How To Make A Static Grass Applicator
There are two basic ways to make a static grass applicator..
The first is to get a static field generator and scratch build one to your own design.
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And within that approach you can build either a shaker type or external dispenser type.
With either type you require a static field generator and parts like you see here. Static Grass Applicator Parts
Types Of Static Grass Applicators
First, let’s look at the various types of static grass applicators that are available and what is best to use plus instructions on how to build your own.
There are three basic classes of static grass applicators. The first is the shaker type and the second the external dispenser type and the third with is a hybrid, the flyswatter. Each will be discussed in a separate section below.
We will review them in order of what we consider the order of usefulness.
Fly Swatters Converted To Static Grass Applicators
The poor characteristics of the Fly Swatters converted to Static Grass Applicators simply makes their one positive characteristic of being cheap irrelevant.
These are generally discarded and replaced by one of the two other classes of static grass applicators.
Why? They have low pulling power and the dispensers are usually too small to prevent the grass from flying about when one shakes them.
As one wag put it, the fly swatters only give flies mental shock treatment. They fly away with memory loss but ready to continue to irritate.
Your grass needs more than a mental shock.
We recommend against wasting your time making one of these.
Shaker Type Static Grass Applicators
To the left is a picture of a typical shaker type static grass applicator.
They are Eexcellent for adding static grass over large areas. They are what one would describe as general purpose static grass applicators.
These are widely available and popular among many groups.
You can buy them ready made or build your own. Information about building your own can be found here. https://steamtraininfo.com/static-grass-applicators/diy-shaker-applicator
If you are going to be doing basic static grass work, one of these is fine.
Static Grass Applicators That Use External Dispensers
To the left is a picture of an external dispenser type static grass applicator. The one pictured is extremely easy to make, inexpensive and very useful.
Nothing compares to these for making finely detailed scenery.
They consist of a main static field generating unit to which you add a grass dispenser in the form of a tea or vegetable strainer or other grass scenery tools. (information about them is here.)
The advantages of external dispenser type static grass applicator of this type are significant.
- Easy to control where the grass is being applied.
- It can be used to groom edges along the sides of buildings and fences.
- It can be used to power your own simple DIY flock box.
- You can change grass in the dispenser quickly and easily.
- You can apply grass in places not reachable with a shaker. In low overhead areas, under bridges, at tunnel entrances, for example.
- You can add unique dispensers to do such things as add static grass branches to trees – wire, wooden and plastic armature-based trees.
- And if you really want, you can use it as a shaker type dispenser.
You can buy one that is plug and play or a kit to build one. Review what is available here.
Very little is required to make your static grass applicator.
You start with an ion generator, and connect it to a power supply and grass dispenser.
So lets go through the parts first.
The Anion Generator.
There is no substitute for the power of your static field. When it comes down to it, power is everything.
The higher the power, the better your applicator.
Longer static grass will respond faster and stand up straighter with a high power anion generator than with a low power anion generator.
The one we use generates a -15kv DC static field with a 12 v DC input. It is unique in that you can power it with input voltages from 4.5 to 12 v DC. The output will vary with the input from 7.5 to 15v KV. Complete details are here. https://steamtraininfo.com/static-grass-applicators/anion-generator-15kv
You can get one here. https://store.polandsbest.com/collections/static-grass-applicators/products/staticgrassking-static-field-generator-for-static-grass-applicators-15kvdc-output-plus-free-plans
A General Safety Warning
Static grass applicators use static fields of anywhere from 4KV to 15KV. KV means thousand volts. In other words, they generated static fields of 4,000 to 15,000 volts.
They are not toys. People with pacemakers or other health conditions are warned that they can be particularly dangerous for them.
The Power Supply
Your choice here depends on both the type applicator that you make and the degree portability that you want.
If portability is not a big concern, a wall wart is quite useful.
You don’t need high amperage. An anion generator is not a transformer. It does not pass current. I acts more like a capacitor. So a .5 to 2 amp wall wart is fine.
Sometimes, however, a wall wart will have an AC component to the DC output. And that will burn out your anion generator. So choose carefully.
You can get one that has been tested and performs very well here.
Note, to protect yourself, before you use a wall wart, check your anion generator’s operation by using a battery.
Initial Test Should – More Than Should – Must Be Done With A Battery
When you run the first test, use a battery. A standard 9 volt battery is best.
By using a battery you eliminate any problems that can be created by your power supply. And they do exist. For example, some power supplies have an AC component in their output. That will burn out the unit. And then some are unstable and go into over voltage conditions.
And if you have erred in wiring, it is possible to burn out the power supply.
Only after you test satisfactorily with a battery, use an external power supply.
In any case, you can use your layout power bus, desktop power supply or converted computer supply.
When testing your finished applicator, we recommend starting with a 9v DC battery. Feedback from our customers tells us that many of them are so happy with that, that they stay with it. (The testing process is here.
