Tesla Coil


For my grade 12 communications project, I chose to explain, build and demonstrate a Tesla Coil. This Web page is part of that project. It contains almost every aspect of the project, including a video of the actual coil demonstration.

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Tesla Coil


The project contains a proposal, several optional activities that go along with the main project, a presentation and this Web page. Below is the first part of the project; the proposal.

Proposal For Tesla Coil Project After brainstorming, I have decided that my major project is to be a Tesla Coil. What A Tesla Coil Is A Tesla Coil (often shortened to "TC") 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 (around 1:100) can cause a large increase in voltage. The coil I plan to build will be
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Tesla Coil


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 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'
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Because of this. These problems should are easy to solve by just not operating the coil around computers. I will be unable to use my digital camera to take pictures of the coils operation because it simply won't work. I don't even want to go into how hard it will be to find a 0. This amount is about $45 on the roll. To drive the high voltage section. and using an old fashioned camera and then scanning the pictures 4 of 32 4/2/2011 4:01 PM .. a lower. and new ones go for about $150. This is not that big of a thing when compared with the transformer. if 28 AWG wire to be wound onto a round form. which is what I am going to use. These part related problems are easy enough to solve.005uF 10KV capacitor. but still considered high voltage neon sign transformer is used.Tesla Coil file:///C:/Users/HP-home/Documents/BACKUPS_USB_2009-FEB/SCIENCE/ELECTRONICS/b.. There seems to be an odd shortage of used neon sign transformers in London. The only other real problem is the high frequency high voltage disrupting computers and such. Information Unlimited offers a TC kit for a very good price.

. Of Course) Effects Of High Voltage Study On Much Larger Coils Four Optionals 1. Support Activities 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.Tesla Coil file:///C:/Users/HP-home/Documents/BACKUPS_USB_2009-FEB/SCIENCE/ELECTRONICS/b. Solid State Tesla Coils: 5 of 32 4/2/2011 4:01 PM . afterwards..

The terminal/triode will most likely be made 6 of 32 4/2/2011 4:01 PM . It also provides a uniform and smooth surface from with to draw arcs. they use transistors or MOSFETS..Tesla Coil file:///C:/Users/HP-home/Documents/BACKUPS_USB_2009-FEB/SCIENCE/ELECTRONICS/b. This activity will involve an explanation and demonstration of how a solid state TC works (I already have one built). except that instead of a spark gap oscillator. This allows them to run on much less power and be built much smaller then a regular TC. Building Output Terminal Or Triode: An output terminal/triode allows a regular Tesla Coil to output a much higher voltage by accumulating electrons. Solid State TCs are almost the same as a traditional TC. 2..

monitors. It then gets mounted on the top of the secondary.. the video will have to be made after the actual coil. Tesla Coils In Use Today: This optional will look at the use of TCs or their modern equivalent in electronics and industry today.. from metal automotive tubing (in the case of a triode) or Styrofoam ball coated with tinfoil (in the case of a regular terminal). 3. There will also be some video showing really neat arcs and the affects of high voltage on people (glowing eyes and such). 4. It will include video footage of the assembly. tuning and operation of the coil. 7 of 32 4/2/2011 4:01 PM . There will be a section on some of the more modern devices like TVs.Tesla Coil file:///C:/Users/HP-home/Documents/BACKUPS_USB_2009-FEB/SCIENCE/ELECTRONICS/b. etc. Video: Of course.

8 of 32 4/2/2011 4:01 PM . I began building the coil.Tesla Coil file:///C:/Users/HP-home/Documents/BACKUPS_USB_2009-FEB/SCIENCE/ELECTRONICS/b.. Building Report After I wrote the proposal. The construction process is described below.. This is the first step in the construction. The primary winding slips through holes in the brackets. The primary brackets are made of plastic and secured with plastic ties. The whole construction took about two and a half weeks. The mounting brackets for the primary are installed in the cover of the case.

Tesla Coil file:///C:/Users/HP-home/Documents/BACKUPS_USB_2009-FEB/SCIENCE/ELECTRONICS/b. Next I would the primary windings. There are actually two parts to the primary.. a non-insulated section and an insulated section. The end cap to support the secondary was also installed at this point. The insulated section makes up most of the winding. The non-insulated section is there for attaching the adjustible tap lead.. Electrical connections for the 9 of 32 4/2/2011 4:01 PM .

