TESLA: The Race to Zero Point Free Energy

Looking for something awesome to watch tonight?  Laura and I are going to watch the documentary Sirius again in the next few days, but this next submission is on the list right after.


For all of you out there that believe like me that we can have free energy in our lifetimes — check this out!  This movie is called TESLA: The Race to Zero Point Free Energy, and it’s fantastic.  Produced in 1997, get ready for some of the science-fiction-est transitions and video effects that 1997 had to offer, but the content of this film is of immense importance.

Cue this up for later tonight, make sure you’ve given YouTube enough time to buffer through the movie, grab the popcorn and settle in for some awesome documentary action.

From Google Videos
Lightworks Video&Audio
Directed by Chris Toussaint

Hosted by Bill Jenkins, formerly of ABC Radio, this comprehensive documentary features physicists and inventors who are challenging orthodox science to bring this non-polluting technology forward despite ridicule and suppression. See actual working prototypes that defy classical physics including phenomenal experiments in anti-gravity and the transmutation of metals.


Editor’s Note:
You’d be surprised how many times I get an email or a Facebook message about posting information relating to the idea of free energy here on JimOnLight.com.  Most of them are friendly stabs and jabs about how nothing of this sort could ever work, how it defies the fundamental laws of thermodynamics, and that I should be ashamed of myself for promoting this kind of fantasy.  I have only one thing to say to all of the naysayers of free energy, the zero point field, perpetual motion, and electrogravitics in general:  In our world today, where income disparity is at its absolute most disgusting and the banking cartels control now even the price of aluminum cans, would it be such a bad thing if people paid attention to making their own free power instead of wasting their lives watching brain destroying trash like Honey Boo Boo and reruns of Jersey Shore, among other unbelievably high rated and worthless fodder?  

I don’t think so either.  We have to take back our world, and do it now.



Who is THAT?!  Wait, is that — is that Nikola Tesla?!  HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Nikola Tesla!

from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nikola_Tesla

from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nikola_Tesla

Well, it’s birthday time for one of the most prolific inventory of humanity — Nikola Tesla’s 207th birthday is today (10 July 1856 – 7 January 1943)!  If he was still alive, I would definitely suggest we have a Tweet-up and buy that man a round!  A man who thought all human beings should have free energy, believed in the power of peace, and created more useful inventions than most people alive today — Nikola Tesla is one historical badass.  He also got legally fornicated by Thomas Edison, which is another post altogether, but still managed to do unbelievable work on alternating current electricity.



We here at JimOnLight want to share your amazingness with the world:

The History of Nikola Tesla – a Short Story from Jeremiah Warren on Vimeo.

Also — from The OatmealMAD PROPS to our man Nikola Tesla!  I cross-post this with every positive intention possible:

nikola-tesla-the-oatmeal-1 nikola-tesla-the-oatmeal-2 nikola-tesla-the-oatmeal-3 nikola-tesla-the-oatmeal-4 nikola-tesla-the-oatmeal-5 nikola-tesla-the-oatmeal-6 nikola-tesla-the-oatmeal-7 nikola-tesla-the-oatmeal-8 nikola-tesla-the-oatmeal-9 nikola-tesla-the-oatmeal-10

We celebrate your life here at JimOnLight.com — and here’s a toast to hoping someone makes your dreams of free energy generating devices and perpetual motion systems a reality!



Passing Through from Olafur Haraldsson on Vimeo.

Tesla’s obituary:



Thanks to The Oatmeal, Wikipedia, The Daily Kos, EEP, and Brad DeLong!

Free Energy Could Change The Lighting Industry – Overunity and Perpetual Motion Explained

Can you imagine a world where it cost nothing to have electricity?  Tesla did, and he died penniless and alone.  Why did the world allow that to happen?


Have you ever heard of Free Energy?  Have you ever even considered something as ever-present as power being free?  If we even had the concept of that word, we would never need to have the discussion about why tungsten and halogen must go, being replaced by LED and CFL.  It just wouldn’t matter.

