Hack Chat Transcript, Part 1

A event log for Into the Plasmaverse Hack Chat

Phased plasma rifle in the 40-watt range? Just what you see, pal.

Dan MaloneyDan Maloney 09/23/2020 at 20:060 Comments

Hi everyone, welcome to Hack Chat! I'm Dan, I'll be the mod today as Jay Bowles takes us Into the Plasmaverse.

I know he was planning on doing this during his lunch break, which we really appreciate. But I haven't seen him log on yet - you out there, Jay?

Jay Bowles joined the room.12:00 PM

Nicolas Tremblay joined the room.12:00 PM

Arsenijs12:00 PM

There we go. Hi Jay!

Tom Nardi12:01 PM
Like magic

Jay Bowles12:01 PM
Hi Dan, sorry for the wait. My internet had plans of its own!

Jay Bowles12:01 PM
I am free for a full hour, for any questions related to high voltage physics!

No worries, thanks for soldiering through. Can you kick things off with a little about yourself?

Jay Bowles12:04 PM
I'd be glad to. I live in Seattle (just outside of it) and am the host of Plasma Channel, a youtube channel dedicated to high voltage physics, ionic physics, and just about anything lightning related. I've had this passion since I made my first tesla coil when I was 15. Funny story - I made a big tesla coil and used it for my high school senior project. When I turned it on in my physics class, nearly lost their heads.


Plasma Channel

I firmly believe that through physics, all things are possible. High Voltage physics, in particular, is pure magic. Let me show you the magic I see! This cha...

Read this on YouTube

You didn't fry anyone, did you?

Jay Bowles12:05 PM
Since then, I have moved quite a bit, but constantly help experimenting and committing fully to self discovery.

Erlend Ervik12:05 PM
Have you explored keV? like acclerate eletrons in vacuum?

Erlend Ervik12:05 PM
Seems like a skipped field, I would have.. but I don't have the tools for doing anything interesting

Jay Bowles12:06 PM
Erlend, that is a great question. It is a topic I plan on intesting in soon. I'm purchasing vacuum equipment this month.

Jay Bowles12:06 PM
investing in soon*. The limitation for me has always been vacuum chambers and a lack of experience with glasswork

Erlend Ervik12:07 PM
b.t.w. need any negative output voltage "TV" flybacks?

Jay Bowles12:07 PM
I never turn down a good flyback. They are thor's gift to the world

Nicolas Tremblay12:08 PM
Speaking of those, where would be the best place to scrounge one?

Jay Bowles12:08 PM
Truly hard to find, are AC flyback transformers though. They do exist! I found that a few higher end brands of ionic air purifiers use AC flybacks, attached to an external voltage multiplier (inside the device)

Donna.W joined the room.12:08 PM

Jay Bowles12:08 PM
Well, I am a strong advocate for goodwill.

Jay Bowles12:09 PM
I find so many of my flybacks at goodwill for 3-5 dollars. The little ones you can find inside of portable battery powered glass-tube TV's.

Woe to the death of CRT monitors and TVs. Flybacks were once in abundance

Erlend Ervik12:09 PM
Jay: Well, I got a HV supply I should probably take a chance at trying to boot up, and fix some PCB design flaws

LesWright12:09 PM
AC flybacks are still in production for things like CO2 lasers. They show up on ebay. But sure old B&W monitors or oscilloscopes are a good bet too.

Erlend Ervik12:09 PM
And yes, got one positive output flyback and one negative output flyback on it

LesWright12:10 PM
You can also successfully wind your own as well.

Jay Bowles12:10 PM
However, you can also buy them here I recently discovered:

Nicolas Tremblay12:10 PM
So, old CRT are the best place for HV parts?

Erlend Ervik12:11 PM
Unless you can get physics lab stuff, I would guess it is

Jay Bowles12:11 PM
You can find new parts online. Like the link I provided above. They are very, very cheap.

Erlend Ervik12:11 PM
You can still find some manufacturers online, and you can ask them to do variations for you

Jay Bowles12:11 PM
I personally prefer the adventure of taking apart devices to extract their HV components. You learn about devices and circuits that way.

