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Van De Graaff Generator

Van De Graaff Generator

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Published by Jim
This table top generator is capable of generator up to 150,000 volts of electric charge.
This table top generator is capable of generator up to 150,000 volts of electric charge.

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Published by: Jim on May 08, 2008
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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05/09/2014

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Ideal for school or home laboratory experiments.this self-charging electrostatic generator can be builtfor
a
total cost of only $27.95.
150,000-VoIt Van de GraaffElectrostatic Generator
Craft Print Project No. 283By HAROLD P. STRAND
S
TANDING only 17-1/2 in. high, thisminiature self-charging electrosta-tic generator is a simplified andsmall working model of the multi-mil-lion volt electrostatic generator devel-oped by Dr. Robert J. Van de Graaff in 1931. This table-top size generator(Fig. 1), is capable of developing anddischarging over 150,000 volts in theform of an electric arc (Figs. 2, 3, and4). Although the voltage is very high,the current is low (about 5 micro-amperes) so there is no chance of theuser getting a dangerous electric shock.
Lett, Increasing the distance between electrode andsphere to 6 in. reduces the number of discharges toone about every 3 or 4 seconds. Right, If the elec-trode is swung down away from the sphere thecharge will build up in the sphere until suddenly
a
bolt of artificial lightning will jump between thesphere and the metal ring around the base—adistance of about 18 in. if the relative humidity islow enough.
Several interesting experiments, including thegeneration of ozone can be conducted with thiselectrostatic generator.
How It Works.
The initial charge is producedby a rubber belt (Fig. 5) passing over andaround the lower,
Lucite
pulley covered withpolyethylene tape.This static chargeis due to dissimi-lar materials beingrepeatedly broughttogether and thenseparated. Thefrictional chargestays on the pul-ley, since it ismade of good in-sulating material,and builds up a po-tential sufficient toionize the air atthe ground brush.The pulley is neg-atively charged,thus attractingpositive charges
Using the wire ca-pacitor shown inFig. I6C and with theelectrode set about 3in. from the sphere,a noisy discharge inthe form of an arcwill jump the gapabout every 2 sec-onds.
SCIENCE AND MECHANICS
174
 
FEBRUARY, 1958
175
 
Completed inside view of base showing arrangementof parts and wiring.
through the brush, but, since the belt operatesbetween the pulley and brush, these positivecharges are picked up by the belt and carriedup to the high voltage sphere or terminal at thetop of the insulating column. The upper pul-ley, also made of 
Lucite
but covered with alayer of aluminum foil, then becomes positivelycharged. Since unlike charges attract, negativecharges are attracted to the top pulley and arecarried on the downward travel of the belt. Thesum of the charges coming up the belt and thosegoing down the belt represent the total chargingcurrent. A collector brush placed over the toppulley collects positive charges and directs themto the terminal where they build up to a highpotential. This voltage increases to a point wheresparkover or discharges occur at the lower edgeof the sphere where the smallest radius exists.By placing a round metal object like a kitchenladle near the sphere (Fig. 1), discharges up toabout 3 in. in length can be obtained.Relative humidity is also a factor in the oper-ation of all electrostatic machines. When thehumidity is high, leakage occurs along the belt,down the insulating column, and small chargesleak off to the moist atmosphere from the termi-nal, all of which prevent the development of maximum voltage. In addition, high humidityprevents the formation of the necessary chargesat the pulleys. Under such conditions, moisturemay be removed by directing warm air from aportable electric hair dryer on the parts underthe base. The generator works best when theroom humidity is about 30% or lower.Building the Generator. You may purchase thematerials called for in the materials list sep-arately and make the parts or, purchase theparts in kit form made up from this article for$27.95 postage paid.If you are going to make up the parts your-self, start with the base, which is a
Wearever 
#2702 aluminum baking pan. First lay out thetemplate (Fig. 7A) full size on lightweight card-board and cut it out around the inner and outercircles. Place the template on the outside of thepan bottom, center it and fasten with tape. Witha scratch awl mark the center hole and center-punch the location of the bolt holes. Then cutout the 2-1/4in. dia. center hole with a fly cutterchucked in a drill press or use a fine-toothed,metal cutting blade in a coping saw. Or, use aGreenlee chassis punch, 2-1/4in. When drillingthe small holes, backup the pan bottom witha block of wood. Also drill holes in the side of the pan for the switch and cord grommet as inFig. 8.Next turn the column retaining ring (Fig. 7B)
176
SCIENCE AND MECHANICS

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