Woodpecker, proof of concept

  • Today I tried winding a rather poor 75-turns air coil (improvised from an insulated 2 mm-thick copper wire), and with a ferromagnetic bracket I attempted to reproduce the basic process used in Alexander Parkhomov's "Woodpecker" (see references further below), but here instead at 12V DC and about 40A peak input from the usual Corsair HX520 switching DC power supply that I used recently. Due to the relatively large current involved and the speed at which the electrodes got separated, the counter EMF must have had a voltage greater than 12V (see Lenz's law), but how exactly it's hard to quantify.

    A messy photo of the quick setup:

    It seems to operate just like a welding machine. I've made a short video:

    The coil got warm, but most of the heat probably was generated towards the end of the test, after the electrodes welded together and about 40A continuous were passed through the coil. Using metallic electrodes there's always a risk of this occurring.

    I haven't run it with water yet, and I don't plan to until I can make a better crafted version that got rid of the bugs.

    Woodpecker references:

    1. https://drive.google.com/file/…YmILYQMWGGCfphaKF_Kd/view
    2. http://www.unconv-science.org/pdf/21/zhigalov1.pdf
    3. https://steemit.com/steemstem/…range-radiation-generator
    4. https://e-catworld.com/2018/10…with-alexander-parkhomov/
    5. https://e-catworld.com/%E2%80%…/10/Strange-Radiation.pdf
  • Alan Smith

    I was thinking that the pencil electrode will be pulled upwards with a much greater force if it's made of a ferromagnetic material as essentially it's working like the magnetic core of push/pull solenoids. So perhaps the only bottom electrode needs to be made of graphite.

    EDIT: by the way, in the video the electrodes were producing sparks at a peak rate of about 23-25 Hz.

    EDIT 2: furthermore, I'd like to point out that from the previously posted video it's clear that at least in my case sparks are generated on contact separation.

  • It should probably be clear by now, but to summarize it again, the working principle is that when the movable pin electrode touches the bottom plate electrode, the circuit closes, the electromagnet/solenoid activates and pulls the pin upward, which opens again the circuit, making the pin fall back to the plate by gravity, etc. in a continuous loop.

    I made a somewhat improved coil using a plastic tube as a core, but haven't tested it yet. I still have to deal with the bottom electrode.

    Additionally, I thought that if the solenoid pulls the pin electrode upward with a sufficiently strong force and the plate electrode is prevented from moving, perhaps the latter doesn't have to be made of graphite. It could even be that if it has the chance to latch with it a little bit so that current builds up in the coil, it might eventually detach from it more violently, causing a larger voltage kickback. It would be a sort of risky mode of operation compared to having the guarantee of welding issues never occurring however, and perhaps not really required as the voltage pulse should already be at least a couple kilovolts (eyeball measurements from the previous crude test, with some support with an equivalent circuit simulation).

  • OK- only the experiments will tell you. It occurs to me btw that a key disadvantage of graphite electrodes is that they can exfoliate large amounts of material into the electrolyte, so you end up with graphite soup. I had forgotten about that problem.

  • Alan Smith

    I wanted to write it in advance as a sort of guess or "bet" on what will happen when I will test it within the next few days if I can find a suitable piece of material to use as a bottom electrode—I might have to sacrifice an angle bracket for that.

    By the way, my suspicion is also that having material getting suspended in the electrolyte (but here, more a liquid dielectric material rather than actually electrolyte) and discharges occurring through the suspended particles will be beneficial to the process. However, a too quick erosion will be undesirable.

  • May be beneficial indeed. Ages ago Director sent me a link to a public domain paper about using underwater electrolysis/arcing (can't remember exactly :() using graphite electrodes to manufacture graphie 'onions' - little speres with a complex layered structure that was very active catalytically with hydrogen. Sorry this is such scrappy info, but maybe you can find it again.

  • I have some references about those carbon onions:




    With metal electrodes no onion would be forming. The process through the metal particles would be probably more similar to what has been described by Brian Ahern in his lapsed patent application:


    AMPLIFICATION OF ENERGETIC REACTIONS - United States Patent Application 20110233061

    Abstract: Methods and apparatus for energy production through the amplification of energetic reactions. A method includes amplifying an energy release from a dispersion of nanoparticles containing a concentration of hydrogen/deuterium nuclei, the nanoparticles suspended in a dielectric medium in a presence of hydrogen/deuterium gas, wherein an energy input is provided by high voltage pulses between two electrodes embedded in the dispersion of nanoparticles.