It’s a concept that does not consider the profit margins of the Big Energy producers –  oil, coal, and natural gas, but it could completely change our world.  The idea of free energy could also completely change the stakes of the petro-dollar game we play every time we put on a show somewhere that has lighting – can you picture every device you put out there on a show having a locally placed free energy source that powers it instead of running multicables everywhere to provide electricity?  My imagination gives me pictures of little hard drive sized power generators that can be unloaded from a roadcase, added to a truss, and energized without the need for feeder cable, mults, long patch cables, and the like.  We are already as an industry getting behind the idea of wireless DMX and transmitting a DMX network across the airwaves.  Look up LumenRadio‘s work, it will blow your mind – and I mean really blow your mind.

Maybe more importantly…  can you imagine our world without the need to fight over energy?  Look at every war that has taken place over the last 100 years – every single one can been tied to fighting over resources, even if the tie that binds is hidden and disguised as policy.   Our world needs something to give, to break loose – and I think that free energy is the thing that can change our world.  What would the world do if there was no need for the hundreds of defense contractor companies that get worldwide money defending the one thing that we always see the need to blow people up over?  Can you imagine such a world where we could spend more money on something as comparatively mundane as Entertainment Lighting in order to give the world the kinds of mind-blowing productions that we could with the kinds of technologies used in warfare?

Obviously I’m just postulating.  But also postulating are the ideas behind free energy and devices that would potentially (get it?) be able to make some free energy.  I cannot let go of the thought of a color scroller sized power distribution unit that can power several fixtures, or dimmers, or anything that can save money on power by being free.  In my lifetime, I want to make this happen.

I love to spread ideas around our industry like free energy, because we work and live in a very creative industry absolutely full of people who can make stuff like this happen.  We are the industry that has invented wireless data, innovative power and signal distribution systems like the Series 400 stuff from PRG, we’ve improved the jacketing and conductive materials inside of our power distribution systems to work with the power that we get from the power companies, and we’ve invented devices to clean that power up and make it steady, stable, and usable for some of the sensitive equipment we use for our work.  I do worry that some of the people in our business are too centered around how much money that can be made from their technologies that they alienate the entire industry to a small knit group of providers that can afford the costs to harness such things like free energy.  Hopefully some of the more productive generators of free energy will put some free instructions and information out on the web for all of us to try, build, and improve upon for the good of all humans on Earth.

Readers, there are some terms that need to be researched on your part in order to understand some of the intricate details of terms like perpetual motion, zero-point energy, and overunity.  These aren’t difficult concepts and you don’t have to have a PhD in Physics and Electromagnetism to understand these terms.  Let’s start easy:

What is PERPETUAL MOTION, and how does it relate to our world of Light?

This, good people of Earth, is perpetual motion:

When talking about things that make electricity and energy, we have to look at what exactly happens to make energy.  It’s a simple thing – we use some form of simple fuel (like coal, gas, or oil) to turn a magnet inside of a closed-loop of copper wire, or a conductor.  As the magnet spins (albeit very fast), an electromagnetic field is produced from the spinning magnet’s kinetic energy into electricity.  Or, just as useful and still used today, some kind of closed loop of wire spinning between the poles of two magnets.  We can thank Mr. Faraday for this, but everyone has postulated on it in some form or another.

Perpetual motion is, on a whole, the idea of having some kind of electrical energy creation device that will spin on its own, requiring no energy to keep its spin and continuation of power generation.  Remember the Law of Conservation of Energy from high school?  It states that energy cannot be created or destroyed, it can only change from one form to another.  Because of this law of physics, called the 1st law of thermodynamics, the idea of a system of perpetual motion is completely irrelevant, or at least that is what science is debating right now, and has been for decades.  What we’re talking about here is being able to create energy – which goes against the principle of the Law of Conservation of Energy – and to create that energy without having any input to that creation cycle.  This means perpetual motion, or something moving forever on its own, is to generate electricity from the electromagnetic field from which it is derived without adding any energy to get energy.  If that isn’t clear enough, imagine your local power utility being able to use no coal, gas, or oil to make electricity but still being able to charge you whatever they want to use their power.

Let me say that one different way:  If you can figure out how to create a machine that creates energy without using any energy, you can power whatever you want, for free, forever.  Forever in petro-dollar terms is a long time, folks.  Can you imagine being able to live through the winter with all of the heat and electricity you want without the huge bills?  If the power companies patent this technology before its able to be utilized on a free, worldwide scale, we’ll at least have a lower or nonexistent use of oil, coal, and gas for power, but we’ll be paying them for pretty much nothing.  Also, we’ll be paying them forever.

