On a typical day, electronics enable us to turn on the TV or the computer, use the cellular phone, hear the “beeps and blips” of electronic toys and games, have a medical checkup, listen to the news on space explo­ration and world conflicts, even drive our car.

Electronic Gadgets for the Evil Genius presents a "hands-on” approach allowing the electronic enthusi­ast to construct many devices that are not as well known. These “action” projects demonstrate exciting and useful concepts of this diversified field.

Tesla Coils

The spectacular and highly visible effect produced by the Tesla coil has amazed and fascinated people for years. These high-frequency, high-voltage devices pos­sess qualities unlike conventional electricity. Tesla output energy defies most insulation materials; trans­mits energy without wires; produces heat, light, and noise; and harmlessly passes through human tissue, causing virtually no sensation or shocking effect in the person.

Considerable research, money, and effort have been dedicated to the actual construction of similar, large Tesla coil-type devices capable of producing 200-foot lightning bolts and powering lights 25 miles away. Nikola Tesla was the originator of this research, along with countless other contributions to the elec­trical sciences. As more progress was made in these fields, it was soon realized that he indeed was respon­sible for many advances in the development of energy production.

Tesla is finally being credited for his work and is taking his rightful place as a truly great electrical genius in this field. His main theory of wireless energy transmission, however, is still much in ques­tion, and many dedicated groups are hopeful in obtaining some breakthrough that will resurrect it. The Tesla coil is the basis for much of this interesting research and still amazes all who come in contact with this visual and audible effect.

Plasma Devices

Electrical plasma can be anything from a simple elec­tric arc from a welder to a complex entity of closed – drcuit, toroidal flowing currents such as ball lightning. A nuclear explosion produces a plasma; the sun and a simple fire are forms of plasma. Plasma guns may be the weapons of the future, and plasma propulsion may power spacecraft to near the speed of light. Plasma confinement may be a key to fusion energy, and rotating plasma fields may hold the secrets to levitation devices such as hover boards.

Gas displays using energized plasma can also provide spectacular visual effects.


Lasers first appeared in the early sixties as a crys­talline rod of aluminum oxide (ruby) placed within a helical flash tube. A high-powered flash of light caused a stimulated emission of a powerful light pulse within the ruby rod, capable of punching holes in the hardest of metals. Since then, the laser (an acronym for light amplification by stimulated emis­sion of radiation) has been a part of our lives from laser printers and recorders to complicated eye sur­gery and mega-power-directed beams of energy pro­tecting us from a potential missile attack. To the experimenter, the laser possesses an almost magical property due to its ability to transport energy over a distance.

Lasers are classified in relation to their power out­put and are closely regulated and labeled:

• Class 2 lasers can produce up to 1 milliwatt of optical power. Some popular applications include alignment, intrusion alarms, and point – to-point communications. Even though this class of lasers has the lowest power, a Class 2 laser pointing in your direction can appear as the brightest object at distances over 10 miles.

• Class 3a lasers can produce up to 5 milliwatts. Some applications include laser pointers, gun sights, disc readers, holography, small light shows, and other visual effects.

• Class 3b lasers can produce up to 500 milli­watts and are used for printing, disk burning, range finding, target designation, and night vision illumination to name a few applications.

• Class 4 lasers have unlimited power output. They are the workhorses of the group, with the capability to work with many materials from the hardest of metals to simple wood engraving. Class 4 laser surgery now provides a precision never before thought possible, and eye surgery for cataract removal is now sworn by all who have it done, High-power light shows similar to those at Walt Disney World use Class 4 optical lasers. Bluish-green lasers easily penetrate seawater because of compati­ble colors allowing covert point-to-point com­munications. By penetrating seawater for submarine communications, the concentration of energy into a micro-sized area opens up high-temperature and fusion research. Pro­jecting energy over great distances can power powering interplanetary spacecraft. The inte­gration of multiple micro-sized plasma explo­sions may provide the magical levitating vehicles often depicted as spacecraft. Also, weapons that use directed beam energies into the megajoules in battles against aircraft, ground vehicles, and other difficult targets are now possible. Antipersonal weapons designed to neutralize and disable personel use ener­gies into the kilojoules using timed, pulsed laser diodes have kill ranges well in excess of one mile and are backpackable. These systems are lightweight and require complex optical conditioning.

