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Discussion Starter #1
Well, I'm starting my first project for the year. A "Jacob's Ladder." (electric arch)

I'm planning a Frankenstein Lab and as you all know, this is a MUST have. So I contacted a local neon sign maker and was able to pick this transformer.



But I'm not sure its what I need. It was only $40.00. Can anyone let me know if I made a bad purchase?



I've seen other designs but nothing that have used this particular unit. So any help would be appreciated.



Thanks everyone. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #2
I was really hoping that someone might have some recommendations for me. I'm not exactly sure how to use this. Anyone ever used this particular transformer to build a Jacob's Ladder? Thanks.
 

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The Mrs. to a MysterE
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Hallow ActionJax! So you want to build your own Jacob's Ladder? Well I can tell you it is one DANGEROUS process... But then that has never stopped most of us from prop building. In any case -- there are many ways to go about creating one -- or a reasonable visual version that could work more safely. I have seen many cool lab props that use chaser holiday light strands and other light sources to give an illusion of an electrical power source that would satisfy any self respecting Dr. Frankenstein wannabe...
Nevertheless, you should charge your brain with a few of these links -- and then connect with a seriously superb electrician to discuss the safety of working with high voltage "toys" lest you fry a bit more flesh than you might otherwise plan come this Halloween. Here's a few of the search links to get you started:

dangers of a Jacob's Ladder


Jacob's Ladder (Climbing Arc) Construction
www.repairfaq.org/sam/jacobs.htm
Dec 7, 2012 - (Climbing Arc) Construction informative page on these very dangerous devices.

Make a Jacobs ladder. - bigclive.com
www.bigclive.com/jacobs.htm
... drive such delights as Geissler tubes (early neon tubes), the afore mentioned X -ray unit and various other dangerous devices including a mini Jacob's ladder.

A Safe Jacob's Ladder? - News - SparkFun Electronics
https://www.sparkfun.com/news/477
Nov 4, 2010 - But Jacob's Ladders are a tad bit dangerous - while visually awesome, that arc of electricity packs a powerful punch and an unsuspecting child ...
Jacobs Ladder Experiments - Members Shaw
members.shaw.ca/forcelabs/Jacobsladder.htm
In simplest words, a Jacob's Ladder is extremely dangerous so be extremely careful when building or operating one. The information provided here is for ...
LoneOceans.com - Jacob's Ladder
www.loneoceans.com/lo_main/labs_01/nstjacob/index.htm
In other words, a Jacob's Ladder is extremely dangerous so be careful when operating one. The information here is for educational purposes - build one at your ...

Lateral Science - Jacob`s Ladder
www.lateralscience.co.uk/jacob/
A Jacob`s Ladder. Useless & Extremely Dangerous, Jacob`s Ladders are seen on screen, whenever an evil laboratory scene is required. Either an arc or a high ...
Spark gap - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spark_gap
3 Health hazards; 4 See also; 5 References; 6 External links ... Here, a Jacob's ladder on top of the switch will pull the arc apart and so extinguish it. One might ...

Fran's Dangerous Toys: The Jacob's Ladder - YouTube
► 10:26► 10:26
www.youtube.com/watch?v=5lGZb4AhRxw
Nov 28, 2012 - Uploaded by Fran Blanche
In this vlog I show a little prop I made some 20 years ago that packs a mighty whollop.... of fun! I ...
More by Fran Blanche

Jacob's Ladder with Display Case - Instructables
www.instructables.com/id/Jacobs-Ladder-with-Display-Case/
If you are not familiar with the Jacob' Ladder, it is a display where an el. ... my Jacob's Ladder to be enclosed in a nice looking display case, with any dangerous ...
How to Build a Jacobs Ladder
ffden-2.phys.uaf.edu/212_spring2005.web.dir/Kenneth_Sweet/
Mar 24, 2005 - This website will go over the aspects of building a Jacobs Ladder, ... high voltage equipment can be extremely dangerous and potentially fatal if ...
 

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The Mrs. to a MysterE
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And from a guest commenter on another site:
"A few more warnings would be nice. 15,000V at 30mA will definitely kill you or your unsuspecting viewer. You don't even have to touch both electrodes as most 15kV transformers have a grounded center tap so the 7.5kV wants to go through you to earth/ground and kill you or your guest. Might be best to use non-flammable materials and put a clear plastic barrier around the electrodes to prevent contact.


Still a great project. ... Just be safe."
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thank you SusieBoo. I'll check those links out.

I'm still hoping that someone who has actually built one themselves would post their project. I can use all that advise I can get. :)
 

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You might consider building a faux one. I haven't done it, but one idea would be to have a ladder made of Electroluminescent wire (EL)
and a controller to light up each strand in a progression. This could simulate the arc climbing up the electrodes.
You could also add sound and some fog and the illusion would be complete. This would be a much safer prop.
Pete
http://www.amazon.com/Blue-Neon-Glowing-Strobing-Electroluminescent/dp/B003J99JW4
http://www.amazon.com/Velleman-K8044-10-Channel-Low-Voltage-Chaser/dp/B000TA57T0/ref=sr_1_4?s=industrial&ie=UTF8&qid=1391358663&sr=1-4&keywords=light+chaser
 

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What Hump?
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There is an abundance of caution on this thread, so I'll continue the trend:

Build At Your Own Risk!

