Popular Science has published the online version of the print article on the Tesla Gun! It includes a quick (and very geek-tastic) interview with yours truly.
Guess who made the lede for Forbes’ coverage of Toorcamp!
I certainly wouldn’t want to mess with this gang. Particularly after an annoyingly long photoshoot session…
The Tesla Gun was chosen to be the opening project of the 2012 Popular Mechanics DIY Backyard Genius awards! PopMech
hasn’t updated the website yet, but it’s already out in print (September 2012). In the meantime, here’s photographer Kyle Johnson’s photo blog.
UPDATE: Here’s the link on popmech.com.
I’ll be at Seattle Maker Faire today at 3:45 to show off the Tesla Gun.
Hope to see you there!
The year was 1889. The War of the Currents was well underway. At stake: the future of electrical power distribution on planet Earth. With the financial backing of George Westinghouse, Tesla’s AC polyphase system competed for market dominance with Edison’s established (but less efficient) DC system, in one of the ugliest and most epic tales of technological competition of the modern age.
More than a hundred years after the dust settled, Matt Fraction and Steven Sanders published The Five Fists of Science: a rollicking graphical retelling of what really happened at the turn of the last century. (Get yourself a copy and read it immediately, unless you’re allergic to AWESOME). On the right is the cover to this fantastic tale of electrical fury.
See that dapper fellow in front? That’s a young Mr. Tesla. See what he’s packin’?
Yep. Tesla Guns. Akimbo.
As I read this fantastic story, gentle reader, certain irrevocable processes were set in motion. The result is my answer to The Problem of Increasing Human Energy: The Tesla Gun. For reals.
Continue reading “The Tesla Gun”
I gave another talk at Ada’s Technical Books: this time about the (nearly completed) Tesla gun. The audio isn’t perfect, and it very tragically ends just before the spectacular spark demonstration, but here it is:
See more photos in Ada’s Flickr pool.
After tragically melting my previous HV switch, and given that a 15kV multi-ampere switch isn’t exactly something you find at Radio Shack, I’ve had to resort to more drastic measures. It was time to make one from scratch.
And when I say scratch, I mean mud. And by mud, I mean porcelain.
The fine folks at Metrix CreateSpace had just to tools I needed: a 3D powder printer to make a slip cast mold, and a kiln to fire the clay into porcelain. After a couple of revisions, I settled on something vaguely resembling a cooling tower. This will let me install a tiny turbine in the bottom to pull out hot ions, while using a minimum amount of material for the switch itself.
Install some tungsten welding electrodes (held in place with high temperature silicone) and voila: a handy switch capable of handling a couple of kilowatts at 15+kV!
Did I mention that, given the incompressibility of porcelain and the shape of the cooling base, it is perhaps a little loud?
Here’s a great article on the importance of deflocculants and specific gravity in maintaining your slip suspensions. A more modest title might be, “How to keep your mud pourable, but not too wet.”
Yes, every technical field has its own funny words. I never thought I’d need specific words to describe the goopiness of mud, but here we are…