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Discussion Starter #1
Is there anyone on this forum who's done a jacobs ladder? I bought a 9kv 30 ma transformer and some of the videos I've seen from YouTube it looks like more than enough power! Mine will not arc, tried everything. I can get it to spark when I push the wires together, but its about half way up and then it raises... If I put them close, it just buzzes at the bottom!! I have done and spent so much time on this prop!! It's killing me.. Do I need more power, is my transformer not getting full power, has anyone else ran into this?

Thanks...
 

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Human Candy Shovel
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A basic $10 multimeter would allow you to diagnose some of those potential problems yourself.

Anyway, Jacob's ladders are notoriously fickle contraptions and it is hard to get it right on the first go.
 

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NUMBER 1- Please be very careful with high voltage electricity!
What material is your base? What are you using for your wires to carry the arc? What is the gap at the bottom of your wires? And the gap at the top?
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Horror man.. Here is a YouTube video of what I followed!! I used two 10 gauge wires attached to everything!! Nothing sparks like the one in the video.. I started w copper wire, hard to bend, then I went to metal rods, seemed to work but it wouldn't climb.. Then I bought this picture below from eBay and the guy said he used it on the same transformer I have flawlessly, just slip wires to proper gap and tighten down!! I still can't get it to climb!! Another thing, in the video he uses aluminum foil at gap and a zip tie, when I tried this several times it just burned them!!

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=vzFduzQh8eM
 

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The Kitschiest Kitsch
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I just read through this whole thread out of curiosity. I know 'Jacobs ladder' is the biblical ladder that goes up into the sky and I'm assuming y'all are doing something similar with these transformers, but what exactly are you doing lol? Like, are you projecting an electrical image onto something else and making it look infinite?
 

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Hello king. I noticed the transformer is rated for an input voltage of 277 volts. I am guessing that you have plugged it to your wall which is 120 volts.
277 volts is typically used in commercial buildings and is often a 3 phase system whereas your home electric is single phase.
I would suggest a 120 volt transformer with an output of 10 to 12 Kv and 30 milliamps. And again, please use extreme caution with this setup! It can have very bad consequences.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Hey thanks so much horror man!! I figured it had to be something with the cord and the 110 v, not producing the spar it needs!! This is a local Craigslist ad, would this be one like you mentioned?? Thanks for your help!!

http://charlotte.craigslist.org/bfs/3970538400.html
 

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Funeral Crasher
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I just read through this whole thread out of curiosity. I know 'Jacobs ladder' is the biblical ladder that goes up into the sky and I'm assuming y'all are doing something similar with these transformers, but what exactly are you doing lol? Like, are you projecting an electrical image onto something else and making it look infinite?
Kallie,
A Jacobs Ladder is an electrical prop you've probably seen in mad scientist labs in old horror movies.
It looks like two long stiff wires mounted to a base in kind of a "V" shape. A small electrical charge (lightning bolt looking) starts between the wires at the bottom, then slowly travels up to the top of the wires, getting wider as it goes up. Then it disappears and starts over again.

Good luck with your prop, KingsChaff! Please don't fry yourself!
 

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My son made a Jacob's Ladder for his science fair project. He ran into a couple of problems getting it to work. I don't know what equipment he used (it was borrowed from an electrician friend), so I can't say whether the transformer you've got is right or not. But if you've gotten a spark anywhere along your wires, that's a good start.

The first thing I notice looking at your wires is that they don't point up - they're going sideways. I don't know if that makes a difference, but I'd change that part of your setup first, because I've never seen a Jacob's Ladder going any direction other than "up".

Second, your wires have a lot of bends and crimps in them. Try to get them as straight as possible. The crimps seem to affect how well the electricity arcs between the wires.

Third, when my son's wires got too far apart, the arc would just stop. Try starting your wires much closer together at the bottom (maybe 1/4" or so), then make sure they're no more than about 2" or so apart at the top. Once you get the arc at the bottom, you can play with the upper distance.

