Author Topic: Static Grass Applicators - Does Voltage Matter?  (Read 741 times)

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MetroRedLine

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Static Grass Applicators - Does Voltage Matter?
« on: February 13, 2020, 12:47:12 AM »
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I'm a total newbie when it comes to static grass. I've long shied away from it due to the $100 applicators that first hit the market, as well as the lack of shorter grass for N scale, but I see that one can be found for as little as $30 on eBay these days, plus 2mm grass is now common (Even WS makes it) so I wanna go for it now.

My question, I've noticed that some applicators run 9-12v while others just use 3v from a a pair of C/D cell batteries. Does voltage matter? Does a higher voltage mean a stronger static charge and thus more upright grass? Or does it not really matter? I've noticed that the lower-cost applicators only use 3v.
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Chris333

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Re: Static Grass Applicators - Does Voltage Matter?
« Reply #1 on: February 13, 2020, 12:56:17 AM »
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Have no idea how it works, but they amp the voltage like crazy. Not way you're getting shocked with 3V DC, but these things can zapp the crap out of you.

dem34

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Re: Static Grass Applicators - Does Voltage Matter?
« Reply #2 on: February 13, 2020, 01:09:03 AM »
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Have no idea how it works, but they amp the voltage like crazy. Not way you're getting shocked with 3V DC, but these things can zapp the crap out of you.

Yeah some can get pretty stupid, around 12K-15K volts IIRC. But its also an absolutely minuscule current along with it so even if you do get zapped it doesn't hurt as much as those numbers lead on.

I made the mistake of buying Noch's Grassmaster and comparing it the Woodland Scenics variant that I saw a demo of there wasn't a notable difference in the end result, in fact I feel it wins out on creature comforts. But I also think at some point you're paying for the design more than anything and you might end be much better off with the $30 electrified confectioner strainers. And to more directly answer; the cheaper ones did appear to have a much smaller "Area of Effect" with making the grass stand up, but at the same time that may actually be an advantage with working with small areas in N scale since you'll have better control of the application.
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wvgca

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Re: Static Grass Applicators - Does Voltage Matter?
« Reply #3 on: February 13, 2020, 06:37:36 AM »
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i have both commercial and home made varieties of grass applicators ..   the source voltage actually doesn't matter that much, what matters is the final applied voltage, in the range of 12,000 to 20,000 volts ..
that being said, the ones that have a higher source voltage also -normally- have a higher final output voltage, which helps the fake grass stand more vertical , and look better ,.,.

randgust

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Re: Static Grass Applicators - Does Voltage Matter?
« Reply #4 on: February 13, 2020, 11:44:57 AM »
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I have an el-cheapo battery powered one, and made the memorable mistake of hitting the 'grounding nail' with the wire shaker basket.

Holy crap....sounded like I'd blown a 20-amp breaker.   Won't do that again....

I've had more issues with the material than the technique.   All that stuff is NOT created equal.   You really want to practice on junk material before you do anything on a layout.  My first tests were dismal failures but I got better.

wazzou

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Re: Static Grass Applicators - Does Voltage Matter?
« Reply #5 on: February 13, 2020, 12:10:44 PM »
+1
I built my own from an article in Z Trains for constructing the Grassinator some years back and it works flawlessly.
I just looked at the Z Trains site though and notice they are marketing their own version so the instructions to build your own may no longer be available.
It is possible I still have the printed instructions but it has been a long while and I have moved since so they may have been tossed.
I think I built my own for +/- $25 and see they are selling it for over $100.

These are the only images in my gallery with any applied using that tool.





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Santa Fe Guy

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Re: Static Grass Applicators - Does Voltage Matter?
« Reply #6 on: February 14, 2020, 02:52:29 AM »
+1
I recently purchased the Woodland Scenics static grass applicator for my new HOn3 layout and love it. I only use a 9V battery.
It is easy to use, comes with a separator ( to divide the chamber) and three different screens depending on which size grass you are applying.
All the various height static grass in the image below was used by the Woodlands product.
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peteski

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Re: Static Grass Applicators - Does Voltage Matter?
« Reply #7 on: February 14, 2020, 03:40:07 AM »
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As it's been mentioned, these devices generate very high voltages, from low voltage batteries.  The value of the input voltage (battery) does determine  the output voltage (DC/DC converters can be designed to generate just as high voltage from a 3V battery as the can from a 9V battery).  But I'm also sure that the output voltage varies depending on the brand of the static applicators.  Mayne people use guts from an electronic fly swatters from a dollar store to make a decent static grass applicator.

The loud spark heard when the output if the device is shorted occurs because a high voltage capacitor gets discharged, releasing a fairly high amount of energy in an instant.  Like a miniature lighting strike.
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ednadolski

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Re: Static Grass Applicators - Does Voltage Matter?
« Reply #8 on: February 14, 2020, 09:05:56 AM »
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The loud spark heard when the output if the device is shorted occurs because a high voltage capacitor gets discharged, releasing a fairly high amount of energy in an instant.  Like a miniature lighting strike.

When I was a kid, my dad would demonstrate how he would safely discharge the static charge that would accumulate in a TV CRT tube so that it could be serviced.   That was like a not-so-miniature lightning strike.

Ed

peteski

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Re: Static Grass Applicators - Does Voltage Matter?
« Reply #9 on: February 14, 2020, 10:09:04 AM »
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When I was a kid, my dad would demonstrate how he would safely discharge the static charge that would accumulate in a TV CRT tube so that it could be serviced.   That was like a not-so-miniature lightning strike.

Ed

Oh yeah!  The CRT acts like a high voltage capacitor. Depending on CRT's size, we are taking  between 15-30kV. That will produce a mini lighting.  8)
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MetroRedLine

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Re: Static Grass Applicators - Does Voltage Matter?
« Reply #10 on: February 14, 2020, 06:23:19 PM »
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As it's been mentioned, these devices generate very high voltages, from low voltage batteries.  The value of the input voltage (battery) does determine  the output voltage (DC/DC converters can be designed to generate just as high voltage from a 3V battery as the can from a 9V battery).  But I'm also sure that the output voltage varies depending on the brand of the static applicators.  Mayne people use guts from an electronic fly swatters from a dollar store to make a decent static grass applicator.

The loud spark heard when the output if the device is shorted occurs because a high voltage capacitor gets discharged, releasing a fairly high amount of energy in an instant.  Like a miniature lighting strike.

Okay, so static grass applicator DC voltage is not an indicator of product quality then, correct?
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peteski

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Re: Static Grass Applicators - Does Voltage Matter?
« Reply #11 on: February 14, 2020, 06:34:25 PM »
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Okay, so static grass applicator DC voltage is not an indicator of product quality then, correct?

Well, assuming that the published specs are correct (often not the case with many products where the end user does not need to know this type of spec), then I would say that the one with the highest actual DC voltage would generate the strongest static charge (thus make the grass application better.  I guess that means "better quality", looking at it from your pint of view.

But the output voltage does not always directly relate to the input voltage (or how many, and what type batteries the device uses). Theoretically you can have a device which uses 3V (2 x D batteries) generate higher output voltage than one which uses a single 9V battery.
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ednadolski

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Re: Static Grass Applicators - Does Voltage Matter?
« Reply #12 on: February 15, 2020, 11:10:18 PM »
+1
Oh yeah!  The CRT acts like a high voltage capacitor. Depending on CRT's size, we are taking  between 15-30kV. That will produce a mini lighting.  8)

1:37... there is a reason why Ben Burtt used a CRT for part of the lightsaber sound effect...  :D

« Last Edit: February 15, 2020, 11:12:20 PM by ednadolski »