April 30, 2005 9:32 PM   Subscribe

Lightning On Demand is a volunteer organization of engineers, artists, scientists and machinists. Our key objective is to produce a controllable discharge of lightning at the greatest physical scale imaginable using modern technology. They've built the worlds biggest Tesla coil, Electrum, a Taser Cannon and some other projects
posted by warbaby (19 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Is it just me, or is mounting one of these on your house a REALLY bad idea? Some combination of Terminator-style plasma cannons and a lawsuit begging to happen.

posted by thedevildancedlightly at 9:42 PM on April 30, 2005

It's just you :)
posted by dhruva at 10:04 PM on April 30, 2005

30-barrel taser cannons don't kill people. People kill people.

Support the right to keep and bear taser cannons.

I mean, if bowling ball mortars are legal, why not these?

The best things in life are lawsuits waiting to happen.
posted by warbaby at 10:06 PM on April 30, 2005

home security! it might be a tad steep on the electricity bill to actually fire that thing but think of the deterrent value!
posted by stratastar at 11:47 PM on April 30, 2005

Screw that. I want one of those downstairs at the door to my lab.

Of course, the wife keeps shooting down my ideas for deathtraps and doomsday weapons...
posted by Samizdata at 1:56 AM on May 1, 2005

Damn that's a big sucker. And I thought Dr. Megavolt's was huge.

I highly recommend seeing one of these in action. It's incredibly cool looking and sounding.
posted by scarabic at 1:57 AM on May 1, 2005

I saw a great show on PBS a few years ago about some researchers who were studying lightning. They had a bunker built in a field, and they shot model rockets into likely looking clouds, causing lightning to discharge. It was the coolest thing I ever saw.
posted by fixedgear at 3:56 AM on May 1, 2005

Feh. I've seen bigger.
posted by TwelveTwo at 4:39 AM on May 1, 2005

This post brought to you by warbaby.
posted by NinjaPirate at 5:34 AM on May 1, 2005

Looks like the back of a roadside strip bar. Could be an effective raccoon deterrent.
posted by itchylick at 6:17 AM on May 1, 2005

the radio museum near my house has a big collection of little tesla coils (6 foot and under).

Greg Leyh, one of the movers and shakers behind Lightning on Demand, built the 40KW Tesla coil used by Survival Research Labs. In one of their videos, he talks about how most people's relationship to electronics was on the scale of teddy bear radios, while he was interested in things with a significant kill radius.

The Electrum coil is awsome and they're trying to get the resources together to build an even bigger double coil in Nevada.

My Tesla coil was a dinky 4 footer, but it was a lot of fun.
posted by warbaby at 6:55 AM on May 1, 2005

Fun post. Wasn't there a post a while back about some place in the southwest where they had erected a series of huge steel rods in the ground to attract lighting, compete with a bed and breakfast for people who wanted to come and see the show? Here is is: The Lightning Field in Quemado, New Mexico.
posted by LarryC at 7:29 AM on May 1, 2005

frmo the bit about the electrum:
"Real lightning , which is very rarely seen up close, has the ability to focus and clear the mind."

bah? sounds a little more culty than i like my mad scientists with giant taser guns to be...or is that just a little known fact?

but anyway, awesome post.....
posted by es_de_bah at 8:08 AM on May 1, 2005

"Real lightning , which is very rarely seen up close, has the ability to focus and clear the mind."

I don't doubt it. It's called fear.

Better said, "Real lighting is scary as hell and makes you reassess whether you want to be standing anywhere near it."

Your mind clears because your limbic brain says "omg get out of here, there are 50' bolts of lightning shooting in every direction!".

Joking aside, I love this stuff. I love serious thunderstorms. I think I am going to look into making a Tesla coil of my very own.
posted by exlotuseater at 8:34 AM on May 1, 2005

I'm loving this post. thanks.
posted by Busithoth at 8:34 AM on May 1, 2005

The contact page is broken. A shame, as I wanted to point out that the
"put a cubic foot of styrofoam peanuts on top of a tesla coil and they'll stick to the walls for 15 minutes"
recipe can be modified to
"put an unzipped bean-bag chair on top of a tesla coil and you'll be finding the tiny styrofoam balls for the next 5 years"
not my idea, didn't happen to me, no sirree
posted by Aknaton at 9:20 AM on May 1, 2005

Our key objective is to produce a controllable discharge of lightning at the greatest physical scale imaginable using modern technology.

Only now do I assess my own key objectives and realize I have completely wasted my life.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:47 AM on May 1, 2005

The work stands 38 feet tall and is essentially a column with a sphere on the top. Concealed within the sculpture is a 130,000 watt Tesla Coil. The Tesla Coil is the largest of its kind in the world.

The largest current, perhaps. But not the largest ever. That distinction still goes to the Big Man hisself.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:18 AM on May 1, 2005

Fun quote from above link:
Then Tesla alerted his mechanic, Czito, to open the switch for only one second. The secondary coil began to sparkle and crack and an eerie blue corona formed in the air around it. Satisfied with the result, Tesla ordered Czito to close the switch until told to cease. Huge arcs of blue electricity snaked up and down the center coil. Bolts of man-made lightning more than a hundred feet in length shot out from the mast atop the station. Tesla's experiment burned out the dynamo at the El Paso Electric Company and the entire city lost power.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:19 AM on May 1, 2005

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