The Steampunk Forum at Brass Goggles
October 19, 2017, 07:27:43 pm *
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
Did you miss your activation email?

Login with username, password and session length
News: Brassgoggles.co.uk - The Lighter Side Of Steampunk, follow @brasstech for forum technical problems & updates.
 
   Home   Blog Help Rules Login Register  
Pages: [1]   Go Down
  Print  
Author Topic: Could one make a Jacob's ladder for a tophat?  (Read 7454 times)
GrimmDichotomy
Swab

United States United States


« on: October 15, 2011, 10:11:35 pm »

I've had an idea for to add a distinctive Steampunk flair to my tophat, and I would like to know if any crafty individuals would know if it would be possible. The question being: would it be possible to construct a safe, battery-powered Jacob's ladder that would be small and lightweight enough to be applied to a tophat? And if so, would anyone be able to provide a layman's how-to guide for constructing it, or be willing to commission for the project? A basic switch system or a remote switch system would be ideal, if possible. For reference, this is the tophat that I have which I would plan to use as the base: http://www.gentlemansemporium.com/store/000479.php?__utma=1.2062305988.1318712658.1318712658.1318712658.1&__utmb=1.1.10.1318712658&__utmc=1&__utmx=-&__utmz=1.1318712658.1.1.utmcsr=google|utmccn=(organic)|utmcmd=organic|utmctr=gentleman's%20emporium&__utmv=-&__utmk=23422266

I would greatly appreciate any and all relevant input to the subject =] Circumstances permitting, I'm planning to attend the Steampunk Exhibition Ball in Seattle, WA on January 28th, and I believe such an addition to the wardrobe would wow onlookers! If the project is completed through commission, or from a how-to guide, I would be sure to credit the maker/planner and forward other aspiring Steampunks to them, if so desired. And thankyou in advance for anyone who has relevant information/ideas to provide! ^_^
Logged
Professor Bevel
Officer
***
United Kingdom United Kingdom


No, meddle first, understand later.


« Reply #1 on: October 16, 2011, 01:22:11 am »

There's no such thing as a safe Jacob's ladder.  Even a low-powered battery-driven one running through a little oscillator is at the very least a fire hazard and you're proposing to wear it on your hat?

GO YOU!

Seriously, bad idea.  The spark is, for all practical purposes, a  flame, the ionisation turns air moisture into mild nitric acid and thus you're faced with either wearing a high-voltage device capable of dumping the whole battery's worth of energy into whoever touches it or using a shield to confine nitric acid where it's going to slowly dissolve an $85 hat and then drip on your head.  Assuming the heat doesn't evolve fumes out the resin used to make your hat and then set fire to them.  And, of course, every time the spark starts up it pretty much shorts the battery and heats it up, so you'll have to watch that that doesn't catch fire.  And ...

you get the picture.  If I listed every way this could end badly, we'd be here all night.

Jacobs' ladders are, even for high-voltage electrical stunts, very risky items.  There really isn't any part of the thing, while it's turned on, that isn't in at least some sense capable of being fatally dangrous if touched.  Oh, and if you happen to take that source of RF noise near someone with a pacemaker or an implanted vagus nerve stimulator (there might be other medical implantablesz), there's a non-zero chance you'll kill them by firing their widget off wrongly.

Under controlled conditions as part of a performance, on a stage or behind barriers, yes, I'd cheerfully build and operate such a thing, with precautions and after a lot of testing with various instruments of electromagnetic inquiry. 

No way for movement among the general public.  If I think up a way to convincingly and safely fake it (I've been mulling this for a couple of weeks now, for a slightly different, more brandishable item) I'll be back in touch.

Can I suggest getting one of those USB-powered plasma globes and mounting it in or on a slightly cheaper hat?  5v of battery power is easy enough to arrange.
Logged

You know what this situation calls for?  More gin.
GrimmDichotomy
Swab

United States United States


« Reply #2 on: October 16, 2011, 03:03:48 am »

Ah, apparently I didn't do my research =/ I thought it may have been possible to make something akin to a Jacob's ladder using minimal amounts of electricity, essentially enough to be visible and maybe ticklish but not overtly harmful (rather like static when shuffling across the carpet in socks XP), and I had also planned on making a rubber sheath for the hat as extra precaution =/ I apologize for sounding so dense on the subject, I'm neither proficient nor learned with electrical devices or their construction.

