Want to learn to build a jet engine? Just go to high school with Chris Tomko. The 18-year-old student, with a few friends, has built his own jet engines. From scratch.
At the World Maker Faire in New York, we saw Tomko demo his G1 home-built engine. After a thorough safety review, and clearing a large space around the engine on its tray on the ground, and much more space behind the output nozzle, Tomko and his team gave a quick explanation of the engine and then fired it up.
“It’s going to get extremely loud,” one of Tomko’s friends said to the audience from the other side of the barriers.
Tomko said the engine generates about 20 pounds of thrust when running at max output. The engine is fueled by propane; Tomko said his engine will empty a canister in about nine minutes.
When the engine was spooled up (by having a leaf blower push air into the blades), the team lit the spark and fed in the propane. Loud, deep pops were followed by a sound like a vacuum cleaner from hell, as they gently turned the engine up.
After running for a few minutes at about 50% capacity, the engine shut down and the crowd applauded. We went to talk to Tomko after the demo and get some photos of the engine. The heat coming off it kept us at a distance. Tomko said it takes about 10 minutes to cool down before he’ll even attempt to move it.
Tomko’s second engine, the G2, is fueled by diesel, and incorporates a number of design improvements. His newer engine has also been freed from its palette mount: Tomko built a custom go kart to test it out. Check out the video of a test run below.
Be sure to check out Tomko’s site, Tomkotech, for build logs and more great photos of his beautiful jet engines.