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The Destruct-O-TronTM       

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Warning! High voltage capacitors are ridiculously dangerous things. They can store enough energy to kill you instantly.
You should not even THINK about messing with this stuff unless you really understand the dangers of high-voltage electrical systems, and even then you probably still shouldn't do it. I'm doing this so you don't have to.

New! Dec 2004 - high-speed camera footage of can crushing, CD Smashing and other destruct-o-tron mayhem

A long time after having lots of fun fun blowing stuff up with the high-energy capacitors from the Surge Generator, I came across a few more caps, which with the originals, makes up a total of 220uF at 5KV (some of the newer caps had a lower voltage rating than the original 6KV ones). I decided to build them into a box with a charging supply to make the setup slightly safer and easier to use. I had a few microwave oven transformers (MOTs) lying around, and a pair of these in series provided an ideal charging supply, producing slightly over 5KV after full-wave rectification.

wpe16.jpg (105038 bytes)wpe1C.jpg (126025 bytes)Internal views (Left) capacitors. (Right) : Green cylinders bottom-left are safety discharge resistors - these are connected across the caps when the switch closes, to ensure a rapid discharge if the 'victim' goes open-circuit during the discharge. Large blue cylinder (centre) is one of two 100R resistors,   used in parallel to limit the mains current into the transformers to about 5 amps - these get HOT!. On the right is the stack of 2 Microwave Oven transformers, wired in series and rectified by the rectifiers on the right to produce the charge supply. A relay on top switches power to the transformers, switching being arranged so that the transformers can't be turned on unless the discharge switch is open.

wpe1D.jpg (97448 bytes)wpe1B.jpg (129670 bytes)wpe1F.jpg (70169 bytes)<(Left)Close-up of the discharge switch. This came from the original surge generator. One pole is used for the main discharge, the other connects the safety discharge resistors. The flexible wires to the moving electrode were subsequently uprated when the wire vaporised..! (right) The switch firing - this is at about 2KV.

>Wired remote control - standing well back is a good idea.. Button holds discharge switch open, and momentary keyswitch controls charging supply.



wpe18.jpg (18095 bytes)reallydangerous.gif (6767 bytes)(Left) An early failure - at these currents, things you normally think of as pretty solid, like solder tags, start turning into fuses...

(Right) Like lasers, these things need appropriate warning signs...


OK, time for some destruction....

wpe125.jpg (89052 bytes)wpe126.jpg (83646 bytes)The obligitory aluminium can, wound with about 5 turns of heavy wire and zapped at about 3KV.

(Right) Platter fom 2.5 inch hard disk, placed above coil and held down so it couldn't jump off.

wpe53.jpg (289520 bytes)wpe54.jpg (36779 bytes)3.5" hard disk platters, fired with a golf ball on top, held down by a clock of wood. IN the left one, the aluminium actually starts to tear....!

wpe53.jpg (195074 bytes)wpe54.jpg (200055 bytes)<A bit more power and it really tears up the disc... (This was a new disc, not the one above re-fired)

> Coke can placed on top of disc, on top of coil. The disc rips into the side of the can , but it happens so fast that the disc bends round the can instead of crushing it!


wpe1A.jpg (65361 bytes)wpe19.jpg (69026 bytes)(Left) Before : A short length of 22mm copper pipe.

(Right) After : A coil of  2.5mm2 solid-core copper wire was wound round, and zapped at about 4KV. The pipe is seriously crumpled, and the wire melted open, splitting much of the insulation.

wpe17.jpg (71387 bytes)wpe1F.jpg (98272 bytes)< A 1mm aluminium plate placed on top of the 3" can-crushing coil, then clamped between 2 pieces of wood, with a dowel on one side - the plate gets folded round the dowel as it is forced away from the coil!

> A ring of 1mm aluminium cut from an old laser printer drum, originally 40mm dia.  4KV

00216002.JPG (97565 bytes)00216003.JPG (82660 bytes)I didn't think the power would be sufficient for coin shrinking, but I found some Japanese 1 Yen coins, which are made of aluminium. One of these shrank very nicely! The 'ripples' on the surface come from the grain of the wooden dowel used to hold the coin inside the coil. 4.5KV, about 2200 Joules.

00215001.JPG (229095 bytes)00215002.JPG (336202 bytes) < The coil assembly before firing - the coin is held between 2 pieces of wooden dowelling - this has heatshrink sleeving round it to get the right diameter. The coil is tinned copper wire about 1.5mm dia, with plastic sleeving. 2 Cable ties hold it all together.

> What was left after the coil was fired.... The yellow is part of a plastic storage bin that was placed over the coil in a futule attempt to catch the debris - it shattered!

00215003.JPG (504451 bytes)wpe1F.jpg (171000 bytes)<A PC Motherboard - before.....

>After.. This is what I call FireWire! - holes blown in the top of the large chip and also the voltage regulator (bottom). The PCB has de-laminated as tracks on the inner layers vaporised..!

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wpe12D.jpg (142722 bytes)< Exploding a few inches of steel guitar wire. Steel wire is usually more spectacular than copper, as it both burns and vaporises!

00216007.JPG (208181 bytes)00216004.JPG (72135 bytes)< A piece of 1" x 0.5" shower-curtain rail - note how the centre section is bowed outwards - I assume this is due to the walls bouncing off each other when shrunk.

> A hard disc platter spacer ring - 3 x 4mm cross-section aluminium



See also the Surge Generator page for more info on electromagnetic crushing, and exploding stuff.

Wear & Tear

wpe87.jpg (34326 bytes)wpe85.jpg (46634 bytes)wpe86.jpg (21181 bytes)Left is how the contacts started off. The two right-hand pics show the state of them when I recently took the breaker apart to replace some frayed wiring...

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