Hobbies - A partial list of things I'm currently involved with or interested in:
Speaker design - I've been building my own speakers for a while now; I like dynamic capability and accuracy, and with a little effort one can build much better speakers than one can buy while saving (up to) TONS of money, especially for a flagship size setup. For you music-loving audiophiles out there, some system specs and photos of my speakers here.
High end audio - Toying around with homebuilt speakers - ribbon drivers. These use a flat conducting ribbon instead of a cone and voice coil. Some put the ribbon on a film diaphragm to extend the response. Fairly easy to make, difficult to make well. Commercial versions are making inroads in the high end. Photo of an experimental homebuilt ribbon; this goes from about 400-8000 Hertz, not flat either, but fun!
Tesla coils - These must be seen live to be appreciated. They take common house current and step it up to hundreds of thousands, or millions, of volts at radio frequencies. What fun! Nothing will cause your neighbors to brand you a Mad Scientist like a Tesla coil! Here's a (69k jpeg) photo of one I built and (32k jpeg) fired up at the first Southern California Teslathon 1999. The streamer is about four feet long. Thanks to Mari Ferrell for this pic! And here I am at Charles' place soaking up some power from his coil (naturally, I don't recommend doing this!).
Lasers - Have red and yellow Helium-Neon, an air-cooled blue/green Argon Ion (in need of repair; it's blower is currently in use on my Tesla coil!) and a recently acquired 20 mW green solid state diode-pumped Neodymium, which does the same thing in green as the Argon but uses 1/100 the power (!). Light from lasers is surreal and beautiful. Tried building some but have run into simple but frustrating technical difficulties and these projects are mothballed until I can get around to it again. What I really need is a time machine.
Fireworks/Pyrotechnics - Never do I tire of watching them, and really appreciate the behind the scenes work that goes into them since acquiring some good books on the subject and doing my own research and experiments. Commercial fireworks have gotten so cheesy over the last few decades. It is very satisfying to be able to make things that are better than what you can buy, or are no longer available, or not available at all! But - you can never be too careful with fireworks - they'll bite you when you least expect it.
Potato Guns, Spud Acceleration - A recent addition to the list. Mine runs on propane, with a piezo barbecue igniter 'trigger'. Recently built a pneumatic piston version that uses compressed air, and am working on an aluminum pneumatic. Why it's so much fun to blast potatoes (or just about anything that'll fit) out of a PVC bazooka is still a wonder to me, and you can't beat the bang for the buck. Must be a guy thing. More info and pics.
Crystals/Minerals - Collected them as a kid and still do occasionally. Lately, quartz rock crystal is on my mind. Also collected some topaz at Topaz Mountain in Utah a couple years ago.
Glass Insulators - Same as above. Have a collection, but this hobby is on a back burner.
Date Nails - Ditto. What are date nails? These are found in telephone poles and railroad ties and usually indicate the year that piece of wood was put into service.
Games - Network play QuakeII and other first-person types once in a while, and the card game Magic. Can play chess, but haven't in a long time. I like a good poker game too, once in a while.
Copyright © 2000 by David McNamee. All Rights Reserved.
This piece of Tungsten's Castlepage last revised November 25, 2000.