Look at it another way, more directed towards the Entertainment Industry – can you imagine being able to power your show and have no bill?  The last show I designed had a combined wattage of 240,000W, which if we put to costs comes out somewhere in the neighborhood of 960kWh for 4 hours of power, or if you assume a commercial rate of $0.10 per kWh comes to about $100 bucks per 4 hours of the show, if it all were blasting at full at once, of course.  But if we take that 100 bucks a night and multiply by a week’s worth of shows, we’ve got $700 bucks for the week – and $2800 for the month.  See the costs adding up?

Now what if you could save that $2800 bucks for a month of electricity for shows and put it back into the production by having free sources of electricity?  This is why perpetual motion is important, and should be to you, especially if you’re in Light.  If we can solve the issues of a perpetually generating device, we could make them as large or as small as we need for any application.  In Entertainment, this would literally redefine our game.

What is OVERUNITY, and how does it relate to our world of Light?

Overunity is a very interesting concept that is often confused for being something that it is not:  Overunity is NOT a measurement of the efficiency of a system that generates power, it is simply the coefficient of performance (COP) that is derived from how much energy the person operating that specific generator.  The efficiency of a system like a power generator takes into consideration all of the energy put into that system to make it run, like electricity from the grid, environmental energy like wind or water.  A windmill, for example, doesn’t matter how efficient the system is, because there is plenty of energy to be transferred (you know, the wind?) to make the system run.  When we’re talking about overunity with respect to free power, we’re talking about the amount of energy needed to get it moving and keep it moving.

Efficiency is the ability for a system or something that makes power to do so based on the energy you put into it; the Coefficient of Performance is how effectively the energy used in the goal of what the system is doing, in this case, making electricity.  The Coefficient of Performance is how well the system uses the energy you put into it!  So if your system can be started up with no input from you, the COP is obviously greater than 1 – if you have a small battery of something of the sort that you use to energize the system, but the system then can lose the battery and run on its own, you have a device producing more energy you’re putting in, or overunity.  For example – with no conductors, no power sources, and no trickery, the person in this video below flings two magnets at each other while the magnetic fields around them propel them into a cyclic motion.  Watch this:

Is it a perfect explanation?  No, but without going into the depths of thermodynamics, it’ll have to do for now.  More on this subject later, I have a huge amount of interest in this topic – enough to make me want to redo some Calculus classes I should have paid a bit more attention in when I was younger…

Interested in reading DA Kelly’s Manual of Free Energy Devices and Systems?  You definitely should, since it’s free!



Electrical Safety Pop Quiz!

Simpsons Electrical Safety
Here I am with another pop quiz for you. In this edition, I hope to get a little basic knowledge out to all of you on electrical safety. I’m not looking to go into a lecture on this topic today, let alone any day. I just want to find new ways to get knowledge to the masses and perhaps do it in a different and/or more entertaining manner.

So, without further ado…please enjoy!

Electrical Safety Pop Quiz

Here are some questions that cover some very basic electrical safety knowledge that everyone should be aware of. Good luck and I hope you learn something that helps you stay safe!
Congratulations - you have completed Electrical Safety Pop Quiz. You scored %%SCORE%% out of %%TOTAL%%. Your performance has been rated as %%RATING%%
Your answers are highlighted below.
Shaded items are complete.

Outlet Pop Quiz!

Not everyone is a world traveler but if you’re like me, you’ve encountered somebody that is visiting from another country and they need your help finding a converter for their power cords. And sometimes you look at these plugs and wonder who dreamed up these things, where’s the universal plug or why can’t we all be the same? Well, those are two great questions but I’m not here to talk about that today. Maybe some other time.

Anywho…Here’s some random fun – at least I hope you find it fun. A little pop quiz. Can you identify where the 12 outlets come from?

Outlet Pop Quiz

How well do you know electric outlets from around the world? You'll be shown a picture of an outlet from somewhere in the world. Pick one answer from the multiple choices provided.
Congratulations - you have completed Outlet Pop Quiz. You scored %%SCORE%% out of %%TOTAL%%. Your performance has been rated as %%RATING%%
Your answers are highlighted below.
Shaded items are complete.

