Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Lightning Info

How many volts and amps are in a lightning strike?
  • A typical lightning bolt contains 1 billion volts and contains between 10,000 to 200,000 amperes of current. The average flash would light a 100 watt lightbulb for 3 months.
  • The amperage of a typical thunderstorm may vary from 10,000 to 200,000 amps. The power generated by one thunderstorm may be in the neighborhood of several hundred megawatts.

“If only we could harness this energy...”

How long does a lightning strike last?
  • Only about 30 microseconds

Where is the most common place for a lightning strike to occur?
  • When dealing with lightning it is hard to get a very specific area that is affected more than another by lightning storms, but here is a graph that shows the Global frequency and distribution of lightning as observed from space by the Optical Transient Detector.

Jacob's Ladder Questionnaire

Cale Steele...
What is the difference between voltage and amperage?1

Amperage, or current, is a measure of the amount of electrons moving in a circuit.

Voltage is a measure of how much force those electrons are under.

A good analogy that helps to illustrate the difference between voltage and amperage: Say you have a garden hose, the nozzle is closed. You've got pressure but no flow or voltage, but there is no current (amperage). Open the nozzle and the pressure in the hose causes the water to flow - turn on the light and the voltage causes the current to flow (amperage)

How is Ozone made from your device?2

From: Pamela Hughes (

The arc is a plasma of hot ionized gas. Molecules like O2 are broken down to the atomic level and ionized. when these ions collide with the surrounding air, they cause chemical reactions... the O can combine with nitrogen and form small amounts of nitrogen oxides, and with O2 to form ozone (O3). However, the high temps in an arc also tend to destroy these molecules too so you'd probably only produce trace amounts if it weren't for the UV given off by the arc. Ultraviolet seems to be the main mechanism for producing O3 as it can ionize in the air far enough from the arc that it will be cool enough for ozone to exist (a spark gives off UV and ionizes the air around it) A glow discharge is better at generating ozone than an arc though, since it maximizes the UV and the pressures and temps are much lower (i.e., put a conductive coating on the outside of a glass tube and a wire down the center of it, then apply enough voltage to produce a glow discharge inside the tube as you pump oxygen at low pressure through the tube. Shortwave UV lamps will produce it too (they use these as sterilizers in dairy barns).

If it wasn’t called a Jacob’s Ladder, what would you call it?3

A Cale’s Ladder sounds like a good alternative name...

Explain basically how your NST works? How does it step the voltage up?4

A basic transformer consists of two sets of coils or windings. Each set of windings is simply an inductor. AC voltage is applied to one of the windings, called the primary winding. The other winding, called the secondary winding, is positioned in close proximity to the primary winding, but is electrically isolated from it.

The alternating current that flows through the primary winding establishes a time-varying magnetic flux, some of which links to the secondary winding and induces a voltage across it. The magnitude of this voltage is proportional to the ratio of the number of turns on the primary winding to the number of turns on the secondary winding. This is known as the “turns ratio.”
To maximize flux linkage with the secondary circuit, an iron core is often used to provide a low-reluctance path for the magnetic flux. The polarity of the windings describes the direction in which the coils were wound onto the core. Polarity determines whether the flux produced by one winding is additive or subtractive with respect to the flux produced by another winding. A basic two-winding transformer is shown in the Figure above.

What are those things on the telephone poles that look like buckets and how do they relate to your project?5

A distributing transformer is a transformer that provides the final voltage transformation in the electric power distribution system, stepping down the voltage used in the distribution lines to the level used by the customer. If mounted on a utility pole, they are called pole-mount transformers (or pole pig). If the distribution lines are located underground, distribution transformers are mounted on concrete pads and locked in steel cases. These are known as pad-mount transformers. Because of weight restrictions transformers for pole mounting are only built for primary voltages under 30 kV.

What is the voltage of a regular power socket?6

The standard amount of voltage for an American wall socket is 120 V.

The standard amount of amperage for an American wall socket is typically either 15 A or 20 A. You can be sure by checking the breaker value in the electric panel that controls the outlet. If it were a 20 A breaker then the total amps for all outlets on the breaker would be 20A.

What is the difference between a parallel and series circuit (please give an example)7

A series circuit has one route for electrons to travel through. If you had two light bulbs on a series circuit you couldn't turn one off without turning off the other.
However a parallel circuit has has more than one route, so you could turn one light on while the other is off.

Why do power companies use alternating current instead of direct current? What is the difference?8

Batteries, fuel cells and solar cells all produce something called direct current (DC). The positive and negative terminals of a battery are always, respectively, positive ­and negative. Current always flows in the same direction between those two terminals.

The power that comes from a power plant, on the other hand, is called alternating current (AC). The direction of the current reverses, or alternates, 60 times per second (in the U.S.) or 50 times per second (in Europe, for example). The power that is available at a wall socket in the United States is 120-volt, 60-cycle AC power.

