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Something for the weekend…

This is awesome…

This is 55kV of tamed lightning…

I gotta build a Tesla Coil.

“Sublime on the towers of my skiey bowers. Lightning, my pilot, sits; In a cavern under is fettered the Thunder.”

- Percy Shelley.

18 Comments

  1. What the hell is that!

  2. NickM says:

    A Tesla coil. Invented by Nikola Tesla. Basically a high voltage resonant transformer.

  3. HSLD says:

    I really must build a Tesla turbine some time, I’ve been meaning to do it for years.
    I’ve got the lathe and milling machine and some blueprints for heavens sake….

  4. Philip Scott Thomas says:

    Yeah, that’s pretty awesome, but not as awesome as singing Tesla coils. I mean, c’mon, Tesla coils and Dr Who. What more could you want?

  5. NickM says:

    PST,
    An actual working TARDIS? But that is still fucking awesome! So now I have to build two Tesla coils and that means employing an Igor and moving to a remote Bavarian castle and perfecting a maniacal laugh, “Mad, you call me me mad! I who alone know etc…”. Plenty of buxom wenches almost wearing blouses mind though the torch bearing peasantry could be a problem. Fuck ‘em. Install some Phalanx CIWS. Job done. and napalm. That works too. And unleash the honey badger!

    PS does anyone know what happens when you microwave petrol? I’m seriously considering doing it. Need to get a cheap second-hand MW. If I do it I will film it and post (if still alive and not divorced). I think it might be emotional.

  6. Philip Scott Thomas says:

    Speaking of torch-bearing peasantry and Tesla coils –

    My father was an electronics whiz kid. There wasn’t much he couldn’t build and/or repair. He was also a former ham radio operator. So when I found an old radio-building book in a used book store I knew I’d found a pretty good Fathers’ Day present.

    Now, this book was old. From the early 1920′s. Only a small section at the end was devoted to what it called ‘wireless telephony’. The rest was about ‘wireless telegraphy’, and had instructions for building both receivers and transmitters.

    I told him I’d like to build one of those transceivers and suggested we do it together. He just laughed and pointed to the spark-gap generator. ‘You’d have every neighbour for miles around banging on the door because you’ve blanked out their TV and radio signals,’ he said. ‘They’d string you up.’

    Anyone know what happens with Tesla coils? Do they do the same? How about things like computer hard drives? Any effect?

    Oh, and re Igors – what sadistic joker thought it was a good idea to spell ‘lisp’ with an ‘s’?

  7. Tim Newman says:

    The most brilliant thing about Tesla coils is that they can be used as a defence weapon which automatically differentiates between friends and foe. Any enemy person or vehicle which comes within range is zapped out of existence, but your own troops and vehicles are not harmed. Truly genius.

  8. Tim Newman says:

    PS does anyone know what happens when you microwave petrol?

    At a guess, not much unless somehow a spark is introduced. Petrol autoignites at 240-280°C, not sure if a domestic microwave would get it up to those temperatures at atmospheric pressure, it might simply boil off and the vapours escape harmlessly. I’d not carry out the experiment indoors, mind.

  9. NickM says:

    “I told him I’d like to build one of those transceivers and suggested we do it together. He just laughed and pointed to the spark-gap generator. ‘You’d have every neighbour for miles around banging on the door because you’ve blanked out their TV and radio signals,’ he said. ‘They’d string you up.’

    Anyone know what happens with Tesla coils? Do they do the same? How about things like computer hard drives? Any effect?”

    Most TCs do have a rotary spark-gap. Generally for a home coiler (as they are known) this will involve the motor from an electric drill or similar. And no I wouldn’t use one anywhere near computers or similar. They are also fucking lethal to people and animals.

  10. Bod says:

    Microwaving petrol?

    Meh. Domestic microwaves work by exciting water molecules, and specifically water molecules by emission of a very narrow frequency.

    You do get induction effects when you put metals in the magnetic field, which would obviusly lead to ignition of the petrol fumes, but that’d be no different from simply creating an arc in a fuel air mixture in a box.

    Still, go do it Nick! But I suspect that you won’t *even* boil the petrol.

    Oh, and regarding Tesla devices in general? Strikes me that they’d generate HUGE amounts of white EM noise, and I’d expect them to be even better at scrambling magnetic domains than old-fashioned analog telephones. (Best way to erase an exabyte 8mm tape was put it under the ‘dog and have someone call you and leave it ringing for a minute or so).

  11. HSLD says:

    I don’t know about Tesla coils, but I once visited the home of a fellow 11m pirate DX operator ( Unlicenced radio ham basically, using the CB radio 11m band ) to try and help him sort out the apocalyptic levels of TV interference his setup was producing.

    The guy wasn’t short of a bob or two and had a Yaesu FT1000 and a kilowatt linear amplifier feeding into a 7 element beam antenna. Money can’t buy you good sense though and it was a very poor installation. In particular the linear amp had no RF earth at all.

    There was enough stray RF energy in his radio room that a drawer full of floppy discs were scrambled, presumably in the way Bod describes. The room doubled as his office and the floppies were the backup of his companies tax and payroll records…

  12. Ed P says:

    It’s probably 55MV, not kV. The grid lines run at 133kV without sparking (although they are of course 50Hz, not RF)

  13. Tim Newman says:

    Aw. Nobody got my C&C Red Alert reference. :(

  14. NickM says:

    Tim,
    I got it a s a C&C ref but wasn’t sure of the version. Personally I’m more a RTS man. Gives you time to plan yet more dastardly schemes…

  15. Mr Ed says:

    On Youtube it says th device is 55kW, not kV. (Watts, not Volts). That makes more sense as 25kV is overhead train cable voltage etc. Remember that current is the killer, voltage is the potential. Amazing toy!

  16. ivan says:

    Nick, you should have a look at http://tesladownunder.com/ for some very nice sparks.

  17. Philip Scott Thomas says:

    BTW, Nick, any suggestion of “buxom wenches almost wearing blouses” must, by law, have a reference to this clip.

  18. microdave says:

    “PS does anyone know what happens when you microwave petrol? I’m seriously considering doing it.”

    If it doesn’t work (and I understood the same principles as Bod describes), you could always try something a bit less dangerous, but lots of fun:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n1K4J8KGSk0

    And if you like musical Tesla coils, how about House Of The Rising Sun? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hgll-XTqcS4

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