The Steam-punk Lightning Detectors that I sell on Etsy (See my Etsy Store badge on the right) were created using a modified form of the lighting detectors found at the TechLib.com, designed by Charles Wenzel.
The basic circuit is shown above, However I made some changes for the Steam-punk version.
This unit contains about 100 man hours of work to produce the Victorian appearance of age in the stain, the brass, steel, leather, and glass of the detection lamp assembly and wooden base etc. True working Steam-Punk art is not cheap and there is a good reason – it is hard to build!
But for the real Steam-Punk aficionado looking for a piece that really works, this unit is a must have. Visit my Etsy store if you are interested. (Special note: This particular unit was sold in just a few weeks after posting, so if you want to order one, just go to the shop and send me a message. I am currently as of 03/13/2015 building two more detectors, one under commission, and one that I intend to sell).
Now… onto the build itself.
Aging and staining the wood for the base took nearly 2 weeks of solid work to get the right look I was going for: A cherry stain that looked like it had been around for sometime. Everything else had to be in period materials from leather in the base of the Cobalt Blue Lamp assembly – the blue glass itself, all connectors and art-worked pieces had to be of brass if at all possible or other metals.
The lamp tube is cut from a blue bottle. That took three tries with my expensive bottles… The base is a solid cast brass candle base.The top and ball are from old door-knobs and Victorian curtain assemblies. Threaded brass rod, springs, leather complete the unit.
Using “dead-bug” style circuit assembly procedure, (and after verification of the circuit) everything was encased in a wax base to keep parts from moving once assembled into the base. The small black unit is the hidden speaker that is used to announce approaching lightning or, to allow the “Voices of the Aether’s” to speak forth – in other words, if you take this unit to the northern regions when the Aurora Borealis is up, you will hear it’s weird moaning in this speaker. Or perhaps if you take it to your local cemetery you can hear ghosts there as well… who knows?
The switch allows near and far detection. The control knob changes the Q of the coil for allowing more tight tuning of the strikes.
And the final product is a wonder to behold! Again, about 100 man hours of work here!
Below is a video of the Detector in action…The sound you hear is the rain pounding on my castle laboratory, and my evil cat (“Kitty”*) meowing in the background! And Thunder too…
*Actually, Kitty is not evil, she just likes to lay on whatever it is you are working on. I guess that is fairly typical of a cat.