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How difficult is it to Increase the intensity of a plasma ball? Answered

I just bought a cheap USB (5v) plasma ball.

Quite frankly, the intensity of the streams is pathetic. You can barely see it when the lights are on.

I wanted to use it for a decorative project, but need to increase the intensity of the streams.

Would increasing the voltage (say from 5v to 12v) work? Or is it more complicated than that?

I can do basic electronics, but mostly just simple stuff following circuit diagrams etc.



3 months ago

I know that answering this thread is tantamount to necromancy, but ...

I have one of these globes.

It is likely that the dim streamers are as much to do with oxygen entering the globe through the glass as with the power supply being too weak.

The oscillator is a CD4069UBE high voltage inverter which is rated to about 18V. A 12V supply should do the trick, but the circuit will probably run a bit hot.

Since I bought the thing in order to get the miniature flyback transformer, I won't be experimenting (much).


3 years ago

I realize that this is an ancient thread, but here's my 2 cents anyways.

I have a plasma lamp that takes 12v DC. I've hooked it up to a variable voltage power supply and tested it at 15 and 18 volts. It didn't burn, break, release the magic smoke or anything - it just got brighter with increased voltage.

master key

6 years ago

i think usb 2.0 provides 500 MA of power


7 years ago

You could increase either the voltage or the current.

In a traditional Tesla coil design increasing the input current has a dramatic effect on the length and brightness of the streamers.

There could be current limitiing going on with

(a) The usb port
(b) More likely a limitiing resistor somewhere in the circuit.

This will involve cracking the unit open and having a good old poke around with a meter and scope. Placing a variable resistor in place of the current limiting resistor would be a good way to determine the maximum value. (This is why I always buy 2 of anything - one to test to destruction, and the other for best)

However - it's the current that'll kill you, not the voltage - so I would be careful you don't start pushing the plasma ball into the "dangerous" category.


8 years ago

If you're willing to sacrifice your plasma ball you could try hooking it to a variable d/c source and testing.

Whether or not it works depends on how it was designed. If the mfg. just took some 9 or 12 volt globes and figured out that they would still barely work on 5 volts and did nothing else you might be in luck.

If they designed a unit to work on 5 volts then increasing the voltage will bring an end to the operation.

Your other option is to gut the circuit and build a stronger, better 12 volt system.  THe hare part of the globe is the globe and electrode itself and making it look good.  The circuit itself is fairly simple.