General Question

jellyfish3232's avatar

Is it possible to create a simple stun gun out of the materials that I have?

Asked by jellyfish3232 (1849points) July 3rd, 2011

I’ve always been interested in making simple electrical circuits, although I’m not all that knowledgeable in the field. I’ve been trying to create a small device that can deliver a harmless yet somewhat painful electric shock. I made one by disassembling an electric stick of gum prank and adding an metal prod. Originally, the “gum” shocked you when you pulled the stick. I changed it so you pull the stick, which instead of shocking you, sends the electricity into a metal prod. I want to build a shocking device from scratch, but I don’t know how with my current (haha, “current”) materials. They are some assorted wires, batteries of the AA, AAA, and 12v varieties, tinfoil, electrical tape. If I need something else maybe I could dig it up. So, can I build one? How?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

16 Answers

jerv's avatar

With what you have, you couldn’t build anything too powerful, so it really depends on what sort of shock you are looking for.

Bear in mind that you are talking to someone who has a fair chance of ignoring a blast of 120V 60Hz AC current; my days in the Navy kind of helped me build up a tolerance.

jellyfish3232's avatar

I don’t need anything to powerful, @jerv, I just want a fun little shock. There isn’t any way to combine the power of the batteries to make it more painful?

jerv's avatar

While putting more batteries in series ( + to – ) will probably up the output, it may also burn the thing up. I don’t know how over-engineered that thing is (I imagine not very) so I cannot be certain.

jellyfish3232's avatar

Alright. I’ll see what I can do… After I gain the mental strength to get off this couch. It’s so soft…

dappled_leaves's avatar

Seriously… you want a “fun little shock” that delivers more pain? This question is creeping me out.

jellyfish3232's avatar

Yes, I’m a messed-up little boy. But what’s more fun than delivering a healthy dose of pain to the back of a good friend’s neck?

dappled_leaves's avatar

Um… anything?

jerv's avatar

I really can’t say much as I used to use a “megger” (normally used to test the resistance of insulation) on my shipmates. It was low amperage, not even enough to cause a muscle twitch, but it was hard not to feel. I still pity that one guy who slept with his mouth open, but it was his fault for having a tongue stud; my buddies couldn’t resist…

jellyfish3232's avatar

@dappled_leaves Ah, don’t be a downer.
@jerv My dad got a kick out of that story (Oh, and I broke my stun gun)

gasman's avatar

You want to give people electric shocks when they touch your circuit? Adds new meaning to “hands-on” electronics.

A taser can be hacked from a disposable flash camera—or so I’ve read on the internet (sorry I have no links to post). What does a photo flash have in common with a taser? They both slowly charge a capacitor to a high voltage—even from a wimpy battery—then quickly discharge all that electrical energy into the target—a xenon flash tube (in the case of the camera) or a human being (in the case of a taser). On a bigger scale that’s also how they power rail guns, I think.

I’m familiar with a battery-powered medical device called a peripheral nerve stimulator (PNS). There are several kinds of medical pulse generators. A PNS generates electrical pulses up to a few hundred volts in amplitude, for a duration of a few microseconds (millionths of a second) to cause a mild muscle twich. A single pulse may be uncomfortable but tolerable, while a rapid train of pulses (at maybe 50 or 100 Hz) induces a painful tetanic muscle contraction.

Tasers (same as “stun guns”?) work much the same, I believe, but at much higher voltages of a few hundred thousand volts, i.e., a thousand times what a PNS delivers. Also I believe a taser directly stimulates skeletal muscles into contraction rather than indirectly via motor nerves as with PNS. You can see how it might stop attackers in their tracks.

I suppose you could hack a disposable camera into a harmless shocking device by dumping most of the pulse’s energy into a dummy load (no relation to your potential victims) like a low-value resistor or RLC network, in series or parallel depending on your circuit—set up so when somebody bridges the electrodes with some part of their body, they get only a mild shock. Meanwhile the dummy load never complains.

In fact there are amusement park arcade games that deliver increasing levels of (presumably harmless) electric shocks to your hand when you grip a metal fixture—the object being to see “how much you can take.” Don’t know if they’re still around. Perhaps you could research how they work—pulses or steady voltages? What’s the specified maximum voltage, current, or pulse duration that the game’s manufacturer is willing to assume product liability for? Keeping in mind that exceeding the specs might cause a bunch of dead customers…

(I’m old enough to remember “hot chassis” radios & TVs in the days of two-prong non-polarized plugs. You had a 50–50 chance of plugging in the appliance so its metal case could deliver a fatal shock when touched.)

In any case I’d be very safety-conscious about shocking people—possibly you—with any home-brew device that creates high voltages (high enough to feel) generated from a low-voltage battery.

If you like to fool around with electrical circuits try making 5-volt or 3-volt circuits (those are standard chip voltages) to light an LED, make an audio click, signal your computer or whatever. Even if the circuit is wrong, you are safe. Two good topics for beginners: (a) digital logic chips; (b) 555 timer chips. Also check out micro-controllers like Arduino or Propeller. Plenty of free online resources, plus Nuts and Volts magazine.

jerv's avatar

@gasman The problems there are bulk, weight, and (especially) the power supply (a.k.a. batteries). Now, if you are willing to accept that a camera flash is bigger than a pack of gum then there isn’t a problem.

Or you could just skip the hassle and throw charged capacitors at people. It’s a bit tricky to get them to fly contacts-first, but if you modify them right…

I will say that you don’t want to zap anyone with anything you’d be afraid to zap yourself with. Also, be careful you don’t zap anyone with a heart condition ;)

gasman's avatar

@jerv I think a small button battery, a compact high-capacitance capacitor, & circuitry to generate a big pulse are probably small enough to hide in a pack of gum. You might have to wait a while for it to charge each time.

jerv's avatar

@gasman Button cells don’t have the amp-hours to recharge any reasonably-sized capacitor more than a couple of times.

I used to have a PNS myself, and I’m sure that it could’ve been made smaller as the case had enough empty space in it to make it comfortable to hold and leave enough room for a couple of control knobs (intensity and frequency) but I still don’t see such a device getting smaller than a pair of 9V batteries which makes sense since half of it would actually be a 9V battery. Good call on that one; I forgot about that until you brought it up.

jellyfish3232's avatar

Wow, thanks! I realized before I broke my little device that in order to create a circuit, it was only able to shock the person holding it. Therefore it was completely and utterly useless. I’ll make sure to look into some of the things that you mentioned, though. I have money burning a hole in my pocket, so maybe I could buy a few odds and ends to play around with. And, I’ll try not to kill anybody. I’m sure the smell would be awful.

gasman's avatar

@jerv Apparently those cameras have an AA battery (1.5v), which typically stores 1–3 amp-hours, while button cells stores only about 1/10 of that (Ref). But then the AA must power up to 30 or so flash cycles, so I don’t think using a button cell is that far-fetched—it’s the same working voltage.

@jellyfish3232 You can find online instructions at various sites by searching for “hacking” or “modding” (modifying) of the cameras.

jerv's avatar

@gasman Well, if you only want to get a couple of jolts before replacing the batteries then yes. Personally, I am not fond of that simply because button-cells are not free.

Answer this question




to answer.

This question is in the General Section. Responses must be helpful and on-topic.

Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther