Dueling Banjos on Tesla coils

What better use for a pair of musical Tesla coils than FONentertainment's rousing 2010 chorous of "Dueling Banjos?"

Dueling Banjos on musical Tesla Coils (via Geekologie)

Tesla coil hat: "a really bad idea"

MIT student Tyler Christensen created a musical Tesla coil hat for his Hallowe'en costume (it played the Mortal Kombat theme and the Harry Potter theme while discharging semi-tame lightning). While freely stipulating that this is "a really bad idea," Tyler is still generous enough to document his project for others who might follow in his bad footsteps.

Really, it’s just a DRSSTC. Nothing less, nothing more, nothing fancy. It was a bit tricky to make a bridge appropriately sized, and even harder to make a boost converter for it. In fact, the boost never truly worked. If I play a mid to high note for a few seconds, the boost can’t keep up and it fades away. I think this is due to saturation of my boost core, but I haven’t really taken the time to do much on this since now I’m back in the gate driver world and also have to throw together my 6.131 power electronics final project. I’ll fix hatcoil in February.

Hat Coil (via Engadget)

Lloyd Kahn (age 76) on skateboarding

I love this video of my friend Lloyd Kahn (founder of Shelter Publications) talking about his joy of skateboarding. He's 76, and started boarding as a wee lad of 65.

Lloyd in 1½ min skateboarding video

Toby Morse's One Life One Chance


Toby Morse, singer for the NYC Hardcore band H20 has spent the better part of the last year or so building up his One Life One Chance project. Inspired by the creativity and positivity he experienced in the punk / hardcore scene over so many years, Toby decided to create a vehicle to share that message with school age children across the country. Adopting the Bad Brains' PMA (positive mental attitude) as his slogan, he spoke at schools and spread the word in 2010, and plans to do the same and more in 2011.

His message is largely his own story about being straight edge and being in the band H2O. While he does talk about the upside of sober living, the bigger point seems to be the power of positive thinking and accepting people even when they are different than you. I think this is such a better approach than the old "Just Say No" or DARE campaigns. If you work at or with a school, check this out and consider having him come speak to your kids!


It looks as if this guy filmed this whole crazy clip himself with no one else around. (via The Awesomer)

Awfully awesome dance moves

Watch out, Mosh Girl and Napoleon Dynamite... a challenger appears. The world would be a better place if everyone felt as uninhibited and expressive as Happiness.

Remarkable unicycle riding (video)

Video link. This footage prepared for the North American Unicycling Championships and Convention contains some pretty unbelievable footage, including jumping over a picnic table, up a flight of 7 stairs in one hop, and the you-gotta-see-it-to believe-it "maxwhip." Also some amazing Kris Holm vids here and here.

OMG Cat Rave!!1

Link (Thanks, Susannah Breslin!)

Mechanical computer uses matchboxes and beans to learn Tic-Tac-Toe

James sez, "I just completed a working build of Donald Michie's MENACE (Matchbox Educable Noughts And Crosses Engine), an early (1960) example of machine learning. MENACE uses 304 matchboxes to play Noughts and Crosses (or Tic Tac Toe in the US) - and learns over time to play it better. I built it for a talk at the UK games conference Playful, about Awesomeness and Miracles, particularly focussing on the work of Charles Babbage - and culminating in a surprisingly large version for playing Go..."

MENACE is a machine that plays noughts and crosses, built out of 304 matchboxes. Each matchbox corresponds to one of the 304 board layouts that the opening player might face (there are actually 19,683 possible board layouts, but we only need to calculate the opening player's first four moves, and many are rotationally or reflectively identical). In turn, each matchbox contains a number of glass beads corresponding to each possible next move. When it is MENACE's turn to play, the operator simply selects the matchbox corresponding to the current state of play, shakes it, and opens it to see which move has been chosen. Each matchbox contains a small nook into which one bead falls--and MENACE plays in the square corresponding to that bead.

But what's really clever is that MENACE learns. Every time it wins a game, an additional bead is added to each matchbox played, corresponding to each winning move. Likewise, every time it loses, a bead corresponding to each losing move is removed. As a result, over time, MENACE becomes more likely to play moves that have previously resulted in wins and less likely to play moves that have resulted in losses.


MENACE Flickr set

Long-lost video of John Philips' lunar-themed musical play produced by Andy Warhol (1975)

BB pal and periodic guestblogger Richard Metzger has an amazing blog post up about the off-Broadway musical Man on the Moon. The play was conceived by John Phillips of the Mamas and the Papas and his third wife, South African actress, Genevieve Waite, as a potential film or stage production originally entitled "Space."

The stage performance was produced by Andy Warhol. Long-lost video footage of the play is embedded above. More video over at Metzger's blog, too, amazing stuff.

The following text was written by Chris Campion and Jeffrey A. Greenberg from the liner notes of the CD release of Andy Warhol Presents Man on the Moon.

I'll post a snip here, but you have to read the whole thing to hear about the part Philips wrote for Elvis, and all the weird little factoids about Warhol's work, and allegations that George Lucas stole the idea for Star Wars from this offbeat project. Snip:

Space was born the day Neil Armstrong first set foot on the moon. Like millions of other people, John watched the 1969 moon landing on TV. He was living, at the time, on the Malibu property rented by British film director Michael Sarne, who was under contract at Fox to direct the adaptation of Gore Vidal's novel, Myra Breckenridge, with Rex Harrison, Raquel Welch and Mae West. Sarne had commissioned John to write songs for the film.

