Sam’s raincoat was dripping water at the library entrance. He waited long enough for most of the water to drip off before entering that sacred place. Sam just wanted to get in out of the storm. Reading was not the young man’s most favorite activity. Sam decided since he was there, he would take advantage of the situation and do a little exploring. A lightning bolt caused him to start counting and clap of thunder told him he would be there for a while. One second between the two events is a mile. He counted to four and knew the storm was almost on top of them.
Sam stopped at the counter near the entrance.
“Is it OK for me to look around?”
The old woman behind the counter gave a positive nod. She was on the phone, which prevented her from speaking to Sam. He migrated back into the bowels of the room and checked out several books. The old woman approached.
“Young man, may I help you find something?”
“Yeah. Where do you keep the treasure maps?”
The old woman smiled at the obvious joke.
“We keep all the treasure maps locked in our secret room. Can I interest you in another kind of book?”
She raised a bony finger and gestured for Sam to come close, then whispered a secret.
“Follow me and I’ll show you a different kind of secret map.”
The old woman saw the raised eyebrow and the spark of interest in the young man. She worked her way through a maze of shelves loaded with hard cover books.
“I can’t reach it, but if you look on the top shelf and take down the book with the yellow and red cover; I think you may find what you are looking for.”
“Lady, I was just kidding about treasure maps. I just come in here to get out of the storm.”
Another clap of thunder reinforced his statement.
“It sounds as though you may be here for quite some time, so why don’t you use the time to learn something new?”
She turned and slowly departed, leaving Sam to decide without putting any pressure on the young man. Sam stretched out and reached the book in question. They had passed several tables on their way to that treasure map. Sam chose one with a light overhead and sat down.
The bright cover didn’t match his idea of a treasure map. Sam thought, ‘Oh well, it’s not a thick book. Why not’. Sam opened it slowly half expecting a pop-up of a map to spring out. The title read ‘Prodigal Genius, Nicola Tesla’. After Sam passed the page containing all the legalize, the first word was, “Spectacular.” He thought, ‘This could get interesting.’ Sam had never heard of this man before, therefore he had no idea what to expect.
The book was a page turner. Sam found, with every page something new and exciting about this strange man. Labeling him a genius was a gross understatement. Sam knew what alternating current was, but certainly didn’t know who invented it until now. Tesla had a showdown with Thomas Edison. On a stage in New York, they engaged in a debate to see if DC current or AC current would be used to power New York. Edison could only use scare tactics concerning AC electricity; trying to frighten the powerful men in the audience. Tesla took a rubber mat and placed a chair on it in the middle of the stage. After giving his assistant the nod, Tesla sat down and started reading a paper. Lightning bolts were shooting all the way across the stage from his giant Tesla coil. He sat in a bath of electrical streamers dancing all around him. His one statement after the coil was shut down was action speaks louder than words. Of course, we all know those power brokers chose Tesla’s AC current to power New York and finally the rest of the world.
Between the pages, someone had hidden a drawing of eminent proportions. It was a hand drawn circuit of a device. The caption at the top read, “Quantum generator.” Underneath the title was a parts list: #26 magnet wire, 15 feet 1/4-inch copper tubing, D718 transistors (2-4), resistor (10-47 ohms), inverter. Below the parts list was a simple diagram depicting a secondary coil of several hundred turns and a primary coil of ten turns, spaced apart and positioned away from the secondary several inches. There were instructions at the bottom giving details on how to tune the coil, plus dictating a second coil must be constructed identical to the first one.
The old woman approached with a form in hand.
“I will assume you will want to take the book home to finish reading it. If you will complete the form, I will issue a library card so you can check it out. It’s free and has no expiration date on it.”
She placed the form on the table and went back to the front counter.
Sam realized his excuse left with the storm. He had found a new friend and didn’t want to abandon it, so he completed the form.
“Dad, will you buy some electronic parts for me?”
Mr. Sampson, “What do you want with electronics parts. A new hobby, maybe?”
“Well, I ducked into the library yesterday because of the storm and that old lady in there showed me a book about Nicola Tesla. I found this paper inside the book and I want to make this device.”
Sam pulled the drawing from his shirt pocket and showed it to his father.
Mr. Sampson, “It looks innocent enough. Do you know what these parts do? How they are used, their function?”
