Tesla Coil

buildscc | 06 Oct 2010 | | projects

What is a Tesla Coil?

On the technical side of things a Tesla coil is a pair of resonant RC circuits that operate at voltages high enough to create arcs. The idea is that there are two coils of wire called the primary and the secondary that act as inductors for their respective circuits. A large toroid acts as the capacitor for the secondary circuit as well as a site for the arcs to discharge. A large bank of capacitors connects to the primary coil forming the primary circuit. The primary and secondary circuits are designed so that they have the same resonance frequency and will transfer power between one and the other.

Project Goals

Build Order

There’s a lot of online documentation about how to put one together a coil. One site is linked below and it walks through design specs using a sensible progression from a desired arc length. Using this site I’ve done a few calculations for a coil designed around a 6 diameter secondary coil.


Most of the materials can be found easily on McMaster Carr, but the one thing thats holding up calculations is acquiring a high voltage transformer either from a microwave or a neon sign. Otherwise, major materials as follows:

Walk-through mentioned above http://deepfriedneon.com/tesla_guide.html

Somewhere else http://www.teslacoildesign.com/#design

Some equations on a strangely religious site. http://www.teslacoils4christ.org/TCFormulas/TCFormulas.htm


If you’re interested in helping out or want to lend expertise, sign up below or let me know.

Patrick Ehrlicher

Mikhail Andreev

Older · View Archive (146)

Meeting Minutes for 2010-10-06

Builds Meeting 5

10/06/2010 6:30pm


  • First thing on the Agenda - Yearbook Group Picture

Kyle Brogle

  • New members, Welcomes all around
    • again, we are trying to keep the room clean. It’s getting better, so keep it up

Valerie Young

  • Musical Stairs
    • progress is on hold for the moment while more work is being done on the electronics side
    • talk to Valerie and Dan

Russell Shomberg

  • Spidervac
    • Will be meeting Saturday 10/9 at 7pm in BUILDS
    • This week will be a brainstorm/planning meeting

John-Nicholas Furst

  • Videogame Collective
    • held every week on Tuesday at 9~930pm to whenever
    • Next on the agenda will be 2D platformers
    • If you’re interested, talk to John and join the mailing list.
  • NOMS list
    • Mailing list that informs people on free food events

Kyle Brogle

  • HackMe websites
    • Websites that set up insecure scenarios to practice security and penetration
    • Very fun, great way to buff up comp sci skills and security-mindedness.

Patrick Ehrlicher

  • Home Depot Runs
    • If anybody has a car, and is willing to drive BUILDS folk to get supplies, let the officers know

Kyle Brogle

  • Gutenbach
    • For the most part, the install is bug free
    • It will soon (hopefully) have capabilities to actually play youtube videos sent to it

Additional topics

  • Patrick Ehrlicher
    • Tesla Coil
    • parts have been ordered and much more work will be done pending Home Depot Field Trip

Chris Woodall

  • Setting up a Diaspora Server

John-Nicholas Furst

  • Party switch
    • Does anybody have access to strobe lights, lasers, etc? if so, talk to John and Monica
  • 24 hour programming competition on 10/22 put on by IEEE (Explore 2010 competition)
    • talk to John and Kyle

Kyle Brogle

  • Just a note to all BUILDS members: practice RESPONSIBLE DISCLOSURE.

Meeting Ended 7:06 pm


Tap Input

Tap Input is currently in research and will be on hold until Musical Stairs is nearing completion.

Scope and aims

Current research

The Team

Similar Projects

  • [1] – PDF writeup of a similar project done at the CMU Comp Sci Department
  • [2] - Video of Scratch Input