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MAKE A HIGH VOLTAGE SUPPLY IN 5 MINUTES


by Biotele on June 8, 2008

Table of Contents

License: Attribution Non-commercial Share Alike (by-nc-sa) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2

Intro: MAKE A HIGH VOLTAGE SUPPLY IN 5 MINUTES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2

step 1: Some Info on CFLs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3

step 2: Some Info about Flyback Transformers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4

step 3: The Finished Setup . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5

step 4: Troubleshooting . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6

step 5: Disclaimer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6

Related Instructables . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7

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http://www.instructables.com/id/MAKE-A-HIGH-VOLTAGE-SUPPLY-IN-5-MINUTES/
License: Attribution Non-commercial Share Alike (by-nc-sa)

Intro: MAKE A HIGH VOLTAGE SUPPLY IN 5 MINUTES


In this Instructable you will learn how to make a High Voltage High Frequency power supply in 5 minutes and for less than $20.

All you need is a compact fluorescent light (CFL) and a flyback transformer.

Flyback transformers are found in TVs and CRT monitors. They make the high voltage, high frequency current necessary to trace the electron beam across the screen.
They are small and compact, and you can take them out from an old computer monitor or TV.

CFLs are very popular high efficiency fluorescent lights. They are similar to their ancestor the fluorescent light tubes but use electronic ballasts instead of the big and
heavy ballasts in the old technology.

The electronic ballast works by generating high frequency currents that are fed to a tiny high frequency transformer that boost the voltage and run the fluorescent tube. It
is the high frequency that makes the assembly compact.

The electronic ballast generates less than 1000 volts. But by replacing the fluorescent bulb of the CFL with a flyback transformer, spectacular voltages can be achieved.

Check out my newest instructable:


Hand Cranked Flashlight Mod plus Joule Thief

http://www.instructables.com/id/MAKE-A-HIGH-VOLTAGE-SUPPLY-IN-5-MINUTES/
step 1: Some Info on CFLs
CFLs can come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Generally the bigger the wattage the larger the voltage output. For this Instructable I got a 65 Watts light bulb.

Most CFLs have a similar circuit topology. All of them have 4 wires coming out of them. The wires are in pairs, and each pair connects to a filament inside the light bulb.

The CFLs I came across have the high voltage on the outer wires. You only need to connect the outer wires to the primary coil of the flyback transformer.

You will find a comprehensive description of CFL circuits on this page

Image Notes
1. Replace fluorescent with flyback transformer.
2. feedback transformer, looks like a small ring with wires wrapped around it.
3. Resonant capacitor and inductor, this is what makes the high voltage for light
bulb.
4. The transitors in a push pull configuration. This will drive the flyback at high
frequency.
5. Rectifier input circuit. Converts AC into DC.

http://www.instructables.com/id/MAKE-A-HIGH-VOLTAGE-SUPPLY-IN-5-MINUTES/
step 2: Some Info about Flyback Transformers
Flyback transformers come in all different shapes and sizes. Pick a big one.

The challenge with the flyback transformer is to find 3 pins out of 10 to 20 pins. One pin will be the high voltage ground the other two pins will be that of the primary coil
that will connect to the CFL's electronic board.

If you can get the schematic of the flyback transformer that will save you time. However you can figure out the pins by following the instructions here .

Danger - if you are going to get the flyback from a TV or CRT you need to discharge it. It can hold a dangerous charge even days after the TV or CRT is turned
off (see picture for details).

Image Notes
1. Connect a voltmeter to the output of the high voltage secondary coil. Connect
the other lead to the battery pack. Connect the battery pack to each pin one by
one, looking for a volatge read out on the voltmeter.
2. connect three 9 volt batteries in series to look for the pin of the high voltage
secondary coil.
3. The ground pin of the high voltage secondary pin can be anywhere at the base
of the flyback transformer.

http://www.instructables.com/id/MAKE-A-HIGH-VOLTAGE-SUPPLY-IN-5-MINUTES/
step 3: The Finished Setup
This is how the finished high voltage supply looks like.

