High Voltage

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$2 Van de Graaff Generator

Van de Graaff generator from found parts and a $2 M&M'S candy tin

Van de Graaff generator from found parts and a $2 M&M’S candy tin

When I was a little boy I was fascinated with static electricity and played a lot with sparks and attracting little pieces of paper to a plastic comb brushed through my hair. The comb was later replaced by an ebonite rod, also brushed through my hair, which my mother, a school physics teacher, brought home. It was great fun but brushing one’s hair gets old quick and, perhaps more importantly, some 30 years later it’s become crystal clear to me that human hair won’t always be so readily available for my static electricity experiments. Unless someone else volunteers theirs. And so it has become obvious: I needed to break my dependence on human hair as the source of high voltage energy! :)

Robert Jemison Van de Graaff to the rescue! His ingenious generator, developed in 1929, appeared to be a perfect replacement of the hair/comb generation technology, and it looks super cool doing it, too, with its tall column and a shiny metal sphere at the top! So, finally, some 30 years after I first read about Van de Graaff, I decided to take action and here is what came out … Read the rest of this entry »

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