You’ve probably heard about Tesla coils. Heck, you’ve probably played with one. You can even get a little one for under $15. However, it’s less than likely that you’ve considered building one. That would take hard work, right? It would take too long to learn how they work and find all of the parts. Right?
Actually, you’re probably right. Tesla coil aren’t easy. Building one is a big accomplishment in the DIY electronics world. It takes lots of time and effort. Let’s try to remove those requirements with a quick crash course:
Tesla coils are one of the many inventions invented by Nikola Tesla. The Coils produces high-voltage, high frequency alternating-current electricity. They consists of two main parts: a primary coil, and a secondary coil. In fact, “Tesla” is actually Latin for “contains a primary and secondary coil.
By far the most difficult part of building one is finding a power source. These bad boys take some serious juice to operate. Once the power is connected the primary capacitor starts charging. As the capacitor fills up with electricity, that it lowers the air resistance of the spark. Then is leaves the capacitor and through the primary coil. As it does that it creates an electromagnetic field. Then again the immense charge, overloads and makes the magnetic field collapse in on itself. Generating an electric current in the secondary coil. The volts go through the air between the two coils creating a spark. It bounces back and forth through the coils, charging the secondary coil, and capacitor. Then it overloads and a spark breaks from the coil in a big burst of current.
Essentially, all they require is:
- A high voltage power supply.
- A bunch of capacitors.
- A freaking TON of copper wire wound into a coil.
That’s all there is to it. They’re simpler than most people think. In fact, it’s probably harder to wind the wire into a coil than it is to find and assemble all the parts. The hardest part is finding a high voltage DC power supply. They cost hundreds of dollars, or you can just make your own for much cheaper. We’ll have a tutorial on the details at some point.
Plenty of people on the internet have made Tesla coils, but this is one of our favorites. Sam Freeman’s coil requires beer bottles. This redneck nerd gets the official Blasted Science Seal of Approval.
Let’s assume for a moment that you have a competed Tesla coil. Why stop there? Here are some things you can do to it to make it even better.
A plasma gun
Car anti-theft system
We’re ashamed to admit that we haven’t made our own Tesla coil yet, but we definitely will at some point. And when we do, we’ll have a tutorial detailing exactly how to do it with household parts. But if that sounds like too much work, you can buy a small one for just a few dollars. We’ve personally tested this one from Amazon. It’s a very good miniature plasma globe, which, as you may have guessed, is just a Tesla coil in a plastic globe. Definitely check this one out.