These machines belong to a class of electrostatic generators called influence machines, which separate electric charges through electrostatic induction, or influence, not depending on friction for their operation.
This hand powered Wimshurst machine has three major parts: rotating parallel plates, neutralizing rods, and collecting combs.
The two transparent plates are supported by two rigid uprights and driven by a belt via a hand crank in opposite direction. They are heavy, high resistance plastic, with sectors of aluminum sheet.
The size of these discs is 300mm in diameter.
There are two leyden jars (condensers) made from corning glass and aluminum foil.
Cemented onto each disc are a number of metal foil sectors, which both generate and carry small charges of electricity to be stored in the capacitor.
Each sector accumulates the charges derived by influence with the other sectors.
Diagonal neutralizing brushes on the front and back distribute the correct charges to the sectors they revolve.
Two additional pairs of brushes collect the accumulated charges and transmit them to the storage capacitor.
The brushes are also connected to spark gap electrodes. As the plastic discs revolve, a high voltage spark will jump between the electrodes as they are gradually brought together. Static electricity is stored in the Leyden jar condenser until discharged.
Two swinging arm dischargers with insulated handles are built-in.
The whole set up is mounted on a nicely polished wooden base.
Students will acquire a clear understanding about the working of the wimshurt machine and how it can produce such high voltages.