Testing the Jacobs Ladder

                                                                               Figure 10:  Arc Jumping between ladder electrodes

Now comes the fun part, actually seeing your hard work paid off. This brings us back to the safety issue once again. Before you plug in the transformer into the wall it is important to pay attention to a couple of key things. Make sure that you do not come into contact with the ladder electrodes or any of the equipment supplying it once the system is energized. If for some reason nothing happens when you first turn it on be sure to unplug the power cord before troubleshooting your circuit.

Once the cord is plugged in you should immediately hear some noise coming from the equipment and possible see a arc climbing the ladder. I had to play with the geometry of the ladder conductors a few times to get an arc traveling. The spark sometimes would stop for a few moments before traveling up to the top and sometimes it would stay in one spot until I adjusted the electrodes again. The ladder electrodes were actually swaying back and forth while the ark was traveling. This was something I hadn’t thought would happen. At subsequent stopping points I felt the ladder electrodes; the temperature of the ladder electrodes had definitely risen from their initial temperature.

At one point the arc stopped at the very bottom of the board and actually burned the area between the ladder electrodes. I had to drill some new holes after that because the arc wouldn’t move. In figure 11 one can see the glow of the arc at the bottom of the ladder. This was taken when it was burning the board.

Figure 11: Burning Wood

Figure 12: Double Arc Jumping
This experiment has been really cool up to this point, but it is time to buckle down and learn a little bit about the physics of a Jacob Ladder.


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