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Spark Gap Tesla Coils

Introduction

It is generally accepted that the original Tesla coils were invented for the purposes of wireless energy transfer, as well as production of high voltages for scientific uses. While they found little application in these fields, today they are built by hobbysts all over the world for their impressive spark display accompanied with loud noise. Spark gap tesla coils work by slowly charging an energy storage capacitor from a high voltage power supply, which is then discharged into the primary coil by firing of the spark gap, forming a resonant circuit which transfers energy to the secondary resonant circuit – which is the tesla coil itself resonating with it’s own parasitic capacitance, as well as any extra output (topload) capacitance. The result is a large voltage gain produced both by transformer action, as well as resonant rise. The process usually lasts only several hundred microseconds while recharging lasts on order of milliseconds, resulting in pulsed (“disruptive”) output which, combined with chaotic nature of spark gap firing is what limits the use of SGTC’s as high voltage sources compared to, for example, Cockroft-walton multipliers or solid state tesla coils.

Since there are countless other websites describing the Tesla coil theory in detail, I decided to skip repeating this myself, and focus on describing my projects, what I learned from them, and what I think may be particularly useful for other enthusiasts  for their Tesla Coil projects.

 

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