on the Infernolab site, you'll see that I've got a thing for LEGO.
Ever since I entered 2A
in the 1999 LEGO Mindstorms RoboGladiators contest at the E3
trade show, I've been trying to figure out how to make
a truly destructive LEGO weapon. While browsing my parts bins
recently, I came across an interesting piece from the train sets.
It's a connection
wire that goes between the train
speed controller and the metal rails of the train track.
So, it has exposed wires. I figured this could make for a nifty
sparking weapon, or at least a cool sparker show-off mechanism.
I picked up the part on a whim while making my pilgrimage to the
theme park in Billund, Denmark, during the Summer of '95.
of LEGO's electric items (battery boxes, wires, electrically conductive
plates, motors, switches, etc.) are "idiot proof." That
means, no matter how you hook things up, you won't cause any short
circuits or blow anything up. Unless you're very crafty. For the
trade show competition, we combat robot guys, who were used to
running our machines above & beyond recommended specs, figured
out (with no modification of any pieces) how to add voltage inputs
in series to crank our motors at 18V (instead of the usual 9V),
at least until the battery boxes' circuit breakers cut in (another
of LEGO's clever fail-safes to prevent a meltdown or blowout).
Dan documented his simple
voltage adder, so I used his plans for this project, since
I'd long forgotten how I came up with the same solution...except
this time I kept adding and adding and adding...
required for a LEGO sparker:
box (each pack's 6 AA batteries adds 9V). I used 12 packs
& lots of AA batteries (6 per battery box). I used 72
voltage adders, where n is the # of battery boxes
electric plates per adder (1 must be 2x1, 1 must be 2x4,
1 must be 2x8--sizes of the others are somewhat arbitrary).
I used 66 electric plates.
electric cables per adder--length does not matter. I
used 22 cables.
2x4 plastic plate (or perhaps smaller) per adder. I used
train connection wire
plates for organizing & arranging all of these elements.
A big baseplate comes in handy.
all boils down to how many battery boxes, AA batteries, electric
plates, and eletric cables you have. And how keen you are on melting
your train electric cable...
no noticeable spark
maybe a little spark, probably my imagination
ok sparking action
hey, nice spark
it smells like burning plastic in here!
parts were left over from various previous projects. Worldmachine
Technologies helped with inspiration and encouragement.
high voltage is dangerous and stuff!