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A Homemade Voltage Multiplier

A Homemade Voltage Multiplier (HV DC PSU) Science Menu

Research Projects

DIY Projects &

Using a voltage multiplier is a great way to Experiments
make a high voltage DC power supply. It is
very easy to generate high voltages from Cybernetics & Virtual
easily available components. Worlds

High Voltage
This page contains information on where to
buy the components and how to connect
them. It also gives details of sources of mini Propulsion Systems
high voltage power supplys (inverters) which
will run from batteries. Physics & Formula
This information is for educational purposes. Replicating
this project is done so entirely at your own risk.

You can see what high voltage static Info Box

electricity from this device does to a piece of
one way window film in the violent discharge Power Pulse
experiments section. There are microscope Modulator
images of the aftermath and a video clip of Variable
the explosive action! Frequency, Variable
Pulse Width, up to
For efficiency a voltage multiplier should be
100A DC Pulse
powered from a source that is already a
Control Circuits More....
relatively high voltage. There are a variety of
small battery operated high voltage power We Ship Worldwide
supplys available. Many lighting devices contain inverters for
powering vacuum tubes such as, florescent lights, cold cathode Customer Feedback
lights and plasma globes. These types of devices usually run from
12V DC and can output voltages up to around 20kV AC. "Awesome job guys, thanks!"

"Fantastic Service and

delivery!!! Top quality

"Fantastic kit, arrived

promptly and very easy to
assemble. One step closer to
tesla madness!!!"

Mini cold cathode tube PSU - ~1kV Plasma Globe PSU - ~15kV
The capacitors and diodes required for the multiplier
can be purchased from a mail order company such
as RS. The table below gives some possible sources of components
and their approximate cost. You can click the source links and buy
the parts right now!
Component Max Voltage Source
HV Capacitors 1 - 30kV Buy Now!
HV Diodes 1 - 30kV Buy Now!

The capacitors and

diodes can be
arranged in a variety
of ways. The half
wave method is the
easiest as it requires
fewer components,
but a full wave
circuit will perform
better. If you just
want to get one
working as soon as
possible the the half wave method would be adequate. The circuit
diagrams below indicate how the components should be arranged.

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The schematics above will output a positive DC voltage relative to

the ground (GND). If a negative output is required then the polarity
of the diodes should be reversed. you can learn more about how a
voltage multiplier works, by visiting
the voltage multiplier page.

For safety and improved performance

the voltage multiplier should be
placed in a protective casing, such as
a PVC pipe filled with oil. The image
on the left shows two protruding
screws used for the AC input
connection, and he other image shows
polished coin used for the high
voltage output. By using Polymorph to seal the ends of the pipe, it
can be filled with oil to prevent corona leakage from the internal
connections. A more sturdy method would be to fill the pipe with
epoxy resin, but this may be difficult with compact component

Example Experiments
A homemade voltage multiplier is
perfect for powering an EHD thruster
(aka Lifter). An EHDT can be made
from just aluminium foil, sticks, and
fine wire. To learn how , see the
ElectroHydroDynamic Thruster page.

Using freezer spray (used by

plumbers) you can grow ice crystals
on the HV output with interesting results.

For more Simple Experiments with static electricity see the

Experiments Section

Questions and Comments on the DIY Voltage Multiplier

The information provided here can not be guaranteed as accurate or correct. Always check with an alternate source
before following any suggestions made here.
Dr T Saturday, 29th April 2006 8:24pm - No.28
I made one just like it using the cold cathode PSU. If i stood on a chair (so I was insulated
from ground) I could hold the high voltage output without getting shocked. I could then
point at things in my room and my finger tip would glow with loads of purple sparks!!
Certain objects I pointed at would also glow too. It didn't make my har stand on end but I
could certainly feel it trying. Cool!

Li Yun Lim Tuesday, 15th August 2006 3:29pm - No.166

Dear Sir/Madam,

I am designing a voltage multiplier circuit. I started off by building a 2-stage half wave
voltage multiplier circuit using NTE517 (5kV) diodes and 1000pF (15kV) capacitors. I
connect the circuit to a variable transformer and tuned the variable transformer to 10Vac.
My result for my 1st stage is 5.57Vdc and 2nd stage is 3.72Vdc. Why is it that the output
voltage is decreased? Are the types of diodes and capacitors used unsuitable? Could you
recommend me a suitable type and value of diodes and capacitors?

Thank you.

RMCybernetics Tuesday, 15th August 2006 7:12pm - No.167

From you description I would guess that the problem is that
you are using kV rated diodes with only a very low voltage
AC input (10V). Most high voltage diodes will not work
correctly unless you are applying at least 100V. The
NTE517 diode is a high power component and is unsuitable
for a low voltage circuit.
Also make sure you are measuring the stage voltages
between you ground connection ant the correct place on
the circuit like shown in this diagram.
Are you trying to step up a low voltage source to HV DC? If
you could explain your objective, I may be able to give you
some more advice.

Li Yun Lim Thursday, 17th August 2006 10:03am - No.173

Dear Sir/Madam,

I would like to step up from 220V to 15kV. What types/models of capacitors and diodes
would you recommend me to use to build a voltage multiplier?

Thank You.