There.

I haven't built one before, but have always wanted to.
I'll have to check and see if I have any neon sign shops nearby.

I found this "Instructable" page.
http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-build-a-Five-Foot-Tall-Jacob-s-ladder/
You may have already found it. The instructions do lack a bit of detail, but there appears to be many links in the comments section that may provide additional, helpful information.

The clear, protective case sounds like a good idea, and I would think that the copper pipe would make it easier to make sure there is a controllable, adjustable distance between the two potentials.

Make sure you post a thread with your results. I'm interested in seeing how it turns out.
 

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The two black knobs on top are for your electrodes(poles), the side wires are black(common), white(neutral), green(ground) for ac 110v plug/switch.

What problems specifically are you having? I have built a few with neon sign transformers. feel free to ask any questions, I am not one to make guides but there are tons of them out there.
 

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I would agree with ALL the safety advice already given. 15KV @ 30mA can kill you! I would put the rods in a clear plexiglas tube to prevent wandering hands from poking at it, including your own, either by accident or on purpose. The 15KV should give you a good, long arc, with your final gap being at least an inch. The starting gap will have to be much smaller, perhaps 1/4 inch.
 

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Also, the label indicates "mid-point grounded", so to echo HallowSusieBoo's comment... you would only have to touch ONE of the electrodes to complete the circuit (through YOU). It should make a great Jacob's Ladder, but PLEASE be careful.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
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Kinsgschaff, that looks great. Exactly what I want to go for. What are those two blue glass items on the top? Where can I pick those up at?

As for everyone else, thank you all for the advice and safety info. That has been a real concern for me too. I plan on being safe. Don't want my wife to cash in on my life insurance policy. LOL Plan on using the Plexi-glass tube to cover everything. If anyone can help with more photo's of how to put all this together would be helpful too.

Thanks everyone!
 

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Action jack thanks so much.. I worked for a couple of months on this project.. I will tell you everything so you don't make mistakes I do..

Build box.. Add led lights.. Those two lights at the top are green insulators.. They were bought in town at a thrift shop/antique store.. All of the lighting is a hole, clear blank eyes,painted,large washers on outside w copper color for aging.. With a colored led glued in from inside.. All wired together and powered by snap on 9 volt clip w a 9 volt battery.. The insulators sit on top of my box, I drilled a hole underneath each insulator, put a shelf inside the box near the top and turned on those push button LEDs that look like hockey pucks you can get at any $1 store.. Lights the insulators beautifully..

As for the jacobs ladder.. Gotta experiment for yourself. Lots of weird stuff happens.. No lie, climbs in middle, doesn't climb, arcs down.. How I finally got it was I built a small box w acrylic plastic to hold wires, to stop from grounding, then placed a hollow copper tube over the wires for a better arc!! Oh and this is very important.. Find your vase or tube first, then build your box and if it breaks, know you can find another one so your hole stays the same.. I added depth to the top w wood so that it could fit snug inside.. I used a big flower vase from Marshall's.. Worked well but I liked it open so I put it on a table, enclosed it, and put up warning signs!! It was a hit.. Let me know if you need help
 

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It's kinda hard to tell from the photos there, but your transformer appears to have the outgoing posts on the top there. Jacob's ladder's are deceptively simple to build, but all the safety notes are well stated. At 15000 volts it is indeed lethal if you're being careless. You won't want it where the little 'ooo look mommy' hands can get ANYWHERE near.

Here's an old video of when I was selling off my lab equipment I had made special for my mother in law's annual class fundraiser. We put on a little scientist lab that had to be plug and play as we only had an hour to convert her classroom. She retired, so I sold it off to a fellow who still uses it. The jacob's ladder, and how I have the transformer and ladder setup is at ~1:30.

IIrc, mine was only 12k volts.


If you can AFFORD a plexiglass tube, it will keep air currents out of the way which have a tendency to break the arc, AND they tend to amplify the SOUND, which is awesome. Before the one in the video I had a much smaller one with a tube. Unfortunately it ran into trouble shortly after we got it working, as it was a DOWNPOUR that year, trying to move it into the classroom, too much water, plug in, boom...real fun that year...

A box is cheaper and will keep the air current off as well, but doesn't resonate quite the way a tube does.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Unorthodox,

Thanks for posting the video. Very cool set up you had there. I went out today and picked up a few more supplies, i.e. copper wires, extension cords etc. I hope to finish this little project up in the next week or so. I'll be sure and post some photo's and videos when I'm done.

Thanks again for all the info, and I promise to be careful. :)
 

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The only thing special about the wire I used is the shielding. It was designed for wiring neon signs and is known as GTO wire. If you get your standard hardware store copper wire too close together with that much voltage, it can spark right through the insulation. (had that happen on my first, smaller one) If you run one wire one direction and the other separately so they don't get close till you get to the actual ladder, you should be fine.
 

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Not sure what happened to ActionJax's Jacob's Ladder project...hopefully you are still with us (tell us how things went)...but I found this cool Ladder-type project using an Aduino board with EL wire for a similar looking effect...and might I add much safer build. Hubby and I are just embarking on learning about Aduino and hope to do this someday for our mad lab.

EL Ladder
 
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