Jacob's Ladder Assembly Instructions


The Jacob's Ladder is a dangerous device. When operating it, ALWAYS keep the following precautions in mind:

  • NEVER under any circumstances should you touch the arc or the rails with fingers or metal or combustible objects while the Jacob's Ladder is in use.
  • When you turn off the device, always use an insulated metal tool such as a pair of pliers to bridge the rails or electrodes. You should usually hear a small pop or zap. This discharges the capacitors in the transformer's internal voltage multiplier, which will give a painful zap even when the device has been powered off for a while.
  • When adjusting the rails, ALWAYS turn the device off first and ALWAYS use an insulated pair of pliers or other metal tool. Also keep in mind that after turning the speaker off, the electrode screws retain a high temperature for a fair bit of time.
  • Do not use the Jacob's Ladder for sessions longer than 5 minutes, over usage may result in permanent damage to your ARC Plasma Speaker.
  • Do not leave the speaker on with no active audio input, this may result in permanent damage to the D1 diode and the speaker. Always turn off the speaker when it's inactive.


List of components

This is a full itemization of what you should get in the box.

You will probably need to refer back to this list a couple times.

Hardware Components
14 Metal enclosure screw Phillips head machine screws
2 Nylon enclosure screw Phillips head machine screws
16 Metal enclosure nut
2 Stainless steel rails Loop-ended metal rails
2 Eyelets Metal eyelets with crimpable ends
2 Alligator clips Metal alligator clips
4 Metal washer
2 High-voltage wire 2.5ft Black double insulated wire

Enclosure parts

  • 1/4in Baseboard
  • 1/8in Acrylic cover
  • 1/8in Long side panel (2X)
  • 1/8in Short side panel (2X)
  • 1/4in Double rail holder
  • 1/4in Single rail holder (2X)
  • 1/4 Rounded stand mount (2x)
  • 1/4 Short stand bridge (2x)
  • 1/4 Long rounded stand mount (2X)
  • 1/4 long stand bridge (2X)



You will need the following tools:

  • Pliers (preferably needle-nosed)
  • Phillips head screwdriver
  • Wire strippers
  • Metal file or box cutter
  • Crimping tool (Optional but very useful)

Make sure to check that your kit has all the parts listed in the Hardware and Enclosure Components section.


Assembling the Enclosure

  • Start by peeling the protective cover off the acrylic top panel
  • Then remove the extra bits that did not come off during laser cutting
  • Begin by assembling the stand portion of the Jacob's Ladder with the pieces shown on your right
  • After connecting the four stand pieces, they should be slotted into the blemished (colored) side of the baseboard as shown.
  • It may be necessary to use a box cutter or sandpaper to file the tabs before inserting it into the baseboard, this will make it easier to push the tabs all the way into the baseboard.
  • Next we'll insert the rail holders into the unblemished/clean side of the baseboard, the tabs on the rail holders may need to be filed in order to more easily fit into the slots.
  • Slot the rail holders into the baseboard as shown. There should be three pieces in total.
  • Now we will move on to completing the stand for the Jacob's Ladder, please locate the two long stand pieces followed by their two cross section pieces. Refer to the picture if you're not sure.
  • Build the stand adjuster around the existing stand on the baseboard. Align the ends with the screw holes as shown. The end without a screw hole has a rounded and flat side, the flat side should face the baseboard.
  • The stand adjuster may need to be slightly loose to allow it to adjust more easily.
  • Use two screws and nuts to connect the stand adjuster to the stand base. Tighten the screws enough so that you are still able to adjust the stand.
  • Locate the rails and wipe them clean, use rubbing alcohol if available.
  • Before mounting the rails, you need to slot the nylon screws into the screw slots next to the double rail mounts. The nut slots should be on the stand base. It's important that you do this step now otherwise it will be difficult to access these slots after the rails are mounted.
  • The reason these slots use nylon screws is due to their proximity to the rails which necessitates a non-conductive material.


Mounting the Rails


For these next steps you will need a wire stripper, wire crimp (or pliers), and Phillips head screwdriver as well as locate the following components:

  • Two Wires (2.5 FT)
  • Two Alligator Clips
  • Two Eyelets
  • Four Washers
  • Four Screws
  • Four Nuts
  • Two Rails
  • Strip 1 inch off each end of the wires. loosen the screw on the alligator clip and loop the wire around the screw after threading it into the alligator clip.
  • Tighten the screw and then crimp the alligator clip. Do this again for the other piece of wire
  • Thread the other end of the wire though the stress relief holes in the baseboard. Make sure that the wire enters from the bottom of the baseboard and exits from the top. See picture for reference.
  • After threading the wire through the stress relief holes, attach the eyelets to the wire. If you don't have a crimp, you can ensure electrical contact by wrapping the wire around the eyelet as shown in the image on the right.
  • Mount the rails onto the board as shown with the screw, washer, and rail on one side and the eyelet and nut on the other.
  • Do this for all four sides, the upper rail section doesn't have the eyelets.
  • At this point, you may want to begin calibrating your Jacob's Ladder to make sure everything is working properly before finishing the enclosure.
  • Start by attaching the alligator clips to your ARC Plasma Speaker, there is no fixed orientation. Make sure to move your ARC Plasma Speaker screws as far apart as possible so that the spark gap forms between the rails and not your ARC Plasma Speaker screws.
  • Based on our observations, the ladder works best if the bottom rails start with a gap of 3/8 in and slowly expands to about an inch apart. However, this can change depending on the music being played, the volume, and the angle of the Jacob's Ladder.
  • The general rule is bring the bottom rails closer together if there is no spark and bring the top rails farther apart if the spark gets stuck on top. The Jacob's Ladder's stand should be angled between 75 to 60 degrees for optimal climb. It is important to clean the rails before calibrating your Jacob's Ladder because it prevents dirt from affecting the consistency of the rail's conductivity.
  • Now we move on to completing the enclosure, locate the four wall pieces and connect them together. For each of the pieces, the tabs that longer than closer to the middle go into the base while the shorter tabs slot into the acrylic cover.
  • KNOWN ISSUE: The tabs that slot into the acrylic cover are misaligned and need to be filed in order to fit.
  • To make the tabs fit into the acrylic cover, use a box cutter, file, or knife to shave a few millimeters off one set of tabs on the side facing the middle. Do this for both pieces, make sure that the filed tabs are mirrored. See reference image for more information.
  • Before mounting the acrylic cover make sure all the baseboard screws have been mounted. There should be a total of two nylon screws and two metal screws.
  • After completing all other steps including calibrating your Jacob's Ladder, mount the acrylic cover on your Jacob's Ladder.
  • Congratulations! You should now have a working Jacob's Ladder!
  • REMEMBER! Do not use your Jacob's Ladder for sessions longer than 5 minutes at a time and always discharge the rails after every use. Note that the rails will be hot after use so do not touch the rails with your bare hands!

Copyright ©2014 ExcelPhysics, LLC

Last updated 2014-12-17