Multimeter vs. Magic Smoke

Do you have one of these?Fluke Meter

Have you ever had to replace one of these in it?Fuse

Have you ever received what you would consider a weird and therefore incorrect reading?

Have you taken a reading twice and had inconsistent readings?

Is the magic smoke still inside? How do you know?

Are you wondering when I’ll get to my point? Point taken.

If you’re serious about the treatment and maintenance of your multimeters, you make sure that it is always used properly and only used by authorized and/or qualified individuals, right? You know exactly how it was used when you loaned it to another person in another department and that it was used correctly, right? Right?

I didn’t think so.

The thing that I’m trying to get at here is that you never know if the multimeter that you are using is actually accurate unless you do a test comparison with another like multimeter before going to use it. Or if you just opened up that sealed from the assembly-line box. Or maybe you’re one of the elite who just got it back from a calibration/recertification process.

Well, I’m here to tell you that no matter who you are, you should be among the elite. Depending on your multimeter usage, you really ought to be sending them out for a check-up. The interval at which you do so is ultimately up to you but it should be based on how you use your multimeter, how often you use it, maybe even manufacturer’s guidelines.

I’m going to break everyone down into 3 different user categories and give you my personal recommendations for how often you should have your meters checked:

  • Casual user – you perform a non-critical measurements, you are the sole user or you don’t really have the funds to do calibrations often – you should send your meter out for calibration every 3 years or less.
  • General user – you perform critical measurements on a regular basis or you might not be the sole user – you should send your meter out for calibration every 2 years or less.
  • Heavy user – you perform critical measurements weekly or you are not the sole user – you should send your meter out for calibration every year or less.

Now, please keep in mind that I’m basing those personal recommendations on that fact that you know where your meter is, where it has been, how it has been used, etc. If at any point your meter has blown the fuse or otherwise taken an overload or it has fallen a few feet or more to the ground, don’t take a chance. Send it out for calibration. It truly is better to be safe than sorry. I don’t want to ever here about one of my co-workers having been injured or worse because of a faulty meter.

The annual cost that I have paid for calibration on a Fluke 87 III True RMS digital multimeter from Transcat has been $51 for the past 3 years.

I have personally had meters that were being used, had an incident that the user may or may not have known occurred in the meter (no external signs of an issue), went out for their annual calibration, and were in need of repair or were unrepairable and therefore were not able to be used again. If I had not sent those meters out, myself and co-workers would have picked that meter up and used it assuming that it was good. Seriously, don’t assume. DO NOT ASSUME. Don’t do it. I want you to be safe and more importantly, alive.

-got fox?

Pay As You Go Solar in South Kenya

I saw an interesting article this weekend from CNN World’s website.  A company called Eight19 has created a pay-as-you-go solar technology called IndiGo that is being deployed right now in Kenya.  Check this out, this is Simon Bransfield Garth, the CEO of Eight19.  I knew I would like this company as soon as I realized what “Eight19″ meant – it’s the time that a ray of light from the sun reaches Earth.  Here’s Simon:

Here now is a quick video of a man named Samuel talking about the benefits of his Pay-As-You-Go Solar installation:

This is some pretty cool stuff.  The solar technology that Eight19 prides themselves on is a low-manufacturing-cost solar cell printed on a plastic film.  The reason that they can have products that are so low cost is that the printing method benefits from being able to use the high-speed roll printing technology that exists in the solar printing industry.  From the Eight19 website on the benefits of printed solar technology:

So, when the customer purchases the IndiGo package for installation, they get an Eight19 solar panel that connects into the IndiGo device.  The gist of the system is this:  without the customer “topping up” their IndiGo device via their cell phone, the device doesn’t charge the battery inside the device.  From the IndiGo website:

IndiGo is an affordable solar lighting and battery charging system that brings low cost energy to off-grid communities. With IndiGo, users put credit on their solar cell, just as they would on a mobile phone. Power from the cell then charges the  battery in the IndiGo box, making electricity available for lighting or charging other devices, such as mobile phones. The top-up codes are sent securely to owners’ mobile phones as text messages. Without the codes, the system does not generate electricity.  The IndiGo 2.5W solar home lighting and charging system includes: A solar panel and IndiGo box with a charge controller and battery; an LED lamp; an adapter lead for most popular mobile phones; connecting cables; and two, one-day top-up cards.

