How to Make a Plasma Globe or Ignition Coil Driver




About: My name is Brendon and I live on a hobby farm in sunny Australia. My main interests are Gas Turbines (Jet Engines), High Voltage electricity and Computers.

Hi if you are looking for a plasma globe driver or you want to make an ignition coil that zaps things, you have come to the right place. Recommended for people experienced in electronics only!

If your interested in jets here is mine:

First some safety issues; this project runs off 240v AC or 120v AC so please be very careful as house hold current can kill instantly, if you touch a live wire your hand will grab the wire and you wont be able to let go. I found this out the hard way. So do not make the same mistake as me. Oh when sparks jump to the earth they generate ozone which can kill if you breath in to much , only small amounts exist  in this case. I am not responsible if any property of yours is damaged or you or some one is injured in the process of making this.

To make this the components you will require are:

An ignition coil the old sort.

A light dimmer preferably over 1.5amps or 400w

Wire  any sort 

A large light globe incandescent for the plasma globe

A container if your making a plasma globe 

A cord that can plug in to the power point, please don't take the one of the TV or fridge find an old one that is no longer needed.

Some oil and a jar if you have a low rated dimmer.

A hot glue gun is very handy in making something like this.

Step 1: Putting It Together

Get the active/ live wire of the power cord and connect it to the Ac active/ live wire as shown in the picture, then connect the neutral wire of the power cord and connect it to the Ac neutral wire. Please follow the diagram below.

Additional notes:

It does not seem to make a difference which wire on the dimmer is connected to the AC active/ live input line.

It DOES make a difference which wire on the capacitor is connected to the active/ live Ac wire, so make sure you connect the the active/ live AC wire to the positive side of the capacitor and the output from the negative side of the capacitor to the positive terminal on the coil. 

And as some people still dont understand, DON'T touch anything while it is plugged in or you will get fried. and make sure you discharge the capacitor before you touch any thing, just put a bit of wire across the capacitor till it sparks.

If your wondering what the rating is on the capacitor , it was about 1.2uf 400v-500v
the higher the uf rating the thicker the spark. i used one at 300 uf and the spark was about 4mm thick not recommended though it will kill alot easier than a thin spark. The small capacitor came from a household fan motor.

The dimmer , if you have a low rating dimmer like i did, take the plastic outer casing off the dimmer. which would leave you with a circuit board with a pot, resistors and capacitors on it. Turn the dimmer pot to about medium and chuck the hole thing in a small jar of oil, i used hydraulic oil. And have the wires poking out of two holes drilled in the lid.

The AC active/ live on the power cord would either be brown or red. The AC neutral wire is blue or black usually on the cord.

Step 2: Plasma Globe

To make the plasma globe thing, just find a container to stick the ignition coil in and the rest of the electronics. I used a bit of pipe with the bottom sealed off. get a lid and drill a hole for the light globe to fit in. Connect the light globe to the hv supply of the coil, by wrapping a bit of wire on the bottom of the globe, make sure the wire is touching the input points that go to the filament, connect the other end to the hv supply. Then fill the container with oil I used hydraulic oil some people use cooking oil or mineral oil. Don't forget to put a wire on the outside leading to the - terminal on the coil. Glue it up or just put on the lid make sure it is not going to leak.

Wrap an earth wire around the globe about 3 turns on the top and connect it to the wire that leads to the - terminal on the coil, that is the orange one in the picture.
The earth wire on the globe will make more sparks and ozone so be careful, it will work with out the earth wire but not as well. If any one gets one of these working, when it is running you should be able to smell something  strange, I am assuming that is ozone.
Also i added an extra RF filter to cut out the interference with other electronics. There should be an RF filter in the dimmer already. If the hv wire touches any other wires (plastic coated or magnetic) it may arc into that one.
It may look nice but DON'T touch it unless you wanna die.

The whole thing uses 100ma@250v and the output is about 0.9ma@ 30kV i think. Mine anyway yours may be different.

Step 3: Video

Here is a video also. And yes i need a beter camera. 

Please leave a comment good or bad.



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    43 Discussions


    Reply 3 years ago

    I just used a capacitor that you find in pedestal fans, which run off AC.


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    I am pretty sure the capacitor limits the amount of current and maybe the voltage that goes into the ignition coil. The dimmer also does something along those lines. Maybe someone else has a better explanation...?? I think if you hooked it directly into the mains it would blow the ignition coil into next week!


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    It stops any arcing from the high voltage side, use mineral oil that is the safest.


