Author Topic: Static Electricity Collector  (Read 4539 times)

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prodael

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Static Electricity Collector
« on: November 09, 2004, 09:56:59 AM »
Since I'm new to this board, I've been going through the old posts.

Just reposting the links down here so it's easier to see.


http://www.fieldlines.com/story/2004/4/1/232616/4874

http://www.nuenergy.org/alt/radiant_energy_diatribe.htm


Few questions on this. First, seeing both coaxial wire and insulated wire being used in this discussion, these are not the same are they? What kind of wire is best to use, plain insulated or coax with the outer covering removed?


Trying to understand the circuit diagram, the spark plug and ignition coil are bringing the higher voltages stored in the wire down to 12 volts, why wouldn't a 12v capicitor work instead?

What is the purpose of the capacitor that is in parallel? Is it for safety in case the the spark plug & coil blow?


Last question, if multiple smaller lengths of wire are used instead of one really long wire  (3x200 instead of 1x600 for example) would this be equivalent? Asking because its easier to find smaller lengths of wire, plus less charge on each one would keep voltages a bit safer.

« Last Edit: November 09, 2004, 09:56:59 AM by (unknown) »

kell

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Re: Static Electricity Collector
« Reply #1 on: November 09, 2004, 04:53:58 PM »
I remember those posts.


One thing I found when googling around, though I don't have the links anymore:  The insulation on the wire, which is the dielectric between the wire and the air, needs to be "lossy" or "absorptive" (same thing).  This is like a cheap capacitor, that when you discharge it, has a residual charge that will gradually migrate back out of the regions in the dielectric where it was trapped and build voltage back up at the terminals, making the capacitor appear to charge itself back up again.  


And I don't know about those diagrams.  One of the posters in that old thread suggested connecting the capacitor to the long wire and ground, and have the spark plug, one winding of the coil, and the battery all in series, connected between the long wire and ground.  In other words, as voltage builds up on the wire the capacitor stores energy.  The capacitor dumps its charge through the spark gap and choke (ignition coil winding) into the battery whenever the voltage gets high enough.


Here's a question for you:  why use a diode?  If it gets reverse biased by the charge on the wire, nothing happening, and if it gets a forward bias it serves no purpose.

Seems like you just have to orient your battery polarity in accordance with the polarity of the charge on the wire.

« Last Edit: November 09, 2004, 04:53:58 PM by kell »

witapple

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Re: Static Electricity Collector
« Reply #2 on: November 09, 2004, 06:19:11 PM »
I keep reading about these generators but am waiting for one of you guys to report back that you have actually made one and that it works.

I have been a ham radio operator since 74 and can verify that at times my antennas have been able to throw a 2 to 4 in spark, but during normal weather I cannot measure anything. I think i still have a 250 foot long chunk of old coax that someone could strip the cover off of if you want to try the experiment.... I'll donate it if you will do the expirment. (i had better check the shed to make sure it is still there before i open my mouth too much tho)

Dan
« Last Edit: November 09, 2004, 06:19:11 PM by witapple »

wooferhound

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Re: Static Electricity Collector
« Reply #3 on: November 09, 2004, 08:02:43 PM »
Here is a story with a buncha buncha comments about the same subjects that Ya'll are talkin about.


http://www.fieldlines.com/story/2004/6/24/161914/084

« Last Edit: November 09, 2004, 08:02:43 PM by wooferhound »

Opera House

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Re: Static Electricity Collector
« Reply #4 on: November 10, 2004, 04:06:06 AM »
I think you also need a pretty windy area.  Without that you won't build up a charge.
« Last Edit: November 10, 2004, 04:06:06 AM by Opera House »

finnsawyer

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Re: Static Electricity Collector
« Reply #5 on: November 10, 2004, 07:41:15 AM »
Years ago I discovered that during certain snow storms (wet?) that enough power was produced from a short wave antenna to continuously light a fluorescent bulb.  This happened using standard bare stranded copper wire.  I mention the wire because bare wire is not supposed to work.  Actually there is no such thing as bare wire.  If you sand the wire and then string it up, it will quickly form an oxide layer, which is an insulator.  The implication would seem to be that the "electret effect" depends on the thickness of the insulation.  Interesting.  Looks like something worth pursuing.
« Last Edit: November 10, 2004, 07:41:15 AM by finnsawyer »

ghurd

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Re: Static Electricity Collector
« Reply #6 on: November 10, 2004, 08:06:08 AM »
I believe this was covered in "The Boy Electrician" or one of those common circa 1915 books. Probably from Lindsay.


