High Voltage Art

I’d seen the youtube video from the Backyard Scientist guy and wanted to try that project myself.

Asking around for dead microwaves via the AMT mailing list produced more than I needed, but extra is always welcome. I was able to take the microwave apart without killing myself.

I have ideas of doing this in front of people as a science demo so I wanted a setup that was contained, portable and safe. I designed some CAD files to make a setup so that it would hopefully not kill anyone and started cutting the pieces out of plywood on the big CNC machine.

After cutting the parts out on the CNC it was a matter of glue and assembly. The idea is to have an airtight chamber so I could add CO2 at some point to cut down on the fire.

Testing was done on the workbench and lo! I was able to make sparks with the high voltage of the microwave transformer. The trick is to have the two sides with the grain and have the board wet when you are burning it. Took me awhile to figure out that a dry board is not going to happen. Doh!

It creates smoke and you want to do it in a well ventilated area.

See vine of the slow motion horizontal lightning