Forums > Technical Discussion > static electricity staff. cmon. this is the coolest shit

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Oakenmember
34 posts
Location: Canada


Posted:
Okay here it is... I dont know much about electricity, just the basics... but one day I watched a lady performing on tv, she had the small conducting rods and was manipulating static electricity, lots of it... Ya know when you go to the science exhibits and theres those globes of pulsating electricity and you put your hand on it and your hair stands up etc.... well she was working with that idea but it was not contained in a globe and it was awesome... it was so huge! and colorful.. oh my gawd!!!! now, if she can use little metal sticks for this why couldnt I use a big metal stick and flip out with some serious lightning action... anyone who knows squat about this sort of elec. and its applications, answer this thread man!!!!! I wanna do it---i wanna do it--i wanna do it--iwanna do it!!!!!!!

One Love, Dont forget.


mrFlibbleSILVER Member
Ghostbuster
455 posts
Location: York, UK


Posted:
you're going to get hurt

u want to make a staff which has sparks at each end?

CharlesBRONZE Member
Corporate Circus Arts Entertainer
3,989 posts
Location: Auckland, New Zealand


Posted:
There are several performers around the world who do this now...

I don't want to go into the specifics of building the equipment, because then people WILL gte hurt.

If you haven't seen it, then I doubt you can understand how impressive the good set-ups are...hopefully it isn't anywhere near as dangerous as it looks, but hey, it could be even more dangerous than it looks...

Can't find any pictures as yet, can anyone tell me of events other than Splore, wher ethis has been an act...???

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RoDuSmember
50 posts
Location: Australia qld


Posted:
It would look so Freaking awsome tho i would love to see some pics if anyone has any.

Oakenmember
34 posts
Location: Canada


Posted:
Tell you what kids, If I can figure out how to make them I'll hook you all up with your own along with a patented pair of "Oaken Hoon Rubber tights!"

I wish I knew the performers name who I saw. I did a search and all I got was science experiments or pictures of kids hair standing up.

I guess my next step may be having to read some of those science pages and actually learning about this!

Everyone needs a genuis friend...... Hey Micro! I got this wild idea... Think you can do anything like that?

Why sure oaken, I can have that done by morning....
But then again in a perfect world the Flaming Torch would realize that I needed his powers for firetwirling much more than he needed them for battling evil or whatever it is he pisses around with.... hehehee...

One Love, Dont forget.


mrFlibbleSILVER Member
Ghostbuster
455 posts
Location: York, UK


Posted:
some sort of metal chain main all body suit would protect you. (it acts basically as a Faraday cage ) any current would flow through it and not you. Could be a bit restrictive though

Oakenmember
34 posts
Location: Canada


Posted:
Oh and mr flibble....

Quote 1:

you're going to get hurt

Quote 2:

Guitar bands are on the way out, these guys will never make it...

Said to the Beatles in Jan. 1962 by Decca Records exec.

Have faith my friend... The mad shall inherit the earth!

One Love, Dont forget.


mrFlibbleSILVER Member
Ghostbuster
455 posts
Location: York, UK


Posted:
was i sounding negative or something

Oakenmember
34 posts
Location: Canada


Posted:
Oh dont worry yourself mr flibble. I just like any excuse to be a witty brat....

One Love, Dont forget.


kazanewbie
29 posts
Location: England


Posted:
quote:
Originally posted by mrFlibble:
some sort of metal chain main all body suit would protect you. (it acts basically as a Faraday cage ) any current would flow through it and not you. Could be a bit restrictive though
Conductive plastic?? Flexable and will carry all the current. might get hot and sweaty though.


So I'm not sure if I understand exactly how this work. Are you using a device tesla coil with the big ball at the top (like they use for making artificial lightning) and then metal staffs to conduct the electricity? This is fairly similar to the Van-de-grafe generators used at school, which use static electricity from a belt to create the charge. If this is what you mean don't even think about trying to make one. The ones they use for lightning generators can give off sparks up to about 40 foot, but are someting like 100kA and upwards, thats 100,000 Amps. As little a 6mA will kill a man, thats 0.006 Amps.

Oakenmember
34 posts
Location: Canada


Posted:
Kaza, talk to me baby! It sounds like you actually know what this is about a little more than I do...

I think what you have explained is what ive seen and wish to harness, but really though, the performer that I saw seemed to play on some sort of danger but judging by what she was able to do with her "home-made lightning" I have the feeling that a large risk was not present.

Also, If I remember correctly she was not wearing any protective suit of any kind. so what else can you tell me about this kaza I'd love to hear any knowledge you have on the subject...

Rest easy too, I dont plan to bust out with a 6 ft lightning rod showering sparks off my roof anytime soon, I'd merely like to work on a few small experiments next time i get the chance.

peace and quite....

One Love, Dont forget.


kazanewbie
29 posts
Location: England


Posted:
You can do small experiments with the lightning balls you used to see around a lot. You know the things with the crazy purple and blue swirling light inside them.

If you cup your hand fully ontop of on you can electricute people with your fingertips. Can sometimes get a little spark up to about a centremeter.

Or maybe there is a way of doing it using two staffs, having one as the positive and one as the negative electrode. You would then need to keep the power supple as some form of back back or waist band of someting, and you would get arcs between the two. Would have to using a very high voltage, but could get away with very low current using DC step-up transformers. Pair of rubber gloves just to be safe and the only path would be from one staff to the other, unless you got hem too far apart and it may still try and arc to your arm.

But I prefer the idea of having two tesla coils and having the electricity arcing down from either side of you

To explain much further I would have to touch up on my knowledge and I don't think I could do it over the internet. I would need pen and paper to srible on and point at.But...

code:
( ) _( )
| \_ _/ |
| \__ _/ |
| \|( )|/ |
| |-|-| |
| |/ \| |
| |


or

|\/\/\/\/\/\/|
| ( ) |
|______|_____|
| | |
|/\/\/\/\/\/\|
/ \
Affraid I'm not very good at my stick men diagrams but hopefully that gives the idea of the two different methods I can see may be possible.

dj scatterfacemember
5 posts
Location: Melbourne


Posted:
Yeh Tom Morello from RATM (now audioslave) on occasion had to have one of those metal strips running round his body when he did this neat trick he wouldn't get electricuted.

Ther trick? He used to pull the lead out and stick it back into the feedback... as anyone who has their first video will see in bullet in your head

My universe is never right without all planets shining bright


dj scatterfacemember
5 posts
Location: Melbourne


Posted:
Yeh Tom Morello from RATM (now audioslave) on occasion had to have one of those metal strips running round his body when he did this neat trick he wouldn't get electricuted.

Ther trick? He used to pull the lead out and stick it back into the feedback... as anyone who has their first video will see in bullet in your head

My universe is never right without all planets shining bright


KorinFoxGOLD Member
member
24 posts
Location: Maryland, USA


Posted:
hee hee time for my two cents since I'm a physics freak and learn lots about this stuff...

anyways a protective suit... Acting like a faraday cage would be near impossible... since in order for it to be able to protect you, you cannot touch the suit AT ALL other wise you would be electrocuted... (not good given about 5 mA can kill someone). Also something to consider. Without using huge and excess amounts of static electricity and carrying around hundreds of dollars (or pounds... for you British...) of equipment it is not possible to do static electricity as well in humid conditions than in dry conditions (physics teacher said this... and the sparks in the experiments weren't too large, it was in the spring). If you want to learn about some of this stuff heres a website with streaming video lectures from MIT MIT 8.02 class video lectures and the first few lectures cover electricity and static electricity and charges and stuff. See if you can get any ideas from this (but just as a note the van-de-graff you see at the end of the first video lecture is probably very very expensive... ). So anyways just my two cents... or maybe 5 dollars... (btw I'm a 15 year old in high school so I just learned this stuff).

Vagueness defines everything...


Singed Piper (formerly Mark1)resident bagpiper
342 posts
Location: Vermont, USA


Posted:
this would be perfectly safe if you used tesla coils instead ot the vandegraph generators you all seem to be thinking of. the sparks created by tesla coils are utterly harmless to humans, even though they can be millions of volts. small battery-operated coils exist for like $50. you could wire one coil and one ground to each staff and have fun. however, i think the hard part would be to ground the staff in such a way as to cause the spark to choose the staff rather than you to strike. however, it could look cool either way.

cya

pop quiz, why is a tesla coil called a tesla coil? why is it not harmful? and what else did its inventor do?

Q:What's the difference between the Great Highland Bagpipes and the Northumbrian Pipes?
A:The Great Highland Pipes burn longer.


kazanewbie
29 posts
Location: England


Posted:
quote:
Originally posted by KorinFox:
anyways a protective suit... Acting like a faraday cage would be near impossible... since in order for it to be able to protect you, you cannot touch the suit AT ALL other wise you would be electrocuted... (not good given about 5 mA can kill someone).
I still think that conductive plasitic outside, rubber coated inside would do it. Would probally have to be molded to your body, and have built in eye googles. Could you imagine electricity sparking into your eyes. OUCH

quote:
Originally posted by KorinFox:

Also something to consider. Without using huge and excess amounts of static electricity and carrying around hundreds of dollars (or pounds... for you British...) of equipment it is not possible to do static electricity as well in humid conditions than in dry conditions (physics teacher said this... and the sparks in the experiments weren't too large, it was in the spring).

For the voltages needed to produce sparks big enough for this I think you will be talking something more like 100s of thousands of pounds. But O think we are just talking theoretically.

Or the sparks between staves may be posible with a battery pack and DC step-up circuit as mentioned earlier.

But remember kids, don't play with electricity. Its not big, its not funny and its not clever.

mrFlibbleSILVER Member
Ghostbuster
455 posts
Location: York, UK


Posted:
i have to pick you up on the point about not touching a metal suit for it to work. I distinctly remember seeing on TV someone wearing a metal glove ( i can only remember the close up on his metal gloved hand as the sparks hit it )
he was in direct contact to the metal, but because electric current will always go down the easiest path to the earth (via the metal and not the guy's body) the person is left unharmed.

I bet you that if u wore a metal suit and it was in direct contact with your skin and you stood next to a tesla coil and got zapped you'd be alright (if u think i'm wrong i want video evidence of someone finding out the hard way hehehe)

DJ DantanaBRONZE Member
veteran
1,495 posts
Location: Stillwater, Ok. USA


Posted:
tesla coil, named after nikola tesla, the russian inventor who was aobut 100 years ahead of his time, for reference, einstein was probably only 50 years ahead of his time.

Why isn't it harmfull? probably has something to do with having low amperage, and not being AC current. If you are not grounded you would probably be fine (standing ona rubber mat while wearing rubber shoes. but stand in wet grass with bare feet and you will get your ass zapped!

what else did it's inventor do? good question, much of his work is still missunderstood and controvertial to this day.

we eat and we drink and we smoke and we try!


kazanewbie
29 posts
Location: England


Posted:
Looks like I was wrong about the cost of using a tesla coil. Wouldn't even be that hard to make a functional one. There are many dangers though.

They emmit ultra violet radiation which burns the eyes
They emmit x-rays which can cause cancer (although probally too small an amount to worry)
Got to be very VERY VERY carefull with grounding.
Got to be very careful about keeping it away from domestic supply (50/60 Hz)

Hmmm. I'm going to look into it more. But they are not safe for many reasons. Sure due to the skin effect from having a high frequency (RF) high voltage will mean the current tends to travel down the outside of your body, but there are many thing that can go wrong.


Oh and by the way, I did a BTEC in electronics followed by two years as an electronics test enginner, but am back at uni now. Feeling quite rusty with a lot of this, but picking it up again qute easily.

mrFlibbleSILVER Member
Ghostbuster
455 posts
Location: York, UK


Posted:
i did a degree in physics and graduated 3 years ago now, and this area wasn't my strong point but i've just checked out a few web pages from academic organisations to make sure i am not talking utter rubbish, and i'm not i think.
although i'm not 100% sure being in contact with a metal cage next to a tesla coil would be ok, i am 95% sure

KorinFoxGOLD Member
member
24 posts
Location: Maryland, USA


Posted:
heh just a rethought on my part... if the suit of glove is grounded then thats a different story altoghether and is not a faraday cage, but just a grounded metal suit. Anyways skin has a very high resistance by itself (of course unless wet...), but regargless with enough voltage... (I think around 10 thousand Volts) ones gonna need a bit more than just their own dry skin resistance. Oh and I'm pretty sure Tesla coils are pretty safe, my physics teacher showed the class a picture of Nikola Tesla reading a book under some like 15 foot tall sparking and such tesla coils (using them for lighting I think...).

