Thursday, December 5, 2013

Zamboni Pile and electrostatic pendulum

Here's what the setup looks like at the moment:

That's the pile there at the top of the pic, in a clamp.

The pendulum and plates

Pendulum in action.

I've known about the Oxford Electric Bell for quite a while, but could never figure out how it was made. I just assumed the tech was lost, and folks would only know how it was made once it stopped and they dismantled it. The thing has been running since 1840, is still going, and they might have to replace the clapper, because it's getting out of shape.

Somehow - some random youtubing and googling a couple of weeks ago led me to think that it might be possible to get started making a Zamboni pile, which is the battery used in the whole thing.

Turns out it's cheap and easy to make all this stuff.

Here's the recipe:

Grab some zinc-carbon batteries. In South Africa, "Eveready Gold" brand does the trick. Extract the manganese dioxide (black powder), mix with just enough water to make it into a paint like consistency, and then coat some paper on one side with the stuff.

Let it all dry

Glue aluminium foil to the other side of the sheet, so you've got the dioxide on one side, foil on the other.

Let it all dry

Cut into at least 700 pieces.

Stack them all in the same direction.

Compress the stack a bit.


Getting this thing to work took... faith. There's no easy way to measure the voltage coming off it - and you need a nice high one for these charge effects to happen. It took me about a week to get all those bits of paper made and cut. Clamping the leads onto a 100v capacitor only gave the weakest little bit of current after charging for a day. At about 700v, you can *just* get some effects.

Next up: better looking, easily transportable pile and a more impressive pendulum setup.

Thanks to these folks for information:

Music could be soothing or weird, depending on your taste

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