Arizona Tesla Coil Builders (A.T.C.B.)
Who We Are
The Arizona Tesla Coil Builders group presently consists of local members: Chris Hooper, Henry Hurrass, Jeff Mullins and Jim O'Malley. All of us have something different to bring to the table and we love what we're doing. Our group gets together a couple times a year to entertain new ideas, not to mention the big event, the Western Winter Teslathon. Innovation and new ideas are discussed, usually along with a nice BBQ!
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Work for many electronics companies in the past including the Grand Prix racing teams building and installing telecommunications equipment; however, in 1984 started as an Electrical Engineer at Intel in the Military Division working on test programs and designing test hardware. Twenty five years later, a Senior Product Development Engineer at Intel working on the newest silicon.
Since RF and Electronics is second nature, starting building Tesla Coils in 1967 as a hobby. Today continues to play with coils. Main focus is Audio modulation of VTTC’s, SSTC’s, and DRSSTC’s with analog modulators to ensure 100% of the sound is processed. Something about a live band playing Tesla Coils is making this a fun hobby indeed.
Christopher is in the midst of retiring and will focus 100% of his time on Tesla Coils. Future looks bright in the coiling hobby, as trying new things, using more power and playing music at the same time.
When I was 12, our school took a field trip to the Garden Grove High School Observatory where Mr. Evans demonstrated a dual VTTC and handed out a schematic and wiring diagram... I was hooked. Many students had built neon sign Tesla Coils; which were also on display. The following year our class took a field trip to the Griffith Park Observatory, where I got to see a large cone-shaped coil. In eighth grade I built a 75 watt Ham Radio Transmitter, a spark gap coil, and a dual 811A VTTC.
The following year I got an after school job at Tesla Electric Company, a small electrical contractor in Santa Ana, and learned how to wire room additions and service panels for a whopping $0.85/hr!
My next job was a summer job at a Sierra Transformer Co. located in Norwalk. There I assembled power transformers, wired tap changers and within three years got a position in the Test Room. Here's where the action was! Setting up the transient analyzer and operating a million volt impulse generator was a rush, indeed! Unfortunately, the shop closed down during the 1974 depression. The next few years I had interesting jobs like building the controls for machines that made IC chips, working for a Smog Device manufacturer building hot rod CD ignition systems and finally landed a job at Southern California Edison... in the Transformer Shop.
In 1982 I moved to Arizona and went to work for Arizona Public Service Company as a Polyphase Meterman. I ran the Metrology Lab for 14 years. Presently, I am a Substation Test Engineer and have been in charge of rebuilding and maintaining equipment in 525kv EHV switchyards.
During the 1980's there was a general lack of interest on my part to work on Tesla Coils, as there was not very much information to be had. In the early 1990's, a fellow colleague introduced me the Harry Goldman's TCBA news letter. I was hooked again! In 1990, I built a medium sized coil, which I would operate in my driveway. In 1993, I met fellow coiler Jeff Mullins through Harry's newsletter. We soon became very good friends. He taught me how to build a very efficient table top coil. About 1994, another friend, J.O. and I started construction of “Zotzilla”. She took us about two years to complete and, as far as I know, is still the biggest spark gap coil in Arizona. Only 5kva and ten foot sparks.
I met Dr. Spark in 2005 when he wanted to know on Pupman if anyone in the area was interested in having a Winter Teslathon. We immediately became friends and have been sharing our interest in Tesla and Tesla Coils ever since.
I look forward to retire working on Tesla Coils full time.
The second demo was held at Hunters Point, where Greg Leyh demonstrated his 150 kW Tesla coil. I was one of five people who were selected to individually sit inside of the top electrode while the coil was firing. This was quite an amazing experience and was the first time that I know of where people were actually sitting inside of a Tesla Coil, instead of being in a separate Faraday cage, while the coil was running.
We each had to climb up a ladder placed inside of the secondary (approximately 22 feet above the base) to reach the top of the Tesla coil. Once at the top, we moved a metal plate into place to complete the bottom of the 8-foot diameter stainless steel spheroid (Faraday cage) shield, which would stay in place during the demo. When the coil was powered on the experience was absolutely breathtaking. Twenty-five to twenty-eight foot discharges emanated from the eight-foot ball and it was possible to actually see the entire length of the spark from its point of origin.
Jim O'Malley (J.O.)While not as prestigious as my colleagues, I was a baker's son raised in Wyoming where I learned to work with my hands. There was not much I couldn't take apart and fix as we had no Auto-Zone to run to. We had to use our ingenuity, which is lately referred to as “Executive Decision.” Meeting Henry in the early 80's and seeing his first couple of demo coils “sparked” my interest in them. I remember saying to Henry “let's build it bigger.” Scrounging parts and fabbing them here at my ex-bike shop we built “Zotzilla.” What a blast! Later meeting Jeff and now Dr Spark, we are the the Arizona Tesla Coil Builders.
For information on joining the Arizona Tesla Coil Builders please contact us at: email@example.com