“I’ll help you on one condition. Go back to the library and ask Mrs. Claiborne for a book on electronics. Study it and learn at least the fundamentals of electronics, then I’ll buy those parts for you.”
Sam didn’t know if thanks was in order or strong criticism would be better. He had no idea of the depth or width or breath of the ordeal he was about to face. His father knew and wanted to see just how badly his son wanted to build the device.
“My father told me to learn electronics and said that you would help me find a book.”
Mrs. Claiborne, “Certainly; come with me. Electronics, is it? That sounds just like Albert.”
“You know my father?”
“Yes, he was in my science class.”
She went back a few rows and made a left. The old lady didn’t need to hunt for the book. She knew exactly where it was.
“It looks as though I opened Pandora’s box by introducing you to Tesla. Sam, this will be difficult for you to learn by yourself. If you need more time with the book, just let me know and I will give you an extension.”
Sam took the book home and started reading. One week later he was still reading and getting disgusted.
“Dad, I don’t think I’ll ever learn this stuff. It’s hard and I don’t have anyone to help me with it.”
“I had my hopes up, but I guess I expected too much from you. Oh well, at least I didn’t spend all that money foolishly.”
Sam’s heart wasn’t broken, but it was badly bent. He disappointed his father; something he hated. Sam got stubborn, then he got mad. He thought, ‘I’m going to learn this even if it kills me.’
“Dad, that book doesn’t tell me about the differences between transistors. Can you tell me?”
“Certainly. Different transistors have different speeds at which they switch from one side to the other. The last time I checked the fastest switching is six billion three times per second. Son, when you design a circuit switching speeds can control how efficient the circuit is.”
Two days later a package was on Sam’s bed.
Mrs. Sampson, “Honey, a package came today. I put it on your bed.”
Sam tore off the wrappings. There were the items on the parts list, plus a soldering iron, silver alloy wire solder, and a bead board. He gathered up the parts and headed for the basement. After removing the plastic from the soldering iron, he plugged it up, only to realize that act was grossly premature. He needed to wind two coils first. He looked around the basement first then outside for something to use for a coil former. A piece of two-inch PVC pipe caught his eye. ‘Perfect,’ he thought.
After several hours of tedious work, two coils of two hundred turns each resulted. A piece of plywood would act as a base which the coils were glued to. Now he was ready to plug up his soldering iron and get down to some serious electronic construction. Out came the magic paper. Sam duplicated the wiring diagram and mounted the bead board beside the coils.
Mr. Sampson came downstairs.
“Here, you’ll need these.”
Mr. Sampson handed Sam two six-volt flashlight batteries and a double pole, single throw switch. After checking out his son’s progress, Mr. Sampson made a suggestion.
“Son, I recommend using two transistors in parallel. That will reduce the peak voltage time and save a burnt-out transistor.”
“How do you know that?”
“Look closely at that drawing. Do you not recognize the hand-writing? Hook up those batteries in series, which will give you twelve volts. That will be sufficient voltage to power your circuit.”
Sam makes the changes his father suggested. He flipped the switch, but nothing happened. He doubled checked the wiring. No problem there.
“Dad, when I turned it on, nothing happened. I checked everything and it’s wired up properly. I’m stumped now.”
Mr. Sampson, “Martha, where do you keep the light bulbs; the new kind?"
Martha, “They are in the cabinet over the refrigerator, dear.”
Mr. Sampson, “Go and get the smallest curly bulb you can find and meet me downstairs.”
Sam was surprised his father was taking so much interest in his project.
Mr. Sampson took the bulb and started at the point where Sam made the connection from the transistors. He slowly moved the bulb around the top turn of the primary until it started shinning. That point was half way around the first turn.
Mr. Sampson, “You need to make your connection at this point and then it should be properly tuned.”
“How do you know about this stuff?”
“I built the same device when I was your age. It’s not new technology. That drawing you stumbled across is just a modern version. As a matter of fact, Mr. Tesla invented it over a hundred years ago.”
Mr. Sampson went back upstairs. Sam corrected his mistake. When he turned on the power this time. he was producing electricity without using any fuel.
Sam, “It works! It works! It works!”
The parents could hear him and probably many of their neighbors heard him also.
Mr. Sampson, “Martha, out boy is growing up.”
Martha, “Yes dear.”