For most Americans who haven’t been overseas or in Canada, with pre-paid cell phones, you buy minutes on what’s commonly called a Top-Up card.  No different than the ones in the USA, they’re based on minutes, all that.

So the idea here is that people in South Kenya will not have to use kerosene lamps inside their places at night to do what they have to do needing illumination.  This is a tremendous thing; one of the biggest increases of our technological development has been increasing the CRI of the light we use to do things like read and develop.  With this implementation, the people in South Kenya will be getting  some seriously higher CRI than kerosene-powered sources.  This cannot be a bad thing, right?  Hell no.  People that live in kenya are no different than people who go to Yale.  They have the same potential as all of the rest of us, especially when given the opportunity to grow with the rest of the world.  No matter where you grow up, as long as you are given the opportunity to develop, you will succeed, especially if you apply yourself.

Something that I found interesting was found in the comments of the excellent CleanTechnica article on the IndiGo system.  A user named Bob_Wallace (THE Bob Wallace? Or the Shareware guy? I kid, I have no idea) posted some email exchanges he had with Simon from Eight19.  The bolded markings are things I’d like you to pay close attention to in the paragraph:

“The cost and payoff time varies a little by country as you would expect (for example there are variations in transport costs, distribution costs and local taxes between locations). In Kenya the weekly fee is 100KSH (approx $1.10) for our “duo” product with 2 lights and phone charging.

After a period of time, the product is deemed to be paid up and the customer has the option to buy the product out for a small fee or upgrade to a larger system. Again, this period varies a little between country but is normally between 18 and 24 months.

Our initial estimates suggest that typical users save in excess of $2/week with the kerosene and phone charging costs they save, with some users saving much more than this.”

In reply to a question about how upgrades work…

“People return the old system and get a new one (with the exception of the lights/wiring unless it needs replacement, as it is pointless to take down old one only to put the same thing back). We then refurbish and reintroduce the old systems. The weekly fee for the new larger systems takes into account the fact that we have recovered some value from the old system so they pay less than if we had to cover the full cost of the new system.”

Rough math says that Eight19 is able to get people in ownership of a basic lighting/phone charging system for somewhere just above $100US.

($1.10 x 52 weeks x 2 years = $114.40)

After two years they should have free power for a few years. The battery will need to be replaced after a few years and the LEDs after several. The panel should last a lifetime or more.

This is something to check out – basically a person using the IndiGo system uses it for about two years before they’ve paid it off, at the tune of about $114.40 USD.  The figure is for their “duo” product with two lights and a phone charger that has several charger tips for different phones.  After two years they have a few years of free solar electricity conversion.  Now granted it’s only at about two watts, but it’s free where before they’d have to pay to get kerosene to charge their stuff and see in the dark.  I think this is a pretty cool idea, as does the organization SolarAid, who has partnered with Eight19 to do this project in South Kenya.  From the SolarAid press release on the subject:

Thanks to the work of SolarAid and other players in the sector over the last few years, solar lights and phone chargers have been available for some time across Africa, but the initial cost is beyond the reach of many potential customers. By offering solar power as a service, without high purchase costs, these customers can now access clean electricity for less than their current spend on kerosene. But more than this, the availability of affordable electricity stimulates social and economic development too.

I think this is a pretty cool thing that’s happening.  When you think of the costs though, I think you should just remember that the Kenyans aren’t paying in USD.  One Kenyan Shilling (KES) is worth about 1.2 pennies USD.  Consider that when you consider the cost.  For example, right now a watt of solar if you just buy the photovoltaic panel is between $2.19 USD/W (for a 60W panel) up to $5.44 USD/W (for a 130W panel).  With the rest of the gear you’ll have to buy (cables, batteries, control), you’re looking at about $8.00 USD per watt of generated electricity.  I mean, come on though – after about the first six months, collecting solar using a device and a PV panel rather than taking it from a grid situation is going to pay for itself.  The sun is free, kids.  When some company or some government starts saying hey dummies!  we’re going to charge you for solar power by making you pay us for collecting it, then I am going to freak out and be really loud about it to the world, and then the world needs to kick some corporate or government tail.  Right now, no matter where you are, you’re paying for the devices that help you collect and store electricity, not for the solar energy itself  A lot of people make cracks online about how “solar should be free,” and they are totally right.  There is nothing that stops you from inventing your own solar collecting system for your own usage; money perhaps, but as long as we’re Capitalists, money will always be an issue.  Eight19 is a company, and they’re doing what a company does, and their particular skill is making and selling solar power collecting systems.  The power companies have done the same thing essentially, you’re just paying for them to make the power, and using their lines for them to get it to you.  In the US, we pay for this power from them by the kilowatt-hour, at an average of $0.118 per 1000W/h.

