Gary Lau's Tesla Coil Page

Thanks for dropping in. My goal in putting up this page is not only showing you the nice Tesla Coil I've made, but to show it to you in enough detail and with enough explanatory text that you can understand how and why I've made it this way. If you're anywhere near eastern Massachusetts and would like to see a demo of my coils, or if you have one that you'd like to show me, or if you just want to talk about coiling, drop me a note at glau1024 at gmail dot com.


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This is yours truly, basking in the genius of Nikola Tesla. This statue of him is located in Niagara Falls, New York, on Goat Island, just in front of the Cave of the Winds ticket window. It commemorates Tesla for being the first to transmit AC electrical power from the Niagara Falls generating station to Buffalo, something that would have been impossible to do with the DC power that his rivals promoted. Let's all give a big round of applause for Nikola and AC, without which Tesla coils (and probably everything in your house that matters) would not be possible!

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Before we start, please allow me to clear up a few things:

My goal: Build and refine a Tesla Coil to extract the longest possible, repeatable sparks, subject to the self-imposed constraint that its components shall not exceed the confines of a 22" x 22" plywood base, with the necessary exceptions of a ground system, variac, and other operator controls. This constraint is largely due to having limited storage space in my house, but also forces me to use a neat and compact layout.


Spark pictures! If you want to see what a Tesla coil does or why I do this, look here first.

Steps to designing your own coil.  Not a spoon-fed recipe, but the basic design sequence and guidance.

My coil's history A chronology of what I've tried, what works, and what didn't.

My coil's spec's

Circuit Schematics of my coils

EMI filter hookup The unexpected importance of hooking it upright!

Transformer protection circuits

My RQ static spark gap Sorry, that should be TCBOR cylinder gap.

My single static spark gap (a.k.a The Sucker Gap)

The Carp Gap An all-natural alternative.

My Primary

My Secondary

My Rolled Poly Capacitors

My Multi-Mini Polypropylene Capacitor (MMC)

Miscellaneous pictures

What capacitor size is best? Pspice simulations reveal some unexpected things.

BIG high voltage stuff! Serious caps and spark gaps at a linear accelerator!

My Synchronous Rotary Spark Gap

Power Factor Correction (PFC)caps

My latest static gap The Vortex Gap

My 7"x30" foam-core toroid

Scope waveforms

Where do I get parts?

My Mini Table-Top Coil Maximum satisfaction with minimum outlay!

Primary inductor AC resistance measurements A comparison of various conductor types.

Table-top mini coil competition New!! Rules, and results as they arrive.  Permanently under construction.

Tesla Coil links   For further reading, these Tesla Coil sites should be bookmarked.

Palm-top Bug Zapper-powered coil   My smallest coil.

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Last site revision: May 11, 2006