About this project
ARC Plasma Speakers and Jacob's Ladder Kits will be available for purchase on ExcelPhysics.com!
Stay connected with us and get our latest project updates:
100K Stretch Goal - The ARC Experiments eBook!
Content currently planned for the eBook:
- Detailed explanation behind the science of plasma speakers
- Full length walkthoughs for various experiments with the plasma speaker from simple to advanced experiments.
- Instructions for modifying your kit so you can improve sound quality, create a stereo set up, or generate a bigger arc! Read More
What's a Plasma Speaker?
A plasma speaker plays music just like your normal speaker but it uses an arc of electrical plasma running at 30,000 volts! Most people aren't aware that plasma arcs can be modulated to generate sounds so your friends will be in for a surprise when you explain to them that the plasma arc IS the speaker!
Your typical speaker uses an electromagnet to vibrate small drums, but a plasma speaker uses an electrical arc to ionize and compress the air around it to play music, all with no moving parts!
Hey! I'm David Stoyanov and I founded ExcelPhysics with the mission to create awesome products that inspire and entertain future scientists, engineers, and hobbyists. The plasma speaker is one of my favorite projects simply because it's so cool! Whenever we demo it to people, they are always shocked (pun intended) to learn that an arc of electricity can produce music! I look forward to seeing all the cool things that people will do with the ARC Plasma Speaker.
- Simple plug and play audio jack for use with phone, mp3, or computer.
- Uses a laptop power supply that conveniently plugs into any three prong outlet. Can handle 100-240V (U.S./Europe/Asia).
- Portable design allows it to be carried in one hand!
- Sleek laser cut case makes it cool to display!
- Loud enough to be heard in a crowded living room!
- Plasma ARC "dances" to the music it plays!
- Glows in the dark!
- Can be used to create a singing Jacob's ladder and other fun experiments!
What They're Saying:
I have to say, it's pretty darn cool - King 5 News
Cool people play their music with an electric spark - TechCrunch
An exciting, new, and cool device; who wouldn’t want one? - Tech Lyfe
A kit that will turn you into a mad scientist of sound - PSFK
Just plug in your audio source and zap away! - The Awesomer
One of the most unique (speakers) we have seen - Geeky Gadgets
Everything you need for your psychedelic black light party - Solidsmack
This has got to be one of the coolest speakers you've ever seen - Philips
ARC CASE ($39)
Want an awesome reward, but don't want to assemble a working plasma speaker? This is the perfect reward for you! Get the ARC case and you'll have a display quality memorabilia as a backer of this Kickstarter!
ARC KIT ($99)
Includes all the parts needed to build your very own working ARC Plasma Speaker! If you're looking for a fun project to build with your friends/family or enjoy tinkering with electronics this is the perfect reward for you! (See "What do I need to assemble the kit?" for necessary tools and materials)
ARC CLEAR KIT ($119) (Click for Pictures!)
Includes everything in the basic kit AND a transparent acrylic top panel so you can show people how it looks and works on the inside! Wooden top panel is included in case you want to swap out the acrylic panel.
ASSEMBLED ARC CLEAR ($199)
Don't want the hassle of assembling a kit? This is the reward for you! Get a fully assembled and working ARC Plasma Speaker for that awesome plug and play experience right out of the box! Comes with the acrylic top panel by default but the wooden top panel is included as well!
COLLECTOR'S EDITION ($300)
The best reward yet! We wanted to reward our most dedicated backers with a ONE TIME ONLY Kickstarter edition ARC Plasma Speaker! This limited quantity assembled speaker comes with a custom etched case and an engraved brass faceplate! Additionally, each speaker will be "numbered" with a birth date and name of a famous scientist/engineer making each one completely unique! You are also able to add an engraved personal message up to 15-characters long! This is the ONLY chance to get this one of a kind ARC Plasma Speaker! Don't miss out!
What Do I Need to Assemble The Kit?
For those of you trying to figure out what you'll need to assemble the kit, here's a simple overview of the tools and materials:
- Soldering iron & solder (doesn't need to be anything fancy as long as it gets the job done!)