What about old ignition coils? I used to have fun with those back in my Volkswagen phase. Any good for HV circuits?

Jay Bowles12:12 PM
I believe Pacific Transformer Co even sends out free samples of custom transformers (if you can prove you've got the funding to order some later)

Jay Bowles12:12 PM
Ignition coils I LOVE. but I also hate them. Anyone able to guess why ignition coils kind of are hard to drive?

Erlend Ervik12:12 PM
ignition coils? they do claim 30-50 kV on them.. there are solid plastic ones that would likely be good

Erlend Ervik12:13 PM
Jay: You may want a capacitor over the primary,or the transistor gets it

Jay Bowles12:13 PM
They put out plenty of voltage and current....but on the primary side they also put out.... (finish this sentence)

Dayton Aardema joined the room.12:13 PM

Jay Bowles12:13 PM

Dayton Aardema12:14 PM
(Blueprint walks in, looks around, takes a seat)

Erlend Ervik12:14 PM
Jay: high voltage on primary too yes, ignition coils are auto-transformers, while flybacks are isolated

Jay Bowles12:14 PM
Erlend, that is the funny thing. I have tried all types of snubber circuits to prevent the emf kickback on an ignition coil. I found the better the snubber circuit, the more it detracts from the HV output of the ignition coil

Erlend Ervik12:14 PM
To be expected to be honest, I would suggest going for avalanche mosfets

Jay Bowles12:15 PM
My 555 timer circuit, despite a snubber circuit with cap and resistor, blows through 555 timers and transistors incredibly fast.

Erlend Ervik12:15 PM
They would conduct on overvoltage, without destruction

Erlend Ervik12:15 PM
Or just do NOT run them with a open output

Well then, you just need to mechanically pulse the primary side just like an old distributor. Points and condenser FTW

Jay Bowles12:15 PM
There in lies the issue. Overvotlage of the primary is inevitable, and HV output is dependent on it. So, when you suppress overvoltage of the primary....the output flat out sucks

Jay Bowles12:16 PM
Correct. However...where is the fun that?!

Erlend Ervik12:16 PM
Even, I did a driver with a horizontal output transistor from a monitor, it killed the coil

Jay Bowles12:16 PM
Wow. I've never had a coil fail on me. You must have really powered that beast

That would actually be cool, an electric motor driving an old distributor.

Jay Bowles12:17 PM
Interesting. Using the distributor as a relay?

Erlend Ervik12:17 PM
Jay: 1200V avalanche motfet if you can find it.. but it's likely to get hot on open output

Erlend Ervik12:17 PM
Ideally, you would want feedback, but that's easier on DC

Jay Bowles12:17 PM
I'm all for strength of components. It's why I cant stand IC's.

Sort of. Just have the points open and close as the cam rotates.

Erlend Ervik12:18 PM
If you are into figuring out stuff: UC3842 + 100 MOhm resisitors + HV diodes + HV capacitors.. and you can have a regulated DC output

Jay Bowles12:18 PM
Dayton, you would be proud (read:ashamed) of how I grounded my tesla coil last night

Dayton Aardema12:18 PM
no judgment here

Dayton Aardema12:19 PM
We all do it

Erlend Ervik12:19 PM
Grounding them? you would capacitance to the environment

Erlend Ervik12:19 PM
Like metal mesh on the walls connected to the bottom

Jay Bowles12:19 PM
Ever tried a puddle of saltwater on your wood floor as a ground? Excellent ground.

Jay Bowles12:19 PM
Safe? Not one bit.

Dave Blundell12:19 PM
Sounds more like a Darwin award entry submission

Erlend Ervik12:20 PM
Likely not too unsafe.. high frequency eletricity is way less harmful, but it can burn you

Erlend Ervik12:20 PM
Still, beware

Dayton Aardema12:20 PM
Fact, hand-held radios work better if you ground them to your person

J.B. Langston left the room.12:20 PM

Jay Bowles12:20 PM
It was a controlled puddle. But, I needed a particular shot for a video i'm producing. Otherwise - i'm usually quite safe. Last night was interesting though.

