The Electromagnetic Fountain

Posts Tagged ‘electromagnetism

Sniffing in Stavanger – Little EMV sniffer

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This EMV sniffer was put together by Erich Berger and Martin Howse during the Maxwell City Workshop I took part in at Atelier Nord in 2007. It is based on kit components that can be purchased here.

Sniffing in Stavanger – Zap Checker

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Here’s a video of the Zap Checker detector in action where the Electromagnetic Fountain is planned to stand.

Frequency range: covers 1 MHz to 8 GHz.
Output: Audio Jack and needle display.
Antenna: Internal
Calibration: Can be calibrated for different signal ranges and for digital and analog signals.


Sniffing in Stavanger – Electrosmog Detector in the Rain!

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Here’s a video of the Electrosmog Detector in action in the rain. Its much more noisy.

EMF – Alchemic design

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I’m trying to find a system for designing the Electromagnetic Fountain’s water jets.

Following a stream of consciousness in this order:

Alchemy, Pentagon, Da Vinci, Giordano Bruno, Ionized hazard warning, Non-ionized hazard warning .. and so on and so forth …

Alchemic Fountain DesignAlchemic Fountain Design 2

Purple dots: valves controlled by data derived from kinetic detector/antenna no. 1 that can be pulled out by the public from the fountain base: digital signals. (frequency and amplitude – frequency: each new signal gets sent around to the next point in the triangle; amplitude defines the height of the water jet).

Pink dots: as above, but the valves are controlled by data derived from kinetic detector/antenna no. 2

Green dots: pentagon manifold with nozzles and valve/pump controlled by detected analogue signals. (continuous: amplitude defines height).

Example of square manifold:

An alternative could be to have a manifold with five fan nozzles:

fan nozzle fan nozzle pattern

With some maths, the fall of the each fan nozzle could “draw” each side of the pentagon shape. However, with this alternative I think it would lose some dynamics with regards to the height of the water jet, which would be lessened using this method.

Another alternative could be a manifold with many smaller, jet/spray valves that form the pentagon shape.

Example of a spray ring manifold:

spray ring spray ring effect

Red dot: valve/water jet that shows the total average of digital and analogue signals. Maximum total signal value threshold: all valves operate on special program.

One idea I’m thinking of for the central water feature is a pirouette nozzle:

piouette nozzle pioruette effect

But compared to the example given above, the central nozzle would have to give a more substantial – less delicate water effect. Generally, I think the overall effect of the spinning pirouette nozzle would probably detract from the water patterns I’m trying to achieve with the fountain. perhaps a simpler solution, such as a geyser/ foam nozzle is better.

foam nozzle foam effect

At the end of th day, I think its really difficult to get any substantial impression without trying things out and talking to experts. After all, how many water features can you actually fit in to a bowl fountain with a 2m diameter?

Lastly, I am really keen on having a fogger element in the EMF when the detected signal level reaches a maximum threshold. Here’s an extract from an article that describes different fogger methods – and an anecdote about what happened when the method was first implemented in the Bellagio Fountain in Las Vegas:

Fog on demand
Another element used in fountains to set the mood is fog created either by atomizing water or adjusting temperature and humidity. To use the first method, WET Design sends water at 2,000 psi and 0.05 gpm through a 0.006-in. nozzle. The water hits a steel pin positioned precisely over the hole’s center and bursts into tiny water particles making mist or fog. “In small close-up displays, we might use 30 nozzles,” notes Freitas. “Bellagio has 5,000.”

The second method usually involves injecting cool nitrogen into a chamber filled with warm, supersaturated air. The water condenses into airborne water droplets, or fog. The nitrogen expands, pushing the fog out into the display. “It’s a drier, finer mist than the brute force method,” says Freitas. “It also doesn’t make floors slippery or leave a residue. This makes it well suited for indoor use. But it does have a consumable, the nitrogen.”

