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Discovering High Voltage Using an Affordable Power Supply

Image Source: elmar gubisch / Shutterstock

In the past, high-voltage power supplies were common in households for tasks like electron acceleration and generating X-rays for television, but with the advancement of technologies like LEDs and liquid crystals, they are no longer as prevalent. However, high-voltage power supplies still hold plenty of potential for fun and experimentation.

A cost-effective high-voltage power supply project has been created by Sebastian from Baltic Labs. The main component of this project is a commercial power supply specifically designed for a 50-watt CO2 laser tube, most likely from VEVOR, a company that aims to be a one-stop shop for various tools and supplies. Despite some initial skepticism about the brand, the power supply’s construction seems solid, housed in a rack-mount case with essential controls, including a safety-covered toggle switch. Two ammeters indicate current and voltage, with the voltage being monitored by a high-voltage resistor with an impressive 1 gigaohm capacity. While the high-voltage feedthrough on the front panel is basic, with a simple rubber grommet, it, along with the insulation of the high-voltage output lead, is deemed adequate.

The power supply provides a 30 kV output, meeting Sebastian’s needs for his spark gap experiments as demonstrated in the accompanying video. Although he notes the existence of commercial supplies offering 50 kV outputs, opting for one of those would be a more expensive route compared to the $150 budget set for this project. Alternatively, Niklas from Advanced Tinkering offers an intriguing scratch-built design for a high-voltage supply that is also worth looking into. Regardless of the chosen approach, exercising caution is crucial as high-voltage mishaps can have serious consequences, as witnessed by Sebastian’s own experience with a 50 kV flyback supply.

See the video below for Sebastian’s spark gap experiments:

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