One more suggestion - for safety's sake (yours and those who will be anywhere near your Jacob's Ladder) - Make sure you get the whole set up enclosed. My son used an aquarium, with a plexiglass cover that had a hole cut in it where the wires came up. He had a pickle jar fitted above the hole with the lid of the jar glued in place. The jar could then be removed and replaced at need. I'll be honest and say it didn't look particularly pretty, but it DID serve as protection when the ladder was running. Better safe than sorry! That's a lot of power you're working with, and you don't want anyone getting injured!
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Syren,

I know those pics aren't the best! But I have tried 3 or four different styles of wires! They all are straight, the pic is just them folded over, just wanted to show you a box!! I have a device, in photo above that let's you tighten and close the gap easily between wires but it still doesn't work! It sparks, it makes noise, but it won't climb, if I push the wires together, it sparks in middle and climbs up, but if I do that same gap on the bottom, it just stays!!
 

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I know you're getting frustrated, kingschaff. My son had a rough time getting his ladder to climb, too. He had to keep readjusting it, because sometimes the force of the arc, after running for awhile, seemed to push the wires apart and it would stop working for no apparent reason. He was only able to get the ladder to work from the mid-point upward and that was after straightening his wires, which had become kinked from all his moving the wires back and forth to make the arc work. The straighter he got the wires, the better the ladder seemed to work for him.

I wish I could be more help to you, but what I've told you is all I know. My son doesn't think I missed anything as far as what he did in trying to get his ladder working. It was mostly a matter of lots of trial and error for him. Sorry. :(
 

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I've now built 3 jacob's ladders, and had a host of problems with it, so I can probably troubleshoot and or answer questions.

It's not the best transformer out there that you have. And, I'm not sure what running it on 120v is going to do to the output, that's true, but you are getting a spark, so there might be some hope.

How long is the spark you ARE getting?

What causes the spark to rise is heat. Hot air rises, and takes the spark with it, provided the resistence doesn't become too great, else it pops back to the bottom.

I've found the best setup is not the traditional 'v' shape, but rather have the 2 wires (I've actually found coper tubing to work better) running practically perpendicular, or VERY shallow V. Then, at the top, make a sharp 'v' to cause it to break down to the bottom.

Here's a video of the last jacob's lader I did. Video used for selling all the lab equipment last year, the ladder starts at ~1:00

This was a 12k trnasformer


Edit:

You know, if it turns out you decide to buy a new transformer, shoot me a PM. I have AT LEAST one, maybe 2 left. (my brother replaced his neon sign on his business and I took all the transformers) 12k output, 120 input. I'm sure I could cut you a deal better than you can find anywhere else.
 

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My son never tried tubing with his, UnOrthodOx. And he never put a "V" at the top, nor had wires to hold the wires a set distance apart. Maybe he should have posted here before he built it. ;)

It might help if we could all see exactly what your ladder looks like, kingschaff. Could you post a few pics of it, properly assembled (rather than with the wires bent over)? Maybe even one or two of whatever spark you are getting?
 

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My son never tried tubing with his, UnOrthodOx. And he never put a "V" at the top, nor had wires to hold the wires a set distance apart. Maybe he should have posted here before he built it. ;)

It might help if we could all see exactly what your ladder looks like, kingschaff. Could you post a few pics of it, properly assembled (rather than with the wires bent over)? Maybe even one or two of whatever spark you are getting?
First one I built, I bought a kit that had very detailed instructions. Unfortunately, doesn't seem that place is around anymore.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Thanks for the help everyone!! I will definitely post some vids when I can!! Setting up the pallet maze this weekend!! I just may hot you up for that transformer!! I will pm you later if I have time!! Thank you soo much guys
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Unorthodox I can tell you my spark is not even close to the one you have.. It's a small little spark when it does move up.. I would be ok if it climbed but it doesn't!! I think I may need a new power supply! Thanks, yours rocks for the climb
 
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