. I then assembled the case and installed the capacitor. 10 of 32 4/2/2011 4:01 PM . Note that no electrical connections between these components have been made yet..Tesla Coil file:///C:/Users/HP-home/Documents/BACKUPS_USB_2009-FEB/SCIENCE/ELECTRONICS/b. two grounds needed in this part of the circuit were then made. spark gap and transformer.

This was removed once the epoxy dried. Notice the black tape holding it on. 11 of 32 4/2/2011 4:01 PM . This screw serves to adjust the distance between the spark gap electrodes.Tesla Coil file:///C:/Users/HP-home/Documents/BACKUPS_USB_2009-FEB/SCIENCE/ELECTRONICS/b. On the back window. The spark gap observation windows were installed next. there is a small threaded hole into which a plastic screw in installed...

Note that nothing has yet been wired.. 12 of 32 4/2/2011 4:01 PM . After the observation window. I installed the RF choke. This protects the transformer secondary from nasty RF generated by the rest of the coil.Tesla Coil file:///C:/Users/HP-home/Documents/BACKUPS_USB_2009-FEB/SCIENCE/ELECTRONICS/b..

neon power on lamp and attached the top to the base.Tesla Coil file:///C:/Users/HP-home/Documents/BACKUPS_USB_2009-FEB/SCIENCE/ELECTRONICS/b. I then wired the circuit and installed the switch. The top makes a ground connection to the base by a section of wire that is brought into contact with the base once the top is screwed down... power cord. 13 of 32 4/2/2011 4:01 PM .

Solid State Tesla Coils After building the actual coil. Once the coil was completed. there were 4 optional activities that needed to be completed. output terminal and place the high voltage warning stickers. all I did to complete the coil was to attach the secondary. I brought it home and tuned it.Tesla Coil file:///C:/Users/HP-home/Documents/BACKUPS_USB_2009-FEB/SCIENCE/ELECTRONICS/b. The first of these optionals was a small 14 of 32 4/2/2011 4:01 PM . Note the doorknob used as a temporary output terminal.. After that..

as in order to be a true Tesla Coil.Tesla Coil file:///C:/Users/HP-home/Documents/BACKUPS_USB_2009-FEB/SCIENCE/ELECTRONICS/b. gas discharge LASERs. 15 of 32 4/2/2011 4:01 PM . This activity is presented here. The first thing about Solid State Tesla Coils is that they are not truly Tesla Coils.. the machine needs a spark gap. That aside. This spark gap is obviously not solid state. there are a few similarities and differences that should be pointed out. Solid State Tesla Coils This activity will examine the area of Tesla Coils known as "Solid State Tesla Coils". etc. This activity will also look at how they are similar/different to "traditional" Tesla Coils. writing on Solid State Tesla Coils. such as TVs. Solid State Tesla Coil is sort of an oxymoron. These coils are used in many places in which high voltage is required.. In fact.

. This is basically where the difference ends though. they are usually wound on a ferrite form. located at http://www. As the name implies.Tesla Coil file:///C:/Users/HP-home/Documents/BACKUPS_USB_2009-FEB/SCIENCE/ELECTRONICS/b.. For example. Solid State Tesla Coils are similar in the respect that they use the same basic principle of operation.aaroncake. Solid State Tesla Coils are not air core transformers. a high frequency resonant transformer. there is a huge increase in voltage.htm can generate over 30. my favourite Solid State Tesla Coil schematic. much like a regular transformer (execpt that regular transformers are usually wound on an iron core).000 volts of high frequency AC from a very low 12VDC. Because the primary and secondary are so perfectly tuned. Perhaps the most major difference is in how the transformer is constructed and driven.net/circuits/hvgen. This is how TV flyback transformers are made. Instead. 16 of 32 4/2/2011 4:01 PM .

This is just a general simplification... 17 of 32 4/2/2011 4:01 PM .Tesla Coil file:///C:/Users/HP-home/Documents/BACKUPS_USB_2009-FEB/SCIENCE/ELECTRONICS/b. Solid State Tesla Coils use transistors or MOSFETs. Below are a few examples of the different configurations used. Instead of a spark gap. Bear in mind that there are others. The other way they differ is how they are driven.

Tesla Coil file:///C:/Users/HP-home/Documents/BACKUPS_USB_2009-FEB/SCIENCE/ELECTRONICS/b... 18 of 32 4/2/2011 4:01 PM .

19 of 32 4/2/2011 4:01 PM .. Compare that to the traditional spark gap coil below.Tesla Coil file:///C:/Users/HP-home/Documents/BACKUPS_USB_2009-FEB/SCIENCE/ELECTRONICS/b.. Notice the use of all solid state components.