- Phillips head screwdriver
- Wire clippers
- Some experience with electronics and basic soldering knowledge would be very helpful. However, if you're patient and willing to learn, our videos/instructions should be able to guide you through the process!
The ARC Plasma speaker has been a project years in the making, it was initially conceived by StudentRND (a non-profit organization for tech education) members back in early 2010. By 2011 a working prototype was developed and launched as a Kickstarter!
By the standards of the early days of Kickstarter, the StudentRND plasma speaker did quite well raising over $18,000! However, the final design of the StudentRND plasma speaker was faced with several design flaws that resulted in speakers burning out over time. The design remained pretty much the same until a few years later when Matt Chapman and David Stoyanov (both StudentRND members) formed ExcelPhysics and was given management of the plasma speaker.
After we were given control of the plasma speaker, we made several significant design changes such as putting in much larger resistors and diodes, redesigned the case for improved heat dispersion, and an improved flyback transformer and power supply. The resulting prototype was extremely promising and would no longer burn out under normal usage!
Why Are We Doing a Kickstarter?
Some of you may notice that we have been selling a variant of the ARC Plasma Speaker on our ExcelPhysics store. Since that's the case, why would we be doing a Kickstarter?
Launching the Finalized Version - The kit we've been selling has changed several times during its release. While we were comfortable distributing small batches of working alpha/beta versions of the ARC Plasma Speaker kits to users for feedback, we didn't want to do a Kickstarter until we implemented all the changes for this finalized version. Throughout the course of this Kickstarter, we will still be making modifications to the design such as adding in an audio input jack instead of having audio cables soldered to the board. By the time we are ready to ship out the kits, you should be getting the finalized version 1.0 ARC Plasma Speaker!
Better Quality Parts and Suppliers - Some of the nicer components we want to order for the ARC Plasma Speaker require larger order quantities to qualify for reasonable prices. Using economies of scale, reaching our Kickstarter goal will allow us to get the better components for the speaker!
Our production and fulfillment process will be split into the following phases:
Phase One (Now - End of March)
During this time we will be sourcing our suppliers and finalizing the design. We will also be drafting the new written and video instructions for the kit.
Phase Two (April - End of May)
Begin production of ARC Plasma Speaker assembled and kit versions. Finalize written and video kit assembly instructions.
Phase Three (June - July)
Begin shipment of rewards to backers and continued production of assembled plasma speakers.
Phase four (July - August)
Complete shipping out the rewards for all tiers.
Risks and challenges
We want to remind all potential backers that plasma speakers are potentially dangerous. The plasma arc produces a small amount of ozone so it's important to never leave the ARC Plasma Speaker unattended and only use it for short periods of time (ideally under 2 hours) in well-ventilated areas. Also, make sure that no bodily parts or conductive material go near the electric arc. Operate with caution. If you aren't comfortable assembling the plasma speaker, find some help. ExcelPhysics cannot be held liable for any damages that occurs during assembly or use of this kit. You must be responsible for your own safety and well being.
We've learned a lot from the experience with our first Kickstarter. With the ARC Plasma Speaker Kickstarter we're preparing for possible challenges by giving ourselves a larger time cushion for our fulfillment schedule, Ensuring the viability of each reward tier, and making better estimates for shipping and reward costs.
In case any difficulties do arise, we will keep ourselves flexible and disciplined in order to overcome them. We will also actively communicate with our backers via updates and videos so that they will be informed of our progress and stay in the loop every step of the way!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
The power supply we use allows up to 60 watts, but normally the speaker will only be drawing 30-40 watts. Definitely less energy efficient than your typical speaker but not as much as people would think.
The ARC Plasma Speaker is able to play sounds ranging from about 100 Hz to 20,000 Hz. Its optimal range is between 500 Hz to 20,000 Hz.
Despite being made out of MDF, the case will not catch on fire. In over 3 years of testing, building, and playing with these speakers, the case has not burst into flames.
That said, if someone decides to build a makeshift campfire in between the arcing screws it will definitely start to burn. For that reason, our safety instructions warn against putting flammable objects in/around the arc.
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