Does anyone have a simple ESD generator circuit for pre-compliance testing (3KV-20KV)?

e.g. can it be built from the following? http://www.ebay.com/itm/New-High-Quality-3V-to-7KV-Boost-Step-up-Module-High-voltage-Black-1PCS-/161938513435?hash=item25b4499e1b:g:4rkAAOSwZG9WjFLj

How can it be switched fast (~20ns) with an MCU?

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Use a piezo grill igniter. The air gap will vaguely control the peak voltage, but it's a good $10 tester if your stuff is supposed to be very resilient. \$\endgroup\$ – Daniel Feb 18 '16 at 21:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ It makes one hell of a shock though, so it is probably overkill for ESD testing. \$\endgroup\$ – Daniel Feb 18 '16 at 21:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Daniel Hah, I used the peizo igniter as a ESD tester too. I've always wondered how much current and voltage it gives. \$\endgroup\$ – George Herold Feb 18 '16 at 21:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ Socks and a carpet? \$\endgroup\$ – Samuel Feb 18 '16 at 21:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ a cat or a condom. xkcd.com/649 \$\endgroup\$ – JonRB Feb 18 '16 at 21:35

Most controlled test would be to use a human model like this: Human model

For the high voltage supply I would use a Cockcroft Walton voltage multiplier with an isolation transformer. For 220V mains, you'll need 9 stages.

Voltage multiplier http://m.eet.com/media/1170936/multiplier%201x600.jpg

  • \$\begingroup\$ This seems like a Marx generator, is it based on it ? \$\endgroup\$ – MaximGi Feb 19 '16 at 8:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ marx generates pulses cockcroft generates DC \$\endgroup\$ – JonRB Feb 19 '16 at 10:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ any idea how to switch the HV from the middle cap? \$\endgroup\$ – Vincent Alex Feb 19 '16 at 14:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ A high voltage relay would be the best. \$\endgroup\$ – Ignas Urba Feb 19 '16 at 16:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ Hmm 50eur for HV realy is very expensive, any cheaper solution? \$\endgroup\$ – Vincent Alex Feb 20 '16 at 11:02

You can make a Van de Graff generator very inexpensively (2 metal combs, 1 metal ball, 1 rubber/vinyl belt, 1 metal pulley & 1 non-conductive pulley, with a motor).

It would be far more predictable/controllable than a grill ignitor, or most flyback, or boost converter-type devices as you can change the capacitance by varying the top ball dimensions, and can easily monitor the building voltage with a hv-multimeter.


You could try an electric fence generator usually used for controlling livestock. These are very cheap and work from a 12V supply or the mains.

  • \$\begingroup\$ This probably has a different timescale than a pf capacitor found in most generators \$\endgroup\$ – Voltage Spike Jun 7 '17 at 15:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ A fence charger will deliver way too much energy for this application. It'll blow traces right off the board. \$\endgroup\$ – duskwuff -inactive- Jun 26 '18 at 22:19

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