Anybody for some high voltage Christmas cheer?

Dec 21, 2007

This is possibly the most awe inspiring thing that I've seen all year; in fact, I think it's a fitting way to close out the year and celebrate the winter solstice, the longest night of the year. This guy rigged up a Tesla coil and a framework into a Christmas tree.

No, I'm not kidding.

Fun Fever constructed a large Tesla coil (a multiple circuit resonant electrical transformer) and a metal framework that would shape the electrical discharges in a particular way, namely, a tree with a star on top. Quite a bit of experimentation was required to get the shape right as well as to develop a method of supporting the structure. Included in the article are point-in-time photographs of the development process, as well as a few pictures taken from overhead by a camera protected by a Faraday cage.

The colors of the various parts of the structure were made not by the coil, but with a series of optical filters set in front of the camera. Yes, it's kind of cheating, but electricity only comes in so many colors, and unfortunately bright green isn't often one of them (nor can one rely upon it to reliably change colors to the ones you want at any given moment in time). Once the coil was fired up a grounded probe (a very long fishing pole) was used to pull sheets of electricity to the proper points of the frame to create the desired effect. The final photograph of the page shows the complete tree, and the creator dressed as Chris Cringle himself.

Most impressive, I must admit.