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Re: [TCML] need help

Hello Terry, 
Glad to hear you are so fascinated Tesla coils and what they can do. 
I presume you are doing Frankenstein ? 
My comments are interspersed in your message below 

John "Jay" Howson IV 

"Why thank you, I will be happy to take those electrons off your hands." 

----- Original Message -----
From: "terry zollner" <tzollner@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx> 
To: tesla@xxxxxxxxxx 
Sent: Saturday, February 16, 2013 9:19:28 AM 
Subject: [TCML] need help 

Hello to all, 

This is my 1st post at this club! 

I'm an avid admirer of tesla coils and the people that make them! 

I need some help with a tesla project for a school musical. 
I have seen several tesla coils in action and know what they can do and 
the dangers they produce. 

Here is what I'm trying to do 
I need to build a tesla coil that can be attached to 42 inch vertical 
ring that has a 6 inch plate in the center.The discharge would go from 
the small center plate to the outer ring. 
So here are my questions. 

question 1 What size tesla would I need to make to get discharges 
(roughly) 20 inches away? 

I would guess probably a 9kv or 10Kv 30 ma would work for you. these coils would not be very big. 
or you could go solid state. solid state might be the best way for you to do actually. 

question 2 Roughly what would be the cost for the construction? 

That depends on how resourceful you are, your new to this, and would need to acquire the parts. Which will range anywhere between 150$ and 300$ 
if you really try to dig around and find the cheapest materials, but you are probably on a dead line and dont have time to dig around much. 
Before you waste your money online though, consider asking they list if anyone has anything for sale. we are a friendly bunch and generally offer pretty good deals. 

3rd question. If I put plexiglas on both sides of the ring will that 
contain the discharge? 
in other words can plexiglass shield you from the discharges. 

The short an answer is no, you would need a pretty thick peice of acrylic to stand off the output voltages of a tesla coil. The coil will go right through the standard 1/4" sheets like they weren't even their. 
but also that really depends on what is near the ring, if you have that 42" ring grounded and the arcs are sufficiently powerful enough to always make contact. and you don't have any other options for where the arc can go, 
then its probably gonna stay right where you want it it. But remember this is HV and really has mind of its own, so all precautions must be taken. 
Another problem would be surface tracking, the acrylic will melt and carbonize, maybe even catch fire with the heat of the sparks. 
I would recommend glass over acrylic. 

4th question. If I do go with the plexiglass and make it air tight what 
would happen if I put argon gas inside? 
Will that make the bolts act differently? 

The sparks get longer when traveling through argon and other such noble gasses. if you did this you could have a smaller tesla coil for the same spark length, how much smaller i don't know. this video should give you a pretty 
good idea. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=a5PGQfUSZ_A#t=78s 
I have one of those mini coils, they produce about 50Kv 1.5 inches of arc without the argon, they are probably the safest little coils you can buy, when I use mine to do school demos, I grab the output terminal and hold 
a florescent tube in the other hand, kids go crazy over my "lightsaber". 

5th question Can those bolts go thru wood? 

Just like the acrylic, yes they will go through wood, the difference is that wood is slightly conductive, and will catch fire. see here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=owEXx5UAbdc 
you can use wood though, just as long as proper stand off is used to prevent it from arcing through the wood. 

I've read thru your safety sheet, and believe I can create a safe 
environment, however that all hinges on what the 
static discharges will and will not go thru. 
My number one concern is safety of the actors and crew, which is the 
reason I'm contacting your club. 
I've been told this site has the best people with the most knowledge of 
tesla coils. So I'm relying on your expertise. 
So what do you think? Should I find a safer way( video or lights), or 
do you think this is possible? 

You are correct, the number one priority you need to consider is the safety of everyone, audience included, Liability is a huge deal in public productions and heaven forbid something goes wrong, just from the moral standpoint 
that it could have been prevented, not to mention that the insurance people will have a field day over the whole thing, does your school have tesla coil insurance? Probably not. Not to say that you cant do it, after all, I have seen those little mini coils used in schools plenty of times to no ill effect, and combining one with argon, might just give you the effect you need for your play while using literally the smallest safest coil i know of. 

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