Tom Hunter's Arc Experiment

A Preliminary Experiment Towards Overunity

I wanted to try an experiment in over-unity that would use off-the-shelf parts - something that would be easy to duplicate without any exotic materials or construction.

Alexander V. Frolov's article on KeelyNet pointed me in the right direction. He talks about high voltage, high frequency arcs for the "extracion of excess power".

To get the high voltage I dug out an old neon sign transformer, confirmed it worked by building a Jacob's ladder, put it on the workbench and started playing with it.

For high frequency I connected an audio oscillator to a P.A. amplifier with a 70 volt output and used that to drive the neon sign transformer. Using the Jacob's ladder to give me a rough idea of the secondary voltage, I varied the frequency of the drive voltage. I quickly determined that above 1000 Hertz the tranformer was useless - probably because it had too much inductance. But as I increased the frequency from 60 to 1000 Hz I could produce tight, hot (blue) sparks. In fact, although I could only get a white, 1/2 inch spark from 120 volt / 60 Hz, with audio freqencies and only 70 volts I could get a strong, blue 3/4 inch spark. So far so good.

I connected a 5 Watt / 130 Volt lamp to the secondary in series with a spark gap. Surprisingly, by playing with the length of the spark gap and the driving freqency, I could get it to light dimly.

Here is my experimental setup.

(You may click on any picture to get a full size view.)

The audio oscillator is an old Eico model 378. The 20 Watt P.A. amplifier is a Realistic (Radio Shack) MPA-20. The neon sign transformer is a Gardner model 12-30 (12,000 volts at 30 milliamperes). The center of the secondary is grounded which I don't believe matters in this experment. I connected a Radio Shack multimeter to the primary of the neon sign transformer to monitor the voltage. It was always very near seventy volts to get the best results with one exception (see below). I used lengths of number 14 solid wire stripped from a piece of romex for my secondary connections and spark gaps. The lamp is a 5 Watt / 130 Volt unit I had in my junkbox. A 4 watt nightlight lamp produced the same results.

The picture on the left shows the P.A. amplifier, a multimeter to monitor the output voltage of the amplifier, the neon sign sign transformer, the lamp and socket and the two spark gaps. I used an empty plastic Crystal Light can to hold the lamp socket a substantial distance above the transformer to avoid arcing to the case. The picture on the right shows the audio oscillator above and to the left of the experiment.

I want to stress to anyone who may try to duplicate this setup that, even driven by only 20 Watts, the neon sign transformer produces dangerous, even lethal, voltages and currents. I always, ALWAYS turned the output of the oscillator down AND turned the amplifier off before I touched any wiring connected to the transformer!

Through trial and error I determined that a frequency of about 400 Hz produced the best results with my setup. The first picture shows the experiment with no spark gaps (both gaps shorted with alligator clips). The transformer could not light the lamp. Since the lamp was a virtual short circuit across the secondary of the transformer, the amplifier had trouble reaching full output. This is the one instance where I did not have 70 Volts on the primary.

The experiment with one spark gap (the other is shorted with an alligator clip). The lamp is lit! Why? I don't know. Of course I would like to think the arc is drawing energy from the vacuum, but I have no proof of that. There are some interesting requirements though. By adjusting the primary voltage and frequency and the length of the arc for best results I observed:

A. The lamp would not light at 60 Hz. 400 to 500 Hz was best.

B. Arc length was critical - longer was better than shorter.

C. The arc had to be ragged - a strong steady arc would not light the lamp!

The fact that the arc had to be relatively long and ragged made me wonder if just maybe it actually was drawing energy from the vacuum. I tried a further test. I reasoned that if the arc was drawing energy from the vacuum, then TWO arcs would draw twice as much energy. I made two spark gaps to see what would happen. After a bit of playing with the lengh of the two arcs the lamp appeared almost TWICE as bright!

Even though I had to use a flash to get good photographs, the difference is visible on close examination. Click here to compare brightness. By connecting the lamp to a variable and metered bench power supply I was able to adjust the brightness to match that produced by the experiment.

1 spark gap - 1.8 Watts DC produced approximately the same brightness.

2 spark gaps - 3 Watts DC produced approximately the same brightness.

This is admittedly a crude experimant and proves nothing. Still, the results are intriguing. But don't take my word for it. Try it and see for yourself!

Tom Hunter (N3CRK), 19 NOV 2000

Updated 06 DEC 2000

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