I attempted to build one of these with my Dad's color television in the late 70's. The memory comes bubbling back...sitting on shitty orange carpet, hands jimmying around in the dusty guts of a Zenith, the bad light and stale air of Dad's bachelor trailer house. He's off somewhere. I have a can of Miller nearby, a few tools, and a much-read electronics magazine for reference. Supposedly I know all about TV safety, having repaired a few. You keep one end of a long screwdriver grounded against the chassis while slipping the other end under the rubber cup on the side of the CRT. Tens of thousands of volts lie waiting in the picture tube even with the power cord unplugged, large color TVs store even more.
I'm looking at the ceiling and a thought slowly congeals, something about TV. Right. Four feet away the TV rests, dark and dusty and seemingly unchanged. I'm spread eagled on a plastic bean bag chair where I landed, screwdriver locked in my fist by a fierce muscle contraction, the rest of my body humming and vibrating like the high tension wire it has just emulated. Etched brightly on retinas is an outline of the jagged blue bolt that jumped a few inches to bite me.
"Fa," is all I can squeeze from surprised chest and vocal chords. "Fa."
Two years later, my own apartment, different town, different TV, same goofy life. I'm sitting on a similarly faded old carpet, music on the stereo (most likely Jeff Wayne's The War of the Worlds) a can of Pabst nearby and the same ragged magazine. I error on the side of paranoiac caution, wrapping screwdriver with two separate strings of wire, both firmly attached to the chassis ground. A large couch cushion is propped behind me. I may even be wearing a glove.
*snick* almost inaudible, but the distinct sound of a spark as the picture tube shorts to ground. Phew. The old electron beam steering coils are removed and slid into a plastic bag (still wired up but no longer steering) and a scrap coil is slipped in its place, the left and right channels of the stereo now control the vertical and horizontal deflection of the TV. Turn on the TV, turn up the stereo, and slowly the phosphor comes to life, dancing and swirling to the beat.
It was a defining moment. I had created something. Something strange, unusual, and most likely not to be found in another household in this small eastern Wyoming town, maybe the whole state. Another beer, another few songs, that's how the night progresses. Joe Walsh, "Life's been good" wins as best visual when the bass line gets up and walks around the screen.
This looks like fun until you read the line:
"...as sudden braking can cause the driver to go spinning around inside the vehicle."
Which might be fun for sport, but not if you end up spinning and flailing limbs at a traffic light you almost ran. Imagine rear-ending an SUV: you spinning like a newly wound top, the SUV annoyed at the buzzing sound in it's butt.
Interesting article on switching to a wind generated, hydrogen powered society.
"We have vast stretches of land in the Midwest owned by mostly small farmers who can make more money wind farming than they do with crops and cattle."
If this sounds a bit farfetched, he observed that America spends billion a week on oil imports, giving much of that money to people who despise the United States.
"We could give that money instead to the farmers in the Midwest and, frankly, have a big boom in our economy."
Braun speaks with a clear sense of urgency. He told EV World that the world is consuming 4 barrels of oil for every one we discover. This is a situation that cannot long be sustained, he contends.
"You will not win this game. We need to get off of oil with war time speed and not wait until the price of oil goes to 0 a barrel before we start building the wind machines."