Tesla gun will probably kill something, sometime

After reading The Five Fists of Science, a retelling of ‘war of the currents’ between [Tesla] and [Edison], [Rob] knew he needed a Tesla gun, the sidearm of the story’s protagonist. Since nothing as stupidly awesome and dangerous as a portable Tesla coil has ever been made, [Rob] needed to make his own.

[Rob] started his build as any good weird weapon build begins: taking apart a Nerf gun. A new Aluminum sand cast body replaced the wimpy plastic body of the Nerf gun and after a few days on a mill, [Rob] had an aluminum Nerf gun perfect for holding the guts of a Tesla coil. The high voltage switch is made of porcelain, and the power supply is an 18 V cordless drill battery and a flyback transformer potted with silicone in a PVC pipe end cap.

[Rob] really has a remarkable build on his hands here, and certainly something no one else has ever tried before. While he hasn’t fired his gun yet, we’re sure we’ll hear about it on the nightly news when he does.

Nine not-so-easy steps to build a singing Tesla coil

We love a good Tesla coil music performance, but have never really considered building our own. After reading [TheHomebrewGuru's] guide to musical Tesla coils we’re still not considering it. Whether or not you’re going to undertake the project, his massive writeup is worth a look.

The tutorial begins at the beginning, with a bit of background on these devices, including what they are, where they came from, and the electrical theory behind them. From there it’s on to the build. This isn’t a go-out-and-buy it type of project. You’re going to need some ingenuity to hunt down parts that will work, and will work with each other.

The image above shows a partially built device, using sheet metal ductwork covered in foil tape as the torroid at the top. The column is wrapped in wire, forming the secondary coil, and the wooden base is ready for the installation of the primary coil. Electronics will be housed between the two wood discs of the base, with a TI Launchpad board driving the music part of the hack.

There isn’t a good demo video of this playing music. But you can get the idea if you look back at the head-mounted tesla coil which did a great job of pumping out the tunes.

A head-mounted Tesla coil – what could possibly go wrong?


We can hear the commercial now…

“Reeeeeeal men of geniuuuuuuus! Here’s to you Mr. no-fear, singing Tesla coil on your hat wearing guy…”

Call him a genius or call him crazy – all we know is that [Tyler’s] Tesla coil hat is awesome! Even though it’s the middle of November, we couldn’t pass up this Halloween costume.

[Tyler’s] creation essentially boiled down to taking a standard dual resonant solid state Tesla coil and shrinking it down to a reasonable size for mounting on his skull. The mini Tesla features a pretty compact boost core which worked reasonably well, at least for a little while. He says that the boost never truly worked properly and needs a redesign, which is something he’ll tackle when he gets some free time.

Boost issues or not, we think that the video below speaks for itself. The hat is certainly an attention getter, and we think it’s great – even if wearing a Tesla coil on your head is not necessarily the safest thing to do.

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A Tesla coil that delivers shocking candy


Even though Halloween was a week ago, we are still seeing plenty of cool stuff coming our way. Take for instance this Tesla coil that [JJ] sent us.

He got the idea to build a coil for his Halloween display about a week before the event, but he figured it would be easy enough to do since he had a lot of the parts on hand already. He originally started with some neon transformers and a primary/secondary pair he used in a previous Tesla coil build, but when things were fully assembled he wasn’t completely happy with the results.

He returned to the drawing board, winding a new primary/secondary coil pair, which performed much better. The rest of the coil was pieced together with random parts he procured at IKEA along with other items he had sitting around.

He donned a mad scientist’s outfit, and with a large set of grounded tongs acting as a Faraday cage he proceeded to electrocute trick or treaters’ candy with his Tesla coil, much to the delight of the neighborhood children.

Be sure to swing by his page to see more construction details, and for a sneak peek at the candy zapping process, check out the video below.

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Tesla coil bullet-time photography


One thing we can all probably agree on is that Tesla coils are one part high-voltage electricity and two parts pure awesome. [Rob Flickenger] thinks so too, and he built a pretty nice one in his workshop some time ago. He took a bunch of pictures showing off the coil’s capabilities, but he thought that one photo taken from a single angle didn’t do much to relay just how fantastic it is to watch a Tesla coil in action.

Taking a cue from the Matrix movies, he bought a stack of Canon point and shoot cameras and constructed a bullet time rig in his workshop. In order to get the pictures just right, he flashed each camera with a customized version of the CHDK firmware that allowed him to trigger all ten shutters with a single button press. A few scripts help facilitate collecting all of the images for processing, after which he identifies the good shots and stitches them together. You can see the awesome results in the video below.

[via LaughingSquid]

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The Evil Genius Simulator: Kinect Controlled Tesla Coils

The London Hackspace crew was having a tough time getting their Kinect demos running at Makefair 2011. While at the pub they had the idea of combining forces with Brightarcs Tesla coils and produced The Evil Genius Simulator!

After getting the go ahead from Brightarcs and the input specs of the coils they came up with an application in Openframeworks which uses skeletal tracking data to determine hand position. The hand position is scaled between two manually set calibration bars (seen in the video, below). The scaled positions then speeds or slows down a 50Hz WAV file to produce the 50-200Hz sin wave required by each coil. It only took an hour but the results are brilliant, video after the jump.

There are all these previously featured stories on the Kinect and  we’ve seen Tesla coils that respond to music, coils that  make music, and even MIDI controlled coils, nice to see it all combined.

Thanks to [Matt Lloyd] for the tip!

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Vacuum tube tesla coil

[xellers] may have been in 8th grade when he built this vacuum tube tesla coil, but he did a fantastic job. Unlike most of the tesla coils we have shown, this one doesn’t use a high current transformer from a neon sign. Instead, he’s gone the direction of vacuum tubes. He spent a total of about $125 which isn’t too bad. Most of us could reduce that cost by scrounging from our parts bin.


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