Vagueness defines everything...


kazanewbie
29 posts
Location: England


Posted:
Taken from Tesla saftey sheet at https://www.pupman.com/safety.htm

quote:

You are literally playing Russian Roulette when you stick a hand held metal rod into the output streamer of your coil running at 3kvA, while standing on a concrete floor!!! When you start running these kind of power levels (or even less) some coils have a tendency to form a corona or even send a streamer down to their own primaries every once in a while. A grounded strike ring is often added around the primary to try to prevent this self striking streamer from hitting the primary coil and thus introducing a high voltage pulse into the 'bottom end electronics' where it could do damage to components. These strike rails are not 100% effective. The streamer can still, and sometimes does strike a point downstairs that is part of the LETHAL high voltage 60 Hz circuitry. When such a contact is made, any person also connected to a corona/streamer link to the secondary at the same time will, via the ionized air path, become connected to lethal 60 Hz mains current. You could try the trick you described standing on the cement floor in your tennis shoes half a dozen times and live, or be killed the very next time you try it. The fact that the bottom of your secondary is tied to ground will not save you!

If you isolate your own body well away from the floor and any other potentially conductive objects in the vicinity, such as sitting or standing on an elevated insulated platform (I would NOT consider a plastic milk crate adequate!), then you will probably survive if 60 Hz is introduced into the streamer you are in contact with by the mechanism described above. However, in setting up this insulated platform you must consider the path that may be taken from streamers that will re-emerge from your body and head off looking for other targets, which could result in direct contact with earth ground again.

In a safety warning I have about the potential hazards of Tesla coils mention is made of a stage lecturer while demonstrating how he could cause long sparks to come out of his fingers (by standing on a specially constructed coil), was electrocuted when the discharge created an ionized path to grounded overhead pipes supporting stage back drops, and the lower voltage but far more deadly 60 cycle current passed through his body along that path. The name of this lecturer is believed to be Transtrom.

I was dinking around once with a vacuum tube coil drawing 15 inch streamers to a hand-held, 10 megohm metal film porcelain resistor about a foot long while standing on a carpeted, elevated wooden floor in composition rubber soled dry shoes. I inadvertently got the resistor too close to the primary tank coil (the top end directly connected to the 3 kilovolt output of the plate supply transformer) and the high voltage RF closed a path to the primary. I felt an uncomfortable 60 Hz shock through my entire body. Had that resistor been a solid metal rod I would have experienced a very painful jolt or worse, and had I been standing on a cement floor, I'd probably be 'worm food'.

I think the danger of electrocution is just as real by making contact with a hand held florescent lamp tube, as any solid conducting metal object.

I cringe when I hear of some body contact stunts proposed by people on this list! The potential (no pun intended) for death is very real. Be EXTREMELY careful!

Another viewpoint

The 60 cycle side of things is where electrocution can happen. Keep well away from any 60 cycle leads, use grounds and cages as appropriate. Bear in mind that if a radio frequency arc starts from a place which also has 60 cycles on it (one side of a primary circuit, for example) there is the possibility of high-current 60 cycle conduction along the ionized path. That could be deadly.....

Fro mreading through a few people experiments it seems 3-4 foot arcs can be achieved drwing 20A on 110V, or about 10A on 220V. As I am British I will say thats its 10A at 250V for easynesses stake.

This will give us a 2.5kVA tesla coil, from primary. Most of the examples I saw used a 1:250 step up transformers from neon lighting. This will give you 62.5kV (62,500V) at 40mA (0.04A). Remeber that 6mA will kill you, and this is alomost 7 times that. So it's not to do with low current that a tesla coil will not usually kill you.

There is an effect known as the skin effect. (You wouldn't be able to get picture to your TV if this wasn't untalised in co-axial cable) This is the tendancy of higher frquencies to travel down the outside of a cable (also high currents, but that doesn't help with this problem). Apperently if we were electrocuted by a signal above about 500kHz it would pass down the outside of our body, leaving our internal organs intact. Most tesla coils operate at 50-250kHz. Not higher enough to feel anywhere safe.

