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Let me begin by saying what a trigatron is not.
A trigatron is a high current, high power, high voltage spark-gap switch. You use a trigatron when
you are switching several thousand volts at several thousand amps. You use a trigatron when
you've exploded and caught fire to every other switching device or semiconductor known to man.
So you might think that a trigatron would not be used in a whole lot of situations, well you are right.
But, if you are among the insane or just an idiot like me you might just need one. You might need
a trigatron if you are wanting to shrink quarters, or launch a disc into space, or produce an EMF
so large that it shuts down a block's worth of integrated circuits and other electronic goods. You
might want a trigatron to explode things with a few kJ of capacitor bank energy. You might
want one to see what items in your refrigerator can sustain a few mega-watts of power. You might want
a trigatron if you have a capacitor the size of a dog house. But you also
just might want one because they are cool and have the phrase 'tron' in them. Do you have a trigatron, well
- A trigatron is not a dinosaur, nor was it..ever
- A trigatron has nothing to do with TRON the movie
- A trigatron is not one of the TRANSFORMERS or a Pokemon
How does it work?
The trigatron is a three electrode spark-gap switch. Two of the electrodes are for the switching
paths, the third is for the trigger transformer. The two switching electrodes are facing each other and
the trigger electrode sticks right in the middle of the two. The trigger transformer generates a high voltage pulse
that ionizes a thin path of gas between the two switching electrodes. This ion trail provides a low resistance path
for the main current to pass through.
Since the voltage and current to be switched is quite high, electrode spacing and electrode material are important.
The spacing between the two switching electrodes much be such that arc-over does not occur without the trigger spark.
The trigger spark voltage much be sufficient to bridge an arc to both electrodes simultaneously, typically significantly
greater than switching voltage. The switching electrodes
are going to take a serious beating and will eventually be vaporized. So the design needs to incorporate adjustable spark
gap distances and easy replacement of the electrodes. Also when this sucker switches it's gonna sound like bat-man taking a
Holly bat-crap, so wear some ear protection and/or make a good sound-tight housing for your trigatron.
Also beware that the trigatron will stop conducting if the remaining voltage on the switching electrodes is not sufficient
to keep the path ionized. This means that after the trigatron fires, there may be SUBSTAINTIAL charge remaining on the capacitor
bank or whatever is begin switched, so don't be sticking your tongue on the electrodes.
Last updated: 05/23/04
Copyright 2004, Greg Miller