  • In my initial attempt I used a ferromagnetic angle bracket and as a result, with the solenoid working as a powerful electromagnet, both pieces would become attracted together, to only separate when power was turned off. Clearly the force at which they were magnetically attracted was stronger than that with which the pin would be pulled upward.

    After this, I replaced the angle bracket with a copper strip that I found among other stuff, and it finally worked as intended, more or less. The video was recorded at 120 fps (EDIT: but Youtube downscales that to 60 fps) and can be therefore slowed down to 0.25 0.50x playback speed with the Youtube player and seen in a true slow motion. Upon audio analysis it looks like it's running at a discharge rate of about 50-60 Hz.

    In this dry test current wasn't as high as I expected, however: I could only get to about 6 amps. After increasing a little bit the mass of of the pin electrode, I could get it to 10-12 amps depending on the its initial positioning, but I'm not 100% sure if it's actually helping. The shape of the tip seems important too as it can get in contact with the bottom electrode in multiple places. Furthermore, although the clamp is claimed by the manufacturer to be a True RMS with readings over 4000 counts, it's not clear how accurate it would be over the kind of waveform generated by the test.

    In any case, at least without water the coil gets warm after about 1-2 minutes of operation, so long term operation might not be possible anyway.

    * * *

    EDIT: another test with the slightly heavier pin electrode gave a discharge rate of 45 Hz at about 13-14A peak from the clamp meter. Much of the electromagnetic noise radiates at all frequencies from the anode wire. It's picked well by the AM/FM radio, and I tried recording its signal directly with an audio jack. This was still a "dry" test.

    * * *

    EDIT 2: I tried adding some deionized water; it gets stained quickly; the cell in general also heats up quickly so it cannot be run too long. Under water the sparks do not seem as impressive. The rate increased to about 90 Hz, but current is still about 15A peak. In the photo below the now brown water from the particles removed from the electrodes can be seen (I haven't used a lot of it).

    * * *

    EDIT 3: I've made a short video of a run with deionized water. Peak current here was about 15.0-15.5A.

    A NetIO GC10 Geiger counter with an SBM-20 GM tube is visible in this test. I don't think it's extremely useful here as background radiation readings vary quite a bit and the variation shown in this video is quite likely part of it and not related to the test. However at the moment I'm not using a logger and I haven't done extensive background checks.

    The DVD-R is for attempting detection of "strange-radiation" particles according to the reports by Zhigalov et al. So far I haven't seen anything unusual or reminiscent of the marks seen in their presentation, but there are several differences in my experiment, so it cannot be defined as a perfect replication. Furthermore, an extended run time may be required.

    * * *

    EDIT 4: I made a close-up video of the reaction occurring between the mild steel anode and the copper cathode in deionized water (now contaminated with metallic ions and nanoparticles) in a Parkhomov "Woodpecker" replication attempt. Due to the rate of heating and slow heat dissipation I can only turn on the cell for about 1 minute every 10-15 minutes at most.

    Here I added an FM radio tuned on a broadcasting station to show that the noise (mostly emitted from the anode wire) overwhelms the signal, but it isn't very clear from the video. Its antenna lies above the anode wire and touches the jar close to the spark discharge area.

    It can also be seen that the movable anode jumps around quite a bit in the process, producing sparks on various spots. This also depends on its starting positioning when turning on the cell; sometimes it jumps around less.

    From this angle it seems as if brighter sparks are produced under water, but it could be coincidental (but due to the significantly higher dielectric strength compared to air—at least for pure water—it might not be that unexpected). Spark color ranges from white-bluish to orange-red and red-violet. Current ranged typically between 12A and 14.5A.

    * * *

    EDIT 5: some observations following several periods of short usage.

    • Anode (the pin electrode) wear appears to be quick.
    • The discharge rate still appears to be about 75 Hz, current as reported by the clamp meter oscillates between 12A and 16A.
    • If I set the clamp meter to AC, it reads a somewhat lower current.
    • After a period of operation the water gets clouded by the suspended particles and the sparks do not seem as bright as before. However by allowing the particles to settle down a bit, the previously observed brightness is restored. No change in current nor the perceived discharge rate happens with this.
    • No apparent change in short term Geiger readings observed so far. They oscillate between a minimum of 50 CPM to a maximum of about 95 CPM. On average they are around 75 CPM in the current location.
    • The interior of the coil, on the inside walls of the plastic tube giving it structure, gets significantly hotter than the exterior. It looks as if heat doesn't want to come out.
    • A persistent foam that isn't easily removed has formed. The more the cell is operated, the more it builds up. I'm somewhat concerned that it could contain trapped H2 and O2 gases.