Also. The coil I built (and many others) use a choke between the capacitor/spark gap and secondary of the 20 of 32 4/2/2011 4:01 PM .Tesla Coil file:///C:/Users/HP-home/Documents/BACKUPS_USB_2009-FEB/SCIENCE/ELECTRONICS/b.. notice that an air core transformer with an adjustable primary is employed. The traditional coil uses a capacitor/spark gap combination to get the high frequency necessary for operation.. This is more or less a standard schematic.

This serves to protect the transformer from dangerous RF. This knowledge will be used when I design and build my big Tesla Coil this summer Finally learned how to draw the symbol of a MOSFET properly Practiced writing skills Learned the various ways Solid State Tesla 21 of 32 4/2/2011 4:01 PM . So as you can see. traditional Tesla Coils and Solid State Tesla Coils have a few similarities and many differences. but merely high frequency transformers. Learning Log Exercised knowledge of Tesla Coils and transformers. transformer.Tesla Coil file:///C:/Users/HP-home/Documents/BACKUPS_USB_2009-FEB/SCIENCE/ELECTRONICS/b... These differences are so great that Solid State Tesla Coils are not really Tesla Coils.

my coil also requires an output terminal. Coils are driven Output Terminal After I completed the section on Solid State Tesla Coils... I chose to build an output terminal for the coil.Tesla Coil file:///C:/Users/HP-home/Documents/BACKUPS_USB_2009-FEB/SCIENCE/ELECTRONICS/b. Output Terminal Proposal An output terminal is a necessary part of a Tesla Coil. This termainal replaces the temporary terminal (a doorknob) the coil was built with. It will either be a triode or just a regular 22 of 32 4/2/2011 4:01 PM . The terminal I plan to build will replace the temporary door knob terminal that is on the coil now. Coils built without an output terminal of some kind often have poor performance and just generally look bad. This being the case.

but because the bowls did not form a perfect seal. A picture of the finished 23 of 32 4/2/2011 4:01 PM . A bolt on the bottom attaches it to the top of the secondary coil. Originally I planned to solder them.Tesla Coil file:///C:/Users/HP-home/Documents/BACKUPS_USB_2009-FEB/SCIENCE/ELECTRONICS/b. that also didn't work. Technical Report The terminal I have decided on will be a regular round terminal. round terminal. I tried to weld it. I finally ended up just taking it to a welding shop and having them do it. but that proved impossible due to the stainless steel used. I chose this because the materials are much easier to get and much less expensive than those of the triodial terminal.. That was not much of a problem because the school has a fair amount of welding equipment.. This terminal is made of two stainless steel salad bowls fastened together.

Learning Log Learned how output terminals benefit Tesla Coils Figured out that stainless steel cannot be soldered Learned about the different types of welding 24 of 32 4/2/2011 4:01 PM .Tesla Coil file:///C:/Users/HP-home/Documents/BACKUPS_USB_2009-FEB/SCIENCE/ELECTRONICS/b. terminal is below...

Demonstration Video After the output terminal was completed. It will include all the neat stuff that can be done with the coil. It will then be compressed for streaming over the Internet...Tesla Coil file:///C:/Users/HP-home/Documents/BACKUPS_USB_2009-FEB/SCIENCE/ELECTRONICS/b. Technical Report 25 of 32 4/2/2011 4:01 PM . I was finally ready to give a good demonstration of the coil. Tesla Coil Demonstration Video Proposal This will be a video of the demonstration of the coil to the class. The video will be recorded in analog form then captured to a computer and edited there. The demonstration was filmed so that I could use that video for this activity.

there were a few problems saving the finished video. After installing it. After it was finally edited. First off. but those 26 of 32 4/2/2011 4:01 PM . it took a whole period to install the thing. I needed to edit it. This is strange because that card has stereo audio inputs. Adobe Premiere has got to have the worst interface I have ever seen. The video recorded without any problems. I had to wait about two weeks for Adobe Premiere to come in. I found that I had to use the ATI capture card's software to do the actual capture before the editing could begin.. After the video was captured. The video captured fine. It took a week to figure out how to edit. aside from some background noise from the wood shop class next door.. They completely ignored the standards when they programmed it.Tesla Coil file:///C:/Users/HP-home/Documents/BACKUPS_USB_2009-FEB/SCIENCE/ELECTRONICS/b. The real problems began when I went to capture and edit the video. but the audio did not. It took two periods to figure out that I needed to use the sound card to get the audio instead of the capture card. After that was settled.

