Tesla Coil Auto-Winder

tesla winder

Tesla coils are awesome. But if you’ve ever built one, you know how tedious winding the secondary coil is. So [Krux] decided to build a machine to do it for him.

He’s currently working on his first Tesla coil — code-named Project Icarus — he doesn’t have all the logistics ironed out quite yet, but he’s been slowly collecting the components. What he does know is that he wants to use a 4.5″ secondary coil, using 22AWG magnet wire, meaning that’s a lot of turns! Since he’s also a member of a local hackerspace, he decided to make it a modular machine that can wind different sized coils for different sized projects.

Essentially, he’s built his own CNC lathe to accomplish this, well, missing one axis. There’s the main rotary axis, and a wire-guide that moves along it ensuring the coils are wrapped tightly without gaps. It’s an impressive build and you can tell he’s put a lot of thought into the design – He’s even got a semi-flexible 3D printed motor coupler on the wire-guide axis, to help mitigate quick acceleration! The main rotary axis is also driven by a 3D printed herringbone style gear — similar to the style used on Printrbot extruders. The rest of the build is made of plywood and pegboard — allowing for even larger coils to be wound by shuffling around the components. He’s even got a full featured command console with manual/automatic controls and an LCD giving feedback on the coil being wound!

Stick around after the break to see [Krux] explain the fascinating build, and to see a fun time-lapse of an 814-turn Tesla coil winding!

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“Professor Kill A. Volt” Shocks Pumpkins with his Tesla Coil

jj

[JJ Dasher] is back again this year, shocking some pumpkins! (Volume warning). We featured [JJ] two years ago for his Halloween candy shocking Tesla coil. He apparently has been busy in his mad scientist laboratory doing some upgrades. This year his coil is producing 5 foot long streaming arcs!

[JJ's] Tesla coil is a uses two microwave oven transformers as a power supply. He also uses an Asynchronous Rotary Spark Gap (ASRG). As the name implies, a rotary spark gap uses a motor to turn a rotor. At certain points in the rotation, the rotor creates a small enough gap that a high voltage spark can jump across, energizing the primary coil. This idea is similar to an automotive ignition system distributor. [Pete] gives a great example of an ASRG in this video. Most ASRG based Tesla coils use the small motor to spin up the spark gap. Varying the speed of the motor creates the characteristic “motor revving” noise heard in the final arcs of the Tesla Coil.

[JJ] made things a bit more interesting by installing a couple of fluorescent bulbs inside a pumpkin near the coil. The coil lights them easily, and they glow even brighter when the pumpkin is struck. Still not satisfied, he also donned his grounded chainmail gloves and drew the arc to himself. We always love seeing people safely taking hits from massive Tesla coils, but this definitely falls under the “don’t try this at home” banner.

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oneTesla electrifies Maker Faire NY 2013

onetesla

Throughout the maker pavilion, the siren song of a musical Tesla coil could be heard. Those who followed their ears found themselves at the oneTesla booth. OneTesla is a hobby Tesla coil, with the added twist of polyphonic MIDI input.

Started by three MIT students, oneTesla had a successful Kickstarter campaign last year. Like many kickstarters, they are a bit behind in the shipping department. They are shipping out their third run of kits to backers now. The group had a small number of oneTesla coils for sale at the show, which appeared to have sold out by midday Sunday.

The actual process of generating sound with a Tesla coil is fascinating. All Tesla coils are resonant at high frequency. In oneTesla’s case, this is 220kHz. Human hearing ends around 20kHz, so this is well beyond the range of perception. Since the coil is locked in at this frequency, the power to the coil is modulated at the desired sound frequency. Playing an A note for example, would mean modulating the coil at 440Hz.

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Building the electronics for a Tesla coil… and watercooling them

A few years ago [Patrick] was offered the Tesla coil of a friend of a friend. This was an opportunity too good for him to pass up.

He then began the creation of an Off-Line Tesla Coil (OLTC), where no supply transformer is used. The incoming mains supply is rectified and directly fed into the tank capacitor.

