and 9V Motor to Base

Step 5: Mount Fuse Spindle to Top Tube

1. Using the lighter, heat up the metal element at both ends of the fuse. Be careful, just heat the metal end of the fuse enough for the metal cap to slide off with needle nose pliers.
2. The Top Tube has 2 small holes at the top on either end. Slide the metal spindle through one small hole, then slide it into the glass fuse, then place your rubber band over the fuse. Finish by pushing the metal spindle into the second hole at the top of the Tube. Hot glue the ends of the metal spindle to the Tube to make sure it is secure; make sure the glass fuse can spin freely on the metal spindle.

Step 6: Pre Assemble the Generator

1. Make sure the rubber band is attached to the middle of the electric tape bulge, and on the glass fuse spindle. Then snap both Top and Bottom tubes together. There should be a moderate amount of tension on the rubber band.

2. Add the bottom ground wire, this wire will go through one of the 10mm side holes of the Bottom Tube. Align one of the frayed copper wires directly underneath the bottom part of the rubber band. Tape or hot glue the wire to the tube to secure it in place. Make sure the frays of the wire are as close to the rubber band as possible without rubbing against the rubber band.

3. Add the top charge wire, this wire can be taped on the Top Tube. It should be aligned directly above the glass fuse and rubber band. Make sure to get the wire as close to the rubber band as possibly without touching the rubber band.

Step 7: Wire Your Motor, Switch, and Battery Lead

Using the 2 9v Battery connectors, wire your motor and battery lead to the power switch. Then hot glue the switch to the front of your base.

Step 8: Create Your Charge Collector and Mount to Tubes

Cut the soda can in half. Hot glue the rough edge to prevent slicing your fingers or hand. Then Hot glue your chop stick to the inside of the can, and tape and glue the chopstick/can to the side of the tubes.

Step 9: Connect Charge Wire to Can

Connect your top charge collecting wire to the soda can. Fray the wire out and pinch it closely to the can with needle nose pliers, while hot gluing it to the can.

Your Van De Graaff is completed! Great Job, Lets TEST IT!

Step 10: Having Fun and Fine Tuning!

This thing is a blast! You can levitate aluminum foil, make your arm hair stand straight up, bend water...the list goes on! Try experimenting with lubrication on the glass spindle, and fine tuning the position of the ground and charge wire. Tinker with it, be safe, and most importantly have fun!

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    7 Discussions

    Dragon Slayer_1
    Dragon Slayer_1

    4 years ago

    were can i get the parts please reply fast science fair is coming up soon!


    Reply 4 years ago

    Hey! most of these parts were just scrap parts laying around the house. The hardest part to find should be the vacuum tube...its just a modular plastic vacuum tube

    Dragon Slayer_1
    Dragon Slayer_1

    4 years ago

    can someone tell me were to get the parts


    5 years ago on Introduction

    Nice output, you can probably further increase the maximum charge buildup and speed of the buildup by lowering the aluminum can over the glass fuse and top brush. That way it is the electrons that are trying to build up will repel from each other and travel to the inner part of the can directly, then, continuously repelling, they work their way to the outside part of the can.

    When the electrons have to travel up to the can further away, they will only charge it up so much before the charge on the can itself begins to "push" the electrons back down the wrong way! Taking that into account will nearly double the output! RimstarOrg youtube channel has made one of these, and I was inspired by his version of this generator. He made a followup video explaining this phenominon.


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Wow, that is excellent advice! Thanks! I am going to check out the RimstarOrg youtube videos to find some more useful info. Thanks for your input, I'm definitely going to tinker around with lowering the aluminum can and see if I can increase my charge buildup! Thanks -max-!


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Hey thanks! its pretty easy to build and the effects are electrifying! You can set up all these cool experiments once you get it running! :)