What do you think?  Do the costs add up?  The prices in Kenya are about comparable to American prices according to Numbeo, if not maybe a bit cheaper overall on average.

Thanks to USEIA, IndiGo Off-the-Grid, The Times, Triple Pundit, and Numbeo!

Happy BELATED Birthday, Frank J. Sprague!

There were a few birthdays over the weekend that I totally missed, and now I feel horrible!  Oh wait, both of these people are dead.



HEY, so HAPPY BELATED BIRTHDAY, Frank J. Sprague!  Check out this proper lookin’ military-turned-mucker dude!

This is Frank J. Sprague and Rear Admiral S. S. Robinson (I told you he was military, he was Navy).  This particular photograph is actually kinda neat, a bunch of folks presented him with a six-volume set of letters and papers on his 75th birthday.  I think back in that time people expressed their pleasure for birthday gifts by taking pictures that look terribly uncomfortable, as you can see here.  Fads change, I suppose, I guess you had to be there.

Thomas Edison and Frank Sprague were friends through a business partner of Edison’s, a guy named EH Johnson.  Edison, in all of his wisdom, actually convinced Sprague to give up his Navy commission and come work in Menlo Park as a technical assistant.  From the Elevator Museum (I’ll explain that later):

Graduating seventh in a class of 36 in 1878, Sprague was assigned to the USS Richmond, flagship of the Asiatic Fleet, where he filled a notebook with detailed drawings and descriptions of devices that evidenced his urge for invention. Among these were a duplex telephone, quadruplex and octoplex telegraph systems, a motor and a means of transmitting pictures by wire. Later, Sprague was ordered to the USS Minnesota. While his ship was in Newport, Rhode Island, in 1881, Sprague invented the inverted type of dynamo. Also in 1881, Spraque transferred to the USS Lancaster, flagship of the European Squadron, on which he installed the first crude electrical call-bell system in the Navy.

Sprague took leave to attend the Paris Electrical Exhibition and the Crystal Palace Exhibition in Sydenham, England, where he served as the only American member and as secretary of the jury of awards for gas engines, dynamos and lamps.

Meanwhile, Sprague’s ideas about motors and lamps had so impressed E.H. Johnson, a business associate of Thomas A. Edison, that he convinced Sprague to resign from the Navy in 1883 to become a technical assistant to Edison. While on Edison’s staff, Sprague assisted in the installation and operation of Edison’s pioneer three-wire electric light systems. Sprague also revised and corrected the Edison system of mains and feeders for central station distribution and developed a formula for determining the ratio of wire size to current amperage.

Now, the weird thing about celebrating Frank J. Sprague is not necessarily due to his contributions to the electric light bulb or electric light in general; Sprague’s contributions were to the electrical systems and main busses in Edison’s laboratory, as well as some of the three-wire lighting systems.  Sprague did a lot of correcting of Edison’s power distribution mains and feeders, and he also did a lot of mathematical “updating” to Edison’s methods.  Sprague knew that if he could do some math beforehand, Edison’s Muckers would have to do a lot less “noodling” and “fooling around” in the lab which would save time.  Seems like pretty good sense, right?

Frank Sprague didn’t last very long at Edison Power and Light – about a year and change.  Edison’s main interest was in light and lighting, but Sprague was more of a motor guy.  So, in a move that I would have loved to see firsthand as it happened (as I have to believe there were some wonderful words exchanged), Sprague left Edison’s employ and went off to start the Sprague Electric Railway and Motor Company.  Suck on THAT, Edison.  What’s funny is that Edison actually DID suck on that, and he spoke very highly about Sprague’s electric motor to the world, and Sprague did pretty well.  From the NNDB archives:

After several years of theoretical work and experiments, it took Sprague and his men only about 90 days to plan the route, lay a dozen miles (19 km) of track, construct the 375 horsepower steam and electric plant, and motorize 40 formerly horse-drawn cars. The first test runs were made in November 1887, and regular service began on 2 February 1888. The first runs were not without difficulties, including frequent mechanical and electrical problems, the indignity of a horse reigned to the trolleys for the additional pulling power needed to climb the tracks’ steepest incline, and the further embarrassment of seeing broken-down trolleys towed away by mule. With some tinkering, though, the system was soon made reliable, and came to be seen as far superior to horse or horse-drawn transport.