    5 years ago on Introduction

    never dare to touch the globe but you can take some plasma out of the globe, just take a metal coin and ground to through a a wire . After that take the coin near the globe while holding the coin with a plier.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    I built one based off of another instructable with the exact same principle, I don't recommend this as my coil overheated, I blew up a capacitor, and I destroyed a light dimmer. But in the end it was a blast so as long as your safe and you enclose it your set up for a great time. Unsafe is overrated.

    3 replies

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Mine has never done that, well actually I burnt out a light dimmer because I forgot to put the cap in, I was using it on a fly-back the spark that came out of the fly-back was about 2.5 inches long and fatter than a straw then the dimmer blew LOL
    Did you use the right cap?


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    LOL, no the cap I blew up was the electrolitic or something and it was fun though. The lightdimmer was when the capacitor got shorted out, and the coil is a 6v one.


    7 years ago on Step 2

    "Connect the light globe to the hv supply of the coil, by wrapping a bit of wire on the bottom of the globe, make sure the wire is touching the input points that go to the filament, connect the other end to the hv supply. Then fill the container with oil I used hydraulic oil some people use cooking oil or mineral oil. Don't forget to put a wire on the outside leading to the - terminal on the coil."
    I don't get it :
    In order to connect the light bulb (globe) to the HV supply of the coil I must wrapp that wire to the BOTH OF THE INPUT POINTS THAT GO TO THE FILAMENT?!
    And "the other end" goes were to the HV supply?!
    Beeing just one HV lead in the middle and the "-" and "+" ...
    You don't explain things too good and considering the high voltages and danger , YOU SHOULD EXPLAIN BETTER!
    From your "explaining" I understand that I should wrapp a wire on both points of the light bulb(the small point on the bottom and the "threaded" part of the bulb and then run a wire to the HV end of the coil!
    And on the outside of the bulb to put 3 turns of wire from the "-" of the coil!
    And one more question: if I use instead of the light bulb a copper plate with 36 needles equally spaced betwen them all inserted in a glass box would it be the same?
    Of course , some negative wire around it for the sparks to form!


    8 years ago on Step 2

    actually you have a chance at dying if you touch the bulb. me, being convinced i actually made a plasma globe touched it. it hurt like a son of a gun for about a minute but im still typing.

    2 replies

    Reply 8 years ago on Step 2

    Well didn't i warn every one not to touch anything while it is on, since mine doesn't have a big capacitor or dimmer it is safer than the rest. I did try one day to touch it through a fluro tube about 1.5cm thick and 40cm long, it wasn't very pleasant. The reason it probably hurt is, the spark can be more than 3000'c or you made it to powerful mine is 0.9ma@30kv.


    8 years ago on Step 2

    Hey the car coil didn't work on AC it works in DC because de car battery is DC and the dimmer is ONLY for AC don't put it in DC!

    1 reply

    Reply 8 years ago on Step 2

    It doesn't matter whether its AC or DC the coil doesn't mind. But as you said the household light dimmers only run on 120v or 240v AC. You can buy 12v DC dimmers off ebay. The reason for using the dimmer is it makes a pulse (PWM),
    the coil can not run without a pulse.

    It doesn't matter where on earth you live AC be it defination cannot have a positive & negative. This is extremely dangerous and no-one should play with ac voltages unless they understand electricity. What you should have done was use an AC transformer (such as a bell transformer ) to reduce the voltage to 12 to 18 VAC range. Than you can play safely. As a kid I built a spark gap transmitter with a toy train xformer & an ignition coil. Drove the neighbours crazy as I wiped out all TV & radio signals !! Keep working but please do it safely. Knowledge is the best safety equipment you can have so read up. By the way I'm an Electronics Technologist with 30+ years experience so I am speeking from a lot of experience.Cheers!!!!

    1 reply

    This isn't supposed to be for people that aren't experienced with electricity for example i wouldnt say to a 14 year old kid go build this because it is extremely dangerous if you have no experience.The dimmer transforms the voltage down to 35vac and the whole thing uses 100ma at 250v convert that up to 30,000v and you get about 0.9 ma please correct me if iam wrong. I did some research and found you guys are right here is what i found on wiki but who cares it still works:Positive and negative In DC circuits (e.g. for a car battery) positive is usually marked red and negative is usually marked black. In AC circuits (e.g. domestic mains supply) polarity markings are not relevant (because the two poles are alternately positive and negative) but wires are colour-coded for live and neutral. [edit]Live and neutral It is important not to confuse positive and negative with live and neutral - they are completely different concepts. The old UK house wiring colours were red for live and black for neutral but this does not mean that live is positive or that neutral is negative. "Live" indicates that an electrical conductor has a voltage relative to ground (earth) and this voltage may be positive, negative or alternating. "Neutral" indicates that a conductor has a voltage, relative to earth, which is close to zero.