A SIMPLE JACOB'S LADDER

Text by Lawrence H. Lund
larry@llund.com

I know how annoying sounds can be, so
I have given you the option to play the sounds or not.
Just press the play button to hear the  music and sounds if you wish.
MID Control
WAV Control

[Jacobs ladder]

Parts required:

Oil burner transformer. You can buy it new or ask around and get a used one. The used ones usually have lost a little power but will still be useful for your effect. If you are really stuck, Matt Dennis found this company Johnstone Supply they are located at http://www.johnstonesupply.com/ the part number for the transformer is #L86-143.
I found an even better one: Carlin Electronic Oil burner igniter. Model #41000 Part #41000S and it is 14,000 Volts. Here is a link to their site: http://www.carlincombustion.com/

Line cord to attach to the wires of the transformer so that you can plug it in.

About two feet of solid number 12 copper wire. Scrounge this from an electrician or break down and buy some.

Clear Plexiglas to cover the apparatus.

How to:

Once you obtain the transformer, you will notice 2 spring like things attached to 2 posts with nuts. This is the working end of the transformer. Do not go anywhere near this or anything attached here when the unit is plugged in. There is somewhere near 10,000 volts emitted here.

Attach the line cord to the 2 wires coming out of the transformer. Make sure this is done properly. You can now try out the transformer and see if a spark will be generated across the 2 springs. Before plugging it in make sure no one is near the working end of the transformer. After running the test, unplug the transformer. It might be a good idea to have someone with you when you are working on this and have them double check everything before plugging the unit in. Remove the 2 nuts holding the springs and remove the springs from the posts. Set this aside for now.

Strip the insulation from the number 12 wire so that you have 2 number 12 bare wires about 2 feet long. Form a loop at one end of each wire so that it will fit over the posts of the transformer. Bend the loops at a right angle. See the pictures. Trim the length of the wires to about 18 inches and put the bend and taper as shown. You don't have to be perfect with this as you will be adjusting the wires once they are connected.

[Jacobs ladder] ..............[Jacobs ladder]

Attach the wires to the transformer posts as shown. Make adjustments to the initial gap at the bottom so that it is about 1/2 inch or less. Taper the extended wire to a final gap of about 1 1/4 inch. You will have to adjust these settings until you get it right. I found that if the spark will not jump across the wires move the base closer. Once the spark is made, it should rise the length of the wire and go off into space with a nice snap. Remember to unplug the darn thing when you make adjustments or Morty will be forced to pay you a visit.

[Jacobs ladder]

As in the picture at the top of the page, I got some clear 1/4 inch Plexiglas and cut it into panels on my table saw. To join the pieces together, I used my Weller soldering iron and fused the joints together. It did not take very long. I ran 2 of these inside my locked garage that had a Flying Crank Ghost in it. (Thanks Doug Ferguson) Luckily I have windows in my garage door that let spectators look in. This effect can be potentially dangerous so observe every precaution.

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Copyright 1996-2016 by Lawrence H. Lund Last Modified: June 2016