Once you’ve seen a big home-built Tesla coil in operation, you may decide you’ve got to have one too, even if it’s just a tabletop version to play around with. There are companies offering detailed plans and DIY kits containing all materials needed, but you quickly come to the realization that their expense may be prohibitive ($30 for a micro version to $1100+ for big performers.)
- See also: Amazing Tesla Coil High Voltage Gallery
As an experienced hacker, you soon think that there has to be a cheaper way. How about making one from only the junk you can find in trash bins? One hacker did exactly that, and built a Tesla coil that put out 250,000 volts. That’s enough to light a nearby unconnected fluorescent tube in your hand, make the torroid at the coil’s top glow eerily in the dark, or shoot mini lightning bolts a few inches to anything grounded.
In its basic form, a Tesla circuit calls for a power supply, a large capacitor, an air core coil, and adjustable spark-gap electrodes. Here’s the materials list of the junk parts he found for his project:
- Primary power source: Small neon sign transformer
- Discharge capacitor: High-voltage television capacitors
- Spark gap: Pair of 1/4-in. bolts and nuts
- Primary coil: Lamp shade and electric cord from a humidifier
- Secondary coil: Cardboard tube and microwave fan wire
- Secondary grounding: Metal spike pounded into the ground
- Torroid: Two stovetop grease catcher pans
- Chokes: Two Bic pens and wire from a RC car tossed away
The dumpster diver assembled these parts following the simple electrical schematic shown at his tutorial. Just connect the parts accordingly. To properly tune into operation, you may need to read up on the theory of Tesla operation. That’s beyond the scope of this hack, but clearly from the pics below, the trashy parts indeed make a workable system.
Take note of the cautions if you build your own Tesla out of junk or even brand new parts. Small Tesla’s can shock you, and big ones can kill. Be sure to use the outdoors spike ground or better. Be careful not to poison yourself with leaky PCB’s. And if you operate your Tesla indoors, electromagnetic fields can mess up your household appliances and electronics.
If you can’t find all the parts you need in the trash, you may be able to find some project supplies in our store. Again, don’t miss our gallery of tesla coils. And of course, subscribe to HacknMod for all daily updates.