Where are the detailed, step by step,
instructions on how to build a machine like this? Sorry,
you wont find any on this website. I don't have any such
plans or directions. I've done my best to explain the
principles of the machine's operation, and include
activities that make those principles easier to
understand. If you feel the need for construction info
your best bet may be to scour the website and look very
closely at all photos. You may find plans from other
I built this
thing just like you said and it doesn't work, WHY? Fear
not. There are many little factors that can conspire to
make the machine not perform.
- There must be some
degree of friction between the fur pad
and the surface of the cylinder (or disk,
for a disk machine). There is a happy
medium between too much friction (you can't
turn the handle) and not enough (no
electricity is generated).
- The large PVC cylinder
(or disk) must be clean. This also goes
for machines that already work, but are
having performance problems. A wash with
dish soap and a rag should help. Rinse
and dry throughly. In extreme cases
acetone can be used to clean and
- A most perplexing
source of trouble is humidity. If the
machine is stored somewhere that is humid,
you haven't got a prayer for a good spark
until the apparatus is good and dry.
Store the machine in a furnace room, or
somewhere else that is known to be dryer
than normal. Some folks say a hair dryer
can help restore function.
- The "prime
conductor," that piece of metal you
draw sparks off of, must be insulated (electrically).
If there is some way for the electric
charge to leak off the prime conductor it
will not build sufficiently to make a
spark. This is as simple as making sure
it is mounted on PVC or another excellent
insulator. Charge can leak off of sharp
edges and points on a conductor as well.
Turn off all the
lights and wait (three to five minutes)
for your eyes to adjust, then operate
your machine. You will see a glow where
leaks are, and if you see a point that
appears to be "spraying" that
glow, it is a pretty major leak.
- KEEP TRYING. If you
have read through the website and checked
out some of the sources in the
bibliography you are way ahead of where I
was in the beginning. Producing high
voltage from friction is tricky business,
there are too many things to list that
can hang you up. KEEP TRYING.
What do you mean by "grounding"
something? This means to make a path that
conducts electricity to the ground (earth). In most cases
you don't have to be too literal about this. For example,
to ground a Leyden jar you simply need to hold it, in
which case you body becomes the path to ground (no, you
don't have to be outside). Even a wooden table can
conduct electricity well enough to serve as a grounding
I noticed two types of machine on your
website, one with a big cylinder and one with a (phonograph)disk.
Does one work better than the other? In
terms of length of spark the disk machine works better.
The cylinder machine is easier to build and is no less
effective at producing sparks, they're just shorter. The potential
length of sparks a machine can make has a lot to do with
how far the rubbing pad is from the prime conductor. A
machine using a 12 inch phonograph for a disk can have a
distance of 10 inches between pad and conductor. A
machine with a section of 4 inch PVC pipe for a cylinder
can have a distance of less than 4 inches between pad and
conductor. You may have seen this described in principle
this way: "As the separation of a charge from its
source increases, so does voltage." If you think of
the pad as the source of charge and the prime conductor
as where the charge is moved to, you see how the distance
between the two matters.
Why do I always shock myself when
I get out of the car? Because you have an
electric personality. Check out this website: Humans
How do you charge a Leyden jar? Probably
the simplest and most direct way can be found here:
tube . You can also charge a Leyden jar with an electrophorus. If you have
access to the apparatus, and know how to use it, any high
voltage generator (such as a Van De Graaf or Wimshurst
machine) can be used to charge a jar.
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