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Re: [TCML] Building a medium sized Tesla Coil

Hi Tim,

Welcome to the addiction. For me, it was the 1948 Edition of "The Boy Electrician" by Alfred Morgan which I discovered in 1954 (and still have). I believe there is no substitute for first trying to make as many components yourself as possible for the experience and pride, even if it is not the most modern and efficient way to proceed.
Matt D.
-----Original Message-----
From: Timothy Gilmore <tdg8934@xxxxxxxxx>
To: tesla <tesla@xxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Tue, Feb 10, 2015 7:38 pm
Subject: [TCML] Building a medium sized Tesla Coil

All - This is my first post:

When I was 15 (35 years ago) I saw in a magazine (Radio and Electronics?)
and article about how to build a Tesla Coil. It used sheets of glass and
aluminum foil for the capacitor and explained the details. I thought this
was amazing! Initially I was able to locate a Model T Ford spark coil for
$5 as the HV transformer. I used an old Lionel train set variable voltage
adjustment (like a variac might be now) transformer used for speed control
on the train - as AC input into the Model T Ford spark coil. I found some
wood in my dad's garage for the base and used a PVC pipe and 8 guage
primary wire and 28 gauge spooled secondary wire I had gotten from a
friend. I pieced everything together and turned it on and figured out how
to tap the primary turns (on wooden dowel rods as per the magazine
instructions). I saw 4-5" sparks and held a florescent tube nearby. I was

I brought it into school to show my shop teacher. He told me about a city
wide Industrial Arts show and contest and thought I should re-build my
tesla coil and have it properly stained and got everything looking really
sharp looking for the contest. I was able to locate a more powerful neon
sign transformer of perhaps 15 or 30 mA. We fired it up and tuned it and
got 9-12" sparks out the single wire of the top of the primary. I did not
know about toroids/spheres for capacitance back then. I entered the contest
and won first place for the research and development category.

From this point forward I read as much as I could about Tesla from the
library and later bought many books about him and his work. I wrote a term
paper the following year about Tesla. I don't know what became of my
original Tesla coils but I have been reading online the last couple of
months about various tesla coils and modern ones and the latest
advancements with calculation software.

I found about about the GFI issue and was lucky to find on eBay a "France"
neon sign transformer 15kV 60mA used (no indication on the label about GFI
or UL 2161) for $45 + $58 shipping which is a bargain for some of the
prices I've seen online at over $300. I ordered plans online for $14 for
several tesla coil designs and I'm hoping to get 3-4' sparks using the 15kV
60mA neon sign transformer. I remember hand winding my secondary coil as a
kid and I should be able to find a 4" PVC 26 gauge 22" long secondary on
Ebay. I also bought some HV 15kV connection wire (25') and a primary copper
tubing frame holder to make it look nice and evenly space the primary turns
- online. I will not use sheets of glass or make my own HV caps but will
purchase MMCs and make a bank of them with 10M resistors. I hope to spread
out the cost over the next few months and have a finished medium sized
Tesla Coil by late spring. Getting Excited! - Tim
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