stepped leaders

Tesla List wrote:
> >From rwstephens-at-ptbo.igs-dot-netThu Aug 15 21:17:47 1996
> Date: Thu, 15 Aug 1996 20:49:50 -0500
> From: "Robert W. Stephens" <rwstephens-at-ptbo.igs-dot-net>
> To: tesla-at-pupman-dot-com
> Subject: Re: Safety FAQ is here -- draft, asking for comments.
> >>From sgreiner-at-mail.wwnet-dot-comTue Aug 13 15:19:09 1996
> >Date: Mon, 12 Aug 1996 14:50:57 -0700
> >From: Skip Greiner <sgreiner-at-mail.wwnet-dot-com>
> >To: tesla-at-pupman-dot-com
> >Subject: Re: Safety FAQ is here -- draft, asking for comments.
> >Tesla List wrote:
> >
> >> >From rwstephens-at-ptbo.igs-dot-netThu Aug  8 10:57:03 1996
> ><SNIP>
> >> Admittedly, when the wind is a blowin', the ion cloud around the
> >> toroid is not a collectin'.
> >
> >> I merely wish to say that I think more research is needed here
> >> before we can really understand what is happening around the top end.
> >>
> >> As for your laudable attempt to create a performance category by merely
> >> observing the discharge, this may not be so easy as first imagined.
> >> Standardization system or not however, I'm sure no one would object
> >> to having their system performance classed as #1! ;-)
> >>
> >> Even if we don't come to understand the science (although I'm sure we
> >> will), just getting to the point of throwing long, white hot
> >> lightning bolts is a definitely neat level to achieve.
> >>
> >> Regards ,rwstephens.
> >Robert:
> > I have photographs of my 720va coil exhibiting just this phenomenon
> >when operating in a very light breeze. I have never been able to tie the
> >jagged sparks directly to the break rate bacause I don't know how to
> >make  a measurement. I estimate the length of the "steps" in the spark
> >to be 2" to 3". One thought is that the spark is actually growing in
> >length from the bottom which is eminating from the toroid rather than
> >growing from the tip of the spark thru conduction of current in the
> >spark itself. I would be interested in other comments on this subject.
> >
> >Skip
> Skip, All,
> I believe that the phenomenon which is being bandied about where some
> people believe that the discharge channel is growing on itself is
> completely illusory and false.  I hereby offer my hypothesis.
> If we could, through high speed eyes, observe every single
> streamer that rushes out from our toroid, as an individual spark, and
> not confuse it with the one that flashed 2.5 milliseconds earlier, or
> the next one to flash 2.5 milliseconds later (based on a break rate
> of 400 PPS), then I think we would see a streamer that exists in a short space
> of time which has one fixed length during its entire duration!
> In a rotary break powered system, operating on 60 Hz, the system
> capacitor goes through a cycle where it is sometimes completely
> discharged (zero point in the 60 Hz waveform) to where it is half
> charged (45 degree points in the waveform) to where it is fully
> charged (90 degree points in the waveform), and at varying voltages
> at all points in between.  Along come the contacts of our rotary
> break, commutating at random, usually half a dozen or so places along a 60
> hz sinewave.  Some commutations will meet a fully charged capacitor
> and the result will be a single pulsed  streamer for that commutation
> which is the longest that the system can produce.  Another
> commutation will occur at less than maximum charge and the single
> output streamer driven by that commutation will be shorter.  Since
> there is a beat frequency between the mains rate (or multiples of the
> mains rate) and the break rate, the train of ouput streamers will be formed in
> a repeating cycle of none, to short, to longer, to longest, to shorter, to shortest, to
> none, etc.  This is repeated at the beat frequency.  When this beat
> frequency is relatively fast compared to the response of the eye,
> like  say 10 or 20 PPS or more, and given that the eye integrates what is
> seen (movies and television could not be possible without this
> persistence of the eye), an illusion is created where a short output streamer is
> seen to grow longer in steps, aparently building upon itself.
> Now, I'm not sure what the de-ionization time for the arc channel
> might be, and I suspect that the channel remains highly conductive
> after the light dies away (energy is dissipated) to make a good path for the next
> pulse.  This is substantiated in the fact that a powerful streamer upon
> 'finding' a good solid target will remain attached to that target for
> an extended period of time with relatively little deviation of the
> arc channel path.
> I don't see this phenomenon one of streamers building on previous
> pulses, but rather a rapid succession of individual streamers,
> occuring in sequentially increasing and decreasing lengths,  each
> with a differing length due solely and traceable to no other reason
> than to the power level that created each individual one of them.
> I had meant to post this earlier but have nor had time, I've noticed
> in the meantime that the idea of employing a high speed streak camera
> by Steve Roys has been suggested.  If  my hypothesis is indeed
> correct, a fast enough camera will certainly be able to verify it.
> Comments welcome as always.
> Regards, rwstephens

Robert and All

My system is powered by a synchronous break which provides one break for 
each half of the 60 hz input at approximately 90 degrees, thereby the 
capacitor is always at the same charge when the "break" occurs. The 
jagged sparks referred to above are about 2" to 3" long and are connected 
one to the next by an interconnecting arc which is .5" to 1" long. This 
series of connected short sparks makes up what then appears to be the 
whole long discharge from the toroid. If there are, say, 10 steps or 
zigzags then the total length of the spark is 20" to 30" long. Then the 
spark STOPS ! Sometimes the individual sparks are short and sometimes 
they are much longer. The questions which come to my mind are:
1. Does each zigzag represent one ring-up of the secondary?
2. If 1 is true , is each zigzag added at the toroid end of the spark or 
at the far end of the spark?
3 Why the random lengths ? The secondary obviously rings for hundreds of 
cycles....it is very high Q.

Answers to these questions seem to bear heavily on the ion cloud which is 
proposed to exist around the toroid and how it affects the toroidal 
discharge and more importantly, at least to me, exactly what makes spark 
grow to the longest possible length.
1. Is the spark current (power) or voltage driven (dependent)?
2. Why does a spark once started....cease ?
3. Can we find a way to keep a single spark activated and cause it to 
continue to build along the supposed ionized channel ?
4. How about highly insulating the toroid except at one spot to 
concentrate the discharge energy ?
5. Etc., etc.,..........

Just some food for thought