RMCybernetics Thursday, 17th August 2006 4:28pm - No.174

The components you have mentioned should work OK if you are applying a high enough
voltage to the input. If you want to be able to adjust your variac (variable transformer)
from as low as 10V then it may be better to use diodes rated for lower voltages.
Your componets are only exposed to the stage voltage so if you are only applying 220V AC
the components only need to be rated as such. An example diode might be a 1N4007 or
something similar in the series. These are only small so if you need to pass higher currents
you should select a larger equivalent.

Li Yun Lim Friday, 18th August 2006 8:57am - No.177

Dear Sir/Madam

But the maximum rms voltage IN4007 diode is 700V only and my output voltage is 15kV.
Can I still use IN4007 diode? Will it affect or burn the diode? Can you recommend me the
rating/type of capacitor to use if I want to get the output voltage up to 15kV?

Thank you.

RMCybernetics Friday, 18th August 2006 1:30pm - No.178

The high voltage output from a multiplier is accross all the components in series so you
don't need your components rated for the output voltage as it is shared between them.

Your componets are only exposed to the STAGE VOLTAGE so if you are only applying 220V
AC the components only need to be rated as such.
700V is more than enough since you are only applying a maximum of 220V AC to each

The top diode may show 15kV relative to the ground, but the the voltage across the diode
between its two pins will be only the stage voltage.

The same logic also applies to your capacitors. The capacitors you have will probably work
ok, but ones rated for lower voltages will have a larger capacitance for the same sized

Li Yun Lim Monday, 28th August 2006 7:16am - No.201

Dear Sir/Madam,

May I know is there any other way that I could measure the readings of my high voltage
multiplier, other than using a voltage divider?

Thank you.

RMCybernetics Monday, 28th August 2006 12:38pm - No.202

A voltage divider is the most reliable method, and this is the method used in commercial HV
There are other methods you could use but they will not give you a voltage reading, just a
relative scale.

An 'gold leaf electrometer' could be made using thin foil instead of gold leaf. This would give
an indication of relative charge.

You could also make a 'FET electrometer' but the by far the best way is to use a voltage

Chin Weng Saturday, 16th September 2006 5:37pm - No.286

Dear Sir/Madam,

May I know what are the ways to step up a 12Vdc battery to 16Vdc, other than using a

Thank you.

RMCybernetics Saturday, 16th September 2006 6:35pm - No.287

You can use a "Step Up Voltage Regulator" like the LM2577T, but these still usually need a
small inductor (coil) and a capacitor coneected to it.

Weng Sunday, 17th September 2006 4:01am - No.289

What is the circuit diagram? How do I connect it?

Thank you.

RMCybernetics Sunday, 17th September 2006 5:45am - No.290

The datasheet for the LM2577T has several example circuits.

You can also see an example here.

You can also buy ready made units designed for use as an in car laptop charger

MatriXBandit Saturday, 4th November 2006 10:29am - No.452

In doing research on voltage multipliers I've run across information that seems to be
conflicting and I was hoping you could clear this up for me.

Here's a few references that seem to be in conflict:

From your site:
"The biggest advantage of such circuit is that the voltage across each stage of this cascade,
is only equal to twice the peak input voltage..."

From the forum here:

"Your componets are only exposed to the STAGE VOLTAGE so if you are only applying 220V
AC the components only need to be rated as such. 700V is more than enough since you are
only applying a maximum of 220V AC to each component."

From another site:
"The output voltage (Eout) is nominally the twice the peak input voltage (Eac) multiplied by
the number of stages"

From your forum:

"...this outputs about 800V from a 9V battery, so adding three multiplyer stages would give
you about 2400V."

If your site is correct then V_out = V_in * num_stages

If the other site is correct, then V_out = V_in * 2 * num_stages

The other thing in question is whether the components need to be rated for just the input
voltage, or twice the input voltage.

Specifically, what I'd like to do is to use a 10kv AC input source to power a full-wave
multiplier cascade so the theoretical output voltage is 1 million volts. Obviously this is a
large undertaking so I need to really know how many stages and what rating the
components need to be.

Another question I have is that since there is a dramatic price difference between ~4kv
capacitors and ~10kv capacitors, is it perfectly acceptable to substitute multiple capacitors
in series for a larger rated capacitor? If so, does this also work with diodes?

Thank you very much for your help, please drop me an email matrixbandit(at) if
you post a reply to this.

RMCybernetics Saturday, 4th November 2006 12:56pm - No.453

I can see why this could be confusing. The problem is
that The input is AC and the output or the voltage
across the capacitors is DC. The AC voltage and DC
voltages are not directly comparable.

You should take the values as rough guides. It is

always a good idea to use components that are rated
higher than the voltage / current you are expecting to
expose them to.

AC voltage is usually given as an RMS (root mean square)

value, which is a sort of average over a full cycle.
When using a half wave multiplier your capaciors only
see half of the peak to peak voltage, and therfore do
not necessarily need to be rated to a DC equivalent of
the RMS input voltage.
The diodes on the other hand could be exposed to the full peak to peak voltage when AC
cycle is of opposite polarity.

With the full wave multiplier all components should be rated to tollerate the full peak to
peak voltage of the AC input.

Yes you can connect capacitors in series to increase the voltage tollerance, but the capacitance
will be reduced.
You can also connect diodes in series to increase the voltage tollerance, but there can be
problems caused by slight differences in recorvery times of each diode used. It would
definatley be better to use adaquatley rated diodes.