Within two years, Sprague had contracts to construct 113 street rail systems, and the within a decade horse-drawn streetcars had virtually disappeared from America’s cities, replaced by an estimated 13,000 miles of urban streetcar tracks. He designed a multi-unit train control system in Chicago, where he built the first of the city’s elevated “L” electric railways. He engineered the electrification of New York’s Grand Central Station, and with William Wilgus he co-invented the “third rail” system of powering electric trains for the New York Central Railroad. Sprague Electric Railway and Motor Company was eventually merged into Edison General Electric, which subsequently became General Electric.

Sprague’s talent lied in railways and motors, both electric, as well as a good bunch of other inventions.  One of my favorites is the elevator – yep, good ol’ Frank J. Sprague here invented the elevator.  I have to believe that he was sitting at a bar one day and realized that if he turned a train on its end and made it run vertically, BOOMelevator.  Done.

Bring me another ale, Bitterman.

Happy Birthday, Frank J. Sprague!  (Frank’s actual birthday is July 25.  Sorry, Frank!)

Thanks Wikipedia, The Elevator Museum, NNDB, the Edison Tech Center, and the Chapin Library!

RIP Google PowerMeter and Microsoft Hohm – Home Power Consumption Metering Products are Almost Dead

Much to my dismay, I have to report that Google and Microsoft are both discontinuing their home power consumption products, Google PowerMeter and Microsoft Hohm.

Personally, I think this sucks – but do you know the official reasons why?

“…Due to the slow overall market adoption of the service, we are instead focusing our efforts on products and solutions more capable of supporting long-standing growth within this evolving market.”
“…Our efforts have not scaled as quickly as we would like, so we are retiring the service.”

So basically, Google and Microsoft put these products out there to give us the ability to literally monitor and evaluate our home power consumption to make us self-aware of the way we spend electricity.  Apparently, at the rate that we adopted these products, Google and Microsoft aren’t happy.  Bye-bye, home monitoring products.  This really sucks.

We could spend the whole day blaming people or departments or our generally care-less generation.  Were these products advertised well enough?  Did people stop watching Jersey Shore long enough to see the ads, or even care about the impact they have on the world?  Did the energy companies that didn’t sign up for either of these products just not want people trying to reduce their energy consumption?  Something my divorce taught me was that there is no reason to waste time to point a finger to the blame; instead, point the finger towards change and making yourself better.  We need to make this better.

How do we make this better, JimOnLight.com readers?  Together, we are one huge body of concerned and informed lighting lovers.  I believe in us!  How do we teach America and the world how important it is to be in touch with the impact we have on the planet?  Even more difficult, how do we teach the companies that make money on how much power that we use understand that it’s in their best interests for us to figure out how to better use our electricity?

Check out the Google announcement for the death of PowerMeter (and Google Health too, subsequently) and the announcement of Microsoft’s discontinuation of Microsoft Hohm.

Nighttime Transformer Explosions in Fort Worth, Texas

Have you seen this video? If not, stop what you’re doing right now and watch. Amazing. Tragic, but amazing. From the Youtube site of user Brian Luenser, who recorded and posted the video:

This is the aftermath of a pretty brutal thunderstorm in Fort Worth Texas on May 10, 2011. It was taken from my balcony on the 34th floor of a building in Fort Worth. Though I thought we were at war or was terrorism, it was a massive series of downed 7,200 volt power lines. As I took it with my 70-200 2.8L IS lens, it is farther away than it looks. (it is 5 miles away) That is why there are not explosion sounds. This was a very well documented event. I was on my balcony to take lightning pictures (Yes, not smart) and this started happening in front of me. I turned my camera (Canon 5d MkII) to video mode and let it roll.

Crazy. There’s a bit more about the video there and the way it was recorded, too. The colors are absolutely beautiful. Almost unbelievable.

Watch, totally worth it: