Project Whitefire had its
origins in the document ElectromagneticTestCells.html
intent was to build hardware to investigate the gravitational effects
monopolar pulsed high voltage power, including interactions with high
voltage RF fields, and
microwaves as described in that document. A second phase was intended
to investigate the gravitational effects of rotating pulsed fields. But
the project proved impossible
to schedule and was cancelled.
Most of the parts and subsystems for the van de Graaff generator were
made however, and I am now trying to upload drawings and photos that
may be helpful to others who intend to build this machine and do the
suggested experiments. The drawings were made in Microsoft
Word (the buggy, cluttered 2013 version-from-hell);
they are informal, do not follow any strict conventions, but should be
sufficient for machining parts. They were converted to .pdf
the free on-line service at http://freepdfconvert.com
or by simply saving them as .pdf directly from MS Word. Drawings have not
been double checked for errors and may have some
ambiguities or inconsistencies. ( Feedback is appreciated:
"shakedown" tests on this VDG (see photos below) showed :
the machine can produce robust (loud!) sparks about 3.2
inches long with a repetition rate of 1.2 times per second when
connected to a (leaky) cylindrical
short circuit current easily exceeds the 50 microamp range on an old
(mechanical) RadioShack meter and is probably around 70-100
one of the belt drives was disconnected, the short circuit current was
about 40 microamps. Some minor sparking and corona were apparent
(somewhere). Full output probably exceeds 80 microamps.
the short circuit current test showed that the upper
terminal has positive polarity (as expected)
protoptye belt charge spray unit of 25 kV produced no measurable effect
on spark repetition rate or short circuit current. (The prototype unit
consists of a battery, an ignition coil, and automotive
breakerpoints/capacitor driven by an electric drill with a 4-lobed cam
in the chuck. The unit itself works very well.)
improvements to the triboelectric charging scheme (Teflon roller
sleeves, different belt material, etc) could increase the output to 300
to 800 microamps
One lower roller was covered with Teflon tape (specifically, "PTFE thread tape 3/4 x 300 heavy duty",
Enco part No. 073-06900476) and the other roller/belt system was
disconnected. When the VDG was turned on, the short circuit current was
initially 15 micoamps and rose to over 50 micoramps after 7 minutes.
The increase in current due to the Teflon coating was nowhere near the
The same roller was later stripped and re-coated with Teflon
tape for gas piping (4 mil, 3/4" width, yellow, less porous Zoro source ). The roller was retested and gave a current of 65 microamps.
Testing short circuit current with a
50 micoramp meter is very useful for seeing the effects of belt
tension, belt cleanliness, brush spacing, charging schemes, etc.
A mechanical meter with a 100 microamp range would be a
better match to this machine's output.
Short circuit testing with a EDM-80 mechanical microammeter (-10 to +100; http://www.amazon.com/Eisco-Analog-Ammeter-Current-Meter/dp/B00IUZ9GOS/ref=sr_1_1 ) gave max indicated current of 90 microamps; (both rollers using ordinary Teflon thread tape; Weather:
ambient 64.4F, Dew point 41F, Relative Humidity 42% .
During these short circuit tests, the lower, unenclosed part of
the column bistles with static electricity. It was later wrapped with
clear plastic food wrap. Output rose to 110 microamps (on a 500
microamp meter) . There is apparently a lot of leakage from corona and
this is limiting the current and voltage output (even with the top
terminal shorted to ground through the meter). This design may be "too
compact" for using ambient air as an insulator.
drawings and photos in the links below may be used nonexclusively by anyone for
personal, or non-commercial use. User assumes all liabilities and
responsibilities for his use and acknowledges that these machines are
not toys and can be very dangerous and have both known and unknown
hazards in their intended use. Author retains right to maintain and
update documents, photos, and website.
Photo of the complete prototype Van de Graaff generator
in front of a garage door. Visible are the 14" upper
one of two 6" wide belts, a simple control panel, and an electric drill
driving automotive breaker points for a prototype 25kV lower brush
crease in the vinyl belt is due to a "double cone" profile of only 0.5
degrees on the upper roller. The bottom roller has a flat
profile. Belt tracking and adjustment were satisfactory.
Here the double roller system and the two belts can be
seen. The bottom rollers are PVC. The gears
are barely visible in the back. The lower pulley is driven by an AC/DC
saw motor. Violent starts are softened with two NTC thermistors (8
amp; Honeywell ICL2210008-01)
connected in series with the power line. The accessory equipment post
stands upright on the right. At the base, is the housing for the
setup is very noisy during operation due to the AC/DC chain saw motor
and the gears. An alternative would be to use an AC induction
motor with a 2:1 or 3:1 (?) step-up pulley ratio. The gears could be
replaced by a figure 8 belt and two pulleys of equal size
Corona control rings were later added to the van de Graaff
Another side view shows the gearbox cover.
machine has no bottom terminal. It is not intended to produce
sparks. The voltage and current produced are sent elsewhere to
a test cell where the relation between gravity and high
pulsed, monopolar, rotating fields can be systematically
investigated. See: ElectromagneticTestCells.html
actual operation the column is wrapped in layers of plastic
food wrap film, and the terminal is covered with a clear plastic trash
all to reduce corona. The lower brushes are presently connected to the
power line safety ground, instead of the 25kV supply.
The main use of the equipment post is to hold the magnetic spark gap system: