Million volt guitar rocks the house…for science!

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[Bill Porter] and his friend [Dan Flisek] work together to put on a science-related educational stage show called “Science Brothers”, in which the pair try to convince school children that their field of expertise is the cooler science. While the two are competitive on stage, the main goal of the program is to get kids interested in science, no matter what the specialty.

The pair currently finance the project out of pocket, so they are always looking for ways to make things interesting while also keeping costs in check. With that in mind [Bill] came up with an awesome way to show off the Tesla coil he built a while back. His most recent educational creation is a little something he calls “Tesla Hero”.

Since he already had a solid state Tesla coil hanging around, he dug up a PS2 Guitar Hero controller and got busy getting the two acquainted. The guitar connects to the coil via a fiber optic isolator board, playing one of five notes as he strums along. A series of Arduino-driven LED strips adorn the guitar, flashing various colors while he plays, as you can see in the video below.

It’s quite a cool project, and we’re sure that his audience will be impressed!

Stick around to see a video of  Tesla Hero in action, and if you’re interested in learning more about the Science Brothers, be sure to check them out here.

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Monitor your home’s power usage on the cheap

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[Paul] was pretty sure that he and his family used a lot of electricity throughout the day. Admittedly, he enjoys his creature comforts, but was wiling to try living a little greener. The problem was, he had no idea how much electricity he was using at a given time.

While some power companies offer devices allowing homeowners to monitor their energy usage, [Paul’s] did not. After a bit of research however, he was ready to build a power monitoring system of his own. He found that his meter emits a small infrared pulse every time a watt-hour of electricity is consumed, so his system counts how many flashes occur to measure usage.

The counting circuit is pretty simple consisting of only an AVR, a resistor, a capacitor, and a phototransistor. The data is fed to a computer where the results are graphed with gnuplot.

It’s quite a useful little hack, and undoubtedly far cheaper than purchasing a whole house power monitor.

High voltage rig wipes CDs clean

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Here at Hackaday, we’re not against showing videos of gratuitous destruction just for the sake of it, though we try not to make it a habit. In this case we just couldn’t help ourselves. However, this video technically constitutes a security hack, as it does involve erasing sensitive information from CDs…

…with awesome!

This may be the coolest CD eraser we’ve seen yet. Positioned between two high-voltage transformers, the spinning CD has its data violently stripped off in just a matter of seconds. To be fair, the data isn’t erased per se, but the metallic substrate on which the data is recorded is flaked off by the aggressive application of electricity.

Having destroyed our fair share of AOL CDs in the microwave over the years, we are now a bit sad over the fact that they were disposed of in such a lackluster fashion – if only we had one of these around!

Since we’re on the topic of mindless destruction, you might as well take a few minutes and check out this thermite-roasted Thanksgiving turkey, this self-destructing hard drive, or perhaps this thermic lance built from spaghetti.

You know, for science.

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Musical Tesla concert is electrifying

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Hackaday reader [Tyler Laseter] wrote in to tell us about an event that he and his fellow Tesla Orchestra team members are hosting next month.

The “Open Spark Project” is a concert event taking place on May 14th, which melds together electricity and music in spectacular fashion. The event features two large Tesla coils which are tuned to play musical notes while shooting bolts of electricity through the air.

Musical Tesla coils are nothing new around here, but we have yet to see someone allow the general public to play music on their coils. That’s what makes this event unique – anyone is encouraged to submit their to the Tesla Orchestra team, which will then be played back via a live video stream next month. Their web site offers up all of the technical details as well as the file format requirements for submitting music for the event, so get started on your entry today!

If a passive approach is more your style, stick around for a quick video demonstrating their coils’ abilities. Sure it’s Lady Gaga, but we won’t tell anyone you watched it. Plus, it’s totally legit when the song is being played using 20,000 volts.

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Dead motor? Think again

While hobby brush motors are pretty cheap now adays, there’s always that feeling of why replace when you can rebuild and reuse. As such [John Carr] presents how to change the brush position in motors to revive a dead motor. So long as the motor dies from natural causes commutator wear, the idea is the brushes can be moved along the axes and fixed to a new portion of commutator that’s not worn at all. [John] also goes through the details of some tricky reassembly, but we think to make this complete a guide on brush replacement and commutator replacement might be in order hint hint.

Making liquid nitrogen at home

If you’ve got some time to scour eBay and $500 sitting around you can build your own liquid nitrogen plant. [Ben Krasnow] figured it all out for you and estimates he can produce a liter of the stuff for around $1.15. The process depends on a membrane to separate nitrogen from the other materials in the air around us and a cryocooler to get the gas cold enough to condense into a liquid. Other than atmospheric air, you need to pump in electricity. About 9.6 kWh per liter… yikes! Is your human hair solar panel up to that?

Anyway, once you’re up and running you can make yourself some ice cream or possibly save the world from oily destruction.

[Thanks Chris]

Google unveils API to PowerMeter

Google’s tentacles continue to wrap around every portion of our lives with the addition of an API for their PowerMeter software. The PowerMeter tool works with smart electricity meters to monitor and display power usage in the home. This will allow manufacturers (and hackers alike) to design new devices with the Google interface in mind.

We’ve got an old-fashioned power meter with a spinning dial and no blinking LED. This means we can’t monitor that blink to add our own PowerMeter interface. But if you do have an easy way to grab data from your meter you can design a home system that takes full advantage of Google’s tools.

Ok, who’s going to be the first to have their Google PowerMeter-compatible hack featured on Hackaday?

[Thanks Juan]