[Patrick] therefore had to build a huge capacitor bank and more importantly his own primary coil, made with a 1.6mm (0.064″) copper sheet to handle the immense current involved. Air cooling the electronics was sufficient until he started using his three phase input supply. As more power involves more heat, a waterblock was designed to cool the main transistor.

Patrick’s write-up is very detailed and worth the read. Once you’re finished with it, we advise you to browse through his website, where a lot more cool projects are described.

Ask Hackaday: Can you steal a car with a mini tesla coil?

emp

Last week we caught wind of a piece from the Today Show that shows very technically minded thieves stealing cars with a small device. Cops don’t know how they’re doing it, and of course the Today show (and the Hackaday comments) were full of speculation. The top three theories for how these thieves are unlocking car doors are jamming a keyless entry’s ‘lock signal’, a radio transmitter to send an ‘unlock’ code, or a small EMP device touched to the passenger side door to make it unlock.

That last theory – using a small EMP device to unlock a car’s door – got the attention of someone who builds mini EMP devices and has used them to get credits on slot machines. He emailed us under a condition of anonymity, but he says it’s highly unlikely a mini EMP device would be able to activate the solenoid on a car door.

This anonymous electromagnetic wizard would like to open up a challenge to Hackaday readers, though: demonstrate a miniature EMP device able to unlock an unmodified car door, and you’ll earn the respect of high voltage tinkerers the world over. If you’re successful you could always sell your device to a few criminal interests, but let’s keep things above board here.

High voltage Thor’s Hammer: Mjolnir at 80,000 volts

[Thor's] hammer, Mjolnir, is pretty freaking awesome. It can only be picked up by [Thor], he can use it to fly, and probably the coolest part, it can summon lightning. After watching the first movie, and goofing around with the guys at ArcAttack, I had this idea that I could stuff a tiny tesla coil into a mjolnir and end up with a really cool prop.

At this point, I had to make a decision. I was either going to go portable and live with small arcs, or make this a stationary piece and hide a giant tesla coil in a base. It would have bigger arcs, but I couldn’t carry it around.  While I may re-visit the stationary version at some point, I ultimately decided I wanted to be able to wander around and play with this thing.

I had seen some videos of [Staci Elaan] showing off her battery-powered coils and I really liked her results. I figured, with her experience, she could probably do a better job than I could on getting the most bang out of a small package.  She was happy to be involved and delivered a small 12v powered coil for me to work with. I should also point out that the coils [Staci] makes are usually donated to educational groups. This woman is awesome.

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Hackaday Links: February 22, 2013

Playstation π

PS3

Yeah, it’s another home made Raspberry Pi case, but [Gabriel]‘s Mini Playstation 3.14 is the bee’s knees. The enclosure was once a metal gift box originally intended for gift cards. With a few whacks of a Dremel, the world finally has a new PS3 that runs Linux.

Up there with The Secret Life of Machines

mechatronik

[Mattias] sent in a tip about a really cool TV show airing in Sweden. It’s called Mekatronik, and it’s basically the interesting parts of Mythbusters where [Jamie] and [Adam] build random cool stuff. It’s a Swedish language program, so if anyone would like to make some subs for the episodes, we’ll be more than happy to link to it again.

Web-based software defined radio

sdr

The amateur radio club at University of Twente in the Netherlands came up with something really cool: a web-based software defined radio.  So what, you ask? It’s just streaming audio or something over the Internet? Nope. You can actually control this SDR over the web.

We’re deeply sorry for turning the hardware turn to slag. Really, we are.

Junk box Tesla coil

tesla

[JJ] whipped up a homemade Tesla coil out of junk he had lying around. Basically, it’s a piece of PVC pipe, a tennis ball, and aluminum foil. Even the transformer was pulled from a long-forgotten project. [JJ] is getting some really good arcs, so we’ll call this a win.

Time circuits active

time

[Danilo] was invited to a costume party with a movie theme. He wanted something Back to the Future-is, so he whipped up a flux capacitor (translation). It’s based on a PIC12F675, with the microcontroller running a bit of code that flashes the LEDs just like the movie. Now on to the hoverboard project…