Get your energy buzz in the morning

We wrote about the full scale high-voltage and Tesla experiments going on in Russia, producing 100 meter lightnings and other spectacular effects in the surrounding forest. These effects proved to be too fascinating to pass by, as many inspiring scientists in various countries are building small scale replicas of Tesla and other high-voltage equipment in their backyards and garages. We've been sent a number of images, electrifying enough to scare some fire departments - proving that this backyard activity is popular not just with curious engineers who want to get a quick "buzz" but also with photographers.

These "furry" sparks can extend to 8 feet and carry around half a million volts:

(image credit: resonanceresearch)

Russian "Master" sends his chair "back to the future"

With kind permission of Master we show here his experiment with DIY Tesla set. His impressive results include a 5 meter long high-voltage discharge, which converted a normal chair into an "electric" one, and a demonstration of fluorescent tubes glowing purely from the rig's surrounding electro-magnetic field. Other friends of Master also tried a lesser-scale set-up, made from the dozens of used tin coffee cans.

(images credit: Master)

Tesla Down Under

You can observe bigger Tesla installations in action on Peter Terren's site Tesla Down Under. With his permission, here are some of the most spectacular images from his hair-raising experiments. Note, that Peter basically works with the equipment on his own, with a little help from his interested kids - so it's really quite impressive that he came up with such an extensive catalog of electrical phenomena found on his site.

His (very effective) Car Theft Prevention program:

The encircling power arcs are achieved by connecting motorized 6 foot aluminum tube to the top of the Tesla coil. A variation of this setup, called "The Eye of Sauron" produces a breathtaking effect, when rotated (long-exposure photo):

"Sauron's Aura" is even more striking - the Tesla coil is mounted 11 foot (3.3 m) in the air and the rotating rod is attached to a long beam.

Peter also conducts some very odd looking experiments with "swimming pool sparks" (do not try to imitate this, as you definitely have to know what you are doing). Peter says, "The salt water pool is very conductive like a big ground so there is absolutely no sensation. People associate water and electricity with danger. Like dropping the hairdryer in the bathtub. But the danger only occurs if the water forms a path to you then ground ie if you touch the taps, bath drain or wet grounded floor. The chain mail glove has a copper braid attached otherwise it would be a problem if I had my hand right out of the water."

Faraday cage (or Dalek cage, as a homage to Dr. Who) will get you so close to 6 foot sparks, that it just might "electrify" you for the rest of the day:

Peter calls this "Honey... there is some electrical interference", and adds that the mobile phone works just fine:

His site also provides a wealth of information on how to build and enjoy your own Tesla coil. What else does he do in his garage and around it? How about moving small objects by the ionic wind, crushing cans, shrinking coins, exploding stuff for fun and BBQ-ing hot dogs with high-voltage:

Just the sort of activity we'd like to do after a stressful day in the office.
When not in the shack, Peter invades his wife's kitchen to abuse the microwave oven. Here is a very special microwave CD Burner:

or playing with ferro-fluids... We could spend all day on his site.

(images credit: Tesladownunder.com)

Tools for Your Shop

There is a company, located in Wisconsin backwoods, near Wisconsin Dells - "Resonance Research", which is the world's largest manufacturer of Tesla coils, Van de Graaff generators, and various other high voltage machines. They can set you up for some high energy experimentation. (photos by permission)

Model M-150 Resonance Tesla Transformer in action:

Resonance Tesla Transformer (3.5 Million Volts):

"Big Bruiser" Teslathon in action:

They are also the world's largest high voltage research and development center. Fun for the whole family:

Pretty cool "Eye of Thor" effect:

(images credit: resonanceresearch)

Now a couple of interesting videos:

Short but intense clip of a high-voltage arc caused by a 500kV switch opening up at the Nevada Desert's power facility. An enormous Jacob's Ladder effect results:

"Singing" Tesla Coil" - ultimate empowering for DJs and techno-nuts. The primary resonant frequency of the coil is modulated to achieve the tones and melody you hear. Read more info here

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Category: Technology,Science
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Blogger B. Durbin said...

Interestingly, lighting does not fork; it converges. The Tesla coil is, then, the terminus of the lighting, not the originator as you might think.

I learned this from a meteorological friend of mine. He said that almost all of the lightning strikes we see photographed are ground-to-sky lightning; the true sky-to-ground bolt is very rare.

Blogger Avi Abrams said...

fascinating comment... I did not know this.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Me neither. Great but dangerous experiments.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lightning and tesla coil discharges are very different things. About the only thing in common is that they are both electrically induced air plasmas.

Lightning is a pulsed DC current, produced when volumes of electrostatically charged atmosphere discharge to ground (or to another area of opposite charge.) A lighning 'strike' is usually one or more very brief, high current pulses in very quick succession. Usually too closely spaced to differentiate by eye, but sometimes you'll see a lighning bolt 'flicker' - you are seeing successive strikes along the same (or nearly same) ionisation path.

Tesla coils are high frequency AC resonant transformers, and the arcs are thus high frequency AC, with broad spectral content up into the Megahertz range due to the ringing square wave primary coil excitation. As a result, the visible behavior of tesla arcs is quite different to lightning. The processes in action are too complicated to explain in detail here, but the dominating ones are: point discharge, skin effect, persistence of ionization paths in air, charge mobility in air within the HF electric field surrounding the tesla coil head, and distortions of the field due to active plasma paths. Which all intereact to produce the 'bushy' spreading arc tangles typical of Tesla coils.

But, to address b. durbin's point, lightning (mostly) converges, but tesla arcs do actually diverge into the space around the coil, unless a single, direct arc forms to some nearby ground point. Its an AC current, and there is a single field source - the coil head. Hence, 'diverge' is a fair description.

Btw, the photo of Tesla surrounded by arcs is a double exposure he arranged. Documented, sorry don't have ref handy.


Blogger Unknown said...

The singing Tesla Coil is from Arc Attack. To get the different tones you hear, they are turning the coil on and off at the frequency of the desired note.


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