Mad Teddy's high-voltage projects

Mad Teddy's web-pages

High-voltage projects


Electricity can be fascinating, but be aware that it can also be dangerous. Living tissue does not respond well to high-current electricity. It can burn; and even comparitively low currents can kill by interfering with the nervous system, possibly stopping the heart or breathing or both.

Current (measured in ampères, or "amps" for short) is the killer. Voltage ("electrical pressure", measured in volts) in and of itself doesn't kill; but under certain conditions it can result in dangerous currents - and these are what do the damage. So you need to treat high voltage with a great deal of respect. Always! You never know when you are going to get "bitten".

It goes without saying that a high-voltage, high-current shock is almost certain to be lethal. (Large birds flying into power lines find this out the hard way.) Even if you survive, burn injuries can be horrific. (See the third link below.)

Less well known is the fact that a person can sometimes get a very dangerous high-current shock even in a low-voltage environment, if conditions are "right". Someone doing maintenance in a large damp industrial electrolysis tank can be electrocuted if some idiot turns the (quite low-voltage) power on.

Even though a high-voltage, low-current shock may not kill you, it may startle you into a violent sudden involuntary movement. You may injure yourself just by banging into something, or you may accidentally touch some part of a circuit which could be more obviously dangerous. Any kind of unexpected phenomenon involving humans and high voltage can be bad news.

If you have a pre-existing condition, especially a heart condition (perhaps with a pacemaker), even comparitively lower voltages/currents may trigger a bad reaction. Frankly, if this applies to you, you're probably well advised not to get involved with high-voltage experiments.

There are a great many very interesting websites dealing with high-voltage experimentation. One thing that you will find in the vast majority of these is a disclaimer - a statement which basically says "If you get hurt, don't blame me - you have been warned".

If you haven't read my own disclaimer under "Safety" in my Preliminaries page, please do so now, before proceeding.

Following are some links to other electrical safety documents. Note that nobody claims to have covered all the bases. The best thing you can do is read - and absorb - these and as much similar material as you can find (and at the end of the day, apply common sense):

... and, not for the faint-hearted:

(While you're on Clive's website, have a bit of a look around at some
of his other stuff - interesting... )

Finally, just to drive the point home, have a look at this page for some spectacular examples of how things can go wrong in situations involving high-voltage, high-current electricity:

Okay - having scared the hell out of you, I now invite you to come in and join the fun!



My induction coil projects

Van de Graaff machines

I'm still relatively new to this game, even though my first three projects in this genre (two induction coil projects and a VDG generator) were built in the late sixties, when I was a young teenager. Check back from time to time; I have in mind to make a better van de Graaff machine and more "static electricity" gadgets (Wimshurst, Toepler etc.), some (fairly small) Tesla coils, and various other HV thingies.

I'm going to proceed with caution. So should you.

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