Several years ago, I wrote a MAKE: article about Greg Leyh, a brilliant, understated high-voltage engineer/artist in San Francisco who builds the world's largest Tesla coils. For as long as I've known Greg, his dream has been to create a massive lightning laboratory with two 10-story Tesla Coil towers to study high-power scientific phenomena. Indeed, Greg's operation is called Lightning On Demand. With the only barrier being money, Greg has now come up with a "highly cost-optimized version" of the Lightning Laboratory. With this new design, Greg only needs $348,000 to make it happen. And he's launched a Kickstarter project to seek funding to build this magnificent DIY scientific instrument. Greg says:
Rather than being a purpose-built, conservatively designed machine, the new approach is literally designed around used materials, scrap and salvaged equipment. There's a lot of great obtainium out there these days!
This new design should still be able to produce the conditions needed to trigger a relativistic avalanche as per Gurevich and Zybin's calculations [200kV/m, 50m characteristic avalanche length.] Ultimately I hope to trigger a super-long discharge event and discover if there's any connection with Gurevich's relativistic runaway breakdown theory, or at least get some gamma-ray precursors.
"The Lightning Foundry" (Kickstarter)
"Power Tripping" (MAKE: Volume 11)