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Submission + - Open Spark Project: Your Music. Played Through Li (

An anonymous reader writes: The doors are open on the Open Spark Project, a rare opportunity for musicians around the world to see their music turned into lightning. Cleveland-based performance engineering group, the Tesla Orchestra, launched the Open Spark Project last week, to let people around the world in on the fun of playing with giant musical bolts of electricity. Already Girl Talk (pop mashup star) and others have signed up to enter songs into the project. Thanks goes to Paul Buchheit (Google Employee #23 and inventor of GMail) for sponsoring all this excitement!

Entries accepted until May 2nd, and then on May 14th the musicians and fans around the world can watch a live video feed at as we play selections from the entries on our two giant musical tesla coils. Musicians, come see your music turned into lightning!

Scientists and Engineers might wonder how the music is made. A traditional (non musical) tesla coil involves a series of resonating circuits, building up voltage higher and higher until it discharges through a spark. Part of that circuit is an air-gap switch that lets the first resonant circuit build up a high voltage before transmitting the energy to the second resonant circuit.

Now, replace that air-gap with a set of giant transistors, capable of sustaining thousands of amps of peak current, and you can now control when that spark can fly. Our musical tesla coils resonate around 30khz, discharging sparks that are several meters long. Using the transistors (called IGBTs) to turn that spark on and off at say, 440hz, will result in a 440hz tone, or A4 on your standard piano keyboard. The same holds true for other frequencies, and so the tesla coils can reproduce any note on the piano.

Any noise that you can turn on and off can make music this way, and the DIY Maker community is full of musical projects that use printers, hard disk motors, you name it, all in the name of music. We happen to like making music with giant bolts of lightning, and we hope you'll enjoy it too.

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