Monday, November 26, 2012
The Buddha sits on my Tesla coil, enlightened also by the very high voltage arcing into the air around him.
My TESLA COIL:
My main goal for high voltage experiments has been to build tube lasers and eventually build a full Tesla coil. I want to reach a full foot long arc and get to more then 1million volts eventually. I still have a long way to go, but this is a good start. Mostly for me--it's about money and how resourceful I can be at building coils with very little of it. I have finally built a REAL Tesla coil that operates via an arc and capacitor combination. Not just a flyback or transformer setup in series. It was not as difficult as I thought it might be, and since my successful Coil Driver circuit was perfected I have been able to run a lot of things. I also learned a great deal about TV circuits and Flybacks. I have many projects planned, one is to build my own O-scope from scratch. I have done something similar before--back in the mid 1990s I built a "ocilograph" from scratch with a B&W TV but the picture was weak and I never perfected the drivers and amplifiers for it's deflection coil. I now know how to do so. This is one of my planned projects. I have used many means to drive flyback or LOPT transformers from old TVs to homemade AC ones. Hartley Oscillators to my take on the ZVS as I posted before--and now, my favorite, a flexible synthetic oscillator and mosfet combination. Simply a 555 and power mosfet IRFP260 was my obvious choice for getting the most out of flybacks without burning them out. Thus the Coil Driver 1628 was born, which I will explain later--powers a TV flyback and here thus the Tesla coil circuits. I am sure I am not the first one to ever use a TV flyback to run a 150Kv Tesla coil--however--I have never seen anyone do it on the Internet or anywhere else. I decided to power my coil with a large TV flyback (yes DC due to it's built in diodes)- as I had no choice. I simply had to-- on a very low budget put this coil and two others together with whatever I had laying around. The primary is made of old TV coax, the coil itself wound around an old plastic bottle. I built the adjustable arc chamber inside a pill container which surprised the very loud sounds it made (possible since the arcs are slow and thus not enough heat generated to melt the plastic--makes for easy adjustment of arc). Since my largest Tesla coils powered by flybacks run at a pulsed frequency rather then the more constant 60hz a NST (Neon Sign Transformer) will produce the heat generated is less and arc chambers that keep things quiet are more easy to make. I have since saved my pennies and ordered a 12Kv NST which I got and modified so that I did not have to worry about any GFI circuits and got a coil going over night with a new primary--again made of very useful old TV coax! I had to remove the darn GFI "smart" circuits because they will shut down an NST if it is used to power things like a Tesla coil since they produce many voltage and RF fluxes. I made short work of the GFI circuits only because I have a very good understanding of transformers and high voltage transformers. Do not attempt to remove a GFI from an NST unless you really know what you are doing it can be VERY DANGEROUS. It is better to buy a NOS (New Old Stock) transformer or transformer from another country that does not have the crazy GFI laws. Funny thing is, they don't prevent you from being shocked or fires from starting very well! I was surprised at this, it took several min before the GFI circuits did anything about serious fault problems and I was not even in "setup mode". My tests showed that with the GFI an arc could run for more then 10min with a load, plenty of time to start a fire or shock someone. The GFI circuits and the law to need them is a joke when it comes to the NST! I really despise big brother laws like that--and putting chips in everything to protect mainly adults from ourselves. This site is not about politics--however. None of these pictures show the coil powered with an NST--they are all with the coil powered using a large color TV flyback coil and my Coil Driver 1628 build.
So all of these pictures are of the flyback version powered by my Coil Driver which was built to drive flybacks and other transformers as well as figure out unknown and unmarked transformers. To make this simple as I can explain, the "PWR Coil Driver 1628" which I have named it since I built it--drives a large TV flyback which then drives an arc chamber. Then the HV is passed into 3-4 homemade capacitors (each about 1500pf 50kv) and then the primary of my Tesla coil--which is about 17 turns of shorted TV coax. I max out the flyback with my driver which has a lot of flexibility (it can be used to even control motors or power iron core 60hz transformers all the way up to small RF AC arc welding transformers) and thus get nearly 50,000 volts out of the large flyback. I am thinking of using another chip to drive the frequency range even higher--another timer chip that can go into the HF range in the future, this could be really interesting. I also am adding a singing arc system, either will be input to the 555 or a bifilar wound transformer on the mosfet's gate. I did that and it worked very well with the prototype version of my Coil driver. I will post videos of my singing arc later. So back to the Tesla coil--the flyback voltage (about 30-50kv) is then arced so that it can produce the discharges needed to power my Tesla coil with homemade capacitors. It has a primary resonance without capacitors of nearly 14Mhz! Really high! But that's just the freq. of the primary air core coil alone, not taking into account the caps in this resonant circuit or anything else. I have yet to calculate all of the math in my Tesla coil. At least I finally got a fully operational Tesla coil going and now I am finally posting it!
