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Sparker Reference Guide

Post questions and info about combustion (flammable vapor) powered cannons here. This includes discussion about fuels, ratios, ignition systems, safety, and anything else relevant.
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Sparker Reference Guide

Unread postAuthor: rcman50166 » Tue Feb 05, 2008 4:19 pm

OK. Everyone always seems to know more than me in almost every topic on this site. But this is my domain! High voltage electricity is what i know about the most. A lot of you may know about my science fair experiment from different posts. Anyway I hope to give you an index of high voltage sources that could be used. I will be updating and adding photos. If you know of any others please post.

Pilot Hole
If you have to resort to using this method you should propably stop making potato guns and get a job. This is a non-electric crude ignition type. It uses a small hole to give user access to the chamber to use a lighter to ignite the fumes directly. This is the same way civil war cannons were fired. (with exception to the gunpoweder wick) The disadvantages include lower pressures, dangerous exposure, and the hole will increase in size as it melts in small increments when fired. This is free with the exception of the lighter... or match. :roll:
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Flint Ignitor
Not really an electonic source this is exactly what it sounds like it is. A flint in contact with a strike wheel creates sparks of hot dust that ignite gasses. They can be found in gas camping lanterns and most disposable lighters. However, they can't be made air tight so they won't work in hybrids. They cost around $10. Also see http://www.advancedspuds.com/lantern.htm
http://www.spudfiles.com/spud_wiki/index.php?title=Lantern_sparker
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Camera Flash Circuit
Not used very often, these circuit are easy to find for free in disposable cameras. There gap isn't significant and neither is the voltage. Voltage range from 300-1000V. The capacitors have a tendency to catastrophically fail if overworked or used to often. They're best used in mini spud guns. These go for Free-$15.
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The Humble Piezoelectric Ignitor
This ignitor would have to be the most well known and commonly used HV source for potato guns. They typically come from lanterns and grills. They can also be found in some lighters. The output voltage peaks at around 17kv. These go for $5-15.
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Electric Fly Swatter
This method isn't very commonly used at all but is a way to get a zap into your cannons. There only appears to be one on the market but it's very widely available. They advertise 1500V which probably comes from a capacitive circuit (like the camera). These go for $3-15.
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Electric Grill Ignitor
This ignitor is a larger version of the camera flash circuit. Larger voltages mean bigger sparks. The voltage is usually around15kv. Some feature two arc leads, making it ideal for advanced, dual gap and hybrid combustion guns. The prices are around $20-$35.
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Flyback Transformer
This is a high voltage, high frequency ignition source. It uses a high frequency (around one or two MHz) transformer, to step AC voltage up and output HVDC pulse current. This is the same thing that makes CRT television screens operate. The arcs are typically an inch long straight out of a TV. The voltage is around 17KVDC. The disadvantages are that it needs a wall outlet to work and they have a tendency to explode... :x
A homemade circuit will cost around $100. Just find an old TV intead.
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Taser
Tazers are HV systems using a series of solid state voltage multipliers and transformers turning 9 volts DC (typically) into 100,000-1,000,000 volts pulsed DC. They can go for $30-100+.
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Ignition Coil Circuit
These systems use a car ignition coil to achieve voltages of 10,000-15,000 volts AC. They can jump a 2in gap if correctly wired which makes them ideal for hybrid potato guns or multi-gap combustion potato guns. These circuits have to be homemade, they're not available in stores. The price is anywhere from $35-150.
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Neon Sign Transformer (NST)
This HV source comes from neon signs and large florescent signs. They have jump distances of up to 3 in. and come in a variety of voltages. They are wall socket powered and have voltage ranges from 5,000v to 25,000v. Many sign shops will give these away for free or cheap because after they are replaced they have a very short life expectancy and can become unreliable. Prices range from Free-$250.
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Marx Generator
Not typically used, these high voltage systems are very powerful and effective. Completely solid state (circuit based), they have no transformers and can be designed to run of the wall or a battery. Voltages range from 250kv-1Mv. They can jump distances up to 2 feet. They are recommended to be homemade and aren't price efficient. Prices range from $100-$500.
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Tesla Coil
Only God knows what you would need this power for. If none others can do the job, this is the last option. A high frequency air core transformer, these are the things that power particle accelerators. The spark can range from 6in to 10ft and can have voltages of 250kv to 3Mv. These kinds of stats come at a price though. Homemade ones can cost from $50 to $500. Brand new you're looking at $150 to $15,000. There goes you're college fund...
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Last edited by rcman50166 on Sun Oct 09, 2011 10:14 pm, edited 28 times in total.
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Unread postAuthor: thespeedycicada » Tue Feb 05, 2008 4:36 pm

thats an idea ill put my little marxie to work! its just collecting dust right now (tesla coils are more fun) but fat 2.5 inch sparks are very hard to beat (teslas dont count rcman).
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current projects: co-axial piston valve.Status DONE!
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Unread postAuthor: rcman50166 » Tue Feb 05, 2008 7:12 pm

