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'[OT] Lifters and homemade capacitors'
2006\02\22@122623 by Mike Hord

picon face
Has anyone on the list experimented with so-called
"lifters"?

Basically, these are devices, usually constructed from
foil, wire, and balsa wood, which produce some thrust
when kV level voltages are applied to them.

I'm wondering if anyone has had any experience with
them, and with increasing the dielectric constant
between the two "plates" of the capacitor.

For more info, see
americanantigravity.com

Mike H.

2006\02\22@124248 by Bob Axtell

face picon face
Mike Hord wrote:

>Has anyone on the list experimented with so-called
>"lifters"?
>
>Basically, these are devices, usually constructed from
>foil, wire, and balsa wood, which produce some thrust
>when kV level voltages are applied to them.
>
>I'm wondering if anyone has had any experience with
>them, and with increasing the dielectric constant
>between the two "plates" of the capacitor.
>
>For more info, see
>americanantigravity.com
>
>Mike H.
>
>  
>
My brother says they don't work well in high-humidity areas.

--Bob

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2006\02\22@175430 by Sean Schouten

face picon face
I've definitely heard of lifters! At one stage I was in the process of
building an adjustable power supply for lifter experimentation, according to
one of jnaudins designs (slightly edited) till I thought I something was
wrong with the design and I dropped it. I should pick that up one rainy day
(if ever...), I have just about everything for it lying in my bedroom. Might
update the design with a pic... :-p  Actually, maybe I should screw open an
old monitor and hook up a something that remotely resembles a lifter to it
to see how well it works before I even think of continuing with the power
supply. We shall see, I currently have my hands full with a load of other
stuff...

Sean.

2006\02\22@210045 by Vitaliy

flavicon
face
"Mike Hord" wrote:
> Has anyone on the list experimented with so-called
> "lifters"?

Not personally, but I've seen one in operation. :) My cousin built one about
three years ago.

{Quote hidden}

AFAIK, the "lifter" works by attracting charged ions from the corona wire,
towards the foil. This creates a flow of air which does the lifting (nothing
to do with antigravity). In other words, the thing will not work in a vacuum
or any substance that does not permit the free flow of charged ions.

Bes regards,

Vitaliy

2006\02\22@214221 by Russell McMahon

face
flavicon
face
> AFAIK, the "lifter" works by attracting charged ions from the corona
> wire,
> towards the foil. This creates a flow of air which does the lifting
> (nothing
> to do with antigravity). In other words, the thing will not work in
> a vacuum
> or any substance that does not permit the free flow of charged ions.

There are various theories on what causes the lift. While the large
part is undoubtedly caused by easily enough understood atmosphere
related physical effects there are claims, allegedly based on
experimental results,  that there is a component that exists in vacuum
conditions. I have not yet seen that convincingly proven or disproven
anywhere (but it may well have been).

This sort of thing is such good ground for the fringe phenomena
enthusiasts that it would be hard to convince them that vacuum effects
don't exist. However, dismissing such claims without due cause could
mean missing out on something extremely valuable indeed. eg a massless
reaction drive of even extremely modest power levels could greatly
improve station-keeping abilities for coms satellites. And would allow
a craft in low orbit to "climb out" of earth's (or other) gravity
wells given enough time. It would be a shame to miss such a device's
existence due to arrogant assumption and be limited to such mundane
things as Casimir effect devices instead.



               R:-)M

2006\02\22@220023 by Sean Schouten

face picon face
On 2/23/06, Vitaliy <.....spamKILLspamspam@spam@maksimov.org> wrote:
>
>
> AFAIK, the "lifter" works by attracting charged ions from the corona wire,
> towards the foil. This creates a flow of air which does the lifting
> (nothing
> to do with antigravity). In other words, the thing will not work in a
> vacuum
> or any substance that does not permit the free flow of charged ions.




Have a look at this (if you're really interested, I recomend turning that
whole website upside down!):

http://jlnlabs.imars.com/lifters/vacuum/index.htm



Sean.

