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Project Information

Here's a little Wimshurst I made for my brother in law. In case you are not familiar with these machines they are a static electricity generator. Turning the crank makes the acrylic disks spin in opposite directions. The charge is picked up by the collectors and stored in the two capacitors. When the capacitors are fully charged a spark jumps across the terminals. The second picture shows a little ball against the side of one of the capacitors. This is a switch to add or remove the capacitors from the circuit. The bolt holding the switch is a conductor connected to wire under the machine which goes to the outer conductor of the other capacitor. I should also mention the neutralizer bars. They are equipped with a soft conductor material which wipes the sectors on the disk as it spins. This is to short out opposing sectors on each disk.

If you want to know more… google it. This is my 5th machine but I still don't have a good understanding of what makes them work!

This machine produces a 3/4" spark which was disappointing. Most the machines I have made are larger and all produce a 3.5" to 4" inch spark. This machine has 9-inch disks and my others are 12 and 15 inch.

If this sparks an interest (pun intended) check out the 2 other machines in my projects. If you want to build one I recommend going with a 12 inch or larger disk. Also feel free to contact me if you want more specific information. I've learned a few things along the way and I can help you avoid a few problems.

These things are a lot of work to build but also great fun!

Gallery

Comments

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944 Posts
WOW..
 

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118,619 Posts
Crazy cool great build . I never heard of Wimshurst machines before, looks like a super fun project.
 

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11,233 Posts
SHOCKING! LOL

<big-grin>

Merry Christmas!
 

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7,085 Posts
Man that is a great machine-will definitely spark a lot of interest!
 

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Great project! Electrifying to say the least!
 

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Pretty cool. So if you can convince someone to hold the 2 handles while you crank it, do they get ZAPPPPED?
 

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310 Posts
Ha… the handles are insulated but touching anything metal on the machine will shock you even when it is not in motion. The capacitors will hold a charge for many hours. Of course you can avoid this by touching the two electrode balls together when you get finished. Of course if you mess with these things long enough you will forget. It's a bit more than a door knob shock but not deadly.
 

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3,142 Posts
Thanks for the post.
You've sparked another interest in me. LOL
Always been fascinated by these machines.

Bob
 

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That build looks museum quality, excellent detail!

More fun than playing "chicken" as a kid with a bunch of friends in a circle and an old lawnmower.
 

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Very nice! I love these sorts of science gadgets. I'm going to put one of these on my list of things to make.

While it is not necessarily much of a woodworking project, I came across the "Kelvin water dropper" which is another interesting generator of static electricity: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kelvin_water_dropper

This one works just generates the high voltages that can produce a spark simply from falling water droplets. Here is a video someone posted showing it work:
 

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ekpuz

That's an interesting static generator. I'll have to look into this!

If you want to build one of these things (a Wimshurst Machine) contact me and I'll give you some pointers. I've learned from a few failures. I've built 6 of these things and at least to a degree I've figured out a few things. What amazes me is how little information there is on Wimshurst machines.

Here's a machine I made with a 4 inch spark:

I'm working on Machine number seven - I'm hooked!
 

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The 4 inch spark is very impressive! And your machines look like they belong in a museum.
 
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