Oh c'mon why wouldn't they count? They have all the same input capabilities. The tesla coil spanks all other hv generators
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Unread postAuthor: thespeedycicada » Tue Feb 05, 2008 7:33 pm

i made the marx in 25 minutes and my tesla took about a week.
the marx was 5 bucks and the tesla was 56.
the marx was made at my table with a soldering iron paperclips capacitors and resistors the tesla well...you know.
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current projects: co-axial piston valve.Status DONE!
S.P.E.C.S update mk 1 construction begining in febuary all the maths for it are done plans are drawn up and parts are listed.
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Unread postAuthor: rcman50166 » Tue Feb 05, 2008 7:38 pm

Well that's what makes tesla coils great. If you didn't want a challenge you shouldn't have picked HV electronics as a hobby. :lol:

Anyway what size capacitors and resistors did you use in oreder to make it so cheap? I've considered building one but my minimum price turned out to be $100+
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Unread postAuthor: BigGrib » Tue Feb 05, 2008 8:19 pm

Here's my contribution. This is a battery powered electric bbq ignitor. Features: AA battery power that lasts months, Factory dual spark gap, Great power for a standard advanced combustion @ 12kV. Fairly inexpensive @ $20 - $35 USD. This thing lasts a long time. No internal spark gap to worry about as with a taser, everything is epoxied in place inside the housing.

edit, this is the actual unit from my advanced combustion that I removed just to photograph.
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Ignitor 01.jpg
Front View of the module, the button unscrews to reveal the battery compartment.
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Ignitor 02.jpg
This is the rear view. you can see both sets of leads and the fact that the whole housing is epoxied together. You should be able to see spark as well.
Ignitor 02.jpg (3.46 KiB) Viewed 26469 times
Yea, that's definitely going to get you at least a tazer.

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AkMkGOpAF4s">DONT TAZE ME BRO.. DONT TAZE ME... AHHHH</a>
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Unread postAuthor: Spitfire » Wed Feb 06, 2008 1:48 pm

Thspeedycicada, How about a how to for the Tesla coil, and Marx Generator?
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Unread postAuthor: thespeedycicada » Wed Feb 06, 2008 2:56 pm

i will do a how to for my stun gun tesla coil as soon as i get a new one (stupid cheap stun guns :x ) as for the marx generator... its really just capacitor,resistor,spark gap,repeat i reccomend just lookin it up on google a guy has a how to that i based mine off of.
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current projects: co-axial piston valve.Status DONE!
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Unread postAuthor: rcman50166 » Wed Feb 06, 2008 5:06 pm

There is no way you would be able to tune a coil to a stun gun. The friing rate of a stun gun is less that 10Hz and a modest size tesla needs at least 70,000 Hz to run in tune. If the smaller the coil the higher the frequency and vise-versa.

Spitfire, there is no real how-to method on a tesla. It is really a higher plane of know-how than most other things. Almost every tesla coil made is custom, unless you want to buy it... :shock:
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Unread postAuthor: Spitfire » Thu Feb 07, 2008 7:44 am

aah thanks, will probably make a marxs then first. And make a tesla next year at university, THEY HAVE A BEEEG ONE!
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Unread postAuthor: rcman50166 » Thu Feb 07, 2008 7:56 pm

A marx generator is ideal if you need two or more spark gaps. It makes me think. How would a cannon perfom with 5 gaps? It would provide a clean full energetic burn I suppose.
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Unread postAuthor: Fnord » Thu Feb 07, 2008 8:42 pm

You should add a flyback transformer to the list.
Maybe add a diagram or a link on how to set one up.

Also, add a flint lantern igniter, just be sure to mention that they don't seal airtight so the can't be used for a hybrid. Most brands require you to flick a wheel to create a spark so it doesn't feel as gun-like as an electric trigger.
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Unread postAuthor: thespeedycicada » Thu Feb 07, 2008 8:49 pm

There is no way you would be able to tune a coil to a stun gun. The friing rate of a stun gun is less that 10Hz and a modest size tesla needs at least 70,000 Hz to run in tune. If the smaller the coil the higher the frequency and vise-versa.


Actually its been done before forget how but someone did it on 4hv.
I also asked if it would work a while ago and they said yes.

Ps ever see that weird "tesla coil" built out of auto igniton parts he claims it doesn't require coil winding or capacitors or anything. he sells plans might buy them one day to check it out....
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current projects: co-axial piston valve.Status DONE!
S.P.E.C.S update mk 1 construction begining in febuary all the maths for it are done plans are drawn up and parts are listed.
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Unread postAuthor: rcman50166 » Fri Feb 08, 2008 4:14 pm

Well if it is shorter than 80 ft, the coil you saw wasn't in tune. Because of this it defeats the principle of tesla's design. So technically, if you saw something that looks like a tesla coil but isn't in tune, it's not even considered a tesla coil.

"that weird 'tesla coil'" is a very vague description. Perhaps a link is in order? :wink:
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Unread postAuthor: thespeedycicada » Fri Feb 08, 2008 5:14 pm

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current projects: co-axial piston valve.Status DONE!
S.P.E.C.S update mk 1 construction begining in febuary all the maths for it are done plans are drawn up and parts are listed.
NEXT project:auto piston valve.
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