2006\02\22@230232 by Mike Hord

picon face
> Have a look at this (if you're really interested, I recomend turning that
> whole website upside down!):
>
> http://jlnlabs.imars.com/lifters/vacuum/index.htm

I find that unsatisfying.  Remember, the field lines from the wire will be
the same regardless of the presence of air, and presumably the flow of
ions would follow the field lines and bend around the tube.

As for the part where the aluminum plate jumped up toward the wire,
OF COURSE IT DID.  It was charged to 15 kV wrt to the wire.  That's
how a tesla coil makes your hair stand on end and balloons stick to
your back.

The real test, then is to build a lifter where the aluminum "plate" and the
wire "plate" are seperated by a surface which prevents the flow of air
entirely.  Or, operate the entire aparatus in a vacuum.  ISS project,
anyone?

If that surface happened to have a fairly high dielectric constant with only
a minimal mass (say, a slab of aerogel) we'd have a good test of the
concept, and of whether the capacitance has a direct effect on the thrust
generated.

Mike H.

2006\02\23@010825 by Vitaliy

flavicon
face
"Russell McMahon" wrote:
> There are various theories on what causes the lift. While the large
> part is undoubtedly caused by easily enough understood atmosphere
> related physical effects there are claims, allegedly based on
> experimental results,  that there is a component that exists in vacuum
> conditions. I have not yet seen that convincingly proven or disproven
> anywhere (but it may well have been).
>
> This sort of thing is such good ground for the fringe phenomena
> enthusiasts that it would be hard to convince them that vacuum effects
> don't exist. However, dismissing such claims without due cause could
> mean missing out on something extremely valuable indeed. eg a massless
> reaction drive of even extremely modest power levels could greatly
> improve station-keeping abilities for coms satellites. And would allow
> a craft in low orbit to "climb out" of earth's (or other) gravity
> wells given enough time. It would be a shame to miss such a device's
> existence due to arrogant assumption and be limited to such mundane
> things as Casimir effect devices instead.

Well, I hope that in the event that I am proven wrong, my arrogance will be
forgiven on the grounds that (1) I admitted that I have no first-hand
experience and (2) I did say "AFAIK"! ;)

I have a strong feeling (it will have to do, for lack of solid evidence)
that at least 99% of the lift is produced by the airflow. Those of you who
own Ionic Breeze (or similarly-looking cheap imitations) will probably agree
with me that the airflow produced by the device is substantial, despite the
fact that there are no moving parts, only two oppositely charged grids.

"Sean Schouten" wrote:
> Have a look at this (if you're really interested, I recomend turning that
> whole website upside down!):
>
> http://jlnlabs.imars.com/lifters/vacuum/index.htm

Look at the first experiment. He places a POSITIVELY CHARGED electrode above
the lifter that is connected to GROUND. Kind of like when you comb your hair
and then use the comb to lift small pieces of paper.

IMHO, the experiment where the lifter is suspended by a string does not
provide conclusive evidence of the "antigravitational force", either. How
can we be sure that the force is not produced by charged ions? The force
required to cause the suspended lifter to turn is minute.

[similar criticisms of other experiments omitted]

Now, what *would* convince me, is if Mr. Naudin placed the whole setup in a
vacuum, and it worked there. Yet I could not find such experiment on his
website.

I hope you will forgive me for remaining a skeptic.

HOWEVER

   - In the interests of science, I encourage anyone with enough time on
their hands, and proper equipment, to prove me wrong. I will even go as far
as offering to make a small donation toward the experiment, and hosting the
results of said experiment on my website.
   - I think we should ask the OP to better explain the purpose of his
original question. Is Mike mostly interested in the theoretical side of the
phenomenon, or the practical goal of building a better lifter?

Best regards,

Vitaliy

2006\02\23@011710 by Vitaliy

flavicon
face
"Mike Hord" wrote:
>> http://jlnlabs.imars.com/lifters/vacuum/index.htm
>
> I find that unsatisfying.  Remember, the field lines from the wire will be
> the same regardless of the presence of air, and presumably the flow of
> ions would follow the field lines and bend around the tube.
>
> As for the part where the aluminum plate jumped up toward the wire,
> OF COURSE IT DID.  It was charged to 15 kV wrt to the wire.  That's
> how a tesla coil makes your hair stand on end and balloons stick to
> your back.