I did some follow up on it several years ago. This is from memory, so if it important to you, follow up somewhere else.


The watts out is almost nil. High Volts, very low Amps.


The sparking is not at a controlled frequency and has a very wide band width (wrong terms?). This is supposed to really play havoc with the TVs, radios, cell phones, police- fire- military- aircraft- frequencies, etc., for a long long way. Common thoughts at the time was the FCC and FAA would be on the setup fast, with big fines.


G-

« Last Edit: November 10, 2004, 08:06:08 AM by ghurd »
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finnsawyer

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Re: Static Electricity Collector
« Reply #7 on: November 10, 2004, 08:23:22 AM »
It should be easy to shield the spark gap.  The real problem may be the loss of power in the spark gap.  A different kind of trigger circuit is needed.  It seems there is no reason per se for the voltage to rise to 20,000 volts.  Also, the supposition is that using the "electret effect" and a large enough collector one can get enough power.  I guess it remains to be seen.
« Last Edit: November 10, 2004, 08:23:22 AM by finnsawyer »

Ungrounded Lightning Rod

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Re: Static Electricity Collector
« Reply #8 on: November 10, 2004, 11:18:47 AM »
Trying to understand the circuit diagram, the spark plug and ignition coil are bringing the higher voltages stored in the wire down to 12 volts, why wouldn't a 12v capicitor work instead?


It's a downconverting switching power supply.  The spark coil (which is being run backward) is being used as a transformer to give you a 2000-to-1 or so boost in current in trade for a similar drop in voltage.


What is the purpose of the capacitor that is in parallel? Is it for safety in case the the spark plug & coil blow?


To store charge for the cycle.  The bigger the capacitor, the longer the pulse - and the farther between pulses.  But you want a good fat pulse to minimize losses in the spark plug.


Last question, if multiple smaller lengths of wire are used instead of one really long wire  (3x200 instead of 1x600 for example) would this be equivalent? Asking because its easier to find smaller lengths of wire, plus less charge on each one would keep voltages a bit safer.


I beileve your wire is pulling charge from the air and/or particles in it.  The air downwind of it will be discharged.  So you want one long wire (oriented across the wind), not several short ones.  (If you're pulling charge from falling rain or snow it shouldn't matter, provided the wires are separated enough that they get separate streams of precipitation.)

« Last Edit: November 10, 2004, 11:18:47 AM by Ungrounded Lightning Rod »

Ungrounded Lightning Rod

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Re: Static Electricity Collector
« Reply #9 on: November 10, 2004, 12:02:45 PM »
One of the posters in that old thread suggested connecting the capacitor to the long wire and ground, and have the spark plug, one winding of the coil, and the battery all in series, connected between the long wire and ground.  In other words, as voltage builds up on the wire the capacitor stores energy.  The capacitor dumps its charge through the spark gap and choke (ignition coil winding) into the battery whenever the voltage gets high enough.


If you did that, you wouldn't get the current boost - unless you also added a "freewheeling diode" from the coil/sparkplug junction to ground to provide the additional current.


But if you're doing that, why not just use the transformer and charge at a higher rate - shortening the current-into-the-battery part of the cycles and getting more out of high-charge situations like snowstorms?


Here's a question for you:  why use a diode?  If it gets reverse biased by the charge on the wire, nothing happening, and if it gets a forward bias it serves no purpose.  Seems like you just have to orient your battery polarity in accordance with the polarity of the charge on the wire.


If you sometimes get the opposite charge from the usual on the wire, you need the diode explicitly to keep it from cycling.  Otherwise the energy gets dumped into the coil or tries to pop the 1n4001.  (But you might want a second plug with a larger gap from the longwire to ground, to keep a reverse charge from popping your high-voltage diode.)


Note that you can reverse the voltage delivered by the coil just by reversing the primary connections.


(By the way:  I'd put the 1N4001 from the coil to the switch, so the battery is grounded and can be used without connection changes.)

