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Sunday 14 August 2011

Portable high voltage supply

Playing with sparks requires generating high voltages.

There are a multitude of ways to generate such voltages. One of the easiest is to use a flyback transformer from an old TV or PC monitor. By driving one of these with a 555 timer and MOSFET, it's very easy to get 20-30kV with just 12V input.

This post describes one that I built.

I've got several of these supplies, and whilst most are just bare circuit boards and flying leads, the one shown here is built into a proper box, for portability. I mainly use it to power my small Marx Generator. A small trimpot on the PCB varies the 555 duty cycle and frequency, which varies the voltage, anywhere from 6kV up to about 20kV.

Like some others, I wound my own primary for this one. It can be seen as the black coil around the transformer core. It's not the most powerful supply, but it does the job for what I use it for. I wont bother posting the schematic here, but there are heaps around online.


  1. I'm about to build a flyback driver and saw your comment on a recent hackaday post. It does seem like using a 555 circuit is a safer(?) way to go than using an Arduino, but I don't know enough to figure out which circuit to use. You were right about there being "heaps around online" but it looks like there are a million variations. Do you have any recommendations?

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