Electroscope #1

A co-worker always complains about static electrical shocks. We work in a cleanroom, so the humidity level is low and charge can build up on many items. There are a lot of variables involved when considering why some people complain more about static electrical shocks: the clothes they wear, the way they move, their tolerance for pain, and their propensity to complain, to name a few.

Of course, there are ways to measure the amount of charge on something. Maybe I can measure the amount of charge on my complaining co-worker relative to the charge on other people!

The traditional way is to have two lightweight leaves of conductive foil, isolated from air movements inside a glass jar, electrically connected to a wire antenna. By holding the wire antenna near a charged object, it and the foil leaves become similarly charged. Each leaf holds the same charge, and like charges repel, so the leaves push away from each other in an amount proportional to the charge.

In other words: Hold the wire antenna near something and the leaves move. More charge, more movement.

I learned how to make this from a book I had as a child. Here are the photos of this recent build:

Electroscope. And a beer.

Electroscope. And a beer.

No charge.

No charge.

Small charge

Small charge – this was from holding a balloon near the antenna after rubbing it on my hair. If it wasn’t so humid, it’d show a lot more deflection.

I am also working on an electronic version.

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