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Re: [TCML] Sparks and neighborly fun

Hi Joe, all,

I have found that running my big coil in the driveway has
not drawn complaints from neighbors, but mere curiosity.
Of course, I do fire it infrequently and always at decent
twilight hours. I usually will only fire it on weekend eve-
nings, probably only 4 or 5 times a year, and even then, I'm
always rolling her back into the garage lair by 10 PM.

As far as the police go, the one and only exprience that I
had with them was also a good one. It was July 4th, last
year, and someone had complained about the actual fire-
works (believe it or not and I have a pretty good idea which
neighbor that was) and  the police officer was driving
around trying to see who was shooting off the bottle rockets
and such. Well, he came up in his car before I could shut
down the lightning bolt display and  he stopped his car and
walked up into my driveway. At first, I thought I was going
to get "a scolding" but instead he was asking me to please
"turn that thing on again". :^)Well of course, I oblidged him
and about an hour later, he comes back with one of his
law enforcement comrads and wants me to show it to him
as well. By now, it was getting close to 10 PM and I even
asked if they thought anyone would complain if I did. They
said that they would take care of it if anyone did and to please
fire it up again ;^)) Of course, I was once again happy to oblidge.
My only neighbor who's a real prick lives diagonally behind me
and the height of my house would completely block a view of
my coil or its sparks from his backyard vantage point. I'm sure
he (or his wife) was the one who called the police about all of
the fireworks in the first place and they very well might complain
about my coil, if they could figure out where that dreadful noise
was coming from ;^)) They've complained much about my dogs
even though I keep them in my house and only let them in my
fenced back yard for their bathroom activities. Wish they would
just move and make the rest of my neighborhood happy ;^)

I think the bottom line for firing a coil outdoors in a suburban
environment is to use some common sense. I have often thought
that it would be fun to scare the trick 'r treaters on Halloween
evening with my big coil, but then the thought of the liability of
multiple children (and some adults) coming in from both directions
and possibly being able to get too close to it for firing without my
noticing has pretty much made me keep the beast inside of his
cage on that particular night!

David Rieben

----- Original Message ----- From: "Joe Mastroianni" <joe@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
To: "Tesla Coil Mailing List" <tesla@xxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Sunday, August 15, 2010 10:36 PM
Subject: [TCML] Sparks and neighborly fun

Can't run the coil in the garage anymore, so I have to roll it out to the driveway.

On a quantitative note, we measured some spark hits at 5+ feet. Nothing like the 81 theoretical inches I could get if everything was perfect, according to all the programs. My tuning lead wire is getting warm, which leads me to believe running a pretty high VSWR in my primary, and I saw one racing arc at full power. I could tune the thing a bit better and maybe even adjust the coupling a bit more. Though now that I have to run in the driveway, I'm not going to be able to do a lot of trial-and-error experiments as the noise at full power is now pretty loud (I will take measurements next time) and the neighbors are taking notice.

Which brings me to anecdote #1: concerning the police.

Just as I was running up the power on my first test of the day two cop cars went tooling past my house at what could be described as a reasonably hurried pace. They were not heading to my place, but rather some disturbance in the wooded mountain side area at the dead end. I ran my coil, but was unable to see the arcs in the bright sunlight except for the occasions when the streamers hit the strike rail. Otherwise, they were nearly invisible.

My neighbors across the street are an elderly couple, and I have on occasion helped them get out of their car when they return from errands. I wave to them, they wave back. Since the coil has been in the driveway, they have stopped waving and stare at me suspiciously.

They appeared in their garage, getting into their car. I waved, they stared, I set about making a clamp to attach my tuning lead to the copper tubing. I had been using an alligator clip, which on occasion of poor tuning got so hot it burned the insulation off the wire upon which it was soldered. So I switched to clamping the lead to the tubing with a piece of sheet copper to make the connection less resistive. Though the clamping slowed me down.

After about 30 minutes the two police cars pulled up in front of my house. They were side by side, and the cops inside were talking to each other, fairly well ignoring me in the driveway while I worked with a screwdriver and wrench, tinkering about.

At this point my wife came and asked me for help mounting some shelving, so I abandoned the coil in the middle of the driveway (which is only about 30 feet to the street), we put up the shelf. By the time the shelving was up the cops were gone, though they had lingered for a while, and I even tried to make eye contact to see if they wanted to ask about the coil. I figure in our smallish town, its good for me to advertise what I am doing so nobody confuses coiling for terrorism.

I live on a street that dead ends at a trailhead many people use on weekends to take day hikes in the Santa Cruz mountains. So on weekends there is a lot of foot traffic past the my house. I may have mentioned that last week I had several passers by and even the UPS man approach me in my driveway and challenge me about the coil - insisting they had uncovered my secret - that I was going to make "free energy" with my machine. To get these strangers to leave, I agreed with them wholeheartedly. The power and oil companies ruled society as we knew it. And that it was only us makers of "free energy" who were going to become the new rebellion that sweeps the globe.

That satisfied them. Though I think some of the hikers told other hikers, and that's why I had more than one group come and insist I was making "free energy", to which I absolutely agreed, figuring that with the persona of a typical SC Mountains nutcase, I could be left alone in my tie dye shirts and pony tail. Don't have the pony tail yet. Working on it.


Anecdote #2:  the neighbors and police (again)

The wife and I decided to roll the coil out into the driveway to test my new tuning, and to see the arcs better in the twilight. We rolled it out, cranked it up to max power, let it hum for about 10 seconds, and then shut it down. I took my measurements and was putting the coil back in the garage when a neighbor called. He came over with his daughter-in-law asking to see the coil.

Of course.  This is why we coil (partly).  We want to show off our work.

I have everyone stand behind me, put their fingers in their ears (it really echoes in the garage), and I crank up the coil. Nicer arcs because it's darker out.

Cool. The neighbor's son comes by, looking for his wife. Have to demo to him. Oh joy. I get to run my coil again! And I do.

Then my wife suggests the classic fluorescent bulb experiment. My neighbor and family are enthusiastic. Yes, we must see this.

We duct tape a fluorescent tube to a 5' ladder, put a breakout on the toroid, and we make sparks. They hit the tube, it lights up, arcs come out the far side of the tube and dance up and down the rungs of the ladder. Everyone is thrilled.

Let's try more, they insist.

But no. It's 8PM and I know that very same neighbor has an infant daughter (yes, a 30-year old son and an infant daughter - welcome to california) and it's her bedtime. If his wife gets pissed at us, we're toast.

So we shut down for the evening.

Meanwhile, my neighbor across the street has come out and seen the crowd. I wave and invite her over. She turns away. Some 15 minutes later the police roll by. We wave. They wave and head on past.

Three cop cars in one day. I have lived here nearly 4 years and haven't ever seen even one cop car. I'm too old for this disturbing the neighbors bulldingy.


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