Dave Blundell12:20 PM
I've been wanting to build a tesla coil for haloween for years and I never get my ass in gear in time

Tom Nardi12:20 PM
My uncle used to tell me stories of a tesla coil he built in his youth using automotive ignition hardware he and his friends pulled from junkyard. Simpler times.

Dayton Aardema12:20 PM
Well, looks like I scared J.B. Langston away...

Todd Christell12:21 PM
True Dayton, or add an actual counterpoise at the resonant frequency.

Jay Bowles12:21 PM
Dave, give it a go. You will NOT regret building a TC

Erlend Ervik12:21 PM

Erlend Ervik12:21 PM
Jay: my HV supply, not got around to finishing it

Jay Bowles12:21 PM
Start small, so that your risk is minimal.

LesWright12:21 PM
Absolutely, there are plenty of designs out there to have a crack at.

Dave Blundell12:21 PM
I have an eastern voltage research kit in my lap right now

Jay Bowles12:22 PM
Erlend. Is this what love feels like? That supply is just...mmm yes

Dave Blundell12:22 PM
SSTC 1.0

Dave Blundell12:22 PM
that supply looks like two monitor flyback transformers?

Erlend Ervik12:23 PM
Jay: positive output flyback + negative output flyback.. should be good for 60 kV.. I am just unsure about the circuit and various design faults

Erlend Ervik12:23 PM
Dave: yes, but not from monitors

Dave Blundell12:23 PM

LesWright12:23 PM
CO2 Laser?

Erlend Ervik12:23 PM
They are made for the task

Jay Bowles12:23 PM
beautiful. I'm currently building a 6 flyback powersource.

Dave Blundell12:24 PM
I have a metric shit ton of GM LSx ignition coils sitting around. They have built in ignitor modules and can make about a 2.5-3" arc while scrambling anything running on RF in the near vicintiy

Jay Bowles12:24 PM
Much less exotic than yours, and i'll be submerging it in oil

Erlend Ervik12:24 PM
Note: all TV flybacks have positive outputs, you will likely never see one giving negative output

Jay Bowles12:24 PM
Dave, 3" arc?!

Dave Blundell12:24 PM
ok, spark

Jay Bowles12:24 PM
Still, that's somthing.

Dave Blundell12:25 PM
if you charge them with ~5ms dwell they will do that

Dave Blundell12:25 PM
feeding them a 5ms on - 5ms off square wave the "spark" looks like more of an arc because of the frequency

Jay Bowles12:25 PM
I have 3 ingnition coils sitting around, but as I mentioned earlier, I rarely use them. I'm sick of blowing through IC chips and transistors.

Dayton Aardema12:25 PM
That reminds me, I've got this X-ray tube from the 60's sitting around, the darn thing needs like 150KV and a couple of amps. Need to figure out a power supply for the darn thing

Dayton Aardema12:25 PM

Dave Blundell12:26 PM
The GM coils are made by delphi. They're stout.

Jay Bowles12:26 PM
Oh now you're talking Dayton. Where did you get that?!

Dayton Aardema12:26 PM
^ one of those

Jay Bowles12:26 PM
Can we all take a moment to appreciate the brass knuckles in the picture?

Dayton Aardema12:26 PM
Medical surplus from a bygone era

Dave Blundell12:26 PM

Erlend Ervik12:26 PM

Dave Blundell12:26 PM
nerd thug

Dayton Aardema12:26 PM
:) what brass knuckles?

Erlend Ervik12:27 PM
Jay: Only get FET's that can avanalche, otherwise stuff fails and circuits blow up

Dayton Aardema12:27 PM
I deny everything

Nice tube. How's the anode look? I had one removed from service that was all pitted and cracked.

Erlend Ervik12:27 PM
Jay: And make sure they are well cooled, since they would likely get hot when you have no load on the output and all power is dumped in the FET

Jay Bowles12:27 PM
Erlend, thanks. I will look into this. I'm not too familiar with Avalanche circuits.

