Electrickery

BY JO STEELE

Back to the future: Peter Terren circles a car with high-voltage sparks to create his impressive sculpture [Pictures: Barcroft Media]

Light Fantastic: Turning into a ball of electricity
Festive Decorations: A huge Christmas tree
You're zapped: And don't try this at home,pleaseWHAT do you get when you cross an eccentric amateur scientist, lots of open land and more than 500,000 volts of electricity? Huge light sculptures that literally make sparks fly. Peter Terren spends his free time practising what he calls the 'art of electrickery'.' Using junk and materials from hardware shops, he carries out ambitious experiments with a Tesla coil - a' transformer that turns electricity into streams or sparks that fire directly into the air or strike nearby objects like lightning. The coil creates charges of up to 500,000 volts - and has led to some spectacular results. The 51-year-old's experiments include a 4.5m (l5ft) Christmas tree made from a wire frame with electricity channelled to spark out in the shape of branches. Anyone considering recreating it as a festive decoration should think again. 'My high-voltage stuff is dangerous and easily fatal,' said Peter. 'I am very nervous around my big capacitor bank. You have to be very careful.' He also admitted: 'My projects are absolutely useless, in fact not even very good decorations. I think after the twelfth day of Christmas I'll put it away.' The medical physician, from Bunbury, Western Australia, said he was meticulous about safety. 'I never have a situation where one component failure is all that stands between me and serious high voltage,' he added. 'But I often feel slight tingles from capacitors with some residual charge.'

Tricity tree: Mr Terren finds another unusual way to illuminate his yard

[Metro Dec7,2007]



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