Double Helix Jacob's Ladder

This week I built a Jacob's Ladder in a double helix shape!  You'll need a neon sign transformer, a block of wood, and some 1/4" copper tubing.

Warning: Do not touch the terminals or tubing while the transformer is plugged in!  One of these transformers has enough power to stop your heart so be sure to stay safe.  A good tip is to always make sure the power cord is in your pocket before you touch anything.  That way you know it can't be plugged in.

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    6 Discussions


    5 years ago

    In the beautiful world of instructables you reign supreme!!!! Great project. It's inspired me to make one as well. Can you tell me why a newer neon light transformer with a 10000 volt output not work. I don't get it. Thanks and keep em coming.

    1 reply

    Reply 5 years ago

    Thanks so much! If it's small and light weight then it's likely a solid state power supply and I believe those do not work. I'm not entirely sure why but I'm pretty sure that I read that from multiple sources. Also, some NST's have a circuit protection built in that prevents you from using it this way. It will cut the power if it senses a power surge and it just won't work. Maybe your NST meets one of these conditions? I didn't think to mention this in my video but I'll update the 'ible once I have some time.

    Very nice project! A few more warnings would be nice. 15,000V at 30mA will definitely kill you or your unsuspecting viewer. You don't even have to touch both electrodes as most 15kV transformers have a grounded center tap so the 7.5kV wants to go through you to earth/ground and kill you or your guest. Might be best to use non-flammable materials and put a clear plastic barrier around the electrodes to prevent contact.

    Still a great project. Love the helix.... Just be safe.

    1 reply

    The plastic barrier would likely help with performance has well as adding a safety feature. I'll update the instructable with a more obvious warning about the potential shock hazard.


    5 years ago on Introduction

    Beautiful! I had this very idea a few months ago and bought an NST just for this project. I thought I would be the first but, evidently not. Your way of forming the tubing helix is brilliant...I would have never thought of doing it that way. I will still build mine but now, you have saved me hours of frustration with your method.

    Excellent and very well done.


    1 reply

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks for the nice comment! I must admit that I am not the first either. While I was working on this I found another one on YouTube that was similar but they didn't show how it was made. Good luck on your project and be careful not to zap yourself!