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angryowl

DIY High voltage Jacob's Ladder Build

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Hello to all 

I had consulted with an administrator before posting this thread where would be the best place to do it and he kindly replied suggesting that this may be a good place to start with and maybe as the thread evolves it could be moved someplace else.

With that out of the way let's get down to what this is going to be about. Since childhood I've always had a fascination with Jacob's Ladders and how they work. Most of you here already probably know what they are and how they work more that I do so I won't get into the details of it. But this thread will log my progress as I go through all the phases of construction.

I have all materials for the actual ladder itself, not sure what I'll use as an enclosure, maybe wood or plastic but that remains to be seen.

I shall shortly update this thread with a bill of materials each accompanied with a short explanation as to why they were chosen. And of course pictures will come too...

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Most of the components are in this picture. Capacitor bank used with the transformer, 12V 4A PSU for the fans, two 60 mm high power server fans, a temporary mount for the two rods, the two flyback transformers, the Chinese ZVS driver, the 120VA toroidal transformer and the Full Bridge Rectifier mounted on a small heatsink.

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The two flyback transformers have their ferrite cores glued with epoxy glue. Six equal turns of 15 AWG gauge wire. Two of the wires will be going into the COM input on the ZVS driver and the other two ends will go the other two ones. 

The reason I went with two transformers is because I wanted current (fat arcs) but also more voltage than you usually get with ZVS driver setups. For that reason the secondaries of the transformers are in series producing double the voltage resulting in larger arcs.

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A Top view.

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A view from the other side.

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The ZVZ driver is rated to work with input DC voltages from 12V to 30V. The below is the toroidal transformer I'll be using to power the ZVS. It's got dual primaries and secondaries. The primaries are connected in series to work on mains 240V and the secondaries are connected in parallel to provide a total of 30V at 4A. 

I know what you're probably thinking - you're pushing the ZVS to its limits, well if it breaks it only cost me £17 so can be replaced.

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That's about the gist of it, oh ran a few tests with the current rods as they are in the picture and the arcs are amazing, lot's of current and voltage. The transformer is barely breaking a sweat, same applies for the bridge rectifier. However the flybacks after say running it for a minute do get to around 45 degrees celsius. The two high powered fans will be used to only cool each side of each flyback and hopefully that'll keep the flyback secondaries cool enough for at least a 5 minute operation.

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Edited by angryowl
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@angryowl is our response to Elon Musk .... go you! 

Please let me NOT touch the sparky sparky when i'm next around ;)

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2 minutes ago, souls33k3r said:

@angryowl is our response to Elon Musk .... go you! 

Please let me NOT touch the sparky sparky when i'm next around ;)

Yeah, no worries about that mate next time you drop by, you can see it in action though, from far far away of course :icon_biggrin:

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1 minute ago, angryowl said:

Yeah, no worries about that mate next time you drop by, you can see it in action though, from far far away of course :icon_biggrin:

I promise i will try not to drool all over it :D

Give us a shout if you need some clumsy hands for the build process :)

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1 minute ago, souls33k3r said:

I promise i will try not to drool all over it :D

Give us a shout if you need some clumsy hands for the build process :)

Hehehe, will do mate. Actually you could give me a hand in aligning the two rods in position whilst I fire it up :grin:

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1 minute ago, angryowl said:

Hehehe, will do mate. Actually you could give me a hand in aligning the two rods in position whilst I fire it up :grin:

Sure no worries. Let me wash my hands first 

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2 hours ago, angryowl said:

Most of you here already probably know what they are and how they work more that I do so I won't get into the details of it

and if you don't then Google is your friend as I've just discovered!

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4 minutes ago, JOC said:

and if you don't then Google is your friend as I've just discovered!

Precisely!

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I love it when manufacturers try and save money wherever they can but this is simply ridiculous. No heat transfer material of any sort between the MOSFETs and their heat sinks. they don't get hot during operation but come on how much would one of those heat transfer materials, or silicone or just a bit of thermal paste would cost? Rant Over! Of course I'll be using some good quality thermal paste on both MOSFETs as I like my circuits properly protected.

20180404_143401.thumb.jpg.daa71ddba74c95782d187299a864bddc.jpg

 

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A tease of what the circuit can do, it's really loud, but will most probably be muffled by those two extremely noisy server fans.

20180404_150902.mp4

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Thanks mate appreciate it

Need to experiment a bit with the rods and the spacing and am going to research what is the best material for the arcs. The rods I'm using are welding rods stripped of their powder so I guess they're just raw iron? I polished them a bit and the arcs seem to slide off of them nicely but am thinking of experimenting with copper, zinc and possibly other materials. I could even copper plate them and try that. 

Most of the other Jacob's Ladders I see online use copper as the rods so maybe that is indeed the best material.

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Knowing the perfectionist in you, this is DIY experiment is far from over :D

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Next step is to decide what enclosure to house all of it in. I have a 3D printer and could print one but don't really fancy the effort to be honest :smiley:. I could buy one of those ABS enclosures that come in many sizes and are available everywhere, but my only concern with them is they've got quite thin walls making them a bit flimsy as the total weight of the components gets to be fairly large. Best option at the moment is making one myself out of either plywood or any other scraps and off cuts I may have around in my shed. That should work quite well actually, it could even be made to look very nice with some varnish or something like that.

As for the two rods, I'm contemplating surrounding them with a long transparent acrylic cylinder. Just as a safety measure. I'm just thinking of the temperature of the arcs melting the acrylic. That would be a problem is the cylinder diameter is small enough, but if larger then I think should be no problem. 

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4 minutes ago, angryowl said:

Next step is to decide what enclosure to house all of it in.

Next step is a 20 foot high Tesla coil :grin:

Dave

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6 minutes ago, Davey-T said:

Next step is a 20 foot high Tesla coil :grin:

Dave

Oh no, not into that, think they're far too dangerous to play around with...

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4 minutes ago, angryowl said:

This looks pretty safe!

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Go on you know you want to :grin:

Dave

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7 minutes ago, angryowl said:

Oh Dave, don't tempt me.... :laugh:

It'd be something to brighten up the neighbourhood when it's cloudy, I'm sure Ahmed would give you a hand "troubleshooting" :evil4:

Dave

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Oh that sounds good actually, you up for it Ahmed? hehehe :grin:

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Let me be clear. You asking for help or a test subject? 

Either way, i'm in :D

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24 minutes ago, souls33k3r said:

Let me be clear. You asking for help or a test subject? 

Either way, i'm in :D

Just get some wellies and rubber gloves and you'll be fine :grin:

Dave

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IIRC, the Tesla coil operates at high frequency, and so the current confines itself to the skin and not the vital organs. It is reputed to be 'safe'. Can't imagine a shock would comfortable though!

Ian

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