As to a USB-powered plasma ball or the like, that would be a good subsitute, though again it would need to be battery-powered and able to be contained along the rim of the hat, not much for the idea of having wires trailing from various articles of clothing to the other unless absolutely necessary. I'll look into that in the meantime, and thankyou for your informative (if disheartening) response. =]
Logged
Drew P
Zeppelin Admiral
******
United States United States


« Reply #3 on: October 16, 2011, 04:04:47 am »

Really? Damn! Angry
You couldn't just 'contain' it into a glass tube in another glass tube?

Curses!
Logged

Never ask 'Why?'
Always ask 'Why not!?'
von Corax
Squire of the Lambda Calculus
Moderator
Immortal
*
Canada Canada

Prof. Darwin Prætorius von Corax


« Reply #4 on: October 17, 2011, 03:26:08 am »

A computer's USB port supplies 5 volts and SFA current (I don't have the exact number to hand, but it's like 200 milliamps or so) so a USB plasma ball should run fine on four D cells.

Another option, although it would look cartoony and unrealistic, would be to fake a Jacob's Ladder using EL wire between the poles, sequenced to simulate (badly) the climbing arc. An EL driver can also be run from flashlight batteries, and can be purchased from places like SparkFun or Adafruit Industries.
Logged

By the power of caffeine do I set my mind in motion
By the Beans of Life do my thoughts acquire speed
My hands acquire a shaking
The shaking becomes a warning
By the power of caffeine do I set my mind in motion
The Leverkusen Institute of Paleocybernetics is 5838 km from Reading
GrimmDichotomy
Swab

United States United States


« Reply #5 on: October 17, 2011, 04:11:02 am »

Thanks for the suggestion, I'll keep that in mind ^_^ As far as an alternative, I've found this nifty little item that I think would also look quite nice =] http://www.scientificsonline.com/blues-blaster.html If anyone would know of a method for hooking this up in a portable form, I would greatly appreciate layman's instructions. Or, if anyone might know of similar, battery-powered items, that would also work well for what I have in mind. There's a similar item in the form of a SoundFX light wand that runs on batteries, though it doesn't look quite as snazzy =P
Logged
elShoggotho
Guest
« Reply #6 on: October 17, 2011, 04:24:20 am »

Use a plasma ball. It's a Tesla coil protected by a glass ball full of luminous gases, so it's pretty damn sciencey enough.
Logged
celephicus
Officer
***
Australia Australia


Mensura ergo sum (I measure, therefore I am)


« Reply #7 on: October 17, 2011, 04:58:19 am »

Probably a Bad Idea. As my esteemed colleague has noted, a Jacob's ladder is a high voltage arc. It produces copious quantities of:

1. Ozone: toxic.
2. Nitrous oxide gas, which turns into nitric acid when it hits something damp (like your lungs). Ditto.
3. UV light, prolonged exposure gives you cataracts, even a second can give you arc eye (ask a welder about this one).
4. Electromagnetic radiation from DC to daylight, guaranteed to screw up anything electronic.
5. High voltage, if some drunk touches the wires and gets it through the heart, they are dead.

If you enclosed the whole affair in a plastic dome, and then shielded it with metal mesh, which would require electrical grounding, then it might be safe. I wouldn't wear one, and I have been doing stupid things with electricity for years. Even wires insulated for the working voltage are hard to come by. My ladder is surrounded by copious grounding, and I only power it up when I have tested the outlet for a good ground connection.
Logged

Dr. Celephicus -- amateur (gentleman) mad scientist
--
"How many L's in disembowelment?"
"What are you doing dear?"
"I'm writing a letter to the Times on treatment of the poor."
GrimmDichotomy
Swab

United States United States


« Reply #8 on: October 19, 2011, 08:27:02 pm »

Thankyou everyone who offered there assistance and knowledge in the matter, I greatly appreciate how promptly people have offered their expertise =] I've found an excellent substitute to add the right flair to my tophat, and I'd like to share what I've found in case anyone else were to find inspiration with it for their own Steampunk gallavanting. http://www.dreamrave.com/pocket-plasma-clipon-p-364.html?osCsid=nt928t1s4n0qh3174sk3pqf8t6 Happy gadgeteering one and all! =D
Logged
Professor Bevel
Officer
***
United Kingdom United Kingdom


No, meddle first, understand later.


« Reply #9 on: October 19, 2011, 09:07:02 pm »

Oooh, I like that.  I didn't think those came in that size.  Thank you for drawing that to my attention; I am greatly obliged.
Logged
Pages: [1]   Go Up
  Print  
 
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.20 | SMF © 2013, Simple Machines Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!
Page created in 0.074 seconds with 17 queries.