How Do You Make an AC Generator?

Build an alternating current generator using an open ended cardboard box, copper wire, a nail and strong magnets. Insert a nail through the box, attach the magnets to it and wrap the box with 200 feet of 30-gauge copper wire. Turn the nail quickly to generate enough power to light a miniature incandescent light bulb.

Factors affecting the amount of AC current the generator produces include the strength of the magnet, the length of the wire in the coil and the speed at which the magnets turn. A hand-crank egg beater drill is ideal for turning the magnets with this generator, as it’s fast enough to light the lamp; an electric drill is another option. Even with the drill, the generator only produces enough power for the small lamp and not enough to light a flashlight bulb.

The output of this generator is a maximum of 2 volts, which is not enough to cause an electric shock. However, it may exceed the voltage of the lamp and if you spin the magnet at top speed, it may produce enough power to burn out the lamp. Keep a spare available when demonstrating the generator. If the lamp does not illuminate, check the ends of the wire, and remove any insulation that prevents a good contact.