My Tesla Coil
creation of Tesla Coils in the early 1980’s was not quite as easy as it today,
with the current proliferation of Web sites available to the experimenter. Many
of the formulas and diagrams, along with the appropriate disclaimers for
personal injury exist in large numbers. With a little imagination for design and
appropriate guidance from someone who has a sound knowledge of high voltage
engineering, an individual can produce a working model of a Tesla Coil.
first experience with a Tesla Coil in 1982 consisted of a visit to someone’s
home, who had made this ominous looking machine that produced sparks of
the switch was turned on, 4”long streamers of purplish colored electricity
emanated from this brass ball at the top of a 3-foot vertical column of wire.
From that time until now, the creation of High Voltage apparatus of all types
has been a passion of mine, which can’t be quenched.
gentleman who showed me this first Tesla Coil subsequently introduced me to
Thorn Mayes an Electrical Engineer and Ham Radio operator, who he said would
give me all of the training necessary to produce a reliable working machine. He
was a master of electrical apparatus of all kinds. It was like getting
introduced to Leonardo DaVinci for an aspiring artist. During the weekends, I
would visit Thorn and he would patiently show me step by step the methods for
creating a ¼ Kilowatt Tesla Coil. A month later after assembling all of the
necessary components, a successful Tesla Coil came to life with 8”of sparks
pouring from the top.
this time the TCBA produced by Harry Goldman had just started to produce a
quarterly publication, which featured Tesla Coils, complete with circuit
diagrams and pictures. Through this publication, I met numerous individuals, all
over the United States and Canada, who shared this passion for the creation of
Tesla Coils. Harry Goldman, during his two decades of producing the TCBA, was
the individual most responsible for literally uniting the rest of the world into
a Tesla Coil brotherhood.
Legel was another Electrical Engineer and Ham Radio operator, who took the time
to help me during my early days of Tesla Coil building. He had built and
demonstrated many Tesla Coils in the Los Angeles area during his many years of
working in this hobby. We spent many hours on the phone talking
about Tesla Coils, as well as numerous letters, with our respective
progress. His advice and training to me was invaluable to further tweak the
designs of my Tesla Coils.
moving to the Phoenix area from the San Francisco Bay area, I had a difficult
time finding someone who shared this Tesla Coil hobby…then Henry Hurrass and I
met around 1993. We have continued to make Tesla Coils and other High Voltage
apparatus for years since our original meeting. I gave the modified design that
Thorn Mayes had originally shown me, to Henry for him to make a similar model
Tesla Coil. He applied the design to what materials he was able to use, and
produced a nice clean design. Credit for the hand rolled polyethylene capacitor
in mineral oil being used, needs to be given to Richard Hull and the TCBOR. The
cost of commercial capacitors for most hobbist has made it necessary to make
your own, which can be custom fit to your own design. Making your own capacitor
is also very educational, and somewhat challenging . The finished product will
last a long time if it is properly protected with a gap across the plates to
protect against those (too much voltage) moments…when you feel the need for
that last little bit of spark.
introduced me to Chris Hooper back in 2005 and Chris showed me all of the fine
Tesla Coils he had made over the years, with a mix of Solid State and Vacuum
Tube type Tesla Coils. We subsequently had a Teslathon in 2006 at Henry’s
unfinished lab, with a mix of all of our High Voltage apparatus and numerous
demos of that equipment. That Teslathon was a great success and prompted another
Teslathon in 2007 at Henry’s friend (JO’s) place, with visitors from local
and some far away places. The Teslathon of 2008 in March of 2008, will be our
largest so far with a staggering array of High Voltage equipment…This promises
to be Thon of Thon’s…with visitors from other countries stopping by to join
in with the festivities.
High Voltage stuff is literally taking on a life of its own, and drawing people
from many different interest levels to enjoy and become educated.