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Kelvin’s Water Dropper – How to Build a Water-Powered Spark Generator


Kelvin's Water Dropper

The instructables’ user KentG13 showed how we can make a Kelvin’s Water Dropper (also called Kelvin’s Thunderstorm) at home in a “Macgyver” style. The device uses falling water to generate voltage differences by electrostatic induction occurring between interconnected, oppositely charged systems. It can put out several thousand volts of electricity, but because of low amperage, it is not ideal for a power source. Kelvin’s Thunderstorm cannot generate constant power. It has to charge up in order to spark.

The guide is not one of the easiest, so it may not give the expected results. It is especially complicated because the author of the project aimed to build it in a “Macgyver” style.

Materials And Instruments

  • 1 Swiss knife ( ” I’ll want that back!”- Macgyver)
  • 4 Soup cans
  • 4 Paint cans
  • 1 Board
  • 1-2 Metal Hangers
  • 6 Uncoated Paper clips
  • 7 Duck Tape
  • 8 A Ice cream or Coffee container

Step 1: Set Up the Paint Cans and Make the Reservoir

Kelvin's Water DropperFirst of all, you will have to make two stacks of the paint cans and put the bard on top. Next, make two holes in the coffee or ice cream container in a way that they are furthest apart and set it on the board.

Step 2: Make the Inductors

Kelvin's Water DropperNow, you will have to cut the bottom of 2 out of 4 soup cans. They will be your inductors.

Step 3: Adding the Inductors

Before adding the inductors to your Kelvin’s Water Dropper, you need to check the water tank (the container from step 2). The water should leave the tank through the holes smoothly and spread out after that.

Now you have to remember the place where the water starts spreading out, since you have to tape your inductor to the paint cans. If the water isn’t spreading at a low enough height, make the holes in the tank bigger.

Be careful, the water has to be very close to the edge of the soup can, but it cannot touch it if you want your Kelvin’s Thunderstorm to work.

Step 4: Add the Other Soup Cans

Place the last 2 soup cans under the two inductors. If they have a coating, scrape a little of the bottom. Make sure that the surface under the cans is not conductive.

Step 5: Making the Wires

At this step, you will need a metal hanger. You should stretch it out like in the photo. You will need it in order to attach the cans to each other. The wires will go from each inductor to the opposite can on the bottom. In order to make these wires, take the hanger, measure the distance between the cans, add 1 inch and cut it.

Step 6: Attaching the Wires

Now, you will need to make small hooks on each end of the wires. Use whatever solid object you find near you to bend the wires. Next, put one wire on paper clips, attach it to the inductor and to the opposite bottom can, and add a duct tape( to assure it won’t move). Repeat it for the other two cans.

Step 7: Making the Spark Wires

Kelvin's Water DropperNow, take whatever was left from the hanger, or take a new one. Make two short wires from it. Next, bend them on both ends (to make hooks) and attach them to the top of the lower cans. Make sure these two wires are not placed on a conductive surface, and that they are very close to each other.

Step 8: Checking and Fixing

Check whether the wires are placed like on the photo. Also, make sure that the wires are bending away from each other.

Step 9: Add Water and Enjoy Your Kelvin’s Water Dropper

Add water to the tank and watch the two wires coming together for the spark. If it fails, look at steps 3,7, and 8. It may take some adjusting to get your Kelvin’s Water Dropper working.

[all pictures (c) KentG13/Instructables/GPL]

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