Remember, this is a DC supply. The output from the thick wire is positive. In TVs and CRTs this high voltage output drives the negative electrons from the filament to the
screen.

If you need AC high voltage, you have to remove the built-in diode or find an old flyback transformer that does not have a built-in diode.

http://www.instructables.com/id/MAKE-A-HIGH-VOLTAGE-SUPPLY-IN-5-MINUTES/
step 4: Troubleshooting
The first time I build the circuit, it worked immediately. I used a 26 watt CFL.

Then I decided to get a bigger CFL and I build it exactly like the first circuit. It didn't work. I was disappointed. I thought that the CFL electronics were shot.

But when I reconnected the fluorescent tube to the four wires, the CFL worked again. I realized that this type of CFL circuit needed to "sense" the filaments in order to
operate. Remember, I was only using the outer wires and leaving the two inner wires alone.

So I put a resistor across the outer wire and the inner wire. The circuit worked! But within seconds the resistor was in flames.

So I decided to use a capacitor in place of resistor. The capacitor allows AC currents but blocks DC while a resistor allow both AC and DC currents to flow through it. Also
a capacitor does not heat up because it provides a low resistance path for AC currents.

The capacitor worked great! The arcs produced were very big and thick.

So in summary there two things that can go wrong:

1. You wired it wrong, either on the CFL side or the flyback side.
2. The CFL electronics needs to sense the filament and you can use a capacitor as a substitute.

Use a high voltage rated capacitor. Mine was 400V and I got it from another CFL circuit.

While troubleshooting, be very careful, you are dealing with very high voltages and high currents.

When soldering, disconnect the circuit from the power outlet.

step 5: Disclaimer
The circuits in this Instructable use very high voltages and currents.

These currents and voltages are deadly! You can easily hurt yourself, as well. Build this circuit at your own risk.

This type of high frequency high voltage current is used in surgical cauterizers. So if you get shocked you will burn yourself and cut your flesh. There is also a
considerable fire hazard from the circuit.

Use the Nikolai Tesla's safety techniques when working with high voltages:

1. Only use one hand (put your other hand on your lap or pocket)
2. Wear insulating shoes
3. Use a dead man stick or insulated pliers when touching or manipulating the circuit.
4. Use a power bar with a thermal fuse rather than sticking the circuit directly in the socket. This will limit the current that will go through your body.
5. When soldering, disconnect the circuit from the power outlet.

Generally, in electricity it is the the current that kills. if the currents are low there is little danger even if the voltages are very high (think of Tesla holding the his Tesla coil).

This circuit has high currents which makes it considerably dangerous.


http://www.instructables.com/id/MAKE-A-HIGH-VOLTAGE-SUPPLY-IN-5-MINUTES/
a 65W CFL can deliver 65mA easily (65W/1000v).

And if you look at the picture below, at greater than 50mA the little guy is dead.

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Comments
50 comments Add Comment view all 646 comments

lucek says: Aug 22, 2010. 11:54 AM REPLY


Put a resister and a 3rd terminal in between the other 2 wire the resistor to the central terminal and one of the outside ones. It lowers the voltage required to
start the spark and then the spark has less resistance than the resistor so it works normal.

Jimmy Proton says: Aug 21, 2010. 7:46 PM REPLY


i got it to work but it made very small sparks so i put i higher voltage capacitor and turned it on, right when i was about to test it i heard as loud buzzing noise
and it didn't work anymore, i hope i didn't break it

Cheathum14 says: Apr 4, 2010. 9:01 AM REPLY


Can this power supply be used for a plasma speaker?

http://www.instructables.com/id/MAKE-A-HIGH-VOLTAGE-SUPPLY-IN-5-MINUTES/
Jimmy Proton says: Aug 18, 2010. 6:57 PM REPLY
yes

Biotele says: May 8, 2010. 1:08 PM REPLY


Yes, you only need to modulate the input power or the feedback.