The Apollo 11 moon landing became an obsession. John would watch a recording of the TV transmission made on an early video tape machine over and over. The idea of exploring this new frontier - and particularly Neil Armstrong's scripted aside as he stepped onto the lunar surface that it was, "One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind" - fired John's imagination, and he began to piece together ideas for a mythical space opera set to music. "He loved myths," says Genevieve, who was first introduced to John by Sarne that summer. "He liked Homer - The Iliad and The Odyssey."

(...) Genevieve bemoaned the fate of the show to her friend, Andy Warhol, who offered to find a backer, and did. Warhol also agreed to serve as a producer, and provided a director in the form of Paul Morrissey, who had made a series of avant-garde exploitation films under Warhol's aegis (Flesh, Trash, Heat, Chelsea Girls, etc.). John expressed his bemusement about Warhol's involvement in the song, "Oh Andy My Assistant": "Oh Andy, my assistant/your mind is so consistently blank/that I'm banking on you now/so please so don't try to comprehend/the reason why I have to send/ you up or else, I'm sure that we, shall have a terrible row/It's either you or I must save the race/ So bye-bye Andy and off you're goin' to Space."

LONG LOST FOOTAGE OF MUSICAL PLAY BY JOHN PHILLIPS, PRODUCED BY ANDY WARHOL (1975) (Dangerous Minds, photo courtesy Ken Regan / Camera S)

Music CD: Andy Warhol Presents "Man on the Moon" (Amazon.com)

Creepy Russian high-voltage towers

These beautiful high-voltage towers in Istra, Russia, near Moscow are the Experimental Grounds for High-Voltage Generation. They still light up and fire streaks of lightning into the night.

Creepy High Voltage Installations (Thanks, Bill!)

(Image: Master Z Great)

Design kick-ass multimedia, win a paid internship at CERN

Joao sez, "I work for the ATLAS experiment at CERN, the biggest and most complex of the devices within the Large Hadron Collider. We are organizing a multimedia contest for artsy-geeky people, offering the winner a paid internship at CERN, where she/he will have the opportunity to show off her/his science communication skills, documenting the experiment and producing more awesome multimedia. We'll spread it around with full credit to the author. Alternatively, if the winner prefers, we'll offer instead an Adobe Production Suite package."

CERN, the world's largest particle physics laboratory, birthplace of the World Wide Web and home of the famous Large Hadron Collider (LHC) has a great opportunity for you. We are about to kick-start the most complex scientific project ever conceived by mankind, and would like you to witness and record its unveiling, and help us spread the news.

We want you to start by showing us your communication and creative skills by producing an original short film or multimedia piece, incorporating material about ATLAS, the biggest experiment on the LHC. The best submissions will be posted on the ATLAS website and YouTube page with full credit to the author, and enter a competition for a paid internship at CERN or alternatively win a Adobe Production Suite package. The winner will be offered a trip to CERN in Geneva, Switzerland, and given exclusive access to scientists working on the project as well as all the equipment and expertise in CERN's audiovisual lab.

What we want from you is your unbridled creativity. In return, we offer a chance to experience history in the making, and a global platform for your work as the world's eyes look towards CERN this fall. To apply, read the official rules and register below. What are you waiting for?

The deadline is July 31, so lights, Camera, Action!

ATLAS/CERN Multimedia Contest and Intern Program: (Thanks, Joao!)

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 WEPC.com, in partnership with Intel and Asus. WePC.com 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."

DIY electric VW goes 82MPH

Aaron sez, "An engineer gutted an old Volkswagen that he bought on Craigslist and designed a custom electric motor for it. It can hit 82 MPH!"

Tischer converted a '91 VW Passat with a blown engine. He found it on Craigslist for $1,800. The Passat is a bit big for a conversion, he says, but it's aerodynamic and attractive. That counts for a lot. "It's just a professional looking car with a beautiful interior, and something I enjoy having as a daily driver," he said.
Tischer's EV project

VW Owner Shifts Gears, Goes From Gas to Electric (Thanks, Aaron)

Singing Tesla Coil emulator

High voltage hackers ArcAttack of Austin, Texas, are known to BB readers for their Singing Tesla Coils that they use to perform music. For example, here, a pair of coils delight us with an, er, energized rendition of the Doctor Who theme. Sadly, it's unlikely that most of us will get a chance to try our hand at conducting this Tesla orchestra so ArcAttack has enhanced their Web site with a simple yet fantastically fun Tesla Coil Emulator. My first number was the familiar tune from Close Encounters of the Third Kind. What song would you like to hear the coils sing? From the ArcAttack site:
 3573 3439572435 818Cbda087 ArcAttack employs a unique DJ set up of their own creation (an HVDJ set up) to generate an 'electrifying' audio visual performance. The HVDJ pumps music through a PA System while two specially designed DRSSTC's (Dual-Resonant Solid State Tesla Coils) act as separate synchronized instruments.

These high tech machines produce an electrical arc similar to a continuous lightning bolt which put out a crisply distorted square wave sound reminiscent of the early days of synthesizers. The music consists of original highly dance-able electronic compositions that sometimes incorporates themes or dub of popular songs.

Joe DiPrima and Oliver Greaves are the masterminds behind the design and construction of the Tesla Coils while the music is developed by John DiPrima and Tony Smith.
Tesla Coil Emulator