« Last Edit: November 10, 2004, 12:02:45 PM by Ungrounded Lightning Rod »

Ungrounded Lightning Rod

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Re: Static Electricity Collector
« Reply #10 on: November 10, 2004, 12:06:49 PM »
If you sometimes get the opposite charge from the usual on the wire, you need the diode explicitly to keep it from cycling.   [...]  Note that you can reverse the voltage delivered by the coil just by reversing the primary connections.


So better yet:  Get rid of the high-voltage diode (short it out) and hook a bridge rectifier built of four 1N4001s from the two coil terminals (AC) to ground (-) and switch-to-battery (+).  Then it will charge no matter which way the voltage develops.

« Last Edit: November 10, 2004, 12:06:49 PM by Ungrounded Lightning Rod »

Ungrounded Lightning Rod

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Re: Static Electricity Collector
« Reply #11 on: November 10, 2004, 01:08:35 PM »
What kind of wire is best to use, plain insulated or coax with the outer covering removed?


At these voltages the insulation is probably doing something other than insulating.  My guess is that bare wire would work, but insulated wire or coax gives you a bigger collection surface (and reduces the electric field which would tend to drive your charged particles away).  Then the voltage builds up enough that the current leaks across the insulation to the center conductor.  The resistance across the insulator would be small compared with the air resistance, so it might not make a difference in how much power you got at the output (though it would make a big difference in the percentage of what you got from the air went to warm the wire rather than flying away downwind again).


If you want to experiment:

 1) try CoAx first.  Pull from the center with the shield unconnected,

 2) then pull from the shield.

 3) then tie them both together and pull from that.

 4) Then remove the outer "guard" insulation and pull from the center with the shield unconnected,

 5) then pull from the shield.

 6) then tie them together and pull from that.

 7) Then take it down and string an insulated wire the same diameter as the inner conductor and pull from that.

 8) then pull the insulation (or string up an uninsulated wire of the same guage) and try that.


With all wires the same length and nothing else nearby.  (Actually hang them one at a time, taking down the old wire when hanging the new one, rather than hanging 'em side-by-side.)


Ideally you should do this in identical weather conditions - which would be hard to guage.  In practice you could probably do the groups (1, 2, 3) and (4, 5, 6) within minutes of each other to compare the configurations within the group.


The other possibility, of course, is that the "must be insulated" he was talking about was "insulated from ground", i.e. good high-voltage insulators at all supporting points, and that got garbled in the retelling.  (Doesn't match the claim of using an old cable TV drop, though.)

« Last Edit: November 10, 2004, 01:08:35 PM by Ungrounded Lightning Rod »

E man

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Re: Static Electricity Collector
« Reply #12 on: November 10, 2004, 06:16:58 PM »
Related but a little off topic:  I ran into William Beaty's web site some years ago and found an "electrostatic motor" made out of empty pop bottles and tin foil.  It requires a minimum of about 5KV, DC to operate and apparently runs at about 1000 rpm.  


http://www.amasci.com/emotor/emot1.html


He mentions several ways to generate the HV needed to power it.  I always thought this would be a fun project to link up with the single static collection wire, but I don't know if that method would provide enough juice to power it.  Also I'm not sure what changes should be made to the circuit for safety reasons, etc.  The foil sections attached to the bottles provide capacitance.  Any thoughts?


Safety first, Youbetcha!


E-man  

« Last Edit: November 10, 2004, 06:16:58 PM by E man »

finnsawyer

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Re: Static Electricity Collector
« Reply #13 on: November 13, 2004, 07:39:25 AM »
I'd like to add that he should double the experiment by taking an identical piece of coax and giving it the heating treatment.  Supposedly that increases the effect by many times.
« Last Edit: November 13, 2004, 07:39:25 AM by finnsawyer »

thunderhead

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Re: Static Electricity Collector
« Reply #14 on: November 16, 2004, 08:32:51 AM »
Shielding the spark gap will be hard because it's connected to a huge antenna - namely the wire you've strung out.

« Last Edit: November 16, 2004, 08:32:51 AM by thunderhead »

finnsawyer

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Re: Static Electricity Collector
« Reply #15 on: November 17, 2004, 07:18:26 AM »
Since we're dealing with static electricity here radiation through the antenna can be minimized by putting a choke coil in series with the antenna.  You've already got a capacitor to ground.  Don't put the coil in series with the capacitor!
« Last Edit: November 17, 2004, 07:18:26 AM by finnsawyer »