BB Video: Omega Recoil, Mad Electro-Makers Who Craft Giant Tesla coils

(Download / YouTube) Boing Boing Video today peeks inside the electrified world of Omega Recoil, a group of engineers and "makers" who craft giant Tesla Coils, and stage humorous and thrilling performances with those large electrical devices. What's a Tesla Coil? From the Tesla Society website:

[It] is one of Nikola Tesla's most famous inventions -- essentially a high-frequency air-core transformer. It takes the output from a 120vAC to several kilovolt transformer & driver circuit and steps it up to an extremely high voltage. Voltages can get to be well above 1,000,000 volts and are discharged in the form of electrical arcs. Tesla himself got arcs up to 100,000,000 volts (...) [They] are unique in the fact that they create extremely powerful electrical fields. Large coils have been known to wirelessly light up florescent lights up to 50 feet away, and because of the fact that it is an electric field that goes directly into the light and doesn't use the electrodes, even burned-out florescent lights will glow.

For viewers in San Francisco -- Omega Recoil members will be giving a talk at the 7th anniversary Dorkbot event, which features other cool "maker mutants" we've featured on Boing Boing Video before, like Jon Sarriugarte and the Boiler Bar folks. Organizer Karen Marcelo says,

...and to think this all started because i was bored seven years ago and decided to call Douglas and start the SF one in Marc Powell's garage! Pesco was a speaker at the first one! We had Brian Normanly talk about how to 'liberate' electricity from PG&E. I dont think anyone has the guts to do that now! :) Here's that first event from 2002.
More on Jon Sarriugarte's blog.

Sponsor shout-out: This week's Boing Boing Video episodes are brought to you in part by, in partnership with Intel and Asus. is a site where users come together to "share ideas, images and inspiration about the ideal PC." Participants' designs, feature ideas and community feedback will be evaluated by ASUS and "will influence the blueprint for an actual notebook PC built by ASUS with Intel inside."


  1. At the original Sutro Tower, a 500 ft stick owned by KGO, there were several FMs. KPIX was located in Sutro’s master bedroom in the mansion on the site. KGO was in the basement. The florescent lights at KPIX couldn’t be turned off. It was the downward radiation from the FM antennas. Many decades later it was learned that radiation could be greatly curtailed by going from 1 lambda spacing of antenna bays to 1/2 lambda spacing. That is now the standard in the industry. You don’t need a Tesla coil to light up florescents.

  2. This looked like it was going to be really cool, but you guys have some serious editing problems. The video was all over the place, showed a bunch of little bits of what they were doing without any explanation, and you barely showed anything from the actual performance (you know, the part with all the electricity that we WANT to see). Too bad.

  3. I actually thought it was really well edited. Though I agree a little more electricity would’ve been cool.

  4. As some who rigs heavy stuff all the time; someone tell these guys that at 2:35 they have they’re shackle load dangerously sideways. The loop end holds on end of the load, and the pin holds the other, not the load on both sides of the horseshoe, spreading it apart, relying on the strength of the threads. I hope they’re not lifting anything truly heavy like that.

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