Many high-powered lasers use carbon dioxide as the laser’s medium. These devices are efficient, trans­mit through air, and are easy to build. They can be made to generate continuous power output into the tens of thousands of watts. An experimenter that can easily build this type of laser that will burn and cut many materials Lasers can be are pulsed, obtaining enormous peak powers into the gigawatts. This power is not to be confused with energy, as the power pulses last for fractions of a second, whereas energy must be integrated over a 1-second period. A true measure of pulsed laser energy is by its output in joules.

Research in the field of lasers still remains very fertile with many new and exciting developments still yet to come.


The field of ultrasonics remains a relative gray area with few available hobbyist-level projects. Ultrasonic energy is produced by a piezoelectric or magne – tostrictive transducer powered by a signal generator. Ultrasonics can be used for cleaning where a solvent transmits these vibrations dislodging unwanted mate­rials and dirt. Plastic materials can be welded or cut by rapid vibrations, causing frictional heating. Acoustical ultrasonics is often used for discouraging animals against intruding into a certain area. It is also used for range finding and can be an excellent intru­sion detection device.

High-sound-pressure, acoustical energy is very inefficient, owing to the physics of energy transfer between two surfaces of dissimilar densities. Standing waves impede this energy coupling and make it diffi­cult to obtain high-decibel output. Energy transfer between two surfaces is optimized when both materi­als have like densities, which is why sound travels bet­ter through water. Air is many times less dense than a liquid and its lack of density therefore offers a greater challenge to the researcher in overcoming the problem of successful energy transfer. Nevertheless, sonic transducers are effectively used with horns and other means to vibrate as much air as possible.

The effects of high-sound-pressure sonic energy can provide an excellent low-liability deterrent to unauthorized intrusion. A vertical wall of pain can be

generated, causing nausea, dizziness, and extreme paranoia, which usually discourages the intrusion. No after-effects are produced once out of the field. How­ever, sound pressure levels exceeding 140 decibels per minute can be harmful and should be avoided.

Listening to low-level ultrasonic sounds can be interesting to a nature enthusiast. Many insects and mammals emit sounds well out of human hearing range. Many man-made devices, such as rotating machinery, generate high-frequency sound and enable the detection of leaking air, water, or leaking electricity in the form of corona usually indicating a potential fault. Thus, directional ultrasonic listening can be a valuable tool.


The properties of magnets have long fascinated man since the discovery of lodestones by the ancient Greeks centuries ago. Even in today’s advanced tech­nology, the ability to attract and repel magnetized objects still remains a mystery. Magnetism, in spite of its mysterious properties, is perhaps the most impor­tant force known to man. Without the knowledge of how to use magnets, everyday motors, transformers, communications, and most forms of transportation would be next to impossible. Electricity generation would not exist.

The Star Wars defense initiative has opened up many doors to the potential use of this technology. Electrokinetically launching objects at hyperveloci­ties much like the effect of a meteor shower will cre­ate a destructive barrier to incoming ballistic missiles. The propelling of radioactive waste and many other materials safely into outer space, the potential levita­tion of terrestrial vehicles, and of course projectile – type weapons are other applications.

Even though magnetic properties do not give way to variances, they do manifest properties in different forms. Motors use magnets to produce rotating mechanical energy from electricity and, of course, the opposite where generators use magnets and rotating energy to produce electrical power. Transformers take advantage of changing magnetic fields as a func­tion of time, whereas relays and solenoids produce linear motion.

Electrokinetic accelerators utilize magnetic forces where a conducting and movable armature is placed between two parallel conducting rails. A force is now produced in the armature as a result of the interac­tive magnetic fields occurring around the armature and the current-carrying rails. Remember a current – carrying conductor produces a proportional magnetic field, which is basic high school physics.

Those who are familiar with vectors will recall the Lorentz JXB forces where a force is produced between a current-carrying conductor (the armature) and the magnetic В field produced in the rails. Accel­eration of the armature occurs over the entire length of the rails and can reach unheard of velocities com­pared to chemical combustion.

Even though pulsed magnetics is not new, little information exists to provide a "hands-on” approach for the hobbyist or experimenter. Positive interest exists in this field for using this technology as a viable potential for the previously mentioned applications, as well as the nonevasive use of shockwaves in break­ing up kidney and gallstones. Even a form of “mag­netic destructors” is intended for use in robot wars and contests.