Now there is a little known factthat only 1 in 5 people struck by lightning die from it. Most others are not even that seriously hurt. Lightning is 3-10 Million Volts at 100,000's of Amps. But the theory is that as it is an instantainous shock you can often survive it. In fact most people who die from it die either from respiratory problems or from the shock.


So why don't you die from a well isolated tesla coil? I'm not sure but I would say it's a combination of all the above.


Oh, and if anybodies interested from the pop quiz earlier, Tesla invented the first radio, radio controlled vehicle (a boat{and he said it was the start of robots}) and well as the death ray delevoped bu US and USSR over the cold war.

Anybody who says that Hertz invented the first radio is half right. He discovered that a spark gives off electromagnetic radiation, discovered radio waves and that light is just electricity at a very high frequency. Tesla then saw a lot that could be done from this.


And I would not say Tesla was 100 years ahead of his time and Einstein was only 50. Tesla didn't even die 100 years ago and there are great many people who can understand the work of Tesla. There were lots and lots of people working on the same kind of work as Tesla in that period. Eistien made a breakthrough isolated from almost all other current work and it is still not understood by many people. Even the people who use it ofen don't understand it, they just know how to use the equations and get it to work.

Right, rant over and geek glasses removed.

Bender_the_OffenderGOLD Member
still can't believe it's not butter
6,978 posts
Location: Melbourne, Australia


Posted:
^^
/the sound of bender's head exploding halfway through reading this thread is faintly heard..

thanks for that comprehensive info, kaza!

Laugh Often, Smile Much, Post lolcats Always


squarefishSILVER Member
(...trusty steed of the rodeo midget...)
403 posts
Location: the state of flux, Ireland


Posted:
oh dear, oh dear,

Guys if you're going to start messing around with high tension (that means high voltage) power systems, make sure to get your facts straight before you even begin to experiment with this sort of thing.

I'm surprised that none of the moderators haven't picked up on this thread and introduced a note of caution, most of this stuff is NOT for amateurs.

Some of the info being posted here is incorrect or misleading, here's the skinny:

From Kaza
quote:
Are you using a device tesla coil ... This is fairly similar to the Van-de-grafe generators used at school, which use static electricity
Van De Graff Generators (VDGG) are not the same as Tesla coils. AVDGG accumulates a fairly hefty static charge on the sphere at the top, enough to make your hair stand on end or numb your arm if it gets discharged to earth through it.
These are relatively safe ( a company built some hand cranked models and distributed them on road sides in the Australian out back, stand on the platform crank the handle, your hair stands on end ;-)
A Tesla coil on the other hand produces radio frequency alternating current which can kill you stone dead in about half a second.

from Korin Fox
quote:
a protective suit... Acting like a faraday cage would be near impossible... since in order for it to be able to protect you, you cannot touch the suit AT ALL other wise you would be electrocuted...
Korin, suits like this are used by workers on high tension power lines in every country on Earth, they are constructed from a fabric composed of woven steelwire. As long as NO PART of your body pokes through the suit you're
totally safe. Helmets are usually constructed as a cage type affair or a plexiglass/polycarbonate bubble with a wire grid embedded in the surface.
If you were a Physics freak like you claim to be you should know about charge distribution on conductive bodies.

Kaza, yes, tesla coils can and are used to generate X-rays but they need to be linked to another piece of equipment where they act as a power supply for a very high power cathode ray tube.

The only safe way that I can think of to perform a stunt like the ones described above would be to make a flourescent light tube staff.

A. build (or buy) a small battery operated VDGG. Put it in a knapsack with two leads coming out and going to chainmail gloves.

B. Get a flourescent light tube, find a piece of thick hard polycarbonate tubing to go around it. Mount the flouro tube firmly inside (no rattling!). Have thin wires going from both ends of the light tube to spiral in the area of the staff where your hands will be in contact with the staff.

