Chapter 4

Staying Safe


Bullet Knowing the risks of working with electricity

Bullet Protecting yourself from the perils of stray electricity

Bullet Safeguarding your gear from static electricity

When I was a kid, I helped a good friend named Barry who built a Tesla coil. By “helped,” I mean that I hung out in his garage and watched while he meticulously wrapped thousands of turns of bare copper wire around a huge glass milk bottle, painted it with dozens of coats of lacquer, and polished the brass ball that attached to the very top of the coil. I’m quite certain he couldn’t have done it without me.

When it was done, we plugged it in and marveled at what it could do. Sparks flew at random a foot or two into the air from the ball at the top of the coil. If you held a crowbar in one hand, you could draw a spark several feet from the ball to the crowbar. The current coming off the ball flew through the air and into the crowbar, and then passed through our bodies and into the ground. You could also light up a fluorescent light tube simply by holding the tube in your hand within a few feet of the coil.

To this day, I cannot believe Barry’s parents let him build it. I know my parents wouldn’t ...

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