Much of my success was hours of experimentation and electronics intuition. As you can see I did not just find a how-to on the internet. I wanted to see if it could be done with a TV flyback and proved that it really could--and very well!
You can't keep a good scientist or photographer down!
I have to experiment and get ideas around my pain attacks and physical illness issues that are a daily problem. But doing things when I can, I have spent as much time as I can working on this and continuing my exploration of high voltage electronics. I have over 20 years experience in electronics, --now combining my photography with electronics is one of the best things I have ever done. It has been fun, but reminders of my physical difficulties come up all too often. I don't like to talk about it much in my blog. I just want to show what I can accomplish despite my life challenges. Have fun looking at my plasma pictures!
WARNING ABOUT ELECTRONICS!
If you are not comfortable doing what you are with high voltage, you should NEVER do it unless you are supervised by someone who is. This is VERY DANGEROUS and experience is necessary. I have spent years reading and working on many types of projects before I got here. Don't take shortcuts and if you want to get into high voltage or Tesla coils--find a mentor who will help you knowledgeable and trained in electronics. I am now a licensed Technician in radio and have done everything from taking collage courses to a mentor-ship in my pre-teen and teen years and then studying on my own. It took me years to get good enough to do many of the things you might see in my blog. So please, don't just try something you don't understand. You can have lots of theory, but it does not really prepare you enough for building the real thing. There are subtle things, hidden and complex about electronics, especially in RF and high voltage! It took me years working with other kinds of high voltage stuff and many bad electric shocks--to get good enough to build this stuff. I was lucky. I have seen destining U-tube videos. be careful with electricity and always treat it with respect!
To nearly 200,000 volts--glass is no longer really much of an insulator. The power goes through it almost as if it were not there. I could feel it too. It does act as an insulator, but not as much. This is not doped glass and to more normal voltages would seem a 'total' insulator. Glass jars like this are such good insulators they can be used to make capacitors which can handle up to 40-50,000 volts. Any higher then that however, and you risk punching holes through even a couple of millimeters of glass and creating an arc that ruins the capacitor. To 100,000volts and more, it's almost instantly penetrated by the flood of electrons.
The arc, such as in a Jacob's ladder happens when the air turns into a constant plasma from high current and high voltage --thus can it can arc as long as the air is hot enough to make a more easy connection due to the change in it. In a ladder, it goes up because heat rises. At the top, the two electrodes break that path and the bottom ones are closer together and again an arc begins--thus they become the path of least resistance again. As long as the air is on fire and thus is in a plasma state, the path of least resistance is the arc itself so the voltage will travel further because there is less air in the arc. Thus lower voltages can draw out an arc far further then they could produce if just in cold air. This mainly applies to higher current situations such as the direct output of a flyback or coil or NST and not most small/medium Tesla coils much since they produce smaller and thus outwardly 'cooler' arcs. They do produce plasma just less of it. That is what you see in the air as an arc. There are even smaller arcs that are so cold they are not visible to the human eye. Such arcs happen when you take a piece off of a tape roll, they can range from a few thousand volts to millions but special gear is needed to even detect it. Electricity is everywhere, even our bodies use low voltages to power our muscles. This is why they contract and move when we get zapped with static or some other voltage.
Using smaller capacitors and a smaller coil I wanted to duplicate a Utube video I found showing a tiny coil with a large corona like this. I did it. The coil is kinda messy I admit but it was very impressive. I had to run it at a much higher frequency and only use 1 capacitor, but it produced more then 30-70Kv from about 10Kv (a homemade AC flyback ran it just as well as my large TV flyback). My guess from it's corona is that voltage spikes are far higher then the 1inch spark I got going to the light bulb. Different size coil+capacitor combos require different size arcs and thus frequencies to get a resonant circuit right. The most important thing about tuning your Tesla coil may well be the size of your arc and exactly how you create it. Because this makes the energy for the tuned circuit it drives which are your capacitors and the coil's primary in series (in most systems). A variable primary would be the best idea for medium to large coils, but that can be difficult and even more expensive to do.
