Thread Starter


Joined Nov 19, 2006
I recently purchased a neon sign transformer rated at a secondary output of 9000volts 30ma. I have the transformer setup properly and grounded. I purchased the transformer to construct a Tesla Coil, and do other electrical experiments.

So far the only use I have put this transformer too is a simple jacob's ladder. I like the arc it can create, around 3" max length, but more than just an electrical arc I would like to create lightning like discharges.

I understand that a tesla coil is perfect for creating lightning like discharges, but it is not exactly a simple project to build. My question is, is there an easier way to produce lightning like discharges with a neon sign transformer rated as mine is?

Some of the alternatives I have found to a Tesla Coil is the Marx Generator, and Leyden Jar. Although im not sure if a Leyden Jar can actualy be charged by a high voltage output, and I do not completely understand the Marx Generator.

I am new to the world of high voltage, but learning new stuff daily, and would really appriciate some help. Thanks.


Joined Apr 20, 2004

Your neon sign transformer produces high voltage at 60 Hz. Things like jacob's ladders need the high voltage at a high frequency. Something above 50 KHZ would be good. The frequency helps ionize the air and lets the arc go much farther. Tesla coils run up in the MHz region.

A static electricity accumulator like a Van De Graaf generator might do for your lightening-like discharge. You don't need a rectifier, as it's DC already.

Be careful when you mess with this stuff. Look at the jacob's ladders in either Frankenstein or Young Frankenstein (used the original props). They all are behind glass to keep from blowing out and to protect the cast. A Tesla coil can run arcs over 12 feet long without really being high powered.

Thread Starter


Joined Nov 19, 2006
How could I increase the frequency of the voltage that the transformer creates? Can I do this without modifying the transformer at all, maybe making (or buying) a separate device to attach to the transformers output that will change its frequency?

I know that the tesla coil changes the frequency of the voltage. Is this due to the coil configuration or spark gap/capacitor setup?

I realize that high voltage is very dangerous and I am being as careful as possible. Before even attempting to connect the transformer I learned all about it, and also about high voltage safety. I keep my distance from the jacobs ladder.

I am also interrested in other experiments I can do with this transformer. So if anyone knows of other experiments let me know.

A have attempted serveral experiments with the transformer. A lifter, an electromagnet, and an ion wind prop. None of these seem to work with the transformer. Although I didnt follow exact instructions for the ion wind prop. or the lifter. The electromagnet works with a small 1.5volt battery, but not the transformer.

Currently my transformer setup is like this. An extension cord leading to a surge protector, another extension cord (+/- cut to connect to transformer)going from the surge protector. The transformer is grounded by a AWG 12 single strand copper wire w/ insulation. The ground rod is buried about one foot down in the dirt. I use the surge protector as an on/off switch. Does this setup sound safe?