A Tesla Coil is a high frequency, resonant step up transformer. The coil is driven by a lower-high voltage and a spark gap resonator. Since the coil is so perfectly tuned, a fairly small turns ratio can cause a large increase in voltage. The coil I plan to build will be able to produce about 250KV (250,000V) at a frequency of about 500KHz. At this frequency, the voltage is almost completely safe, and much fun to play around with.
The project involves a fairly large amount of work in electronics and mechanical construction. There are a few problems associated with this activity though. First, there is always a danger when high voltage is involved. Although the coils output poses no real problem, it is the primary circuit (sometimes called the “tank circuit”) that carries dangerous (but much lower) voltages that come right from mains. The problem is easily solved by just enclosing that circuit. The other problem is one of materials. The coil uses some rather exotic (read: expensive) parts. One of those is the wire. The secondary requires about 800′ if 28 AWG wire to be wound onto a round form. This amount is about $45 on the roll. This is not that big of a thing when compared with the transformer. To drive the high voltage section, a lower, but still considered high voltage neon sign transformer is used. There seems to be an odd shortage of used neon sign transformers in London, and new ones go for about $150. I don’t even want to go into how hard it will be to find a 0.005uF 10KV capacitor. These part related problems are easy enough to solve. Information Unlimited offers a TC kit for a very good price, which is what I am going to use. The only other real problem is the high frequency high voltage disrupting computers and such. Because of this, I will be unable to use my digital camera to take pictures of the coils operation because it simply won’t work. These problems should are easy to solve by just not operating the coil around computers, and using an old fashioned camera and then scanning the pictures afterwards.
There could be many support activities for this project. Below is a small sampling:
History On Tesla
Solid State Tesla Coil Demonstrations
Building Of An Output Terminal Or Triode To Increase Output
Tesla Coil Video (With RealVideo Or Vivo)
Pictures (Digital, Of Course)
Effects Of High Voltage
Study On Much Larger Coils
1. Solid State Tesla Coils:
Solid State TCs are almost the same as a traditional TC, except that instead of a spark gap oscillator, they use transistors or MOSFETS. This allows them to run on much less power and be built much smaller then a regular TC.
This activity will involve an explanation and demonstration of how a solid state TC works (I already have one built).
2. Building Output Terminal Or Triode:
An output terminal/triode allows a regular Tesla Coil to output a much higher voltage by accumulating electrons. It also provides a uniform and smooth surface from with to draw arcs.
The terminal/triode will most likely be made from metal automotive tubing (in the case of a triode) or Styrofoam ball coated with tinfoil (in the case of a regular terminal). It then gets mounted on the top of the secondary.
Of course, the video will have to be made after the actual coil. It will include video footage of the assembly, tuning and operation of the coil. There will also be some video showing really neat arcs and the affects of high voltage on people (glowing eyes and such).
4. Tesla Coils In Use Today:
This optional will look at the use of TCs or their modern equivalent in electronics and industry today. There will be a section on some of the more modern devices like TVs, monitors, etc.
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