WHAT NOT TO PUT ON A TESLA COIL!
1--LIVING THINGS respect all living things, do not kill. Generally, Tesla coils may seem like bug-zappers but due to there construction they are not good for it unless you want to burn out your parts and have short-circuits from dead bugs all over it! Some coils are low power enough or if insulated can be operated low enough to touch the arc, but many will cause a burn or shock if directly touched without protection. Very large coils can even be deadly if misused. All projects, and Tesla coils should be unplugged and shut down when you are not home so that unauthorized users cannot operate them and kids/pets carefully watched if one is being used in a home with them. DO NOT LEAVE A TESLA COIL ON UNSUPERVISED!
2--DO NOT PUT RADIO TUBES ON A TESLA COIL it will probably RUIN the tube because the grids and other small wires may arc and blow out. Don't wreak tubes, they don't' make many of them anymore and we need them. Put them on Ebay and sell them to people like me! All radio/TV or vacuum tubes of any kind are worth quite a bit of money now days. If you put a light bulb on a Tesla coil remember that it may be ruined due to arcs through the glass--and a CFL bulbs may be destroyed because of the very high voltage (may stop working with 120v)
3--NEVER PUT ANYTHING LIKE YOUR CELLPHONE OR DIGITAL DEVICE ON OR NEAR A TESLA COIL! Keep digital/electronic cameras at a good distance and memory cards as well. I warned you--try it and it will probably never work again. This is because these new devices are very sensitive to high voltages and Tesla coils and destroy parts from several feet away! Parts like Laser diodes are particularly sensitive to static electricity. Keep your electronic parts far away from your Tesla coil or HV power supplies. Before turning on--look in all directions where things are and make sure nothing that might be fried is near, from a laptop power supply to a guitar amp or a remote control--it could be wreaked by being too close to a coil! Just 10Kv near enough to our TV remote fried it not too long ago and it did not even arc into the thing, it was just too close to the wire.
This is a hack of all time--get a 6 volt lantern battery, and put a %50 off sticker on it. Then hook it to a Tesla coil for 5min. Now you will have a SUPER BATTERY! You can run anything with this new battery and it runs on zero point vacuum energy-- energy produced by the universe itself when there is nothing present at all. Particles try to escape the produced energy field and so once they pop into existence they are held in place by the 6Volts until they produce massive number of electrons! Just think--After this hack you will be able to power anything and never need to buy another battery again! Need AC? It will do that too! Just hook up an inverter. You get HUGE voltages at even more massive amperage out of a simple lantern battery that will run anything for years and years. Think of it--you never have to buy batteries or pay a power bill again. The universe will automatically adjust the battery for you, so when nothing is connected it produces very high voltages (as seen in this hack pic)! Keep it hooked to static-foam to prevent over-output. ;)
Just kidding--Of course! This is a 6V lantern battery on my Tesla coil. This was actually the 3rd coil I wound. I got more volts out of the 2nd one so now and in most of the pictures I use that one. The concept of zero point energy is real, but you of course won't get any from a lantern battery! I saw a bunch of videos on getting "free" or "cheap" batteries from other batteries. Trust me, lantern batteries do NOT have D or AA cells in them. They have an old type of "A" battery which is no longer sold by itself. Four of them. If you take one apart you will see what I am talking about. They are in a tar-like substance that holds them together, each cell does do well--puts out more power because it is larger then a D cell. It is 1.5 volts but won't fit any modern gear. You could use these cells to get less volts at higher power then a D cell, but they are far too long to be used as a D cell. Lantern batteries are NOT full of cheap batteries. I don't know how the idea started. Maybe there are some cheap batteries that use a number of AAs I can't be sure about every brand. 9Volts are similar, they have about 6 cells in them each 1.5 volts. These cells are a bit smaller then an AAA battery but close to the same power. You might be able to get 1 to work in a device that uses an AAA battery--but it is not worth the effort or danger of shorts and problems. Funny thing these Internet myths. Batteries of this type are pretty simple so this lantern cell I use a lot for testing circuits was not harmed a bit by putting it on the coil for these pictures. Rechargeable cells are getting "smart" with circuits in them and may react differently so I would not recommend putting most batteries on a Tesla coil.