Sorry, I did not see your post until after I submitted mine. :-(

> The real test, then is to build a lifter where the aluminum "plate" and
> the
> wire "plate" are seperated by a surface which prevents the flow of air
> entirely.

He does have something like that, "UNlinked Lifter fully enclosed in a box":

http://jlnlabs.imars.com/lifters/inthebox/index.htm

However, this experiment can also easily be explained by the electrostatic
force.

> Or, operate the entire aparatus in a vacuum.  ISS project,
> anyone?

Now, that *would* prove it conclusively.

> If that surface happened to have a fairly high dielectric constant with
> only
> a minimal mass (say, a slab of aerogel) we'd have a good test of the
> concept, and of whether the capacitance has a direct effect on the thrust
> generated.

Hm.. that's a good idea.

I haven't been following the developments -- has anyone actually succeeded
in building a lifter with an on-board power source? Now, THAT would be cool.

Vitaliy

2006\02\23@101301 by Mike Hord

picon face
> I haven't been following the developments -- has anyone actually succeeded
> in building a lifter with an on-board power source? Now, THAT would be cool.

The closest anyone has come has been to use a blimp with an onboard
power supply to hold a lifter up, and then use the lifter to provide thrust.

If increasing the capacitance helps, then I'm envisioning using a rolled
sheet of aerogel with the wire electrode embedded  at the top and the
sheet electrode at the "bottom", with small gaps between successive
layers (imagine a loosely wound toilet roll).  If one were to make that
as large as, say, the engine on a 747, how much thrust could that make?*

Now imagine five or six of these things, slung under a wing, with the
wing's top surface covered in solar cells, and you have an aircraft with
no moving parts to break (or very few, for control surfaces).  Granted, it
would likely be VERY slow, with a miserable time-to-altitude, but once
at altitude, it would have an essentially unlimited loiter time.  I can
think of a few good uses for such a craft.

Mike H.

*It should be relatively easy to figure that out.  Let's see:  I seem to
remember seeing a six-foot equilateral triangle lifter that weighed about
nine ounces.  So, we have 18 feet of capacitor, with a dielectric constant
~1.  Assuming thrust is directly proportional to lift (may not be a safe
assumption; that was why I posited this question in the first place), it
should be fairly easy to boost that by 100 fold using a suitable dielectric.
So, we have roughly 1 ounce of lift per 2 feet of lifter, going to 100 ounces
per 2 feet with the improved dielectric.  A roll of material is approximately
L units long for pi(Ro^2-Ri^2)/t, where Ro is outer thickness, Ri is core
thickness, and t is the thickness of the layers.  We'll give each layer a
thickness of 1 inch, call the core 0, and the outer radius 4 feet.  That
gives us 600 feet of lifter, or 300 ounces of thrust with conventional
methods.  Almost 19 pounds of thrust.  Not very impressive.  BUT, if
increasing the capacitance 100 fold increases the thrust 100 fold, we
have a much more interesting situation.  And since the thrust increases
as the square of the outer radius, even going up a few feet helps a lot:
give our engine a 10 foot radius and we now have over six times the
thrust.  Give our contraption six of them, and we approach 700 pounds
of thrust.  Take away the need for fuel and put it at a high altitude,
where drag is lessened (may need to tow it up or use other novel
deployment methods), and you've created a poor man's
geosynchronous satellite.  And that's assuming no gain from capacitance
boosting (which I suspect there won't be).

An interesting possiblity which just occured to me (for anyone still
reading): let's say that the lifter works by the skewing of field lines
created between a point-source charge (the wire) and a line source
charge (the foil)(looking at it cross-sectionally).  If the lifter is simply
accelerating already present ions, not creating its own, at high
altitudes, the atmosphere contains significantly more ions than it
does at sea level.  Perhaps that would boost thrust?

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