Figure 0 - This monster runs from an inverted hydro transformer!
This monster runs from an inverted hydro transformer!

Every so often an engineering problem comes along that is best solved by some "way out-of-the-box" thinking...aka hacking! This project represents such a problem as it required the use of junk materials and power levels that were almost hard to fathom. It is almost ironic that this "contained lightning" generator was used to extract the tiniest precious grains from solid rock core, a job that would have normally been done by a large mechanical crushing device. The problem with the roller crusher is that it also fractures the precious mineral samples so that examination of the sample is limited to the broken fragments. This device was able to completely disaggregate the samples from the solid rock cores without any damage due to the way the extremely high energy pulse worked as a lever between the grain boundaries to force them apart.

This project uses energy levels that go WAY beyond lethal, so it was designed and tested in a secret location away from people and electronics equipment. The high voltage pulse was shown to disrupt nearby electronic devices such as computers and cell phones, so care had to be taken when firing off the device! Although the radiated pulse was nothing like the device shown in the movie "Ocean's Eleven", it did manage to destroy a laptop and a camera that were in the same building. A 200 Kilovolt pulse at 10 nanoseconds through 10 large inductors is certainly a good source of radiated energy! The final product did show a good working proof of concept model, so a much safer, quieter, and refined version could be built using new components.

Figure 1 - This is an inductor based 5 stage Marx Generator circuit
Figure 1 - This is an inductor based 5 stage Marx Generator circuit

As bizarre and scary as this project is, it is really nothing more than a huge inductor based 5 stage Marx generator. A Marx Generator is a type of electrical circuit invented by Erwin Otto Marx in 1924, and is really a fancy capacitor charging system that allows banks of high voltage capacitors to charge in parallel and then release their full energy in series. This creative charging system allows the release of a very intense 5-10 nanosecond pulse of extremely high voltage, which in this project is used to fracture grain boundaries in a specially developed delivery vessel.

There are many variants and the Marx Generator circuit, usually different in the number of stages and the type of connections between the parallel stages of capacitors. In the schematic, it is shown that a high voltage DC source is fed into the 5 stage capacitor bank, charging each single capacitor (C1 to C5) in parallel through the inductors (L1 to L9). As soon as any one capacitor has stored enough voltage to break down any of the spark gaps (SG1 to SG4), the entire sum of voltage for all five capacitors will instantly be released through the final spark gap (SG5) in one massive discharge. This happens because the inductors become somewhat "transparent" in the circuit as soon as the first gap is blown, creating an instantaneous connection of all capacitors in series as the gaps become dead shorts. This amazing 1924 invention works extremely well and is a totally passive electronic switching system.

Back Home Last Next
You are Viewing... Page 1 of 18
Lucid Science Electronics from the Fringe AtomicZombie Hack-a-day SparkFun