||It has been suggested that this article be merged with Singing Tesla Coil. (Discuss) Proposed since May 2010.|
Zeusaphone is a term for a singing Tesla coil, a high-frequency, solid state Tesla coil, whose spark discharge is digitally modulated so as to produce musical tones. The high-frequency signal acts in effect as a carrier wave; its frequency is significantly above human-audible sound frequencies, so that digital modulation is able to reproduce a recognizable pitch. The musical tone results directly from the passage of the spark through the air. The flexibility of the sound is limited by the fact that the solid-state coil produces square rather than sinusoidal waves; but simple chords are possible.
This is a variant of the plasma speaker, designed for public spectacle and sheer volume rather than fidelity.
The name was coined after a public demonstration of the device on June 9, 2007 at DucKon 16, a science fiction convention in Naperville, Illinois. The performance was by Steve Ward, an electrical engineering student at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, who designed and built the Tesla coil he used. Subsequent performances include "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies," performed on September 8, 2007, at the 2007 "Cheesehead Teslathon," a.k.a. "Lightning on the Lawn," in Baraboo WI, by Ward and fellow designer Jeff Larson on matching 41 kHz Tesla coils.
The term "zeusaphone" was conceived by Dr. Barry Gehm, of Lyon College, on June 19, 2007, in a conversation with his friend Bill Higgins. It is a play on the name of the sousaphone, giving homage instead to Zeus, ancient Greek god of lightning. The name was adopted by Ward on June 21, 2007. The alternative name "Thoremin" was suggested by Dan Butler-Ehle; it is a wordplay on "theremin" incorporating the name of Thor, the god of thunder in Norse mythology.
As of December 2012, there is no record of a trademark for the term "zeusaphone."