Static electricity/Howard Community College/Spring2012/p550CM

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Problem Statement

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Developing static electricity demonstrations.

Team Members

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Navid Jahanpour
Michael Walker


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We worked on a total of three separate devices.

The first is known as a handheld Tesla Coil. It was taken apart and trouble shot to determine how to fix it in order for it to be used with static electricity demos.
The Second is a floating foil, that uses Static Electricity on a charged wire, above a aluminum foil configuration, to levitate it. The foil was constructed and the flyback from an old CRT computer monitor was used to supply the 15 kV for the levitation.
The third is a side aspect, a model Thomson Elihu Coil was constructed to demonstrate how it works and in order to give a model for with future more powerful coils could be constructed.


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The floating foil was the most difficult to build and test, and also the most hazardous. The initial frame that was built for the foil was too heavy, in both the wooden pieces and the glue used. The Next frame took a long time to build because the lighter epoxy used took between 15 and 30 minutes to dry, and only one joint could be done at once.

The High Voltage source was the other aspect of this project. Initially all that was known to be needed was the high voltage source from a CRT monitor or television. Because most newer monitors use a lower voltage and wattage than older ones, it took time to find the most likely candidate for the source. A 10 watt 15 kV monitor was found, used and taken apart to gain access to the high voltage. The voltage was taken of the the monitor using a normal wire. The voltage output was measured at 14.92 kV. Unfortunately, the voltage needed for the foil to work is 20-25 kilo volts, and at a wattage closer to 20, not 10.

The Handheld Coil was found in a pile of static electricity materials. It worked initially, but soon after being turned on the spark distance decreases and the performance declines. The coil was taken apart and diagnosed. The contacts were cleaned, the spark gap inside that generate the spark that the end amplifies was also cleaned, but this did not fix the problem entirely, though it did improve the function of the coil noticeably until another issue caused the coil to stop functioning.

A tutorial on how to properly use the coil was created along with possibilities for maintenance.

The Thomson Elihu Coil was created by taking apart an old cassette tape eraser. The electromagnet inside was used with a new Iron core to construct it. A copper ring was manufactured out of copper wire and solder. The bare wires that had 120v AC running though them were insulated and a switch used to turn it on and off. The copper ring floats, and demonstrates the concept of the coil (also called a Ring FLinger) and can serve as a model for building future, larger coils.

Decision List

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No Large Decisions.

Material List

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Handheld Tesla Coil
Magnetic cassette Tape Eraser
Aluminum Foil
Wooden Dowel
Copper Wire
CRT Computer Monitor
High Voltage Probe

Software List

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Google Chrome

Approximately 67 Hours of work was recorded.


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Hand Held Tesla Coil
High Voltage Probe

Next Steps

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For the Floating Foil

The current device used does not produce the optimum Voltage, needed, the Flyback is only 15 kV, and at 10 Watts. the specifications for the flying foil to work are 20-25 kV and up to 20 Watts.

For the Tesla Coil

The coil's transformer component gets extremely hot, and is the most likely cause for its decrease in spark production. Here the next best option is to diagnose the transformer, replace the ageing tape inside to assist in its operation.

For the Thomson Elihu Coil

A viable model is now made, the next steps are to create an aluminum ring for the small coil, or to use the smaller one as a model for building a bigger coil.