C. Learn how to use stilts. Being above the ground will reduce the chances of any accidental discharge to earth.

D. Turn on the VDGG for short spells until the tube lights up (maybe this on a timer system for automatic top ups?) Dont tap your friends on the shoulder, they will not appreciate having large doses of static electricity being dumped into their body.

E. Allow the charge to disipate from your body naturally after turning off the VDGG (playing catch withsome friends will help to do this, strangely enough!)

-Finally-
please be carefull guys, don't whizz on the electric fence, and always get someone else to check your setups before switching anything on.

best regards,
Martin

KorinFoxGOLD Member
member
24 posts
Location: Maryland, USA


Posted:
I refute that squarefish!!! (haha jk... note the rewrite... where skin has on its own its natural resistance...) anyways...... I remember this pretty interesting experiment that our teacher did for like... 10 minutes just constantly making a fluorescent light keep flashing but I dont quite remember how... he said tho he could do it all day and I do know he was doing it like constantly for like 10 minutes... so theoretically if the charge on the other object doesnt dissapate into the air.... you have an infinite power source? (hey gimme a break its been at least 5 months since we did electric charges with the cat fur and all...)

Vagueness defines everything...


Oakenmember
34 posts
Location: Canada


Posted:
Hey kids... You guys are giving me some great info for where to start researching this...
By the way though, I suppose I did bring this up on the internet so it's my own problem but for the record, I will be extremely offended if I see one of you guys on tv someday using my idea...

signed....... the big-mouthed Fire Twirler...

One Love, Dont forget.


mrFlibbleSILVER Member
Ghostbuster
455 posts
Location: York, UK


Posted:
like i said in the beginning, if u mess around with this stuff u ARE going to get hurt.

squarefish: u didn't pick apart my posts for technical inaccuracies, does that mean you couldn't be bothered as other ppl made worse mistakes or that i wasn't talking bollocks? when i was reading your post i half expected to see u have a go at what i said too

squarefishSILVER Member
(...trusty steed of the rodeo midget...)
403 posts
Location: the state of flux, Ireland


Posted:
mrFibble, yep pretty much both!
Um..
sorry if I came across sounding like some old fart, but I've played with some of the "toys" described above, and they can be quite nasty if mishandled.
Quite nasty indeed.

if you really feel the need to play around with sparky things try this website.
No mains electricity involved.
[URL=https://www.alaska.net/~natnkell/staticgen.htm]

But once again please be careful, play if you must, but start out small. I've managed to numb my arm up pretty badly even with the vinyl record generator described here.

play it sam-ZAP!!
-M-

kazanewbie
29 posts
Location: England


Posted:
squarefish:I admit that my comment about the Van-de-graff Generator was not entirely correct, but the reason for that is because I wasn't trying to explain the use and operation of the devices, but trying to see if this is what they were talking about seeing on telly, because to the causual observer a Tesla Coil will apear a lot like a giant VDGG.

And if you read the rest of my points I have been trying to warn people as much as posible and have purposely not put any liks to pages explaining how to build one.

And I didn't say they are used to generate x-rays. Just that they are known to emmit them, although from most of the accounts I have read of people trying to measure the output from their home-made devicecs it has been neglible. But as they do emmit x-rays I included it as a precaution to help deter people from trying it without lying.

Sorry to jump on the defensive like that, but I thought I should put across my points after your hole-picking fancy a


Unfortunately my research has been put back a little now, due to one of my flatmates not paying there part of a bill and having my internet connection cut off But thats probbaly for the best anyway

SparkyHVBRONZE Member
member
7 posts
Location: Sydney, Australia


Posted:
Hey all, I'm an electrician by trade and Tesla Coils are a subject of interest. I have to totally agree with the safety concerns raised above. Any voltage / current source can kill in the right conditions and Tesla Coils have many dangers if used improperly.

That said, I've been looking into building a staff for twirling with 2 to 4 inch "lighting" arcs at the end. Still very much in the design stages, but for the techie types out there, it will be a solid-state switched battery powered bipolar design (looks a bit like a hay fork). The arcs form between the two points on the end of the staff due to differing polarities and due to the battery power supply you don't get the problems of arcing to earth as there is no earth reference required. Not sure yet whether I'll be able to get arcs at both ends of staff due to weight/size constraints.

One flash and you're ash!


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