A tesla coil, named after its inventor Nikola Tesla, is a type of resonant transformer circuit used to generate very high voltages, low currents, and high frequency alternating current electricity. Today, its main use is for entertainment and educational displays, but it was used as a spark gap radio transmitter and in wireless telegraphy.
- Gather your materials. In building your own tesla coil, you'll need the following materials: a PVC pipe 1.5-inch long; around 300 feet of 22/24 AWG copper enameled wire; 1.5-inch PVC screw; 1.5-inch metal stand with threads; spray on enamel; a circular, smooth metallic object for the discharge terminal; pieces of wood; long bolts, nuts and washers; 10 feet of thing copper tubing for the primary coil; six glass bottles; table salt; oil; and lots of tin foil.
- Make a capacitor. You can make your capacitor by wrapping the bottles in foil and filling them with water. Make sure there are equal amounts of water in the bottles, otherwise there will be an imbalance in the stability of the power. Add the oil and the salt to the water, then punch a hole in the top part of the cap and put a length of wire into it. Do this in all of the six bottles.
- Build the secondary coil. Punch a hole at the top of the PVC pipe to wrap one end of the wire around it. Then, slowly wrap the coil around the PVC pipe, making sure you do not overlap the wires or produce spaces in between. This is probably the most tedious part of the tesla coil building process, but it requires your patience in order to produce a very effective and efficient tesla coil.
- Prepare the bases and build the primary coil. Once you've built the secondary coil, start working on the primary coil. Also, begin constructing the base using the pieces of wood and long bolts to act as the foundations. Then, mount the primary coil to the base.
- Connect everything. Mount the discharge terminal on top of the secondary coil. Set the secondary coil on top of the primary coil, and attach the contraption into the base. Connect the bottle capacitors to your transformer, and slip the transformer underneath the base.
- Start it up! It's best to first run this outside, because something with high voltage can potentially burn your house down. Remember to isolate yourself from the tesla coil, because it can render you paralyzed due to the high voltage. The coil needs a little bit of tweaking a few times before you can get it to work to its full capacity.
Remember to take extra caution during the building and operating of the tesla coil. Keep in mind that this apparatus creates thousands of volts and could potentially be harmful if necessary precautions are not undertaken. Tesla coils today have been modified to power gas discharge lamps and street lighting, making it very useful and reliable for modern technology.