Looking for help with a Tesla coil? Please read

Discussion in 'General Electronics Chat' started by DerStrom8, May 6, 2015.

  1. DerStrom8

    Thread Starter Well-Known Member

    Feb 20, 2011
    2,428
    1,328
    Hello everyone,

    Recently I have seen a few members asking about Tesla coils, looking for suggestions for parts, explanations of the theories of operation, reviews, etc. I think I'd better put this out there all at once, so that I don't have to repeat myself.

    Tesla coils are not simple devices. They are very complex, need a lot of research and math, and require that the builder have a fundamental understanding of power electronics, resonant circuits, and high voltage safety. I, for one, am very happy to help people out with Tesla coils. I have built several and have spent the last decade researching and building Tesla coils in my spare time. I love to help members when they need some direction building their own Tesla coil. However, in order for me to do this, I need to know that you know what you're doing. Tesla coils are NOT for beginners. Even in their most simple form (a spark gap Tesla coil, or SGTC), they can KILL YOU instantly if you do something wrong. Solid state Tesla coils (SSTCs) are even more dangerous in some ways, because you're using discrete electronics that can explode and injure you even if you're standing at a distance. No amount of instruction, direction, or recommendations can help you if you don't have a basic understanding of what you're dealing with. Even if I could give perfect step-by-step instructions without any errors whatsoever (which in itself would be a feat), if you don't know WHY things work the way they do, then you're putting yourself in serious danger of bodily harm or death. If I urge you to put off a Tesla coil project, then it means that you strike me as not being experienced enough with high power electronic devices. This isn't intended to be an insult of any kind--I have been there myself, and I knew it. That's why I spent months and months doing research before even considering building my own, and took another year or two after that to build a working one.

    In order for me to help someone with their Tesla coil I need them to tell me the following:

    • How does a Tesla coil work? What are the parts required, and how do they work together to generate the very high voltages seen at the topload?
    • What kind of safety precautions are you taking? There are MANY dangers involved in Tesla coil building, even if you do everything right.
    • What are the specs for your coil that you're trying to build? This includes the dimensions of the secondary and topload, high voltage transformer voltage and current, wire gauge used on the secondary, etc.
    • When and where do you plan on operating the Tesla coil? Do you have neighbors that you should notify ahead of time? Tesla coils are VERY LOUD!
    Once you can tell me each of these things in detail, only then can I really help you. I'm hoping other Tesla coil enthusiasts on this forum will join me in following this checklist before helping someone with a TC. I believe it will make building a Tesla coil much safer for anyone who visits AllAboutCircuits.

    Regards,
    Matt
     
  2. Brian Griffin

    Member

    May 17, 2013
    40
    12
    Good piece of advice! I always stress the safety part - high voltages (and ignorance) really kill people!

    This should be stickyed too. :)
     
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  3. bertus

    Administrator

    Apr 5, 2008
    15,648
    2,348
    Hello,

    Tesla coils make the use of VERY high voltages.
    Those are not to play with, as they can be leathal.
    Here are some high voltage safety tips:
    http://www.repairfaq.org/sam/safety.htm

    Bertus
     
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  4. jpanhalt

    AAC Fanatic!

    Jan 18, 2008
    5,699
    907
    Yes, safety is a concern. Perhaps, the moderators should work on a consistent policy regarding such discussions. Some threads get shut down with the first, somewhat obvious question, while others seem to go on and on.

    It is my impression that one reason non-isolated supplies are a censored topic is not that the original poster may not recognize the dangers, but that others who are less informed might not recognize those dangers. I agree with the reasoning behind that for a public forum such as AAC. In contrast, however, it seems the policy as applied to Tesla coils focuses on the assumed knowledge of the Thread Starter , which I think is less defensible.

    John
     
  5. DerStrom8

    Thread Starter Well-Known Member

    Feb 20, 2011
    2,428
    1,328
    Unfortunately this is exactly what it boils down to. Sometimes I am willing to help people with their Tesla coils because they have shown me that they know what they are dealing with, and have a basic knowledge of how it works. However, if a member shows no understanding whatsoever even of basic electronics (not necessarily even TC-related), like some of the recent members posting here, then I feel that they should stay away from Tesla coils and learn simple concepts before trying to apply them to something as complex as a Tesla coil.
     
  6. bertus

    Administrator

    Apr 5, 2008
    15,648
    2,348
    Hello,

    The moderation team will do their best to keep the forum safe.
    With more than 10000 posts a month (and rising), the moderation team can hardly keep track of each post.
    statistics.jpg
    The level of experience will be taken in account with the moderation.
    If you suspect any dangerous posts, please report them.

    Bertus
     
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