We therefore feel a “how-to” book demonstrating projects for the serious electronic and mechanical experimenter, as well as for technical interest groups, will prove to be popular. The projects here will fall within the realms of both the amateur and the serious experimenter. All the projects will contain a briefing of mathematical theory for those interested, along with a simple explanation of the operation. Individual chapters will have headings suggesting the required competence and experience of the reader, as well as any hazards that may be encountered. All the con­struction projects will also contain a full bill of mate­rials with sources necessary to complete the device as described.


I wish to express thanks to the employees of Infor­mation Unlimited and Scientific Systems Research Laboratories for making these projects possible.

Their contributions range from many helpful ideas to actual prototype assembly. Special thanks go out to department heads Rick Upham, general manager in charge of the lab and shop and layout designer;

Sheryl Upham, order processing and control; Joyce Krar, accounting and administration; Walter Koschen, advertising and system administrator; Chris Upham, electrical assembly department; Al (Big Al) Watts, fabrication department; Sharon Gordon, outside assembly; and all the technicians, assemblers, and general helpers at our facilities in New Hampshire, Florida, and Hong Kong that have made these endeavors possible.

Also not to be forgotten is my wife Lucy, who has contributed so much with her support and under­standing of my absence due to long hours in front of the computer necessary for preparing this manu­script.

I wish to acknowledge the contributions, including the front cover material, of Durlin Cox of Resonance Research in Baraboo, Wisconsin. Resonance Research is a supplier of large, museum-quality, elec­trical display devices.

My gratitude goes to Tim Ventura of American Gravities and his contributions to the lifter craft tech­nology found in Chapter 1 “Antigravity Project.”

Finally, I would like to thank Zarir Sholapura of Zeonics and his contributions to high-voltage and high-energy research.


Special Notes

General Information

All projects in this book have been built and tested in our laboratories at Information Unlimited/Scientific Systems. The gadgets perform as described. Builders having difficulties may contact our technical help department.

Part Sources

Most parts are readily available through electronic supply houses, electrical supply houses, and hard­ware/builder supply outlets. Certain specialized and proprietary parts such as transformers, capacitors, printed circuit boards (PCB), tooled fabrication, and optical parts are manufactured in our shops. They are indicated with database numbers on the parts list and must be obtained by email or through our web site at www. amazingl. com. Without these special items, many of these projects would not be possible. Advanced builders may attempt substitution with the risk of reduced performance or failure.


Several projects are noted as being dangerous electri­cally, kinetically, and optically. Such projects must not be attempted unless the builder is experienced in his or her related field. Safety is stressed with all neces­sary compliances required for the trade.

Labeling is shown as required if the finished prod­uct is being offered to the trade. Labels are available and should be used if your project is to be exposed or demonstrated to the public.

Unfortunately, many scientific devices must use dangerous parameters to properly produce the desired target effects.

Printed Circuit Boards

Some projects are shown using PCB. They may also be built on vector or circuit boards. Attempt to follow the layout as shown when transposing component locations and wire routing.

Project Origins

Some of the devices shown are fall-out technology acquired from our project contracts as performed for the government and other related agencies. Others are the result of our own research efforts. We are con­stantly engaged in research for the trade and in many interesting research and development programs.

Other Available Options

Most of the projects are available as partial or com­plete kits and may be laboratory assembled upon request.

Our offshore assembly operation can competi­tively supply all types of specialty transformers, coils, and power supplies in volume for the trade.

Our engineering services specialize in high-voltage power supplies, shock and electromagnetic pulse (EMP) pulsers, Marx impulse generators, and all related components.

Contact Us

Information Unlimited Phone Number: 603-673-6493 Fax Number: 603-672-5406 Web site: www. amazingl. com Email:


The capacitor is one of the oldest electrical components. An oil-immersed capacitor was developed in the 1850s, but the fundamental technologies of modern oil-impregnated and oil – filled high-voltage power capacitors originated with those of high-voltage power cables.

After PCBs were developed around 1930, PCBs (mainly trichlorobiphenyl for high-voltage power capacitors) were used for can-type capacitors and mineral oils were used for large tank-type capacitors, until PCBs were recognized as en­vironmentally hazardous. PCBs were also used for a short pe­riod as the impregnant for plastic film (polypropylene) dielec­trics of both paper-film and all-film types. Just after the ban on PCBs, those impregnants were replaced by aromatic hy­drocarbons. As the aromatic contents of these hydrocarbons are very high, they are very suitable for the impregnation of high-voltage capacitors with sharp-edged foil electrodes.

