The capacitors are constructed out of 2 6' long plates of aluminum flashing rolled with 6 layers of 8 mil polyethylene, providing a dielectric breakdown voltage of 56,400 V. For added safety, thermal performance, and corona protection, the capacitors are then immersed in special transformer oil, Diala AX. These capacitors are potted in large bins, and have ample air vents to distribute any gasses in case of a critical breakdown. All capacitor construction was completed in the cleanest environment we could make, and all corners, edges and sharp points have been rounded, to prevent ion leakage.
The variable spark gaps each built from a single 8 ft. 2X4. The gaps stand approximately 1.5' from the ground, inside a wooden support structure. Each gap has it's own structure, and each is the same, allowing for exchangeability. The gaps can be moved in relation to each other to create the proper distance for a full discharge. As of right now the gaps are just rod gaps, but considerations to make them sphere gaps are underway.
A specialized type of spark gap, a trigatron lets us control when PULSE fires, rather than timing the Marx generator discharges. It works via a spark plug imbedded in a sphere of a sphere gap. When you want the ionization cascade to begin, you trigger your spark plug, and the extra voltage kicks the ion stream over the edge and closes the gap.
Constructed of flyback transformers driven by monitor supply boards, the high voltage power source has been designed from the ground up to be inexpensive and effective. While it is not the most elegant of solutions by far, the source is cheap and it works extremely well, especially with the nearly unlimited power from the wall AC source.
Hit the link to read more about the concept behind Marx Generators and see PULSE's 8-part design. As for safety concerns, the Marx will be in a clear zone of at least 10 feet, maybe more. The dangers for high voltage discharge are minimal as my crew will be watching people, the area will be roped off, and the use of the power will be told to the crowd beforehand (which should scare those who would think about touching it anyways). Also, any work on the Marx will require first that every capacitor be discharged. We will accomplish this by utilizing a "Jesus stick" on each terminal, grounding each capacitor, and also by the inclusion of a bleeder resistor to drain the voltage slowly off both the antenna and out of the system.
Designed to transmit the pulse shape as effectively as possible, the antenna will be about 8' long, and about 5' tall at it's tallest. When PULSE is triggered, the Marx generator will dump all of the voltage from the capacitors into the top plate of the antenna. This DC pulse has a certain waveform that it will be shaped to handle appropriately, outputting a high level of RF radiation. After firing, the top plate of the antenna will be drained by a bleeder resistor, preventing a "refire" on discharging.
The physics behind a faraday cage are simple. By making the size of the holes in your material at least as half as small as your smallest wavelength, the mesh covering a space can reflect those waves nearly perfectly. PULSE's smallest wavelength will be about 30 cm. The holes in our faraday cage material should be at most 1/10 of that. See the attached document for more information on faraday cages. Our faraday cage will be 8' tall by 8' wide by 32' long, providing a completely enclosed range to fire PULSE within. The cage will enclose PULSE on all sides, and will be grounded to earth. It will also be collapsible to be stored. Constructed of sturdy 2X4's, the cage will keep people out and keep radiation in.