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Re: [TCML] Science Fair Project

On 11/16/12 9:17 AM, plasticanvil wrote:
I would like to experiment with a Tesla coil for a Science Fair in
mid-January. I can’t just do a show and tell. I need a  hypothesis and a
variable, data collection and something I can prove. I'd like to measure the
performance of the Tesla coil and change some variable to increase it. This is
kind of the idea I’m thinking of… varying the coil rotations or length, type of
capacitor, or the gap length to produce different results.

Science fairs.. my favorite (I judge the Cal State Science Fair and the ISEF)

Not only do you need a hypothesis, but it needs to be based on research/theory. (e.g. I think sparks will be longer if I do X is fine, but you need a reason why you think that is so).

A hypothesis that is *quantitative* is good. Rather than "sparks are longer with gap type X instead of Y", "Sparks are 10% longer with gap type X instead of Y, because of A, and B, and C"

Changing type of capacitor is tough.. unless you have the gear and knowhow to measure capacitor properties outside the coil. (so you could say something like the losses in the capacitor type A are 10% of the losses in the coil overall, but with capacitor type B, they're 5%, so we predict the spark length effect is that with B the increase is Y%)

Some variable that can be systematically varied is good. For instance, if you did some sort of blown static gap, you could change the air flow through the gap and measure coil output.

Measuring spark length repeatably and reliably is difficult. How would you do it? A good project will have multiple trials on multiple days (e.g. you run your sequence of variables on three successive weekends, for instance)

Addressing a question of design is a good project. For instance, it's asserted that the spark gap is a good fraction of the losses. Is it? How would you measure it?

Or, you could wind the same primary with different gauge wires and diameter tubes or different materials (aluminum vs copper vs steel) and see if it makes a difference. There's good theory you can apply for AC resistive losses, and you can see if the theory matches the measurements.

I’m also interested in musical Tesla coils, maybe what is the highest note or
greatest range that can be produced.

Does anyone have any ideas?

Thanks, Jonah Moss, 14, NC
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