How to Build an EMP Generator


A favorite device for science fiction and action movie writers is the EMP generator. An EMP (or electromagnetic pulse) has the power to knock out all electronic devices within its range. Be careful because this could be dangerous. Supervise your kids if they want to try their hands at this.

Part 1
Assembling the Supplies

Assembling the Supplies on How to Build an EMP Generator

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You are not going to be able to create the type of EMP you saw in the Matrix or Ocean’s 11. This type of Electromagnetic Pulse Generator works best for small electronics.

Assembling the Supplies on How to Build an EMP Generator

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For this EMP you are going to take the circuit board and capacitor out of a disposable camera. Other supplies you’ll need are a: Soldering iron Enamel coated wire On/off switch Scotch tape Flat head screwdriver Pliers Core wire Wire strippers Sandpaper A circular object about two inches in diameter.[1]

Assembling the Supplies on How to Build an EMP Generator

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You are dealing with high voltage equipment and could get shocked. When removing the capacitor in particular, be cautious. It’s also recommended to use a multimeter to gauge the voltage and a battery holder.[2] A multimeter is a tool that measures the electric voltage of a circuit. You don’t need one, but it will tell you the voltage of your capacitor.

Part 2
Isolating a Camera's Circuit Board

Isolating a Camera's Circuit Board on How to Build an EMP Generator

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It doesn't have to be anything fancy, just a cheap point and shoot you can pick up at any convenient store. Make sure the film is all used up before taking apart the camera.

Isolating a Camera's Circuit Board on How to Build an EMP Generator

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Using the flat edge of a screwdriver, carefully pry the camera apart. Be careful not to touch the printed circuit board or any metal parts inside.

Isolating a Camera's Circuit Board on How to Build an EMP Generator

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You'll be dealing with the potential of getting a painful shock if you accidentally touch the flash capacitor, which carries about 300 volts.

Isolating a Camera's Circuit Board on How to Build an EMP Generator

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It is commonly a black cylindrical item, with two leads coming out of the bottom.[3]

Isolating a Camera's Circuit Board on How to Build an EMP Generator

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Use an instrument with an insulated end to avoid getting shocked. An insulated tool has a rubber grip that prevents an electric current from shocking you. Slide your screwdriver’s tip against one of the sealants by the flash to discharge the capacitor. You should hear a quick pop followed by a small spray of sparks. Once the initial spark has sparked, you shouldn’t need to redo this. As you remove the board, continue checking the soldered sealants on the circuit board by the capacitor. You do not need to slide the screwdriver’s tip hard. Don’t damage the rest of the circuit board checking for active energy.[4]

Isolating a Camera's Circuit Board on How to Build an EMP Generator

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After carefully taking apart your disposable camera, remove the board and capacitor. Mark on the battery holder, which side is positive and negative with a marker. You’ll be able to tell because there should already be a battery in the machine. Remove the battery from the device before continuing.[5]

Part 3
Creating the EMP Generator

Creating the EMP Generator on How to Build an EMP Generator

1
Locate your wire and cut it to the desired length. You don’t want too much slack, so try anywhere from 3 inches to a foot. This wire will connect the switch to the capacitor. You’ll also need to strip the wire from the rubber casing.

Creating the EMP Generator on How to Build an EMP Generator

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Solder the wire to one of the two terminals of the capacitor. Use a quality soldering gun to avoid a messy circuit board. Solder a blob of lead free rosin core to the surface. Then heat the wire to the blob with your soldering gun. It should dry shortly to create a firm connection. [6]

Creating the EMP Generator on How to Build an EMP Generator

3
Take the wire you just soldered to the capacitor and attach it to the “off” side of the switch. You might need to solder the wire onto the switch, but most switches you buy have screwable ports for wires.

Creating the EMP Generator on How to Build an EMP Generator

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Wrap a strip of tape around your circular object with the adhesive side facing outward until it overlaps. Now take the enamel coated wire and wrap it 7-15 times. Leave some wire out to attach to the terminals. Don’t overlap any of the coil. Take time and be precise. Make sure the wire is snug and that there aren’t any spatial gaps. Coat the finished wiring with tape so it’s secure. Slide the windings off the object. Cut the terminals of the coils to the desired length, but make sure you leave yourself enough room to work with.[7]

Creating the EMP Generator on How to Build an EMP Generator

5
Using sandpaper, file down the tips of the wire to remove the enamel coat. This will create a stronger bond between the components.

Creating the EMP Generator on How to Build an EMP Generator

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Attach a strand of coil to the other terminal of the capacitor. Use care and don’t create a mess. Solder onto the opposite side of the switch.

Creating the EMP Generator on How to Build an EMP Generator

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Connect one of the leads of the coil to the other “on” terminal of the switch.[8]

Creating the EMP Generator on How to Build an EMP Generator

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Make sure your battery for the device is charged and in place. Test the device on a handheld video game. Newer models might not work. Insert the electronic device into the circular coil and flip the switch.