Thunderdrome. (lightning in a bottle)

Let’s make a sputtering chamber HV power supply on the cheap!

From left to right:

  • AC source. (220V wall socket)
  • Variac 3000VA. (probably a smaller one works)
  • Microwave transformer, stock.
  • HV rectifier.
  • Microwave capacitor with built-in parallel resistor for self discharge safety.
  • Vacuum chamber.
  • Homemade needle valve for gas, mainly Argon.
  • Main vacuum valve.
  • Two stage rotary pump.
  • MISSING: 100Ω current limiting power resistor. I haven’t received/installed it yet.

All components get mounted with nylon screws on top of a PVC plate AND a steel support connected to ground.

Mockup of component placement.

All sputtering I have seen around, reports in their setups about 500V tops, and around 500mA max. Most 2KV diodes I saw in ebay where low power, and I didn’t felt like risking a failure there, so instead I looked for power diodes, no matter what the voltage. I ended with 20.000KV 2A diodes, you can call that overkill, if you want. XD!

Silicone cable was employed everywhere. Long sections were further insulated with transparent PVC tubing:

Transformer and diodes ready:

The capacitor was zip tied to two adhesive nylon stands:

PVC sleeved cables go through the case using M12 plastic glands and go up to the chamber plates.

I also got hold of a nice fancy WERMA beacon for safety? (bling, XD)

However, as hard as I tried, the USB-rgb capabilities were imposible to activate, my computer could not even detect the fucken thing. In the end, I decided I don’t need all 256 bits of RGB color, and just hardwired the leds themselves.
I would have much preferred to remove the chip and such, but the whole thing is IP68 sealed, trying to open it would only destroy some of the plastic. It doesn’t seem to mind me hardwiring the leds, so there it is.

Now, let’s get some color!



Will build a 10,05Mohm HV voltage divider with a 200 to 1 ratio, and connect it to two comparators, one inverting for green, one normal for red.

I plan to have dedicated voltage and current meters (I want my multimeters avaliable elsewhere), so I’ll use cheap ones from ebay, having them battery powered, to save on the hassle of tapping into the HV line. Or tap into mains line, and risk having spurious currents/voltages deriving from the HV section into the mains section.

See ya!

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