How to Make a Macro Particle Accelerator




About: 42 yrs old, Married out of my league, but I'm holding on. I've got 4 kids that I've managed not to kill. I've had a few thousand over the years, that I haven't caused any permanent damage in the classroom...

This is an attempt to reporduce Dr. Todd Johnsons demo of a particle accelerator by propelling a coated ping pong ball with electric fields.

What you see is strips of aluminum tape charged and spread out in a bow.l They are used to create electric charges that repeatedly change the charge of a conductively painted  ping pong ball.  This results in a sort of motor that propels the ball around the circumference of the bowl. 

I've heard accelerators like CERN use electric fields, and I've heard they use magnetic fields. I believe I can distuinguish between the two, but I'd be interested in an experts discription of their differences. 
 Imagine my embarassment if I learn here that there is no difference.  Even though everyone knows electromagnetism is a single force, It seems to me that at times it lacks polarity.
Either way, a simple understanding of "likes repel / opposites attract" is enough to see why this machine works.


Step 1: What You Need

You're going to need a

bowl (at least 8' diameter)
aluminum tape (or copper) (aluminum foil and glue, maybe?)
wires with alegator clips ( I've found that large strips of aluminum tape is hard to solder to.)
A large cfl (compact flourescent tube)
a flyback transformer 
a ping pong ball
conductive paint, 
     (I made my own, but I made a poor mix. So I revived my dried out comercial stuff with "goof off." Look here.
 I think these home made recepies are sound though.  look here.  ( )

Step 2:

Here I popped open a computer monitor, and located the suction cup on top of the tube.  I then followed it to the big black flyback transformer.  I've cut them out before with sabre saws, but desoldering them is easy if you follow the steps laid out in the pics below.

The capacitors in the crt, as well as the finished flyback will LIGHT YOU UP,  but from what I can gather from experienced sources, your more likely to hurt somebody with your flailing than from the shock itself.  An accedent here probably won't kill you.
That's the best I can do, in good concience.

Step 3:

Take apart a cfl.  Attach a couple of massive capacitors.  Polarity probably matters, but I don't know how to tell you to attach them.  I worked through this project with trial and error, (mostly error).
Follow this guys ible.

The cfl doesn't need to be huge.  I had to gear my 65w down for this project.

Step 4:

Grab a bowl, and tape it up.  Put a thin cross down, then put 4 smaller strips in the spaces between the bars.  Be careful not to get the strips too close, or an arc will short it out.  Another thing about charging these strips of tape, the charges seem to gather the most at points, like sharp corners.  They are more likely to launch arcs there.  If you round the corners, you can get the strips a little closer together

I had to swing the bowls to get them started.  The strait one in the following video was easier to start out with.  I recommend trying it first.



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    136 Discussions


    2 years ago

    can i use a cfl or would a crt be best?


    2 years ago

    How do i put it together?


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Do you mean use the CRT instead of just the CFL, or replace the whole Flyback Transformer+ CFL setup?


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks for your help! I'll try that today and see if it works. So I connect the HV wire from the CRT to half of the Aluminum strips, and then ground the others?

    what if i use another type of power supply like and car battery is this comfortable or not please tell me because i can't able to get an computer monitor as you have help me for this purpose

    techno guy

    5 years ago on Introduction

    This is cool, I'm making one for a physics class project, but since I can only power the flyback with 12 volts, it's not very powerful, it can only accelerate a particle of aluminum smaller than 3 mm and it's a linear accelerator.

    1 reply

    Hi. Could you possibly give me a step by step instruction. All help is appreciated. Thanks