    * * *

    EDIT 6: here is another 120 60 fps video of a short period of operation with the camera focused (not always very well) on the spark discharge area. Video playback speed can be reduced at 0.25x 0.5x with Youtube player controls.

    It's hard to tell from audio analysis but the discharge rate this time seemed above 100 Hz. On the other hand current decreased to about 12.5A on average. This is probably due to a different orientation of the coil and the anode electrode, which were changed before starting the run.

    The spark discharge area appears noticeably brighter and white in the video than it looked in person.

  • I did a few more tests.

    For what it's worth, I manually logged (the automatic logging hasn't been set up) cumulative Geiger count readings at more or less regular intervals (waiting for an increment of at least 200 counts) and computed the average CPM throughout the various sampling periods. Running the cell for brief periods at a time (to avoid overheating the coil) for about one hour did not seem to bring appreciable changes compared to background readings a few hours earlier. Perhaps they are now slightly "jumpier" but this might be due to daily variations which I already observed in the past.

    The bottom line is that it's difficult to tell whether any change here is due to cell operation.

    I also found that if I hold the anode wire vertically above the movable electrode, making it less constrained, I can get the discharge rate to about 150 Hz while current still oscillates in the 12-15A range, although it's not clear if the voltage of the discharges is actually higher. The plasma spot is small but bright white.

    If anything, this shows that there's a lot of room for improvement for this type of cell.

    * * *

    EDIT: for what it's worth, the darker mild steel piece forming the consumable electrode went from 125 mm to 118 mm after these tests.

  • Robert Horst

    I'm still considering several options for the electrode (e.g. a ferromagnetic/mild steel M20 threaded rod as the "core" with some sort of adapter to electrically connect and hold tightly in place tips of other materials), although what you suggested doesn't look like a very expensive one—however if I have to spend something on this, it will probably have to be on the coil first as the currently installed one is poorly made.

    Along those lines, earlier today I added a large [stainless?] steel washer to the tip of the anode to mitigate wear. The reaction produced seemed with it somewhat more dependent on the orientation and positioning of the tip relatively to the copper cathode: this can be seen in the video below where at about minute 0:40 I tried to adjust (using a plastic rod for safety reasons) its position to obtain a brighter reaction.

    As the cell was turned on, the sedimented metal particles in the solution quickly became suspended and formed a dusty cloud that might possibly also take part in the reaction (sometimes I get the impression that the plasma extends to the particles as well).

    This run was the longest continuously performed so far, at almost 3 minutes in length. It seems as if the more time passed (the more water heated up?) the more the plasma looked brighter and hotter, but I had to eventually stop it to avoid melting coil insulation.

    Interestingly, soon after I ended the test, counts per minute reported by the Geiger counter peaked 106 CPM. From audio analysis the discharge rate varied between 125 Hz and 130 Hz at a current of 10-12A on average, as reported by the clamp meter. With a faster discharge rate it seems easier to tell the exact frequency with a spectrogram.

    On a different note, so far the DVD-R that I previously placed (temporarily removed for this videoed test only) is only accumulating dust particles of various sorts. I'm wondering how they were removed in the experiments reported by Zhigalov et al. Blowing compressed air might cause them to scratch the delicate polycarbonate surface of the disk.

    * * *

    EDIT 2019-06-30: I added two fans (140mm and 120mm), which allowed the cell to run continuously for at least 5 minutes at a time. The main issue remains that the interior of the coil gets rather hot and will probably melt if allowed to continue much longer than this.

    I still haven't observed any tracks on the DVD-R, but on the other hand from the manually logged geiger data it almost looks as if prolonged periods of operation cause readings to remain somewhat more elevated than the average.

    I'm also wondering about heat. The cell seems to put a lot of heat for about 150-160W average, but perhaps it could be explained with the combustion of the metal particles eroded from the anode. Another explanation could be that the clamp meter readings aren't accurate, but I've also checked at the wall and the result there seemed more or less consistent (considering power supply inefficiencies) with the DC readings.