Tesla Coil file:///C:/Users/HP-home/Documents/BACKUPS_USB_2009-FEB/SCIENCE/ELECTRONICS/b. This had a few problems.. After 20 minutes of compressing.24 meg file to myself. View The Video Learning Log Practiced presentation skills Learned how to use Adobe Premiere (importing. saving. were easily cleared up by changing compression schemes.. I used The Vivo Active Producer to compress the video for transmission over the Net. compressing) 27 of 32 4/2/2011 4:01 PM . but those were solved by using a copy of the Producer from my hard drive instead of the one I downloaded at school. I FTPed the resulting 1. editing. The video is about 12 minutes long and can be viewed with the Vivo Active Video Player plugin.

Tesla Coils In Use Today Even though the Tesla Coil is an old invention. Got practice in selecting the right compression format for the right job Tesla Coils In Use Today The last optional I did was a little paper explaining the practical (and sometimes not-so-practicle) use of Tesla Coils today. there are still many uses for the devices today. The traditional coil has been delegated to mostly 28 of 32 4/2/2011 4:01 PM . This included the use of traditional spark gap type coils as well as solid state coils.Tesla Coil file:///C:/Users/HP-home/Documents/BACKUPS_USB_2009-FEB/SCIENCE/ELECTRONICS/b.. This optional will take a look at some of those uses and try to peer into the future to uncover other potential uses..

Small coils like the one I built are usually found in schools.. Even though the high voltage can be gotten more effectively with solid state components. a spark gap and other large components can new be done with smaller solid state components. Traditional coils can literally be lashed together with parts available at every hardware store. etc. Of course. Take a look at the time travel scenes in Terminator and Terminator 2 to see what I mean. as what used to require large amounts of wire. The sparks you see are from a large Tesla Coil.Tesla Coil file:///C:/Users/HP-home/Documents/BACKUPS_USB_2009-FEB/SCIENCE/ELECTRONICS/b. they are an easy way to get a high voltage for home expirementing.. museums. magic shows. they are is very widespread 29 of 32 4/2/2011 4:01 PM . As for solid state coils. power. these components are usually way out of the budget of the average expriementer. demonstration purposes these days. Movies also use small coils like mine as well as larger coils for special effects.

Computer monitor and most other things that use a cathode ray tube use what is generally referred to as a solid state Tesla Coil. Even so. this is used to step down a higher voltage instead of increase a small voltage. is used in computer power supplies and other switching suplies. Every TV. these high voltage modules can still be found in older TVs. the flyback transformer. they are referred to as such.Tesla Coil file:///C:/Users/HP-home/Documents/BACKUPS_USB_2009-FEB/SCIENCE/ELECTRONICS/b. However.. Of course. Even though modern TVs and like equipment have shyed away from modules. use. So called Solid State Tesla Coils are easy to produce in small modules. from reading my optional on Solid State Tesla Coils. 30 of 32 4/2/2011 4:01 PM . Solid State Tesla Coils are usually used when a high voltage is required for other devices because of their small size.. They are also a great expirementer's item. The cousin of the Solid State Tesla Coil. you know that they are not actually true Tesla Coils.

As for other uses.Tesla Coil file:///C:/Users/HP-home/Documents/BACKUPS_USB_2009-FEB/SCIENCE/ELECTRONICS/b. The reason for this would be the increased use of particle accelerators as we try to learn to use antimatter (a particle accellerator is a good way to make antimatter). they are only limited to the imagination..This type of drive promisses to enable space craft to attain near light speed. This is a motor that is powered by the force of ions expelled from some kind of orafice. One of the cooler uses would be in the so called ion motor.. There will most likely be a surge in usage of at leat the solid state variety of Tesla Coils in the next 10 to 15 years. Learning Log Learned some uses of solid state and traditional Tesla Coils Found out about ion motors and some other cool future engines 31 of 32 4/2/2011 4:01 PM . We will just have to wait and see what the future turns up.

Note that you will need the Vivo Active Video Player in order to see the video. you can View The Video of the demonstration.Tesla Coil file:///C:/Users/HP-home/Documents/BACKUPS_USB_2009-FEB/SCIENCE/ELECTRONICS/b.. <.Back Forward -> Remote Mail Me Search Back To Projects Page | Mail Me 32 of 32 4/2/2011 4:01 PM . If you haven't already.. Learned about special Tesla related effects in movies Practiced research and writing skills And so ends this project.Back Forward -> Remote Mail Me Search <.

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