Static electricity/Howard Community College/Fall2012/p3-502-hkm

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Problem Statement[edit | edit source]

To build a new static electricity generator and harness enough static electricity to make an aluminum triangle float.

Team Members[edit | edit source]





Summary[edit | edit source]

Our project was to utilize the power of static electricity to make an aluminum foil triangle fly and to make other interesting devices that are powered by static electricity. We did a lot of work with the dancing balls concept and the spinning bottles prototype that the previous team had built. The original prototype for the dancing balls utilized a fish tank, but that was too tall, so we had to make another prototype out of plexiglass. The top and bottom were pieces of wood covered with aluminum foil, however, it was still to tall, so the size had to be cut down again into two smaller prototypes. Both of these prototypes worked, allowing the project to move forward. We also started the work with the triangle by looking into a youtube video about a statically charged balloon making a thin piece of tissue paper fly. At first, it was difficult to replicate the video because we underestimated the amount of charge necessary to make it work. We eventually did get it to work well and we were able to move onto making the triangle. We were able to make the initial prototype out of pipe cleaners, aluminum foil, and wire. However, since pipe cleaners can conduct electricity, so we swapped those out for new wire and wood instead of pipe cleaners. We were unable to actually test this other prototype to see if it actually works. We also decided to make a capacitor that is powered by static electricity, and would increase the performance of our prototypes. The first capacitor used one side of a fish tank with a crack in it. It did increase the performance of of the prototypes, but ended up arcing across the crack and limiting the total amount of electrical output. We replicated the capacitor on the opposite side of the fish tank that didn't have a crack in it so that there will be a larger output of electricity. It built up to much power and failed when it arced though the glass and made a very large crack. Because of this failure, another static capacitor had to be built, and it would be made out plexiglass to prevent it from shattering. Once this was built, we tested it and it didn't shatter or arc like the old one. We then tested the static prototypes with the new capacitor, but were unsuccessful in getting them to work. We changed aspects of the prototypes like the balls size in the dancing balls and we insulated the support rod in the spinning bottles and made it more stable. None of these made the prototypes work, so we concluded that there was a major leak of electricity somewhere in the capacitor.

Poster[edit | edit source]


Story[edit | edit source]

First Weekend[edit | edit source]

We decided to make a prototype of the dancing balls machine based on the youtube video that the previous team had uploaded that can be seen at Dancing Balls. We utilized a fish tank that was in the shop as the container and aluminum foil covered wood. We also had to make our own styrofoam balls to cover with aluminum foil. To do this, we had to repair the the styrofoam cutter, which is documented at StyrofoamCutter.

Dancing Balls Aquarium Prototype With Generator

We tested the finished prototype, but unfortunately, the test did not succeed in replicating the video. We decided that height was one the key factors to this failure, and decided to downsize the design.

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After doing this with plexiglass, we tested the second prototype with similar results.

What we have done is make a triangle shape grocery plastic bag fly using a charged latex balloon we charged the plastic bag by rubbing it against Formica surface using a cotton cloth the balloon has to be charged by the same way of the plastic bag.

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according to the experiment that we have done and this video static electricity we thought that we should build the lifter triangle out of grocery plastic bag its lighter than aluminum fuel and it will be able to levitate the experiment that we did didn't work like it did in the video but it float for 2 seconds and it dropped.

We worked on making the spindle more stable in the Wimshurst PET Bottle Motor experiment. We thought to use washers or some sort of plastic tube in order to give the spindle access to spin but still be contained.

Washers and Plastic tube

Second Weekend[edit | edit source]

We were able to cut down the size of the Dancing Balls Prototype and were able to cut it down into one container that was 1/3 the size of the previous prototype and one container that was 2/3 the size of the previous prototype. We then tested the larger of the two new prototypes and this one worked for the most part, but also revealed that the ball size was also a factor. The smaller balls went up and down like they were supposed to, but the larger balls didn't move. The balls must be all the same smaller size in order to get a completely successful functioning prototype. After adjusting the ball size and also testing to see if the styrofoam was a necessary part of the small balls by adding some aluminum foil balls, we were finished a working prototype of the dancing balls aquarium. The video of the larger prototype is at and the video of the smaller prototype is at We also made a brief venture into a static powered leyden jar and were able to succeed after three attempts that involve arcing electricity and some broken glass. Videos of this can be found at,, and

Static Leyden Jar Prototype

last time i did the static flyer experiment at home the heat was on so it didn't really work so this weekend I've tried it again i have turned the heat off and all the electricity machines in the house it gave a better result.

Week Three Results[edit | edit source]

We utilized the newly working capacitor to see what its effects were on the previous static projects. We started with the spinning, and this showed a great output in electricity and increased performance. This video of this test is at We also ran the test with both of the dancing ball experiments, and in both the small and the large prototypes, we were able to increase the electricity enough to get large enough arcs to temporarily complete the circuit and stop all ball motion. The video of the large one can be found at and the small one can be found at We also finished up the implementation of the switch into the styrofoam cutter, which is documented at StyrofoamCutter. We also tried to make another capacitor using the fish tank on the opposite side that didn't have a crack. unfortunately, the glass was unable to take the electricity and it ended with a failure and cracked glass. This video is at

i built a lighter and smaller flooder using pipe cleaners i attached the cleaners into each others and the covered it with foil the i burned the wires to get rid of the color and then attache into the flooder

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i went to the grocery store to get some pipe cleaners to build a lighter static electricity flooder according to the previous team page the problem with the flooder was too heavy so i thought that pipe cleaners would be the best thing to use instead of wooden sticks so i got the pipe cleaners i start attaching them into each other making a shape of triangle that match's the older flooder but i made a little bit smaller so it losses some of it weight.

Week Four Results[edit | edit source]

We were able to build the new capacitor that did not fail, and the documented work of this is at New Capacitor. We then tested this with the previous static prototypes. The first test was with the spinning bottles, but the bottles did not spin. Instead, the static electricity arced through the bottle and to the metal rod in the middle that was keeping the bottles upright. The first test of the spinning bottles is at The second test videos are in two parts. Part 1 is at and part 2 is at The test with the tall dancing balls went just as well, in that there was a small amount of movement of the really small balls for a very brief moment in time, but it didn't do anything else. The video of this test is at To try to solve these problems, we placed shrink wrap on the metal rod of the spinning bottles to insulate it.

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We also filled the ring in the cap with hot glue, and drilled a hole in the hardened hot glue so that the bottle would wobble so much when it spins.

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We also changed the ball size again so that all the balls would be smaller and have a greater chance of moving. We then tested the bottles first again and, though it did not arc this time, it still did not spin, rendering the test a failure. We also tested the dancing balls, and though it had a very brief moment of small activity, it was still a failure. The video of this test is at We also received a new smaller Wimshurst machine for future experiments and testing.

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we worked on improving the flooder because it was falling a part so i had to make sure that its good. so we decided to replace the pipe cleaners in the corner of the flooder with wooden sticks to make sure it stays still because the pipe cleaners were dancing so we had to choose a more solid material that hold the flooder, however we kept the pipe cleaners on the side because of the weight problem.

static bottle 1
static bottle 3

Decision List[edit | edit source]

Material List[edit | edit source]

  1. aluminum foil
  2. pipe cleaners
  3. wooden sticks
  4. latex balloon

Software List[edit | edit source]

Time[edit | edit source]

20 hours

Tutorials[edit | edit source]

All projects create new tutorials of technical details future participants are going to want to know. They are going to be separate pages that are linked to here.

Next Steps[edit | edit source]

Experiment Set Up:
Demonstration Decision:
Machine Construction: