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Posted by tiziano on

Trigatron in a nutshell

A trigatron is a close-only “switch” capable of handling thousands of volts at several tens of kA, and exactly for this reason, they are perfect when discharges with capacitors are made.

Operation of trigatron

In practice, they are composed of 3 electrodes: 2 are main and one is to ignite it (depending on the type of trigatron, the position of the ignition electrode varies but I will talk about it later). The two main electrodes are placed at such a distance at which a discharge does not occur at the charging voltage of the capacitors. Between the ignition electrode and the two main ones, an impulse voltage is applied to make a discharge on one of the main electrodes, this discharge ionizes the air between the main electrodes and reduce the discharge voltage and allowing the main discharge (and therefore our “switch” will close).

Construction of a trigatron

Before starting to build your own diy trigatron make sure to check our safety guide!

First trigatron (April 2020) 0.4 / 15Kv

As the first trigatron, I decided to start with a simple and inexpensive diy project to understand if it was realizable. It is basically a three electrodes spark-gap.

For the main electrodes, I used two fairly large screws and, for the trigger electrode, a nail (I had tried with a sphere but, at low voltages, it did not work and tended to merge). All those components were assembled in a plastic box with holes to let the air exit during the discharges (and avoid nice explosions). To generate the high voltage trigger impulse I used a high voltage generator from a stove, the important thing is that it can produce a voltage capable of discharging between the electrodes.


Before using it with high power capacitors I made several tests with smaller capacitors to adjust all the distances between the electrodes to make sure they discharge at the desired voltage. It currently works from 500V to 2 kV and if I want to change the working voltage I just need to vary the distance between the electrodes.

Trigatron problems

If you see that it does not work well, it is unpredictable or it works in a small voltage range, perhaps you have mistaken the polarity of the pulse generator, sd try to invert it and, if there is no improvement, it means that you need to better adjust the distances.

My trigatron suggestion

After the first tests, I felt really good with the trigatron, I recommend it. I warn that before seeing it working, you will have to spend a lot of time adjusting the distances between the electrodes unless you are quite lucky 😊.

See you later!

That is all for now. There will be other trigatron updates in the future. If you are interested in our blog go and read other posts.

 see you later!

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