Dimboola station. This great photo was taken by my son Craig

Monday, 9 December 2013

Build a Static grass applicator

How to build a static grass applicator for around AUS$40. First, you need to acquire a negative ion generator from Oatley Electronics. cat No: [IONB2] for around AUS$14 in Sydney. When I purchased mine, they had a credit card limit of $20, so you may have to buy two.

Next, the hardware shop for some 42mm UPVC pipe. My Negative Ion generator is just a bit big, so some careful trimming till it was a tight fit. (They maybe a different size now?)
Photo: Oatley Electronics.
While at the hardware shop, you need a 40mm cap to fit the UPVC tube, plus some parts from Clipsal.
235S32BSP40 screwed metric converter.
260/32 locking rings
25mm conduit plug.

plus about 100mm of bronze flyscreen.
screwed metric converter
Locking ring

From Jaycar, you will need:
Switch of choice, for on off control
Alligator clip
9volt battery clip.

Next, you have to find plastic container for the grass fibres. Some supermarkets used to stock a plastic flour shaker (now hard to find, around $5) but Coles have a cooking string container that might work.

Carefully cut a hole in the bottom of the plastic container, just big enough to fit the screwed metric converter. You have place one of the locking rings on the converter, fit through, then add the second locking ring to hold the container in place.
a hole needs to be drilled in the conduit plug, and the pale red silicone coated wire, has to be threaded through. This has to be soldered to the bronze flyscreen. (Do not use the black powdered coated screen as it will not work). Take the containers plastic lid and cut out a hole to fit the flyscreen into. Can glue in if required.

Next, you need the wiring diagram.

You will need two holes in the 42mm handle tube. Wire up battery clip and switch, then insert the ion generator into the tube. There should be two wires coming from the tube, to solder together, and add some length, then the alligator clip.
The converter's plain end, may need packing for a tight fit when inserted into the tube.
Add nine volt battery for around 12KV (Remember: high voltage, and your parts must be plastic, except for the mesh).
Time to test. Add glue to the area and a nail (earth), attach alligator clip to nail, fill container with fibres, turn on, and shake over the area for grass. If all is working fine, the fibres should all be standing upright.
I have used down to 2mm fibres, but, generally I turn on the unit before turning upside down, so the fibres are charged before they fall out.
So there you have it. If you cannot made one for less than $40, then go out and buy the Noch version for around $300, and it will not be as good, as from many photos I have seen, it has trouble charging the fibers to get them to stand upright. There is another unit available from War World Scenics  in England: around $200.

Photo of my second spare unit.
If reading this from the UK, I saw this shifter in Barnitts on my travels recently, Even has its own metal screen.


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