BigKahuna666 says: Aug 22, 2010. 6:53 AM REPLY


could you send me more information on how to do that? I would love to make a pair of plasma tweeters

robot797 says: Aug 22, 2010. 8:05 AM REPLY


same here

Jimmy Proton says: Aug 15, 2010. 12:17 PM REPLY


so how do you remove the diode without ruining it

nenrikii says: Aug 9, 2010. 3:35 PM REPLY


its a 32 Watt BTW

nenrikii says: Aug 9, 2010. 3:34 PM REPLY


Im confused... mine doesnt have the four in a row mine has two on each side.... so i dont know which one to solder to U_U i dont get it.... some one please
help me here

JTreehorn says: Aug 4, 2010. 1:59 AM REPLY


So... I've completed this project (or so I think) and I can only get a arc at a very short distance. 2 or 3 mm if I had to guess and it's very small. Sounds very
mosquito-ish if that makes any sense. I'm using a 26 watt CFL and a fly back from a 20" color TV. I did somehow manage to blow the fuse in my volt meter
while testing pins with a 9 volt battery so I was forced to make a educated guess as to the positive and negative of the primary coil. Will reversing them
damage anything? Does anyone think that having them backward would produce such a little arc or would it even work at all? Any ideas would be greatly
appreciated.

JTreehorn says: Aug 4, 2010. 2:23 AM REPLY


Okay, so I couldn't wait for a response and went ahead and reversed them....Same thing. Very, very weak arc. After looking closer, a 1mm gap might be
over exaggerating. Any ideas?

Biotele says: Aug 4, 2010. 6:50 AM REPLY


Try a capacitor bypass.

JTreehorn says: Aug 4, 2010. 9:31 AM REPLY


Already did. Got nothing at all without them. Thanks but not the problem.

JTreehorn says: Aug 4, 2010. 10:16 AM REPLY


This is the schematic for my flyback. Could someone with more knowledge than me please identify the following... 1- Primary Coil 2-
Secondary Coil 3- Primary Positive 4- Primary Ground 5- High Voltage Ground I hope you guys don't think I'm stupid for having the schematic
and still not being able to tell (gotta learn somewhere). I know what I think they are, I would just like another opinion to confirm my wiring.
Thanks.

http://www.instructables.com/id/MAKE-A-HIGH-VOLTAGE-SUPPLY-IN-5-MINUTES/
mjw56 says: Aug 4, 2010. 9:55 AM REPLY
Okay this is very cool but im having trouble up-sizing it. i got the system working with a 13W CFL and the flyback from a very old 20" tv and this produced up
to 1.5" arcs but needed to be started at closer to 1/2". i bought a 27W cfl to try for bigger more powerful arcs and got weaker wimpy arcs! the system is very
noisy which sounds to be coming from the flyback and is retaining a charge for a few seconds after being turned off ( the small cfl did not do this). After
reconnecting the 13W it worked fine again. all the pins on the flyback are buried in heat-shrink and hot glue. Nonpolar caps are being used (they are labeled
104K). any ideas as to whats wrong? thanks

Tesla boy says: Jul 29, 2010. 6:55 PM REPLY


Hey built the project and it worked great. I am looking for a bigger spark though. I was able to get about a 3/4 cm spark. I have 2 flybacks that both produce a
3/4 cm spark could i hook them up in the order of: CFL-Flyback-Flyback configration, or would this overload the flybacks. Thanks so much, Tesla Boy

blacjack1 says: Jul 7, 2010. 12:50 PM REPLY


just a quick question, can i get electrocuted if im wearing rubber boots, standing on a 1 inch thick rubber mat while operation this off of 240v?( i live in
australia)

Vermin says: Jul 29, 2010. 7:42 AM REPLY


As Biotele noted the main risk of electrocution occurs when current passes across your heart (i.e. from one hand to the other). As to your question, you
will probably still get an electric shock (as opposed to "electrocution" = death) when standing on rubber. Even if the dielectric strength of the rubber
exceeds your HV supply. This is because you form a capacitor with the earth. Your body is one plate, rubber insulation, then the floor is the other plate of
the capacitor. alternating current (AC), particularly high frequency AC, will pass thorough this capacitor. If you have ever seen a Tesla coil operating,
throwing out huge arcs of electricity into the air, you will have seen this sort of capacitive coupling. The arc does not need to strike ground to complete
the circuit. The arc itself forms a capacitor with the ground to complete the circuit through un-ionised air.

