Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Mini Cattle Prod / Bug & Spider Zapper

This project wasn't one I really planned in advance on doing, but after seeing a box of handheld bug zappers on clearance at the local Walmart for $3 each, I picked a few up and started thinking about ways to make them more "fun".

The bug zapper rackets work really well, and since purchasing them I have taken out around a dozen flies over the course of the summer.  We also occasionally  get spiders in / around the house, so I thought of a modification that I could do to make these more "poke" friendly.

The main idea is to leverage the existing electronics, but add a diode that can be used to prod bugs in situations where the racket shape isn't ideal.

For the terminal I will be using a cheap antenna from an old rabbit-ear setup.  After removing the racket and detaching the wires, it was apparent that a new end piece would have to be manufactured to both keep the electronics within the handle, and provide a mounting point for the terminal.  Decided to use some MDF wood for that part.

Once the height was correct after a bit of filing / sanding, went ahead and drilled a few holes where the plastic parts of the zapper are secured by screws.

A look at how the new end piece lines up in the handle.

Wend ahead and painted it black and drilled the holes to allow for the wires to come out and to attached the antenna. As mentioned before, only 1 blue wire is needed and I taped off the other one inside the handle.  Once you have an idea of how long you want the terminal to be, you will need to add some additional length to the red wire, and throw on some heatshrink or electrical tape.  I used a bit thicker wire than what comes out of the handle to make the end of the terminal a bit stronger.

At this point, I pushed the antenna into the end piece being careful not to damage the wires I had previously pulled through.  Once the end is sticking about just over 1/4in, strip a bit of the end off, and apply some solder so the end wires don't separate.  I also roughed up the end of the antenna a bit with a file to make for a better electrical contact point. You may have to play with how far out the wire sits to get the spark to engage correctly, but once figured out, I used superglue withing the antenna shaft to keep the wire in place.

For the blue wire, you will need to drill a small hole in the base of the antenna and pull it through.  After roughing up a small spot with a file, solder the end of the blue wire to the base of the antenna.

Project completed!  Total build time 30-45min. Zapper length is around 18in.  Still runs off 2x AA batteries, and the LED lights up when the button is depressed.  Check out the video below to see it in action on a paper clip and a spider in the back yard.

YouTube Video

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