Because aromatic hydrocarbons are more flammable than PCBs, silicone or blended oils of aromatic hydrocarbons and phosphoric acid esters have been used for high-voltage capaci­tors as less-flammable liquids for limited use; but recently dry capacitors have been developed for use where fire-resistant materials are strictly required.

To minimize the dielectric thickness, self-healing technol­ogy originally developed for low-voltage capacitors has re­cently been applied also for high-voltage capacitors. In this case, as metallized paper or film is used, and therefore com­patibility between the impregnant and the solid material is very important, impregnants such as organic esters are used.

Liquids for high-voltage power capacitors are specified in IEC 60836 (silicone liquids), 60867 (aromatic hydrocarbons), and 61099 (organic esters).

Liquids for high-voltage capacitors must have the follow­ing properties:

1. High dielectric strength and high volume resistivity

2. Low dielectric losses and high dielectric constant

3. High stability under high voltage stresses and high par­tial discharge resistance

4. Good compatibility with film materials

5. High chemical stability and high resistance to oxidation

6. Low temperature coefficient of expansion

7. Nontoxicity and environmental safety

8. Sufficient source of supply

Of these, properties 1, 2, and 3 are most important from the viewpoint of high-voltage capacitor performance.


Liquids for switchgear (switchgear oils) must have arc sup­pression properties and high dielectric strength. Arc suppres­sion properties are basically due to the high thermal conduc­tivity of hydrogen gas produced by the decomposition of switchgear oils. Thus it is desirable that liquids easily pro­duce hydrogen gas and that the amount of free carbon pro­duced by their decomposition be small. Good insulation, re­quires not only high dielectric strength, but also rapid insulation recovery after interruption of electric arcs.

Besides these properties, it is desirable that switchgear oils have chemical stability to maintain good dielectric prop­erties, and that they be compatible with the solids used. Insu­lating oils that have the above-mentioned properties are min­eral oils. Switchgear oils are specified in IEC 60296 and ASTM D387. They are classified in the same classes as trans­former oils.

The kinematic viscosities of insulating oils in these classes are relatively low: for insulating oils at 40°C classified in IEC 60296 as Class I and Class IA, Class II and Class IIA, and Class III and Class IIIA they are <16.5 X 10—6 m2/s, <11.0 X 10—6 m2/s, and <3.5 X 10—6 m2/s, respectively. The kine­matic viscosities of insulating oils at 40°C classified in ASTM D3487sa Type I and Type II are <12.0 X 10—6 m2/s. Low ki­netic viscosity allows mechanical parts of switchgears to per­form freely, and oil flows owing to hydrogen gas evolved by decomposition of switchgear oils to be easily produced and fa­cilitate arc suppression.


Oil-immersed power cables were developed and put into use in the 1880s, and a historic milestone in recent engineering and industrial progress was established by the invention and development of the oil-impregnated or oil-filled (OF) power cable by Emanuelli in 1923. OF cables are impregnated with oils without voids or moisture and then hermetically sealed to avoid damage and harmful effects from the surroundings.

From the early stage of OF cables, naphthenic oils have been mainly used because of their low pour point and high
stability under high stress, but with the progressive improve­ment of process technology for refining crude oil, paraffinic crude oils and mixtures of naphthenic and paraffinic oils have also been used because of their wider availability.

Aromatic content in mineral oil is also important, and in some cases synthetic aromatic hydrocarbons are added. Pure synthetic aromatic hydrocarbons, mainly alkylbenzenes, are also used, especially for ultrahigh-voltage power cables, be­cause of their compatibility with synthetic papers, excellent stability under high stress, and sufficient source of supply.

Polybutenes are used for hollow power cables because of their wide range of viscosity.

Liquids for cables are specified in IEC 60465 (mineral oils), 60836 (silicone liquids), 60867 (aromatic hydrocarbons), and 60963 (polybutenes).

Cable oils must have the following properties.

1. High dielectric strength and high volume resistivity

2. Low dielectric losses and low dielectric constant

3. Low viscosity and good fluidity over a wide temperature range (low pour point)

4. High chemical stability and high resistance to oxidation

5. Low temperature coefficient of expansion

6. Sufficient source of supply

7. Nontoxicity and environmental safety

Of these, properties 1, 2, and 3 are most important from the viewpoint of power cable performance.