eli5: how do high-voltage mouse traps make 6000+ volts from 4xAA batteries?


eli5: how do high-voltage mouse traps make 6000+ volts from 4xAA batteries?

In: 0

When you swing a hammer, the sudden stop of the heavy head creates a huge force on the nail. Much more than you could create just by pushing.

You can use a similar system with electricity. By flowing electricity through a coil and suddenly shutting it off, you generate huge voltage spikes from the coil. Doing this over and over gives you a voltage that goes up and down, topping out and thousands of times your original voltage. This might already be enough to shock a mouse, although it is likely that this voltage is used to charge a capacitor to store it up shock the mouse much more.

It’s often with a Cockroft Walton multiplier. First, the voltage needs to be made to AC, or at least pulsing on and off, and then it is passed through a series of diodes and capacitors.
The diodes control the flow of voltage, and the capacitors store the charge.

This does a clever thing where each stage will have the battery voltage, plus the capacitors will add more voltage (which they stored from before) and it’ll multiply it.
First stage would be battery power, plus the same stored battery power in the capacitor, the next stage would be this double voltage, and the double voltage stored in the next capacitor etc.

You can think of it as a capacitor acting as a virtual battery, it doesn’t bring any power, but it does charge from the battery, and for a short period you can use both together at the same time and double the voltage. Keep doing that a few times, and you can get to very high voltages.