PCB Tesla Coil Is Perfect Desk Toy

A Tesla coil easily makes it to the top spot on our list of “Mad Scientist” equipment we want for the lab, second only to maybe a Jacob’s Ladder. Even then, it’s kind of unfair advantage because you know people only want a Jacob’s Ladder for that awesome sound it makes. Sound effects not withstanding, it’s Tesla coil all the way, no question.

Unfortunately, winding your own Tesla coil is kind of a hassle. Even on relatively small builds, you’ll generally need to setup some kind of winding jig just to do the secondary coil, which can be a project in itself. So when [Daniel Eindhoven] sent his no-wind Tesla coil into the tip line, it immediately got our attention.

The genius in his design is that the coils are actually etched into the PCB, completely taking the human effort out of the equation. Made up of 6 mil traces with 6 mil separation, the PCB coil manages to pack a 25 meter long, 160 turn coil into an incredibly compact package. As you might expect, such a tiny Tesla coil isn’t exactly going to be a powerhouse, and in fact [Daniel] has managed to get the entirely thing running on the 500 mA output of your standard USB 2.0 port.

In such a low-power setup, [Daniel] was also able to replace the traditional spark gap pulse generator with a PIC18F14K50 microcontroller, further simplifying the design. An advantage of using a microcontroller for the pulse generator is that it’s very easy to adjust the coil’s operating frequency, allowing for neat tricks like making the coil “sing” by bringing its frequency into the audible range.

For those looking to build their own version, [Daniel] has put the PCB schematic and firmware available for download on his site. He also mentions that, in collaboration with Elektor magazine, he will be producing a kit in the near future. Definitely something we’ll be keeping an eye out for.

Incidentally, this isn’t the first time [Daniel] has demonstrated his mastery of high voltage. He scared impressed us all the way back in 2010 with his 11,344 Joule capacitor bank, perfect for that laptop-destroying rail gun you’ve been meaning to build.

43 thoughts on “PCB Tesla Coil Is Perfect Desk Toy

      1. You gain some, where you don’t want it, you lose some, where you need it.

        When you heat air to high enough temperatures, you get various nitrous oxides, and many of them deplete ozone layer.

        1. If you have ever looked in the back of an old TV or other high voltage device that has rubber insulators you will see that the rubber becomes hard and perishes. it is a result of the unstable ozone and nitrous breaking down and forming nitricacid that hardens and eats in to the rubber and some plastics.

          It is however great for promoting healing and the regeneration of skin. it was also used in hospitals as a way to kill bacteria.

      1. I used to work at a place with it’s own machine shop. I had to work semi-closely with the machinists on projects while I was there. This always drove me insane, does anyone know why thou and mil are the same? I always imagined Thou meant thousandth of an inch and Mil meant millionth (but of what, I’m not sure)?

      2. When I became a machinist back in the 70’s, we always used the word “Mil” to mean one thousandth of an inch.” We machined ceramic parts for many, many large companies (Bell Labs,NASA, IBM, ATT, etc) and almost always their engineers would use that term as well when we were in the design phase of a project. I would see it used on many blueprints as well.

  1. This maybe ideal to make a super tweeter. Would be nice to able to inject audio but seems to need to charge and pulse in the video I assume because of the low voltages used. Not ideal for audio

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