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Thread: Two more deaths

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Wetter Washington

    Two more deaths

    The local news just carried a story of yet another death doing Fractual or Lichtenberg burning
    This one was an electrician so he should have known the dangers

    While searching for a link to that story I found another that happened in Nov
    Making sawdust mostly, sometimes I get something else, but that is more by accident then design.

  2. #2
    It certainly is not anything, I would try. I was shocked badly as a kid and, have always had a problem with electricity and I do not mess with it. However, I do other things that some consider very dangerous and yet whole groups of our population take part in the same activities. Take for instance, reloading ammunition at home. Some are killed or maimed by not being careful. Several notable people have been killed just down hill skiing. Heck at least two farmers are killed in this area every year by farm tractor roll overs. The number of people killed while cutting down trees across this country far far exceeds the number killed by fractal burning. Over a dozen mechanics were killed working on the early hybrid automobiles. Fractal burning is dangerous. It is very dangerous. Is it more dangerous than riding a motorcycle without a helmet? Or making your own gun powder? amateur pilots with home built aircraft? The problem is in not having commercial made units, not respecting the dangers in the process, jury rigging an improper transformer to do it. A friend of mine does fractal burning. He has built a cabinet with plexiglas sides, remote control arms, vent fan and safety switches, so the thing cannot be turned on without all the doors and parts closed and in place. Pretty ingenious for a guy that barely finished high school. He has an electrician working with him to make sure everything is insulated and grounded properly, even a GFI. Most of these home accidents arise from just loose wires and crappy rigged home built systems and total lack of consideration for safety. Fractal burning is dangerous, but no more dangerous than trying to arc weld at home with jury rigged electrical components.

  3. #3
    I agree with Perry that lots of activities can kill you if you're not careful. I was thinking of trying Fractal burning but haven't got around to it yet. If I do I will spend the money for something like this instead of trying to rig one up myself.

  4. #4
    Charles Waggoner, owner of Conestoga Works, is a nice fellow and seems to have designed and manufactures a good machine. Charles was a student in one of my classes and I have seen the machine in operation. The effects are interesting.

    However, make no mistake, even with a well designed apparatus one is still using two probes that are transmitting a significant current - 12,000 volts and 35mA or more depending on the apparatus. Easily enough to cause instant death. Notwithstanding a well designed apparatus, there a number of things that could go wrong. Kind of reminds me of when my son was an EOD in the Air Force. The “injury rate” was essentially zero, mostly because a mistake resulted in a pink mist and defining any “injury” was just not possible. About the same with fractal burning - a mistake is highly likely to result in instant death.

    There is a reason the AAW has issued the following statement - It is the policy of the American Association of Woodturners (AAW) that the process known as Fractal Burning is prohibited from being used in any AAW-sponsored events, including regional and national symposia, and that AAW-chartered chapters are strongly urged to refrain from demonstrating or featuring the process in chapter events. Further, the process of Fractal Burning shall not be featured in any written or online AAW publication, except for within articles that warn against its use. AAW publications will not accept advertisements for any products or supplies directly related to the process.

    Aside from the safety concerns, the effects, while interesting, can get to be monotonous in my opinion. They can easily become the focal point, and the artistry of the turning is sometimes lost.

    Just my thoughts.

    Left click my name for homepage link.

  5. #5
    Seems all the people who've died from fractal burning so far have been from using microwave transformers and not wearing high voltage (Class-2 or higher) insulated gloves. I think many of these deaths could have been prevented if people had been using a neon transformer with proper safety procedures (dead-man switch, high-voltage insulated gloves and 'always' using one hand when touching a lead). I'm guessing the Conestoga fractal burners (listed at 12,000V at 35ma) use a neon type transformer, but it might be a liability mistake by them not selling their units with insulated gloves.

    Would YouTube censorship be justified for removing these fractal burning videos using hacked microwave transformers before someone else gets killed?

  6. #6
    It is very unfortunate that people continue to ignore the safety requirements when working with electricity. Any system for doing lichtenburg Pyrography that allows handling a probe while power is ON is in my opinion extremely dangerous. There is a commercially available unit that has hand held probes, and it uses a deadman switch. Go figure a commercially available unit that wil power it off only after the accident occurs. In my opinion having the supply side set up with a pair of hand momentary switches in series would reduce the risk of exposure to high voltages. Of course one need to make some probe holders to position the business end of the unit.
    Having two hand switches means that the operators hands are occupied supplying the source power and if a probe needs to be repositioned the power supply is interrupted OFF as soon as one hand is moved off the switch.
    In my opinion there are many dangerous woodworking tools out there that require education to recognize risks and avoid mishaps. Lichtenburg Pyrography is not for everyone, it is a technique that like woodworking requires some tool specific education. Take a page out the electrical industry, Never Touch High Voltage gear when power is ON. Only in cases where power cannot be isolated one would have suitable and recently tested safety equipment available, and strict procedures for live work to follow.
    It amazes me that woodturners think nothing of spinning up a log or faulted piece of wood that has unknown potential for coming apart sending shards of wood and lumps of material off the lathe, but AAW condones this and just says "be safe" but condemns an activity that has known hazards and very simple means to encourage safety, "don't touch the business end when power is on".
    There are always folks who will choose to ignore safety features or safe work practices but that shouldn't cause mass condemnation of an activity that can be done safely. Media sensationalizes mishaps, there is seldom mention of successful activities. Lichtenburg Pyrography is safer than driving a car, in my opinion.

  7. #7
    Would YouTube censorship be justified for removing these fractal burning videos using hacked microwave transformers before someone else gets killed?[/QUOTE]

    I am a member of a hobby artillery group. WE set certain minimums standards for strength of materials etc. But every week there are new Youtube videos of fools and idiots trying to use substandard materials to make a boom. One in particular was the one where the guy left his can of powder open and the force of the firing blew the still burning fuse up into the air and guess where it came down? Yep the can of powder exploded and the fool was sitting within 3 or 4 ft on the ground. I see things sold on ebay as signal cannons, which are far too dangerous. There are safety rules to nearly every human endeavor. The more dangerous the activity, the more lethal the penalty for violating those safety rules. You tube has many videos showing the consequences of not obeying the rules as well. I see videos of folks not wearing face shields to turn wood. Should they be removed?

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