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This High Voltage Robot Sculpture Is as Scary as It Is Cute

Erasable programmable read only memory (EPROM) chips can be programmed, erased with UV light, and programmed again, depending on your needs. They can also be used as the body of a small electronics statue, possibly even with voltage arcing through it, like Anthony Garofalo’s clever build.

An EPROM chip on a breadboard

Although one might assume that Garofalo drilled a hole partway through the chip to expose the arcing electricity, he actually didn’t even have to do that. According to him, “All old EPROM chips have windows in them for reprogramming. Back in the day, EPROM chips were erased with UV light and then had a sticker placed over the window to program them.” Thus, all he had to do was attach conductive arms on opposite sides of the chip, then power them with a cable carrying high-voltage electricity.


Power is provided via a 9V battery connected to a high voltage generator capable of outputting hundreds of thousands of volts. This voltage is then switched on and either arcs across the wires if they close enough or across the arms, in which case the EPROM chip becomes the path of least electrical resistance.


Though the current produced will be quite low, one should still use reasonable precautions when dealing with this type of device. Garofalo suggests keeping one hand behind your back when experimenting like this, so that the electricity won’t have an easy path across your hands to your heart. This is actually illustrated quite well by the EPROM man, so don’t be like him!

As for where he got the idea for this build, Garofalo’s father-in-law, Richard Spagna, actually made a similar electronics-man in 1983. It can be seen below trying to pick up some of its discarded brethren. Fortunately, this one wasn’t subjected to the same kind of electric torture that plagues its ancestor!

Rick's Robot



Jeremy is an engineer with 10 years experience at his full-time profession, and has a BSME from Clemson University. Outside of work he’s an avid maker and experimenter, building anything that comes into his mind!

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