Jay Bowles12:28 PM
Admittedly, i'm a jack of all trades HV, but, actual circuitry i'm still learning

Erlend Ervik12:28 PM
It's just a voltage limiting function, as in they will leak when the voltage gets too high, thus limiting the voltage

Dave Blundell12:29 PM
beware of vendor avalanche ratings

Dave Blundell12:29 PM
I got burned hard by this.

Erlend Ervik12:29 PM
Anything particular in mind?

Dave Blundell12:29 PM
It's entirely possible to fudge datasheet ratings

LesWright12:30 PM
Yes, with HV, always over-engineer!

Jay Bowles12:30 PM

Jay Bowles12:30 PM
Story time: (one moment)

Dave Blundell12:30 PM
many vendors will neglect to mention what thermal happens when avalanche occurs

Erlend Ervik12:31 PM
high voltage + high current = crazy hot.. yep

Dave Blundell12:31 PM
so while their devices may technically do the avalanche behavior specified for a very short period of time, the device package can't even come close to dissipating the heat generated

Dave Blundell12:32 PM
The PowerSO8 and PowerDFN packages are particularly heinous for this.

Jay Bowles12:32 PM
For those who may not have seen my first message, about a tesla coil in high school: When I ran the tesla coil (360 watts....1.5 foot arcs) in the physics class, people cheered. Then, when I announced that any closed rings in the vicinity will conduct electricity...people didnt get it. Then, I looked to the ladies in the front of the class.......and pointed to my ears while insinuating *your* ears. They were all wearing large loop earrings. I've never seen human beings remove something off their bodies so fast.

Dave Blundell12:33 PM
that's awesome

Ken Berkun12:33 PM

Dave Blundell12:33 PM
@Jay Bowles what style / design was your 360W coil?

Dave Blundell12:33 PM
aside from earing remover ?

Erlend Ervik12:33 PM
Jay: Or people that are afraid of electricity and doesn't see a problem with a frayed wire? strange

Nicolas Tremblay12:35 PM
@Erlend Ervik : But I put some tape on it!

Jay Bowles12:35 PM
It's actually in almost all of my youtube videos, in the background. It's a standard full body tesla coil, multi Spark gap, with safety gap, multi-mini capacitor, and a cone (is that the word?) primary. Secondary is 24 inches tall and 4 inches wide. Topload is toroidal and three times the width of secondary. Secondary wound around ABS pipe (quite lossy)

Dayton Aardema12:36 PM
what's lossy, the abs?

Erlend Ervik12:36 PM
Jay: There are PEX pipes.. totally worthy for you to explore, it's close to the material used in CRT flyback output cables

Jay Bowles12:36 PM
The ABS has carbon in it, which makes the pipe more conductive than PVC

Erlend Ervik12:36 PM
carbon black?

Dayton Aardema12:36 PM
I thought it had a very low dielectric constant

Dayton Aardema12:36 PM
good intel

Jay Bowles12:36 PM
PEX pipes. Never heard of those. I have a tesla coil build video coming up soon, maybe i'll incorporate

Dayton Aardema12:37 PM
Hey so do I! (Making a TC video myself)

Dave Blundell12:38 PM
dumb question ... could you wind your coil around a form, apply epoxy or some kind of glue to the windings and then remove the central core you wound around? You'd only have an air core at that point

Erlend Ervik12:38 PM
No clue about using it for secondary, but it's aparently close to the material used to isolate high voltage underground lines

PEX == cross-linked polyethylene, BTW

Tom Nardi12:38 PM
Interesting, I'd wondered in the past about that big coil that's behind your shoulder when you're talking into camera.

Jay Bowles12:38 PM
Its is less about dielectric constant, and more about being an air-cored transformer. Tesla Coils resonate at super high frequencies, and anything ferromagnetic or conductive inside the secondary coil reduces efficiency (for the most part)

Dayton Aardema12:39 PM
Dave, without a form, there would be no rigidity

Jay Bowles12:39 PM
Dave, great idea. I bet you could. As long as you could guarantee the windings are stiff, and do not bend

Nicolas Tremblay12:39 PM
That's were the glue comes in, no?

