to power the Jacobs Ladder
difficult part in building
a Jacobs ladder is obtaining a high voltage power supply. If you happen
where the primary heating source of your home is an oil fired boiler
a relative simple task. The boiler uses a step-up transformer to change
nominal 120 volts supplied by your house wiring to around 10,000 volts.
It is important to remember that this is the RMS voltage and the peak
voltage of this transformer is around 14,000 volts. These transformers
usually are internally fused to limit the maximum current to around 30
milliamps. This current is potential large enough to be fatal so
exercise caution while using it. It just so happens that
volts is a good starting point for a simple Jacobs’s ladder.
Another word of guidance is if you
happen to use the transformer off your parent’s boiler it would be a
good idea to
put it back before they can find out about it. Parents have a tendency
understand the importance of using any equipment available for
experiments. It probably
did not help that I forgot I had taken it off one night and ended up
call the next morning in class that I was a mad scientist and I needed
the boiler running ASAP. Apparently the temperature in our house had
about 10 degrees Fahrenheit. Oh well, my parents have become well
expect such things from me.
that we have discovered
the power source, the job at task is to remove it from the boiler.
Before we go
any further with this I must warn you that this high voltage
very dangerous and a few safety considerations need to be implemented.
are required by code to have a disconnecting device with in sight. As
this is not
a perfect world in older instillations the wiring is generally a mess.
Therefore it is recommended that you turn off the switch in front of
as well as the circuit breaker that is located in the main panel of
Once this has been done the power supply can be started to be removed.
following sequence of pictures shows this.
3: Power Supply Removal
the screws have been removed
the transformer should sit on a hinge and it can be rotated
upward. As a
safety precaution the load contacts on the transformer should be
circuited with an insulated screw driver. This is a last
resort effort to make sure the circuit providing power to the
is turned off. If for some reason it was still turned on there would be
arcing occurring across the screwdriver and the output terminals of the
transformer. Please make sure the circuit is turned off so that this
4: Discharging contacts
There are a few wire nuts that
maintain an electrical connection to the supply side of the transformer
will have to be removed. Just twist off the wire nuts and pull the
apart. A word of advice, draw a diagram for the connections if you have
done this before. Other wise when you go back to reconnect it you will
likely have forgotten what hooked up to where.
Finally there should just be a
couple of bolts to remove and the transformer can be taken off the
you are off to the building stage of the Jacobs Ladder.