How long the fog lasts and what it does is up to Mother Nature. “Once we create it, it’s out of our hands,” says Freitas. “When we tested Bellagio’s fog system, for example, it created a great bank of fog that started moving toward the road. Before we knew it, fog had engulfed the Strip. Drivers were slamming on the brakes, tires were squealing, and we expected to see a hundred-car pile up. Luckily, there were no collisions and no one got hurt.” That’s one reason human operators at the Bellagio fountain can intervene in the computer programming that controls the foggers.
[ from: Making Water Dance, Machine Design, 01.08.2003 ]

Written by ajsteggell

May 19, 2008 at 12:33 am

Electromagnetic Waves and Antennas

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Electromagnetic Waves and Antennas
Sophocles J. Orfanidis
ECE Department
Rutgers University

[ …. This book provides a broad and applications-oriented introduction to electromagnetic waves and antennas. Current interest in these areas is driven by the growth in wireless and fiber-optic communications, information technology, and materials science…… ]

You can download individual chapters at:

Written by ajsteggell

May 7, 2008 at 10:53 am

Amplitude modulation explained

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Here’s a tutorial from Radioteacher explaining Amplitude Modulation:

Written by ajsteggell

March 23, 2008 at 7:44 pm

Frequency modulation explained

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Here’s a tutorial video by Radioteacher explaining Frequency Modulation:

Written by ajsteggell

March 23, 2008 at 7:41 pm

Sound analysis

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I have been using Aleksander Refsum Jensenius’s max/msp sound analysis software to analyze digital and analogue signals that I have recorded with my detectors. When I see the sound rendered from different perspectives – loudness (spectral energy), brightness (spectral centroid), noisiness (spectral flatness), sonogram, pitch (estimated), onsets and as musical notation – in this way, I get to know more about the character of each of the various field recordings. The screenshot below is one moment of detecting the electromagnetic activity when I make a call on my mobile phone.


From this exercise I hope to glean some ideas about how to treat the data that will come in from the fountain’s detectors, and how this will control the various water valves of the fountain.

The digital signals are on-off and squirty – like premature ejaculations, while the anaolg signals are continuous and surgey and can be more kind of slowly orgasmic. What I am currently thinking of is passing each peak of the digital signals sequential to the small valves close to the circumference of the fountain bowl. As the peaks happen so fast, I figure that this is the best way of signal distribution – it allows for time for the mechanics of the each of the valves to respond before getting new input. Right now it seems like either the pitch or noisiness signal analysis methods would be the most useful way of controlling the valves. Pitch/peak opens a valve and sends a water jet into the air, the height controlled by its value, and then the valve closes fast to get a “drop”.

If you want to try this out, download the sound of my mobile (unedited from dv cassette/7.89mb) and then open/run it in Aleksander’s sound analysis patch. There’s a osx stand alone version, (1.6mb), so you don’t need to have max/msp installed on your mac.

Written by ajsteggell

March 17, 2008 at 10:49 pm

Electromagnetic Fountain: issues

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One of the main issues I have been exploring over the past months is that of detectors/antenna solutions for the Electromagnetic Fountain. I have been using the detectors built by Erich Berger and Martin Howse for the Maxwell City workshop (Atelier Nord, Oslo 2006), as well as two consumer sniffers listed below.

Detects the pulsing emissions from wireless communications technologies (mobile phones, masts, DECT digital cordless phones, w/LAN’s, Wi-Fi, etc.)

  • Frequency Range: 50 MHz to 3000 MHz
  • Sensitivity: 0.01 volts per meter (V/m)
  • Output: Audio Loudspeaker, Audio jack socket
  • Controls: On/Off Switch, Volume

High sensitivity over a wide RF frequency range, with the ability to detect signals from wireless devices, cellular phones and covert “bugs” at more than 50+ feet, transmissions from “sealed” microwave ovens at 40+ feet, from walkie-talkies at 100+ feet, and from amateur radio transceivers at hundreds of feet.