And, of course, powering with a battery makes your applicator portable.
The complete testing process is here.
Wiring And Connectors
Since we are focusing on making a static grass applicator with an external dispenser, the parts we recommend fit that type.
You will need banana clips, connectors and wire anywhere between 18 ad 24 gauge. These are, of course, off the shelf items.
But once again, if you want the convenience of getting everything that has been specially selected and tested, go here.
Putting It Together
First, let’s look at the results of making a kit.
Many people, after trying to scratch build a static grass applicator, tell us that they wish they would have used a kit.
Without wasting your time, read about the kit here.
Simple Effective Applicator
This is hard to beat. It is inexpensive, easy to build, and by powering it with battery, portable.
Mount your anion generator on a piece of MDF
Cut two wine bottle corks in half to be used as legs
Hot glue them to the bottom of the MDF
Cut a hole in the MDF and insert the switch
Add your female banana clip connectors and wire them in place.
You have to add the dispenser and grounding wire. We will show you how to do that below.
Power Modules Others Have Made
These are scratch built static grass applicators made by two people. One uses the parts we recommend and the second other parts.
These should give you enough ideas to use to design your own.
This first is rather complex. The fellow 3D printed the boxes. In his initial version, the push button switch he used burned out the anion generator. After replacing the switch with one like we recommended it worked fine.
The second one is very simple. It worked the first time tested. A battery was added later inside the box. It made a wonderfully portable unit.
With one of these external dispenser static grass applicators, you have a good selection of grass dispensers.
Our choice , because of its versatility, is a tea strainer.
We call this the detail dispenser. With it you can make absolutely realistic scenery.
You can disperse the grass through the strainer or add the grass with your fingers and use the strainer edge to tease the grass up. Watch this video to see it done. Click here.
It consists of a tea strainer with a wire soldered to the handle. The other end of the wire is attached to a male banana clip connector.
The combination is slipped into a piece of poly pipe. Secure it in place. Wrap it with electric tape to ensure it is well secured.
This is a larger version of the tea strainer dispenser. It is very useful for covering large areas.
They have particular advantages.
Don’t have to shake. When you use a static grass applicator that you have to shake, grass spreads all over the place. Not only does this make a cleanup problem, you have a lot of waste. To add grass, just stir the grass in the strainer with a chop stick.
Accurate placement of grass. You’re able to hold the grass container accurately over the place where you want the grass. The grass goes straight down and sticks just where you want it.
Excellent for blending. You need fairly good accuracy and grass placement to do a proper job of blending. Not only can you choose the size of the grass container, you can use different grass containers, each containing a different grass, very easily and get a better blending job, faster, and easier than you can with the shaker type static grass applicator.
Can get into tight places. By using one of the narrow diameter grass containers you get into very tight places very easily. Then you can apply grass where you often can’t with a shaker type static grass applicator.
Lightweight and easy to handle. The shaker type grass applicators normally have the negative ion generator, and sometimes a power supply, built right into them. Compared to the static grass containers here, they are very heavy and that weight can sometimes make them unwieldy to handle.
Low cost and easy to make.
Easy to change so you can lay different sizes and colors of grass. You can keep extra grass containers preloaded and quickly change them as you want different grass size or grass color.
These are useful for covering large areas.
You choice of the actual container is unlimited. But your choice will probably be between one made of glass and one made of plastic.
Glass has one definite advantage. And that is that grass has a tendency to stick to plastic. Not a big thing, but it can become irritating when you are trying to move quickly.
So focusing on glass:
Mason jars, like other glass jars, are dual purpose containers. They are great as dispensers and make useful grass storage jars.
To make a dispenser, just replace the removable lid with a screen. And as for screens, you can have several, each with a different hole size.
Solder a wire to the edge of the top and attach a male banana clip to the other end of the wire.
When you want to change the size of the grass that you are using, just change jars.
IMAGE REQUIRED To use other jars, just cut the center out of one tops and add and the wire.
Use plastic containers in a similar way.
You must attach the ground pole of your static grass applicator to the surface to which you want to add your grass or flock.
Connect one end of your ground wire to a male banana clip.
To the other end add either a probe or alligator clip.
The image to the left show the grounding wire made with a banana clip. You push a pin or nail into the substrate and attach to clip to it.
Sometimes you may simple make a connection without a pin.
You can also use a probe.
The probe allows you to ground the surface without worrying about the wire touching other scenery items.
To make a probe, add a nail to a chop stick, solder it to the wire and wrap it with electrical tape to hold it in place.
How to Make A Static Grass Applicator Click Here
How To Use Static Grass Click Here
How To Make Your Own Static Grass Click Here
Preferred Static Grass Click Here
Parts to make your own static grass applicator Click Here
Static Grass Applicator Kit Click Here
Questions Or Comments
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