  • Although we all know how results like this always end up being, I'm almost thinking that this is kind of working. After installing two computer fans to remove some of the heat from the cell and allowing longer continuous runs (see last edit in previous post) I believe I started obtained increasingly higher Geiger counter readings. I've been sampling the total counts roughly every 20-25 minutes starting from 19:30 today since I installed the fans. Every sample is showing the average CPM since the previously taken sample (in other words, it's not an instantaneous reading).


    In one instance after a run I even had a 130 CPM spike (but I only managed to take a photo of it showing 129 CPM). These spikes are averaged out in the sampling method used above.

    This is a video of one of the longer runs with the fans blowing air on the cell. The discharge rate here was about 120 Hz. The discharges did not look very energetic; possibly due to water conductivity having increased over time due to metal ions, but water opacity reducing the amount of light filtering out might have been another reason.

  • GM readings eventually returned back to the average after I stopped the tests; they peaked immediately after the last run and in general they seemed to increase in almost a stepwise fashion just after a prolonged run. For the record, after I was done with it I've also put a plastic cap on the top opening to prevent it from being a humidifier while I'm not operating it.

    It could still be this was all coincidental—perhaps due to some cosmic event? I will try to repeat it tomorrow. In the previous days I never observed Geiger counter readings increase in that way, in any case.

    Alan Smith

    If it's actually somehow working, there is certainly lots of room for improvement. So far this has been a sort of low-effort, near zero-cost hack job to test the concept. There also are some differences from Parkhomov's: he used 110V and graphite electrodes, for instance.


    This one I'm using is a very simplified system and the back EMF generated directly at the electrodes when they separate (sub-mm separation from what I can tell) probably isn't very large. If instead you're implying that it's already been invented before, I'm not disputing that; the main difference here is a relatively large transient current at a few hundreds volts to maybe couple kV (at most) is being passed through metal particles into which water molecules and possibly hydrogen atoms have been absorbed.

  • On a different note, so far the DVD-R that I previously placed (temporarily removed for this videoed test only) is only accumulating dust particles of various sorts. I'm wondering how they were removed in the experiments reported by Zhigalov et al. Blowing compressed air might cause them to scratch the delicate polycarbonate surface of the disk.

    Since - in theory at least this is etched to show tracks, then dust (probably attracted by static electricity) will get washed off gently in the etchant solution.

  • It could still be this was all coincidental—perhaps due to some cosmic event? I will try to repeat it tomorrow. In the previous days I never observed Geiger counter readings increase in that way, in any case.

    Please do it many times! And possibly with a slightly higher voltage as Mills uses up to 20V. Hydrogen needs 13.6 to strip of an electron...As you have interferences this (>12V) could be the case for very short "points" in time.

  • By the way, this is the temporary solution I'm currently using for mitigating wear: the tip of the electrode is a steel washer that can be rotated and/or replaced once needed. It can be seen here that one side is worn up—it used to be the point of contact before I rotated the washer. The parts are black from the wet metal/metal oxide (mostly iron) dust sticking to their surface.

    Since - in theory at least this is etched to show tracks, then dust (probably attracted by static electricity) will get washed off gently in the etchant solution.

    I'm aware that CR-39 or polycarbonate detectors in general are typically etched in NaOH, but there was not mention at all of etching in the documentation by Zhigalov et al—one would think that etchant solution molarity, etching temperature and time would be important parameters to cite.

    Please do it many times! And possibly with a slightly higher voltage as Mills uses up to 20V. Hydrogen needs 13.6 to strip of an electron...As you have interferences this (>12V) could be the case for very short "points" in time.

    Unfortunately I cannot use higher voltages directly. I'm using a 40A 12V computer power supply. Higher voltages (at least a few hundred volts in air when the electrodes are fresh and clean) are induced by the coil when the electrodes get quickly separated, which they do at a rate of about 75-150 times/second in the case of these experiments, and current gets interrupted (typically 10-13A on average as reported by my clamp meter, but peaks could be higher than reported).

    I tried twice today to reproduce yesterday's apparent results, but I wasn't quite as successful. It does look as if smaller similar-looking transient peaks could be induced, but I'm still not entirely sure whether this is coincidental or not.

    I set up a webcam so now I can more reliably take Geiger counts at a more consistent interval, at least until I put together again the dedicated logging PC I previously used in earlier experimentation.