  • covers 1 MHz to 8 GHz.
  • can be calibrated to detect different frequency ranges.
  • needle display allows the user to view signal strength measurements
  • audio output allows user to hear the difference in signal levels and distinguish between analog and digital signals.

Each detector has its own characteristic audio output.

What I am doing now is sniffing around with the different detectors and, by listening to the signals, trying to identify the source of the various emissions by ear. The next stage will be to experiment with how the signals from the different detectors can be processed and applied to the water jets of the fountain based on my current knowledge and hard/software. One of the main issues is to fathom out whether the fountain will be driven by several detectors dedicated to specific frequency ranges, or whether one detector with a large frequency range will be used. These activities can be used as a start point for communicating my ideas (through practical examples/demos) to other potential collaborating industry partners.

The second issue is whether the antennas should be in one position, or kinetic to create more dynamics as they pass through different el-mag waves/fields. Another alternative could be to include antennas that could be pulled out from the fountain by the public (envisaged as umbilical chords that connect the public to the fountain).

Klosterøya connection

I have previously posted some photos of antennas spotted in the close vicinity of Klosterøya in Skien, Norway, where I recently exhibited the Emotion Organ. Klosterøya is the home of a closed-down industrial site that is being transformed to accommodate a new industrial and IT centre. As part of this process is an initiative to establish a programme where artists can develop art/technology related projects in a “partnership” with industry actors who are willing to provide resources to aid the development and realisation of the projects. This initiative, called ROM3, is led by Gunn Marit Christenson (EZENS) and Atle Barcley (former leader of Atelier Nord). The Electromagnetic Fountain is currently being proposed as a pilot-project of this initiative. It is proposed in two stages:

1. The development of a small, portable fountain that will function as both a performance-related/public art work and a prototype for a larger fountain. Completion, November 2008.

2. A permanent, large fountain that will be situated in an atrium on Klosterøya looking out over the river. Completion, spring 2010.

This development has pushed the initial idea beyond a DIY project and into a larger, collaborative realm. At current I am considering the competence areas that could contribute to the development of the prototype fountain. These are split into 3 areas: Construction design, inputs and outputs.


Assistance with fountain construction design based on the original sketch and inspired by satellite dishes.

  • technical drawings
  • construction materials (fountain base, bowl and parts)


Detector/ antenna alternatives

  • one main detector/antenna that captures a wide frequency range, or
  • several dedicated detectors/antennas for different frequency ranges/analog and digital signals
  • is it possible to design pull-out antennas so that folks can wave them around in the air and capture different signals?
  • is it possible that the fountain antenna/antennas can be kinetic to pass through different waves to give more water fluxes?

Signal analysis and programming solutions

Energy solutions

  • mains
  • solar power – solar would be great! An efficient supply of solar energy would cut out the need for a power line to the fountain and potentially make it completely self-contained/stand alone. (Hydro are front runners in the development of solar cells, and are opening a new plant in Skien’s neighboring town, Porsgrunn.)


Hydraulic electrical valves

  • is it possible to use electronic valves in a portable fountain with one pump, or is it better to use several pumps in a self-contained fountain that has a bowl filled with water?
  • what kind of valves?
  • what kind of nozzles to use for different water jets?

Underwater lighting alternatives

Programming (alternatives)

Written by ajsteggell

February 25, 2008 at 2:02 am

Antenna aesthetics in Skien, Norway

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It’s a busy time. Right now I’m in Skien, Norway, exhibiting the Emotion Organ. It is perhaps the strangest location for the organ yet. A closed down paper factory on Klosterøya – Monastery Island in English- that is being refurbished to house a growing IT industry. I’ve been sniffing out the site for electromagnetic activity – it buzzes, screams, pops and whistles!

Around the site are numerous other dis-functional plants, including a water recycling plant adorned with maiden-sculptures, their long plaited hair twining itself around the structure. Here are some photos:




Written by ajsteggell

February 15, 2008 at 7:17 pm