Shoot foot-long bolts of lighting through the air, light fluorescent tubes without wires, and power your other high voltage experiments with the aid of this tabletop-sized Tesla coil! Once the parts have arrived, it comes together in about a weekend, and for less than $200 even for those without a big bin of spare parts. I built this coil for fun over a few weekends during 10th grade, juggling eigenvalue problems and European history for drilling and soldering high voltage components.
The key to this coil's performance on such a tight budget is that all of its components are designed to work well together. Using some basic concepts from AC circuit design, the
components are matched to perform well without requiring massive amounts of power. Some "coilers" use microwave oven transformers to pump kilowatts of energy through poorly matched circuits, resulting in large losses and mediocre performance. This instructable will show you how to avoid making such mistakes and how to properly design a spark gap Tesla coil.
For contest entry details on this instructable, see step 10.
UPDATE: New diagrams for primary capacitor, primary coil, and spark gap construction have been added. Click the top left information icon to view them in full size.
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(I named it the "Valentine's Day Tesla Coil" in this video because I finished it over Valentine's Day weekend 2011)