Jay Bowles12:39 PM
The form is definitely preferred thouhg, like Dayton mentions

Erlend Ervik12:40 PM
Maybe in a vacuum chamber? low enough pressure allows close spacing for HV

Jay Bowles12:40 PM
True. Could use a lot of epoxy. I'm not too read up on how epoxy effects the output

Dave Blundell12:40 PM
I'm here for motivation and ideas from the experts.

Erlend Ervik12:40 PM
I am impressed about how tiny gap they use inside CRT's

Dave Blundell12:40 PM
feel free to ignore me :)

Dayton Aardema12:40 PM
Dave, YOU CAN DO IT! :)

Nicolas Tremblay12:40 PM
General material info, a lot of black plastic and rubber compounds have carbon black.

Jay Bowles12:40 PM
Actually, lower pressure ensurages coronal discharge between all the turns. You'd want higher pressure air surrounding just the secondary itself. Topload would need to be outside it. Seems a bit too much work for me.

Dave Blundell12:41 PM is what I bought

Dave Blundell12:41 PM
I need to wind coils for it

Erlend Ervik12:41 PM
Jay: Well, yes.. but even lower pressure and there is no gas left for corona

Dayton Aardema12:41 PM
ooh. solid state

Jay Bowles12:42 PM
True. I guess you'd need super low pressure.

Dave Blundell12:42 PM
I figured I'd let someone else do a lot of the thinking for me to start.

Dave Blundell12:42 PM
I am good with power electronics, just not high voltage stuff firsthand

Jay Bowles12:42 PM
Haha. Glad you're here Dave.

LesWright12:42 PM
@Dave Blundell best way to begin. I started with Designs by Steve Ward with my DRSSTC's

Dave Blundell12:42 PM
I live at automotive "12V"

Tom Nardi12:43 PM
@Dave Blundell Why must you tempt me to buy more things I don't need? Very unfair, sir.

Jay Bowles12:43 PM
Ive met Steve Ward.

Dayton Aardema12:43 PM
Dave, building one out of Soviet era surplus and having it explode into a cloud of Cadmium is just part of the fun!

LesWright12:43 PM
Oh wow! Nice!

Jay Bowles12:43 PM
Steve Ward and Arc attack really started the solid state coil revolution

Dave Blundell12:43 PM
inspirational stuff

LesWright12:43 PM
@Jay Bowles Totally! Ah, halcyon days!

Nicolas Tremblay12:44 PM
What's the diff with solid state?

Erlend Ervik12:44 PM
diff from what?

Dayton Aardema12:44 PM
Solid state typically modulate square waves, which is fine, but not the way god intended

LesWright12:44 PM
We use MOSFET's to switch voltage through the Primary, instead of spark gaps.

Jay Bowles12:45 PM
@Tom Nardi Yeah, the first coil I ever built (before the big one in my videos) was 1) ugly 2) LETHAL 3) almost killed me. So...I decided to actually research proper tesla coil building, and that lead me to the coil I used in High school. After 15 years, still works flawlessly. Over design anything, and it will never fail.

Nicolas Tremblay12:45 PM
got it, thanks

Jay Bowles12:46 PM
I have a picture from when I was 16...I was leaning in to take a picture of the sparks, up arc jumped to my hand, and the electricity exited...of all groin. I was leaning against a grounded metal table. hand contracted as I flew back...and I still have a blurry photo somewhere of the exact moment I was sent flying lol

Dayton Aardema12:47 PM
Let's raise funding for Wardenclyffe tower 2 - electric boogaloo

Jay Bowles12:47 PM
Again: dont learn like Jay did.

Dave Blundell12:47 PM
I have a healthy respect for high voltage. I got hit by the secondary side of an automotive ignition coil being driven by a fairly meaty capacitive discharge box. I figure it was around 36,000 volts (900V primary / 400:1 turn ratio) and that was plenty for me.

Jay Bowles12:47 PM
Dayton, I had a video call with the guy planning wardenclyff 2.0! He's really cool.

Dayton Aardema12:47 PM
Jay, everybody learns that way