[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: [TCML] Introductions ....


Welcome to the Tesla list. Interesting about the fusion, chocolate, search
engines, tesla coil, etc.

My webpage is at:



-----Original Message-----
From: Art Pollard <pollarda@xxxxxxxxxx>
To: tesla@xxxxxxxxxx
Sent: Sun, 19 Oct 2008 10:09 pm
Subject: [TCML] Introductions ....

Hello Everybody! I just signed up for the mailing list and thought I ought to give an introduction. 
I am planning on building a fairly sizeable tesla coil and clearly, this is the place to meet like minded people and hopefully I'll be able to learn what I need to know here to build the tesla coil I've always dreamed of building. I built several smaller tesla coils some 20 years ago. (My how time flies!) Probably the largest was almost four feet tall and it threw out some pretty hefty sparks. I never got it tuned quite right and it suffered from interwinding breakdown on the secondary because of that. I've always wanted to build a much larger tesla coil and have decided that now is the time to start thinking about it seriously. 
I have a moderate amount of experience working with high voltage equipment. While in high school, I worked on the Topolotron fusion reactor at BYU during the summers. It had a 4 food diameter torus that we would pump the deuterium and tritium in. The confinement magnets were driven by a series of 15-20 capacitors=2 0that were rated for about 30KV and stood about three feet tall (and maybe 2 foot square). We had a huge faraday cage that protected the Tektronix computer we controlled it with. I worked on a similar project at the University of Washington also while in high school. It was a cylinder and the idea was that the plasma would be heated up and then later injected into a much larger torus where the actual fusion would occur. The Topolotron alas is no longer extant though the project at the UW apparently is still ongoing. Needless to say, that was some years ago. The litigious nature of society today would surely prevent a curious high school student from being able to work on projects of this nature and have free reign of the university machine shop. My original plan was to go in into plasma physics and in particular to work on the ZT-40 fusion reactor in Los Alamos where I partly grew up. It is probably a good thing that I didn't -- fusion research is almost nil in the U.S. now and the ZT-40 has long since been disassembled. (Though when it fired, its capacitors output 3 times the entire world's output of electricity for the brief instant it was on.) 
Today, I run a software company where I design (and write) search engines. I design the underlying search technology that is used in a wide variety of products. I write the underlying search code and it is licensed out as a code li brary for other developers. Most people have used my code in some form or another and never know it since it is all used as parts of other projects. I have a side business too. While attending my university, I worked for our physics department designing and building equipment. One day, I made the off hand comment that it would be interesting to make my own chocolate -- not knowing what was involved. It was a simple comment that I thought it would be interesting -- just like making a creme brule would be interesting (I like to cook when I have time). The friends I was with at the time said that I couldn't do it -- not without millions of dollars of equipment and highly specialized skills. Given that, I thought that it sounded hugely fascinating. Now (years later), I own and operate http://www.amanochocolate.com where I'm the head chocolate maker. When I say "chocolate maker" that means we actually make our chocolate -- from the world's finest quality cocoa beans. So when I'm not writing code, I keep pretty busy making chocolate in our factory. Of course this also means that now I have 6,000 feet of floor space, 17 foot ceilings and lots of single phase and three phase power as well as a huge (empty) parking lot that would be perfect for setting up a large tesla coil in. 
Needless to say, the days when I was building smaller tesla coils were quite some years ago and I haven't h ad time to devote to my interest in high energy plasmas for almost the same number of years. I still get a little time around machine shops -- mostly while I'm in the process of fixing my chocolate machinery. But I'm pretty rusty all in all when it comes to tesla coils and electronics so I really hope to learn something here on the list and maybe I can contribute something as well. Given the years, I have a lot of catching up to do so I hope you all will excuse any clueless questions I may ask as I feel it is better to ask a dumb question than make a dumb mistake especially where high voltages are concerned. 
I'm pretty swamped time-wise so I'll probably spend more time lurking than posting. The holiday season is almost upon us -- which also means chocolate season and I have a new search engine that I'm just finishing up. Both seem to demand quite a bit of time. I'm hoping that as I build my tesla coil, I can give myself a break from my other projects. 
I have to pass along my favorite tesla coil story. When I was in high school, I built a small tesla coil out of a TV flyback transformer. Since it was nice and small I packed it and a battery pack in a cigar box along with a 3 foot high voltage wire. It threw out a nice spark for its size and with the batteries it was nice and portable. 
We had an English teacher who never liked to actually teach and because of this, he would give us huge writing assignments so he could read magazines while we all worked. On the day in question, we were working on our latest writing assignment. It was dead quiet as the teacher read his aviation magazines and we worked diligently. Being quite board I pulled my small tesla coil out of my backpack turned it on and proceeded to shock my friend Jeff on the elbow as he worked. Jeff jumped up -- his chair screeching back and he yelled almost at the top of his voice: "Awww S^&**(!!!!!". He then noticed that the entire class was looking at him because of his outburst. Jeff said in a totally straight tone of voice: "Oh, I'm sorry". He sat down and started working on his writing assignment as if nothing had ever happened. Of course, this left the rest of the class and our teacher wondering in amazement what had just happened. Jeff and I are still very good friends and when we get together, we both have a pretty good laugh at this. (And yes, Jeff found an equally devious way to get his revenge a month or two later.) 
Anyway, that is my little introduction. I hope to get to know you all here to some degree (as much as possible via the internet anyway). I hope that I can contribute something but mostly I hope that I can learn something from the real experts. ;-) 
-- Art Pollard 
Suppliers of High Performance Text Retrieval Engines. 
Tesla mailing list 
http://www.pupman.com/mailman/listinfo/tesla ;

Tesla mailing list