High voltage experiments


Some time ago, after visiting some websites, I got the idea to generate electric arcs. I found a few ways to do it, and I will resume my experiments on this page.

Microwave oven transformer

The first high voltage source I found was a microwave oven transformer. Generally, microwave oven transformers have 2kv outputs at 200-300 mA.

I also used the diode and capacitor from the same oven. The transformer is a PX771 from toshiba. The capacitor is 0.89uf, 2100 Volts and the Diode is a SR101-C. The capacitor and diode are connected in a way that forms a voltage doubler.

H o--------) || (---
           ( || )      1.5 Vac  (For the magnetron heater)
           ) || (---
           ( || 
           ) || (----------| |---------+------
115 Vac    ( || )                      |
           ) || (      2000 Vac        |
           ( || )                     _|_
           ) || (-----                \ /      4000 Volts DC, 50% duty cycle
           ( ||      |                 | 
       ----) ||      |                 | 
       |             |                 |
N o----+-------------+-----------------+------
small arc heat
The arc producted this way are very short because the voltage is not high enough. Only 2 or 3 millimeters.

To limit the current when an arc is produced (which is like a short circuit), I ran it in series with a toaster oven. You can see my series setup on this page.

A microwave oven transformer is powerful enough to kill you. Please, do not try to do what I did if you dont know what you're doing. Just one error, and it's too late. Seriously.

Cockroft Walton

To generate longer sparks with the MOT(Microwave oven transformer), I built a cockroft walton voltage multiplier. It is built with many diodes and capacitors.


I have obtained sparks as long as 6 millimeters.
For the schematic and formulas concerning cockroft-walton voltage multipliers, visit this site: http://home.earthlink.net/~jimlux/hv/cw1.htm.

T.V. Flybacks

flyback To use the flyback from a TV set, you must feed it DC pulses at 15khz(more or less). The 15 khz wave can be generated with a 555 or a frequency generator(that's what I used). 12 Volts are enough, and you should obtain an output voltage of 10-15kv (not sure about the exact voltage). Of course, the 555 output is not powerful enough to drive a flyback. For this, a large transistor or mos-fet should be used. I used an IRFBC20 mostfet, salvaged from a small switching power supply.

<<<< Here is what a typical flyback looks like... Of course, there are other types, like this one flyback disc, this one common flyback, or this one separate primary
Here are a few pictures of the sparks I obtained with flybacks:
Flyback driver Jacob ladder test
On the picture on the left, you can see my flyback driver. On the right, an attempt to make a jabob ladder.

Here is a small video on my attempt to build a jacob latter: jacob_ladder_test2.mpeg

Ignition transformer?

hv transformer My father gave me a high voltage transformer that I think was used to light fuel in a furnace(If you have a better idea, please mail me). You can see a picture of it on the left. Here is a transcript of what is written on it:
D.C. Power Supply
Mod. No. 9T63Y2259G3
Input: V 120 HZ 60 VA 40
Output: 13.5 KV .5 MA
Cust. Pt. No. 2716
I obtained very nice sparks with this transformer. Here are a few pictures of them:
arcs arcs arcs arcs


It tried to light small xenon tubes(photo flashs) with the voltage coming out of a TV flyback, using various driving frequencies. It did not produce a very bright output, but it was fun. Here's a few pictures:
xenon tube xenon tube xenon tube xenon tube


Here are some websites that I found:

"Quick & Dirty" Marx generator
The guy uses a flyback to power up it's Marx generator. My flyback driver is based on his schematic. If you have the time, visit his very good and interesting website.

PowerLabs High Voltage Research
A very interesting site, containing many information and ways to obtain high voltages. There are also video clips.

Snock's High Voltage Page
Again, many ways to obtain high voltage, things to do with high voltage, information on flybacks...

High Voltage Experimenter's Handbook
Theory, formulas, schematics, everything you need to know on high voltage.


I cannot be held responsible for any damages that could occur to you or your equipment while following the procedures present on this page. Also, I GIVE ABSOLUTELY NO WARRANTY on the correctness and usability of the informations on this page. Please note, however, that the procedures above have worked in my case without any damages or problems.

Now you cannot say that I did not warn you :)