Plazmatic Flameless Lighter: Who needs a light, when you've got a beam


Thanks! Looks to me like a current-limited high voltage generator.

I wonder about the more detailed specs (ignition voltage, voltage after the arc is lit, arc current).

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Cigars don’t easily light up like cigarettes, and I really don’t see this getting any cigar that’s larger than a cigarette properly lit, ever. It looks like it’d work great for cigarettes though.

Looks like it’s just making an electrical arc. But I’m awaiting the new Mythbusters, where Adam Savage tells us “Guys, this isn’t actually a laser!”

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Isn’t that Iran’s thought that we keep trying to interrupt?

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Not really. They are trying to make U-235 (the enriching centrifuges most of the brouhaha is about), with Pu-239 as the next step. Pu-238 is only a byproduct.

We need massively powerful neutron generators. Not only for production of isotopes like this, or the Gd-148 alternative, but also for subcritical reactors to burn existing stock of spent fuel.



What about these isotopes makes them suitable? is it just the ~100 year half life (too long and the energy density is too low, too short and you cant make them fast enough to be useful)?

This is one factor. Another is strong preference for alpha decay, with small or if possible zero emission of higher-energy beta, and small or if possible zero emission of gamma. With neutrons straight off. Alpha is easy to shield.


I’d imagine if you got nylon on the electrodes it’d get all gummed up.

Hey @shaddack Would that happen?


This might work for you as well. Although it probably won’t work for ropes with a diameter any bigger than an actual cigarette:

He’ll be along I’m sure, but I’ll just put a stopgap here until @shaddack gets around…

This is gonna depend on whether your paracord’s nylon core needs to come into contact with the electrodes in order to get the heat you need to fuse the ends.

If molten nylon coats the electrodes, you’re going to have increasing resistance across the electrodes until the thing just doesn’t work anymore. In the process of dying, the electrodes would emit a foul smoke, and possibly make flaming drips of nylon. (These drips should be avoided at all costs! Ask my scars.)

If you can reliably toast the ends of your cords by putting them in the middle of the arc, you could probably not foul the tips and get away with this use, with only an occasional cleaning of soot from the electrodes.

Ok @shaddack, I’m assuming the position now… :smile:


Which it strictly said shouldn’t have to, but will be difficult not to, given the geometry.

Yup. Plastic has much higher dielectric strength than air (though if it is carbonized there may be conductive paths), and if the breakdown voltage gets higher than what the power supply can provide, the thing fails. Fortunately it is just a mechanical operation to clean it.

Also, the partially conductive carbonized plastic can bridge the insulator and form shorts to the chassis. Which may lead to the current path through the chassis instead of through the air.

Same with drips of molten hot glue, whether flaming or not, and of rosin. These are worse than napalm. Don’t ask how I know.

The distance is rather low, though. One would have to be careful.

It’s good to have a backup :smiley:

If not really careful, probably yes. But they should be relatively easy to clean.

Maaaaybeeee, for small diameters. I’d suggest using those lighters that make that kind of hissing blue high velocity flame. I love these. They are more difficult to extinguish, and more controllable, and you can even silver- or brass-braze not-too-thick wires with them.


Thanks for that. I’d not heard of “Atom-Age Combat” from the covers it looks particularly wacky. The Digital Comics Museum have issues for download by the looks of it.

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Holy fucking shit that’s an awful nuclear test with shiloads of fallout… It’s almost as bad as The “Green Run”. The only advantage was that Green Run was simply secretly poisoning a town. While at least that cigarette nuclear test was at least trying to gauge a physical phenomenon without really meaning to expose the civilians, although exposing the civilians was an acceptable risk.

One targets the country’s own citizens. The other does not.


It’s almost certainly a CCFL inverter. The arc from those looks exactly the same as the lighter. So, insert a piece of plastic to prevent the arc, then hold a small fluorescent tube near one or the other electrodes. It’s basically a Tesla coil, designed for lighting up gas discharge tubes. The output current is typically limited by a small-value capacitor in series, and by the high-volt transformer being so tiny.

Hmm, I wonder if they were inspired by my old project article, $5 Tesla coil. So, not $50. It has this:

mini plasma torch!


Yep, a few kilovolts at a mA or so, enough to set small fires or slice through threads, thin solder, or plastic forks. The similar devices I’ve tested are 50KHz to 80KHz, a tiny HV transformer driven by a pair of mosfets.

The DIY version is probably the same as this $3.50 device from All Electr. But All Electr doesn’t say what the battery voltage needs to be. Typically 12V, but sometimes 5V.

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