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The Man Who Can Make Lightning Sing

An interview with Jay Summet of the Musical Tesla Coil

Musical Tesla Coil

In a garage near Decatur, Georgia, a maker named Jay Summet is hard at work on his latest creation. He’s assembling and customizing the oneTesla MIDI-controlled Tesla coil kit that he’ll be showing off at Maker Faire Atlanta in October. Like most makers, Jay’s garage-turned-workshop is filled with all sorts of tools, spare parts, and various odds and ends that may one day find a new home in some unique project.

If you’ve been to any of the previous Atlnata Mini Maker Faires, you’ve undoubtedly come across Jay and his converted S-10 Electric Pickup Truck which he drives to each Faire. Jay tries to bring something new to show off each year. You may have seen his large Bubble Display or his Rostock-mini Delta 3D printer. This year he’s bringing his one-Tesla musical Tesla coil.

Jay has been a maker for as back as he can remember, “I remember making a remote light controller with one of the original PIC micro-controllers (where you had to erase them with a UV light through a quartz “erase window” ) back in the late 1980’s.” He draws some of his inspiration from seeing things other makers build, but many of his projects come from a necessity that needs to be filled. And when a maker needs something, he makes it himself.

When he’s not making, Jay teaches computer science at Georgia Tech. For his thesis research, he developed a Virtual Rear Projection system that compensates for shadows cast by someone walking in front of the screen. He’s currently working with small, bluetooth-enabled robots to teach students how to program in Python.

Jay was nice enough to let us in on another project he’s currently designing: a 6-foot diameter spherical playhouse for his son constructed from CNC cut plywood. And if he find a way to lug it to the Faire, perhaps we’ll get to see it at next years Maker Faire Atlanta.


OPEN Technology

Mark and James

James and Marc are two neighbors and friends who run a small business in Columbus, GA called S&T GeoTronics LLC. Together they’ve worked on electric car conversions, arduino-based Segway’s, and a number of geocaching projects. This April they successfully completed a Kickstarter campaign for The Open Enigma Project. Their projects and products can be found at

Q: For Maker Faire Atlanta, what are you planning to showcase?

A: This is S&T Geotronic’s third year at the Maker Faire and second year having a booth. We will demo our Open Enigma Mark 4, our electric car drive, and our geocaching location based entertainment devices. Hopefully we will be in the middle our second Kickstarter showcasing your intelligent display devices

Q: Why did you decide to release the Open Enigma Project on Kickstarter?

A: The Open Enigma Project was an accident.  We were planning a Georgia Geocaching mega event and thought it would be cool if you encrypted a message with an enigma machine. However, we couldn’t find one so we made one. Using it at the mega event wasn’t a success, but we published an instructable.  Soon after publishing, people began asking us to build the device. We set the price at $1000.00 thinking only a few people would want one, but we kept getting orders. So we launched a Kickstarter project to collect a large number of orders at once and get volume discounts. We aren’t cryptologist or WWII fans. Our real intent isn’t to sell a product but enable people to do things.

Q: Tell me about your gas to electric car conversion?

A: In 2010 as gas was approaching $4.00 per gallon, We made a bet that James couldn’t adapt a 3 phase induction motor to power a vehicle. After a year of R&D failures James built a working electric drive unit. It took a couple weeks to scale to size and we presented it via our EV Maker Tumblr. Our electric drive unit is a core any one can build an electric drive around. It’s just like any other motor drive except it’s open source and running on an Arduino.

Q: How did you guys start working together?

A: James is lifelong tinkerer and Marc is a network engineer. We’ve been neighbor’s just three doors down from each other for close to a decade. We began to become closer as friends four years ago. Just this spring we started a company together. The Maker movement is growing we want to be apart of it.

If you’re interested in James and Marc’s projects, you can follow their progress at


*This MakerMonday Blog Post was written for your reading pleasure by AMF volunteer Matthew Carson.