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When static machine is operated and electrodes in glass jar charged, the rod electrode will repel smoke particles toward oppositely charged ilat electrode c a u s i n g smoke to disappear.
Building a "Wimshurst" Static Machine
Craft Print Project No. 279
Part 2. How to make accessories for the static machine to demonstrate static-electric phenomena
losopher, Thales, noticed that if he rubbed a piece of amber with wool, the amber attracted bits of straw and other light material. It is doubtful if he knew that rubbing the amber produced a static-electric charge on the surface of this material, causing an attraction for other material (normally having an opposite charge), and that he in all probability was the discoverer of static electricity. Benjamin Franklin did considerable experimenting with electricity in the static field, and found that if two pieces of material were rubbed together, one p i e c e ac-
FTER completing the Wimshurst static machine as described in part 1 (S&M April '58) several accessories will be needed to conduct experiments and demonstrate the phenomena of static electricity. Static electricity, incidentally, was discovered way back around 600 B. C, when the Greek phi-
This interesting pattern oi discharges gives a picturesque demonstration of how electricity always takes the path of least resistance, or through the foil (see Fig. 16), jumping the spaces rather than jumping across the ball gap where it would have to overcome air resistance.
SCIENCE AND MECHANICS
quired a positive and the other a negative charge. He also discovered that atmospheric electricity (lightning) and static electricity were the same. "Static" refers to electricity at rest, compared to "current" electricity (ordinary power type) which flows t h r o u g h some form of suitable conductor. When two pieces of material are rubbed together, electrons (negative charges) are rubbed off one and deposited on the other. The material losing electrons becomes deficient
that electricity follows the path of least resistance, can be accomplished by making the accessory shown in Fig. 16. Make sure that plus and minus brass strips are in good contact with the aluminum-foil pieces at the ends. Photographs of this experiment, taken in a darkened room are shown in Fig. 1B of Part 1 and Fig. 15. Electric "Whirl." Operation of the whirl Fig. 17 (made as in Fig. 18), is based on the fact that the density of the charge at the pointed ends of the pivoted arms is so great that the air molecules in the immediate vicinity become charged. These charged air particles are known as "ions." Those becoming of like charge repel one another as well as causing repulsion between them and the arm tips. This force of mutual repulsion causes the arms to rotate at high speed (Fig. 17). It should be remem-
Electrostatic energy activating a pair of pivoted arms, produces an interesting twin whirl. Plastic is used for base and shafts support to insulate metal from ground.
in electrons, thereby leaving a surplus of protons (positive charges), and the piece becomes positively charged. The piece acquiring the additional or an excess of electrons in its atomic structure, becomes negatively charged. This Wimshurst static machine is designed to provide a constant source of static electricity at a potential up to about 60,000 volts. This high voltage, however, is quite harmless since the current involved is very small. Nevertheless, quite a shock can be felt if the two spark-gap balls or rods are touched when the condensers (Leyden jars) are charged. It is, therefore, advisable to discharge the condensers after each experiment by pushing the balls togther by means of the insulated handles. High humidity conditions prevent building up static charges. This can be minimized by wiping the plastic terminal strip of the machine with a dry cloth, and wiping both disc surfaces by lightly applying a dry cloth while operating the machine. Illuminated Letters and Lightning Effect. An interesting and picturesque experiment, proving
Steel ball in a plastic tube demonstrates repulsion and attraction. The ball on touching a charged terminal acquires a like charge and is repelled toward the oppositely charged terminal which attracts it. The ball then receives a like charge and is again repelled, repeating its cycle of repulsion and attraction as long as terminals remain charged.
21. Here again, the ball receives the same charge as the spark-gap ball it touches and is immediately repelled; performing in the same manner as ball in tube. Proof that condensers, or capacitors as they are often called, store electrical energy can be demonstrated by stopping the machine. The pendulum will continue to swing until the condensers have exhausted their stored energy. To operate, start machine and gently move pendulum ball in contact with a spark-gap ball. The pendulum arm must swing quite freely with a minimum of friction.
Smoke Elimination and Precipitation. ComA swinging pendulum with a metal ball attached is another version of demonstrating repulsion and attraction, operating on the same electric principle as ball in tube (Fig. 19).
bered in this and subsequent experiments that like charges always repel; unlike charges attract. To operate the whirl, attach lead wires with "alligator" clips at both ends to pivots and spark-gap rods of machine. After a few seconds of operating machine, condensers will be charged and arms rotate. It is important that arms balance on pointed pivots, and that spark-gap balls are far apart to prevent a spark discharge. To make the pivot depressions, use a center punch lightly so as not to puncture the metal. Activated Ball. Repulsion and attraction can be demonstrated in an experiment with a steel ball in a plastic tube (Fig. 19). Make the accessory as detailed in Fig. 20. To operate, remove the spark-gap-ball assembly and clamp brass strips of accessory in spark-gap terminal posts. Start machine and, if necessary, tip slightly so that ball rolls in contact with a strip. Tube should be clamped level. With the machine operating and the ball contacting one metal strip, the ball receives a like charge as the strip is repulsed toward the opposite strip having opposite polarity and thereby attracting the ball. On contact, the ball receives the strip's charge and is again repelled, traveling back and forth as it receives like charges from opposite strips.
