How to Build a Van De Graff Generator


  1. Base: the base of my VDG is made of wood. It is cut into a hexagonal shape so that it is sturdy enough to hold a heavy top


  1. Motor shaft: this piece of plastic can be ordered online. Screw it onto the base of the VDG and mount the motor on it. Note that the top of the mount connects to the column assembly, where the belt is contained


  1. Motor: the motor can be ordered from any local motor repair shop or online. The one I used was a 110V motor with the lower roller preinstalled onto it. Screw the motor onto the mount as shown below















  1. Outlet cord: this is just any cord that comes with a computer or other electronic device (3 prongs). Upon cutting open the other end, the white and black wires connect directly to the motor (use wire nuts to stabilize the connection). The green wire, “ground,” can be attached to any metal part of the setup as long as it does not interfere with the motor, lower roller or belt.


  1. Lower roller: this is made of plastic (it will strip electrons from the rubber belt). Since my roller is attached to the motor, make sure it is positioned at the center of the base so it will be aligned with the upper roller as shown below














  1. Lower brush: one end of the brush consists of some copper wires screwed right underneath the lower roller. Make sure the brush does not touch the roller since it will carry the negative charges to the ground. Thus, the other end is connected to metal which I drilled straight into the wooden base as shown below















  1. Column assembly: this body piece of the VDG can be ordered online and it basically connects the upper and lower parts together. Tightly clamp the column to the motor shaft


  1. Upper roller: this is made of metal (it will give off electrons to the belt) and can be ordered online. Position the upper roller on top of the column assembly and make sure it is aligned with the lower roller


  1. Upper brush: these copper wires placed right above the upper roller (but not touching it) will cause a series of charge separations (gives off electrons to the roller and receive them from the dome). The setup is shown below















  1. Rubber belt: the belt, found in any hardware store, connects the upper and lower rollers and is placed inside the column assembly. It constantly transfers negative charges down and positive charges up the VGD


  1. Plastic housing: I used a garbage bin found from the dollar store and had the UBC machine shop drill a hole in the middle which fits the size of the column assembly. This circular plastic covers all the lower components of the VDG and it is then screwed onto the wooden base (making the final product nicer, without loose wires)










  1. Metal dome: this metal sphere can be ordered online and it is placed directly onto the top of the column assembly. The upper wires strip electrons from the dome, causing positive charges to be distributed throughout the surface


  1. Switch: the switch can be found in any hardware store. I used a 15A-120VAC switch connected to the center of the output cord




How to Build a VDG


Junior Presentation

Senior Presentation

Quiz Yourself