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Jacobs Ladder

How to build one.

What is it?

So, I'm sure you've all seen a jacobs ladder before. If not in person, then in your favorite mad science laboratory. Yes, it is that thing in the background with the arc of electricity going up the two wires.

How does it work?

A Jacobs Ladder is a very simple device. Essentially, you have a source high voltage and reasonable current, and 2 wires. When the voltage between the two wires becomes great enough, the air between them breaks down into plasma. The less air between the electrodes, the less voltage required to break it down, which is why the electrodes are "V" shaped.
Plasma is 2 things; conductive, and very hot. Because it is hot, it rises, which is why the arc rises between the electrodes. Because it is conductive, that aforementioned reasonable current (>30mA) flows through it. The more current you have, the higher the arc can go; because more plasma is made, so the plasma can be streched further (in adittion to being brigher and louder, which is always better).

How to build a Jacobs Ladder?

As stated before, all you need is a power source, and wire. I've found that aluminum wire works best because it is light enough to support itself and stiff enough to stay nice and straight. The power supply warrants a bit more discussion.

There are quite a few viable supplys for a jacobs ladder, the most common are-

The Obligitory Video

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