How-To: Switchable-Polarity 250,000 Volt Power Supply

Sean Michael Ragan

I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I am a long-time contributor to MAKE magazine and makezine.com. My work has also appeared in ReadyMade, c't – Magazin für Computertechnik, and The Wall Street Journal.

2400 Articles

By Sean Michael Ragan

I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I am a long-time contributor to MAKE magazine and makezine.com. My work has also appeared in ReadyMade, c't – Magazin für Computertechnik, and The Wall Street Journal.

2400 Articles

Article Featured Image

In today’s project on diyphysics.com, David Prutchi shows how to build a Cockcroft–Walton multiplier using a “ladder” of capacitors and diodes on perfboard, submerged in mineral oil, inside a sealed plastic container. The multiplier takes high voltage AC, e.g. from a TV flyback transformer, and both rectifies it to DC and steps it up considerably. David reports outputs of 250kV given 12V input at the flyback driver. A handy feature of his design is that it can provide high-voltage DC of either polarity with respect to ground.

And yes, to be clear about it: Making a mistake here could be very dangerous. You should understand and be comfortable with the proper safety procedures for handling high voltage electricity and charged capacitors before seriously considering a project like this. [Thanks, David!]