The big advantage that alternating current provides for the power grid is the fact that it is relatively easy to change the voltage of the power, using a device called a transformer. Power companies save a great deal of money this way, using very high voltages to transmit power over long distances.

What experts will you use?9

Southern Signs Industries
632 Beal Pkwy NW # B
Fort Walton Bch, FL 32548-3513
(850) 863-3436

A science forum for extensive responses.right place!

(3)No Link Used*
(4)Neon Sign Transformer
(5)Distribution Transformer
(6)Voltage/Amperage Amounts
(7)Series & Parallel Circuit
(8)Alternating & Direct Current

Monday, March 21, 2011

March 21 - Jacob's Ladder Project Update

Progress... has been made on Mason and I's Jacob's Ladder Project.

Today we hooked up our 12,000 Volt Neon Sign Transformer with No-GFI ( Ground Force Indicator ) to a stripped wall socket wire. We connected the black wire to the hot side, and the white wire to the neutral side... The green wire is for the ground, but a ground is not necessary in making a Jacob's Ladder. I fastened a paper-clip, using a pair of pliers, to the tip of a drum stick. When plugged in we used the drum-stick-paper-clip devise to check to see if the Neon Sign Transformer was working. When the metal conductor ( paper clip ) was close enough to the electrodes we saw small arch's and heard  an electric noise. We concluded that the Transformer was working properly, but we forgot to connect the electrodes together to make the arch larger. 

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Circuit Symbols

Circuit Symbols
BuzzerBuzzer 1 OR Buzzer 2
MotorMotor 1 OR Motor 2
Push SwitchPush Switch
Open SwitchOpen Switch
Closed SwitchClosed Switch
Variable ResistorVariable Resistor
Where wires joinWhere Wires Join

Supplies Needed...

The things Mason and I are going to need to find by the end of this weekend to successfully start assembling our Jacob's Ladder project on Monday the 21st are......................

  1. Neon Sign Transformer ( Non-Ground Fault Interrupter ) 
  2. Pair of Electrodes ( Metal Wire Hanger )
  3. Non-Conductive base ( Thick Piece of Wood )
  4. High Voltage Wire ( 12-Gauge Hook-Up Wire )
  5. Wall Socket Chord ( Stripped )
  6. Hammer ( and Nails! )
  7. Sandpaper ( If Using Coat Hanger Method )
  8. Vice Grip ( Tool to Stretch Wire Hanger )
  9. Flip Camera ( For Recording )
  10. Attachments ( To Attach any Loose ends )
Will edit if any other supplies are needed...

With these supplies, information, and guidelines posted HERE, we should be able to build a successful

Jacob's Ladder! 

A Jacob's Ladder... In action!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Jacob's Ladder Project

A complete Jacob's Ladder!
We are getting our Neon Sign Transformer (Non-GFI) from a local shop in Fort Walton Beach. Besides they transformer, we will need...

How to:

  1. High voltage power source. Other examples of high voltage power supplies might be: a furnace ignition transformer, or a flyback transformer from an old TV. You can pretty much use anything you can get your hands on as long as it generates more than five thousand volts (5 kV). 
  2. A pair of electrodes. Thin copper tubing works superbly for this, as it is very conductive and easy to bend. You can go the cheap route and use a wire hanger, but be aware that most coat hangers have some type of paint or plastic coating that will have to be removed. (Use a sander to make sure the coating is gone.)
  3. A non-conductive base must be used to mount the electrodes. A non flammable base is also a good thing to have if you are worried about setting something on fire. (Note that at excessive voltages, wood no longer stays an insulator, and starts to conduct electricity. If this does happen, you can count on that wood to ignite.)
  4. Some high-voltage wire is also recommended. If none is available, it is possible to use some 12 gauge hook-up wire. The thicker the gauge and the insulation the better.
  5. If you are using a coat hanger, first untwist the top, and straighten the whole thing out. This can be very difficult, as trying to bend it usually ends with it twisting out of your grip. To solve this problem, stick it in a vice grip! This makes the whole process much easier.
  6. When it is more or less straight, you need to clean the coating off of the wire hanger. Here is where the sandpaper becomes useful! Sand the whole thing down with some medium grit paper and wipe it down with some acetone or MEK. Then cut them in half. If you didn't measure the wire hanger before cutting it with result in uneven electrodes. (For special effects, it's perfect!)
  7. Drill a pair of holes in either side of your base, and stick the ends of the electrodes in. In order for the electrodes to be close enough, you need to bend them again. Once you get the bottoms close enough, bend them up and flare them out. How far you can flare them depends on your power supply and size of electrodes. 
  8. Finally! You should be ready to turn your Jacob's Ladder on... LET THE SPARKS FLY!

Step 6
Finished Jacob's Ladder

12-Gauge hook-up wire