Trying to find the name of an antique style of electrostatic display device

Thread Starter

billsnow

Joined Oct 18, 2019
3
Howdy, I'm hoping that somebody can help me find the name of the type of device I'm thinking of (Google has been zero help)...

I recall a point in childhood where I was in a museum of electricity and was fascinated by an old display from the "come see the miracle of electricity" days. If I'm not mistaken it was a non-conductive (wooden?) board, sealed inside of a glass case. I don't know if it was in a vacuum or filled with some type of gas, or if the glass was just there to protect the device / prevent corrosion. Anyway, on the board were many small strips of metal separated by small gaps that were arranged such that it was like they drew shapes with dotted lines. This was then connected to an electrostatic generator (likely Van de Graaff but not 100% sure). It resulted in chains of little sparks jumping between all of the strips and made it look like the sparks were walking along the path.

I KNOW that I've seen these in multiple configurations in different videos demonstrating electrostatics, but for the life of me, I can't find one (or even just a picture) to offer up as an example. Is there anyone that knows what I'm talking about, and if so, does this device have a name that I can actually point to?

Thank you for your time, and thank you in advance for any help you might be able to offer.
 

ScottWang

Joined Aug 23, 2012
6,826
Maybe you can draw a block diagram of the display according to your memory, it may help if someone also see that.

* You can use paint to draw and save as display.gif or display.png and click the button "Upload a File" under the message box.
 

Teljkon

Joined Jan 24, 2019
92
have you thought about contacting the museum directly. Even other museums, these kind of displays have a way of making rounds even if the museum in question closed.
 

Thread Starter

billsnow

Joined Oct 18, 2019
3
Maybe you can draw a block diagram of the display according to your memory, it may help if someone also see that.

* You can use paint to draw and save as display.gif or display.png and click the button "Upload a File" under the message box.
Here's an image of what it looks like... kind of. The lines had more intricate patterns, but the idea is there. The yellow lines represent the sparks jumping along as it ran.

And no, its not a Jacob's ladder, unless that is an all encompassing term for electrostatic arc displays.

electrostatic display.jpg

Basically as the charge builds up on one contact, it eventually gets high enough above the next nearest to bridge the gap (speed depends on the generator and dimensions). It just repeats. One contact adds charge from the system on one side, the other removes it on the other side. Overall it results in a very visible transfer, almost like an animated explanation of how electrons push through a wire.
 

Thread Starter

billsnow

Joined Oct 18, 2019
3
Hello,

This seems to be the modern version of the Lightning Plate:
http://didactica.fisica.uson.mx/infraestructura/electromagnetismo/lightning_plate.htm

Bertus
YES!... Thank you. That is at least a start. That device is definitely displaying the same concept. Unfortunately, any and all results for "lightning plate" come up with a near identical configuration (or plasma). Wondering if that is just the "mass" market classroom display tool name for it.

The one I remember was MUCH larger. It was about the size of the center section of a classic poster board display, with multiple intricate patterns laid out. Depending on the connections used, it would activate different patterns. Some had multiple viable paths, resulting in seemingly random spark activation...
 
Top