Biotele says: Jul 8, 2010. 11:58 AM REPLY


If you work with one hand and put the other one in your pocket, the risk of death is minimal.

blacjack1 says: Jul 9, 2010. 9:20 AM REPLY


thanks for the advice dude.... and great instructable

Nyxius says: Jul 21, 2010. 4:37 PM REPLY


if you work with one hand, while wearing rubber gloves, boots, standing on a rubber mat, and licking both terminals at the same time the risk of
brain trauma is high... Side effects may include death...

emcelhannon says: Jul 22, 2010. 8:45 AM REPLY


Great instructable. I got a nice arc with a 60w cfl and a pretty small flyback.,(1.5 inches). I also managed to keep a smaller cfl from blowing by leaving the
flourescent tube attached. I noticed on another instructable that you can make an arc work like a speaker using ic timers. I haven't had any luck with those,
so naturally I'm trying to figure if there is a way to insert the audio signal into the cfl, and if so, where?

Biotele says: Jul 22, 2010. 12:32 PM REPLY


That's Great! Can you post a picture or a video in the main page? Yes you can make a plasma speaker out of this setup. The easiest way is to pulse
modulate the output. You either chop the feedback signal, or the input voltage.

emcelhannon says: Jul 23, 2010. 3:28 PM REPLY


Thanks Biotele, I'll work on a couple of pictures and post them. In the mean time, can you give me more specific instructions on how you would hook
the system up. I confess, I don't know the term "chop," unless you mean to cut the circut and insert the audio in a series.

Mansheep22 says: Jul 9, 2010. 10:06 PM REPLY


I've found that new CFL's are incorporating more advanced circuit-detecting abilities, and are harder to fool into thinking a bulb is attached. Also, I am unable
to get nearly the same voltage other people are getting (probably just under 1,000v DC at 1.7mA), and am going to try to wire two or more flyback
transformers in line, to keep amping up the voltage. Will I die in a fiery explosion if I attempt this? Thanks

Nyxius says: Jul 21, 2010. 4:33 PM REPLY


you won't die, but you might ruin your fly-backs. the coils in a fly-back are insulated from each other with a dielectric of some kind. as the voltage
increases the dielectric become less able to insulate each coil from the next one. If the voltage increases high enough it will lead to dielectric breakdown.
this is where the electricity jumps from coil to coil inside the fly-back creating shorts that permanently ruin the coil. No more coil + lots of bad smelling
smoke = sad face.

Biotele says: Jul 10, 2010. 10:04 AM REPLY


can you post a picture of the circuit?

jknutson says: Jul 12, 2010. 12:53 AM REPLY


That capacitor trick got my circuit going, but I had to put one across both sets of contacts. I used 160V caps and they seem to have survived so far. Definitely
a fun project, thanks Biotele.

http://www.instructables.com/id/MAKE-A-HIGH-VOLTAGE-SUPPLY-IN-5-MINUTES/
emcelhannon says: Jul 11, 2010. 2:15 PM REPLY
I've blown a few cfls now, so I'm going to try the incandacent light in with flyback. I'd like to see if I can repair the cfls. I'll need instructions on testing a mosfet
or transistor. I'm also wondering what the black cylinders with the slight magnetic field are. Have you guys settled on a better method of driving your flybacks
in the year or so since anybodies bumped this thread?

mohfaz says: Jul 11, 2010. 3:54 AM REPLY


tnx i made it but i got another problem : 1. the transformer is too weak to make a light , so i should use a screwdriver to short the distance between to wires
then the light appears in short range!!!!!

mohfaz says: Jul 10, 2010. 12:23 PM REPLY


as making this instructable I got several troubles: 1. I can't know which are iner wires or outer wires since the one pair of wire are on the one side and other
are on the another!!! 2. to find the primary pins of the transformers i got 3 pins that they have 1 resistance !!!!