Electrostatic Pendulum. Another experiment
mercial smoke precipitation can be duplicated in miniature with a glass jar containing suitable electrodes as in Fig. 23. Drilling or grinding the hole in the glass jar for the rod electrode is not difficult when done on the drill press. Cut off a short piece of brass tube squarely and saw a notch across the tube end about 1/4-in. deep (Fig. 28). Set your drill-press speed to about 1275 rpm. Apply coarse carborundum valve-grinding compound liberally and drill, feeding compound around drill and using light pressure. No sharpening of drill is necessary, the important thing being to keep compound in contact with drill face, it being the compound and not the brass tube that does the actual drilling or grinding. To form the copper screening, first wrap around a 3/32 in. dia. rod, squeeze tightly around rod and allow sharp ends to project outward as in Fig. 23. Press over rod electrode from open end of jar. The rubber grommet in hole will keep rod
in attraction and repulsion can be achieved with a free-swinging pendulum built as shown in Fig. 22 and mounted on the machine as in Fig.
SCIENCE AND MECHANICS
When static machine is operated charging hollowcylinder, electroscope outside of cylinder (above) separate. Electroscope inside cylinder remains at rest, proving that charge exists only on outer surface of hollow cylinder.
in place if it is a tight fit. Flat electrode is held in place by aluminum jar clamp. The positive-rod electrode, containing copper screening with open ends or points, causes the minute particles of matter (mostly carbon composing smoke) suspended between the electrodes to become positively charged. And, being repelled toward the flat or negative electrode, are deposited thereon, thus eliminating the smoke. Some commercial smoke-elimination processes collect these carbon deposits as a carbon-black by-product. To operate, connect clip leads as in Fig. 14. Widely separate spark-gap balls, and blow smoke into glass jar. Start machine and in
Left, to more dramatically demonstrate repulsion, a plume consisting of strips of paper is attached to top of cylinder. Plume is at rest indicating no charge on cylinder. Below, left, when the cylinder is charged, the individual strips are violently repelled because each strip has received a like charge. Below, if a grounded object, such as your finger tips comes near the strips of paper, they will be attracted to the finger tips, demonstrating that opposite charges attract.
a few seconds the smoke will have disappeared, leaving a deposit on the flat electrode. E lectroscope. One experiment which proves that an electric charge on any hollow conductor, such as a cylinder or ball, will invariably travel to the outer surface, can be achieved by making the accessory shown in Fig. 25. To operate, attach the two electroscope units of .001in. or thinner sheet brass with Scotch tape to the bracket supports and slightly bend apart. Adjust spark-gap balls on machine 147
widely apart and attach a clip lead to righthand spark-gap rod and aluminum cylinder (Fig. 24). Start the machine and you will find that the brass strips attached to the outside surface of the cylinder will separate (repulsion), while those on the inside will not, proving that the outside strips only are receiving a charge of electricity. Electric "Plume." An interesting demonstration of static charges involving repulsion and attraction can be achieved by removing the brass strips from the electroscope and attaching a bundle of thin soft paper strips to the brass rod (Fig. 25A). The paper strips are best cut from facial tissue, about 3/16-in. wide, and so arranged around the rh, screw to form a plume (Fig. 26). When the machine is operated, the paper strips will rise and widely separate (Fig. 27). If the machine is stopped, the strips will fall slowly as the charge in the condensers gradually dissipates (Fig. 26). Another experiment with the same equipment is to hold your fingers, partly closed, over the plume with machine in motion. The strips will reach up and attach themselves to your finger tips (Fig. 28). In the first instance, the like charges on the paper strips caused repulsion, spreading each strips away from its neighbor. In the latter experiment, your fingers, being of negative potential through ground, and the strips being positively charged, attraction by unlike charges resulted.
Blowing a Candle Flame. You can observe an
Normally, a fat spark would jump the ball gap when machine is in operation. But because of the pointed pin attached to one ball, the charges developed follow the path of least resistance (the pin) and are dissipated. No spark occurs because voltage is not high enough. This experiment demonstrates the action of a lightning rod attracting a lightning bolt and carrying it safely to ground.
electric "wind" effect from pointed conductors near a lighted candle (Fig. 29). Remove the spark-gap-ball assembly and attach a piece of stranded wire to the right-hand spark-gap ter-
minal. Fan out the wire strands and place a lighted candle near the wire ends. Start machine and candle flame will move away from the wire as if blown by a breeze (Fig. 32). Actually, however, carbon particles in the flame becoming positively charged, are being repelled by the positive charges at the ends of the wire. Lightning Rod. Lightning rods, with their pointed ends, on buildings serve to draw electric charges (lightning bolts) from the atmosphere to the ground harmlessly. You can demonstrate this on the machine with a pin soldered to a piece of spring brass clipped to one of the sparkgap balls (Fig. 30). Place the balls about % in. apart and start machine. The usual spark will not jump the gap. The discharges are picked up by the pointed end of the pin and, assuming this pole of the machine is ground, the discharges would be sent to ground. Actually, a real lightning bolt of many millions of volts would be visible as a flash from source to lightning rod, the latter affording the shortest path to ground. Let it be said, however, that an elaborate and scientifically designed system of lightning rods is necessary to adequately protect buildings from Nature's most ppwerful artillery. Building this Wimshurst static machine is an excellent project for a science class or individual experimenter and the cost will be much less than a manufactured one. Space does not permit the inclusion of many other fascinating electrical experiments possible with the Wimshurst static machine, and accessories which the science teacher and student can undoubtedly make.—HAROLD P. STRAND.
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Demonstration of an interesting electric "wind" illusion. The density of the charge at the ends of the frayed wire results in charging the molecules of air on one side of the candle flame with the same charge as the wire, repelling the molecules. In addition, the carbon particles in the flame receive a like charge and are repelled also, which probably accounts for most of the blowing illusion.
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