Van der Graaff Generators!

Helpful tips on how to make them.

Fast-Forward! Failure and Lessons

So I almost completed my Van de Graaff Generator. I say almost because it’s not technically put together, but I still have to go back about 60 steps, so I can get back on track. Let’s talk about it.


Here is what I had going. I have an aluminum rod on top, and a teflon-tape wrapped motor on the bottom. They are connected via exercise band, and besides a loud rattling, they run fine. The dome is placed to the side, and i feed the top brush in to it, to test out the effectiveness of the motor assembly before I work on placing the dome on top. I have a grounded source near the bottom. What happens when I run it? Well for all of 30 minutes I had a working generator, it was slow, and needed tweaking, but I was getting shocked and have a charge detector video to prove it.

However. Out of the blue it ceased to work, and I surmised that it was most likely fault of the brushes (I’m just using fray copper wire). In many more professional generators they have stiff pins that are expertly placed. In my design, i can’t very well see the bottom roller, let alone place a brush near it.

Also my Bottom roller is a little thin, and I read from an old 1900s physics lecture that a thin roller can mean the belt is not in contact with the roller long enough to build a charge, or the charge is lost before the belt when moves to the next roller.

I have not given up, I am very well prepared to try again. Mentally at least. As far as materially, i need to rebuold the tower with new rollers, and create a better brush system to pull charge off the rollers.

Will continue posting on the building process before and after my current position soon.


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