With multiple frequency possibilities, built solid enough to be able to be thrown into a backpack and taken anywhere there is a way to power it, and with a remote SMA control port--this is my coil driver. It will turn a power transformer into an inverter that will power a 50W light bulb OR even a big CFL. It can also power DC and even some AC motors! It will also power high frequency coils at or way above human hearing. Four range settings and 2 potentiometers control the frequency. Built in static and kickback protection for parts and the DC is provided by 2 switching supplies built under the box. A Hi/Lo switch gives 16 or 28volts output direct from the mosfet and the whole system is grounded making it possible to run things like ignition coils as well without kickback damage or unwanted arcing. Features I added such as a 220nf res. cap. for some flybacks can be switched on and off as well as a "Turbo mode" for extra output when using certain projects like the Tesla coil. The relay remote control also acts as an overload protector and this driver also has a ballast to protect flybacks from being over-powered when not in Turbo mode. It also protects the mosfet and visually shows you current draw with any transformer you are using--even in turbo mode! The Turbo mode switch kicks in a capacitor across the 50w 12v ballast bulb which becomes a charge discharge circuit with the lamp (a resistor). This almost doubles the possible output of the supply. A forced air CPU fan cools the whole thing and makes it possible to use this driver almost continuously without fear of mosfet damage! It will challenge any ZVS. I have built ZVS systems before but have a problem with grounding them since they use a 2 phase system of powering things, also frequency sweeping to find resonant frequencies is not possible. The 555 driving a good mosfet built right does not have such problems--so I chose to build this coil driver around that chip. Just in case of unlikely overload and part damage, the 555 and even main power 7812 regulator is built into a socket so that they may be replaced if there is a failure. It also has quick replacement for the mosfet and the 12V ballast bulb. Not that it has been needed! I am really impressed with the system. I got the idea for a ballast bulb and started saving parts and money on parts right away! I made this circuit a really useful system for many high voltage and transformer experiments. It can put out over 60-200+ watts and powered all the Tesla coil pictures you saw above. The schematic in full is below--this is for REFERENCE ONLY and I take NO RESPONSIBILITY for any misuses or abuse of this design or anyone who builds it. BUILD AND USE ELECTRONIC PROJECTS AT YOUR OWN RISK.
Powering a color TV flyback in mineral oil up to about 45-50KV! A very large output for a flyback--only usually practical if put in oil and powered by a really good driver. A homemade winding of about 14 turns is used to power this one. The light from my current limiting ballast system shows as I draw and arc. This was cut down even more with aluminum foil since the bulb is cooled with the mosfet. Fan shown on top and micro-switches to turn on and off different functions. Yes it works to put a metal lid on the jar--as long as you use hot-glue to seal it and keep it neutral. If it becomes grounded you might have problems. I have several flybacks in metal lid jars--no problem with them has happened. Mineral oil is the best way to run a flyback and does not require you to break off leads or anything. The flyback becomes more efficient and no more unwanted arcing. It's hard to believe until you try it. A flyback that has been in oil can even be dried out and taken back into operation outside the oil if needed. This was my idea because I had so many flybacks that arced back on there cores or on the bottom pins. This is a way to eliminate all of that!
THIS ALONE WILL NOT POWER A TESLA COIL! It powers a flyback which then powers the arc and capacitors that power the Tesla coil. Just a note for those who are beginners--I call it a "Coil Driver" because most HV transformers are called "coils". It's the power supply that you can use to power the stuff that runs a Tesla coil, basically.
NOTE ABOUT THIS CIRCUIT:
Using a 12v 50W light bulb as a current limiting resistor (even when your power voltage is way higher then 12V)--will save you the pain of a lot of blown parts! A car headlight will work fine, for larger systems put 2 in parallel or series. I learned that started back with my first ZVS circuits. It acts as a 2nd fuse and moderator for anything you hook it up to and if the mosfet shorts it won't blow other parts by shorting them too. They only short into the bulb. With the turbo mode on, this becomes a bulb with a correctly polarized capacitor on it--which means nothing to DC--so the bulb will still save you! It was purely my idea after several mosfets and flybacks were painfully lost. Please credit me with it if you feel you have learned something useful here.