Biotele says: Jul 10, 2010. 2:35 PM REPLY


get alligator clip wires and try different combination of hook ups between the circuit board and transformer. Make sure you have the power off when you
are changing configuration. Also have the HV output close to ground so that it sparks when it works.

tsitema says: Jul 8, 2010. 2:11 PM REPLY


I used a 25 watt CFL, and putting capacitors instead of the filaments didn't work. Instead, I connected a 1nf capacitor and a 1 ohm bulb to the flyback in
series. It worked but, after about ten second the cfl circuit exploded blowing the fuses of the room.

Biotele says: Jul 9, 2010. 11:26 AM REPLY


the circuit's transistors shorted because they are under rated. Get a more powerful CFL like >40W.

brady911 says: Mar 19, 2010. 7:05 PM REPLY


I finally got mine to work, BUT, it only produced about 5Kv. Anyone know what a source to the problem could be?

Biotele says: May 8, 2010. 1:09 PM REPLY


the power of the cfl is either too low, or you might not have the right pins of the primary identified or the flyback is small.

N3v3rm0r3 says: Jun 18, 2010. 12:12 PM REPLY


why not just leave it as it is and use it to charge high voltage capacitors? If you do that, find a way to know when the capacitor is charged, or it will
blow up (personal experience....)

FrozenFire says: Jun 12, 2010. 12:58 AM REPLY


A tip: connect two or more identical capacitors in series. That way, you add the voltage rating up, although you only get the capacitance of a single one.

comodore says: Feb 15, 2009. 1:15 PM REPLY


Hes not Nikolai Tesla, hes Nikola, NIKOLA, please correct that mistake! Thank you!

Powermax says: May 16, 2010. 2:25 PM REPLY


i think "Nikolai" and "Nikola" are spelled both ways...

comodore says: Jun 3, 2010. 12:56 PM REPLY


nope, believe me....I am from Serbia so I know for sure !

andrius4669 says: May 20, 2010. 9:11 AM REPLY


I see resistor in input of CFL. Did I need to replace it?

jules15 says: May 19, 2010. 3:13 PM REPLY


Dang that's smart hooking up the 9v batteries like that. Never would of thought of it

http://www.instructables.com/id/MAKE-A-HIGH-VOLTAGE-SUPPLY-IN-5-MINUTES/
Darksun010 says: May 10, 2010. 8:34 PM REPLY
Can you use lower voltage (9 Volt batter) to test the finished setup before connecting it to 110 volts.

Powermax says: May 10, 2010. 4:51 PM REPLY


this CFL, CFL driver is an jackpot for making CRTs!!! the CFL circut is for driving the flyback and the lamp itself has phosphor that will be the screen!

i shall make CRT like t h e s e , http://www.sparkbangbuzz.com/crt/crt6.htm

will it drive an ignition coil??? or a TESLA COIL??? i think so!!! *,*


U

Friggin Smift says: Mar 18, 2010. 3:33 AM REPLY


Awesome, i got two of these things working right now, one with a 23W and the other with a 45W CFL.

Although i didn't need the "cap" trick to get them working it did take a bit of trial and error. The 45W works with the two outer most leads, but others i tried
didn't. The 23W uses the second from the left and the far right lead, while an earlier test with a 13W used the second from the right and far left lead.

All three of these lamps used a different combination of leads to work. If any of you are having trouble with this like i did, just experiment with the leads you
use.

k2d2 says: Mar 15, 2010. 7:26 AM REPLY


i dont get step 3

Marn1X says: Mar 6, 2010. 4:26 AM REPLY


You say you've used a 65w bulb for this experiment. Do you mean the light output of your CFL is the equivalent of a 65 watt incandescent, (thus a 12-15w
CFL), or do you actually mean its a 65w CFL?

Biotele says: Mar 9, 2010. 8:44 AM REPLY


It is 65w, equivalent to 300W incandescent.

view all 646 comments

http://www.instructables.com/id/MAKE-A-HIGH-VOLTAGE-SUPPLY-IN-5-MINUTES/