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Ball Lightning Experiment - Don't try this at home

Original poster: "Mark Dunn" <mdunn@xxxxxxxxxxxx>


Remember that Ball Lightning or Plasmoid experiment from a few months
back.  I tried to duplicate it last nite.

I set it up pretty much like they showed in the article:


Used (26) 400 volt 3900uF caps in (2) strings of (13) per string for 300
uF per string or 600 uF total thus .6 mF for the capacitor.  I put a
500k ohm 1/2 watt resistor across each cap.  This makes the time
constant about 1/2 of a day. (Wanted smaller resistors but needed higher
wattage and did not have it readily available-should of waited and got

For the switch dropped a steel ball down a pvc pipe with two electrodes
placed at the bottom.

The test rig was a 2.5 gallon plastic bucket with an exposed loop of
copper tubing in the bottom.  The copper tubing was encased in pvc
tubing for its route from the bottom of the bucket to insulate that
portion.  The other pole was a loop of copper tubing again encased in
pvc tubing up until the last 1/2 inch on which was mounted a ceramic
tube from early 1900's era knob and tube wiring.

The bucket was filled with saturated salt water to a level about 1/8"
above the top of the ceramic tube.

I only charged up to ~4500 VDC for the initial test.  Then disconnected
the power supply and dropped the ball.

Well - I think it worked.  There appeared to be a bright flash about 3
feet off the floor.  But I didn't stick around to get a good look as the
resulting concussion and water blown out of the bucket sent me packing.
Much of the water was blown to the ceiling and resulted in about a 5
foot dia wet area on the ceiling.  The bucket jumped about 1-1/2 feet
and disconnected the wiring leaving the capacitor partially charged(to
about ~1000 VDC I found later) and 2-1/2 gallons of salt water spread
over about an 8 foot diameter area on the floor.

Now I had to figure out how to get the cap discharged while standing in
salt water.

Lucky I did not use a glass container like they did in the experiment.

Still haven't been able to find any parts from the ceramic tube.

I'm going on vacation for a week tomorrow.  When I get back I'll put up
some pics of the set-up.

Next time I need to try this outside or in a concrete bunker.
Obviously, something is different from the German test.