Wimshurst Electrostatic Machine

by densohax, published

Wimshurst Electrostatic Machine by densohax Jan 18, 2013
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11420Views 5063Downloads Found in Physics & Astronomy


This is a wimshurst machine that you can print at almost no cost; home made bearings are used and I collected stuff laying around for other parts.

It is important to keep charge leaks at a minimum, so try to not have any straight metal edges where corona discharge can happen.

Also, depending on your leyden jars size, be safe, try to not kill yourself with the thousands of volts (shouldn't happen since the current is minimal, unless you customize your leyden jars and make them too big).



Print all files, you will need a frame on each side (supportA and supportB 2x)

Print 48 sectors for 2 discs, glue 24 sectors together on the hub assembly, or use 2 acrylic rotors if you want a sturdier and precise rotor.

The bearings use copper BB Guns pellet (0.177 caliber).
You might have to adjust clearance of the bearings depending on your print quality!

Use an electric motor that fits the frame, I personally used an old HP printer motor.

Cut the sectors in aluminum tape using the SectorTemplate model.

Assemble the 2 collectors using copper wire, I used standard 14 gauge wire.
I used springs on the collectors, these collect the charge and bring them down to the capacitors (leyden jars).

Leyden jars are made using kapton tape. I am still testing the caps parameters, but I currently applied 3 layers of kapton on the outside of the leyden jars and 1 width of aluminum tape inside and outside, keeping clearance from top and bottom of the leyden jars. ABS plastic actually isn't that good an insulator, maybe this is due to the fact that extruded plastic is not 100% air tight?

I used "fondue" forks for the spark gap, I removed the fork and replaced it with a printed ball with aluminum tape on it. This is far from ideal, but I didn't have brass balls laying around, so I did it cheaply for the moment...

I also used 3 printer metal rollers as conductors spacing to connect spark gap and capacitor external plates.

The external plate connector should have brass balls on it too, to prevent charge leaking.

I have much leaking currently with this setup, so I am limited in spark length, I can have 2 inches sparks, but with a proper electrical setup, this could be much more improved!

I consider this as a proof of concept, more than a perfect machine, feel free to experiment!

Assembly should be straight forward from there.

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Hello there! That's a very nicely designed Wimhurst. I've been an electrostatics enthusiast for a long time but aside from some ill fated friction machines I built years ago my primary means of building a charge is with a straight section of PVC and some sort of cloth. Since you've actually put this little beauty together and tested it how does the ABS perform? At the dallas makerspace we've got a laser cutter and I've been fooling around with the acrylic sheets, trying to decide which route would be best to make an influence machine with. While I've been plagued with indecision it seems you've gone and beaten me to the prize! I commend you! Have you thought of creating any other machines? Electrostatic motors? Perhaps one of A.D. Moore's Dirod generators? (That's what I was planning on doing.) I will be looking into your custom bearings with great interest!


Well, the sparks were nice, however my leyden jars weren't so good. The insulation of ABS is not good enough to accumulate a big charge, I need to redesign them! .. I honestly didn't play much with the design after posting it, I am working on some other things right now.. But one thing I wanted to do, is droplet of waters going thru metal rings and accumulate the charge in leyden jars.. That would be nice as well!

The bearings were ok, but they are too sloppy, the tolerances could be tighter! .. I make my designs using real bearings now, it's much better! And I try to remove the need for M3 screws in my frames by making tubes that can be screwed together instead.