We’ve all seen them in various cartoons such as Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner. A blasting generator, typically used to set off charges of dynamite in mines, is quite an old invention. Cartoons made it popular, but do you know how it works? How such a crude old wooden box with a metal T sticking out of it can cause so much trouble?

New blasting generators are quite complex devices in comparison. They have safety keys and electronics added to it to make sure it is safe and accurate. Old ones, however, could not be described as complex – they are actually rather primitive. But make no mistake – they are quite ingenious too.

Blasting generators have a long handle bar, which is technically a plunger. Its vertical piece is actually a rack, which engages a pinion when it is pressed down. The pinion gear turns another gear, which spins the generator. Then the plunger is pressed all the way down, the electric circuit is completed and a high voltage impulse is sent to the electrodes. It seems like a pretty crude setup, but the voltage spike is probably enough to kill or seriously injure a person if one decides to touch both electrodes.

However, even though there are no safety devices, old blasting generators are actually a safe device. Contrary to what you’ve seen in cartoons, it will not set off if a bird lands on it – the plunger needs to be pressed down quickly and all the way to the bottom – you need some force for that. It pretty much eliminates the chances of it being set off accidentally. And, of course, you would have to touch both electrodes with both hands to get a lethal shock – why would you do that?

Interestingly, blasting generators were encased in simple wooden boxes – panels were joined with half-blind dovetails! However, we can imagine that some setups were not as posh than as. This is an old device, which belonged to the creator of Cody’sLab YouTube Channel.

Cody don Reeder is a science enthusiast. He has been making videos of his experiments for over six years now and his YouTube channel has over a million of subscribers. And it is not surprising. You can find videos of precious metal refining, homemade rockets, metal casting, mining series and much more. Reeder has been on popular media before for drinking cyanide – a substance known for its poisonous nature. However, that was not some crazy stunt – Reeder is experienced with dangerous chemicals and knew what dosage would not harm him.

So now you know. An old blasting generator works because a rack drives a pinion and it spins the generator, producing voltage high enough to set off a series of explosives. Very useful if you’re planning to do some mining this summer!


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