Step 17: Operation
The Tesla coil is a dangerous high voltage device. Used properly, it is an educational and fun electronics project that displays beautiful electrical arcs and lets you play with a unique form of sound creation. Used improperly, it can lead to serious injury. Always follow the directions!
Treat your energized Tesla coil the same way as you would treat an open flame. You wouldn’t let burning stove unattended, nor let a child access matches and kerosene, would you? Don’t leave your Tesla coil unattended or in a situation where a child or unqualified operator can access it.
- Keep away from the coil while operating! Keep yourself, other people, and sensitive electronics a minimum distance of the length of the fiber optic cable apart from the Tesla coil. Persons with pacemakers or other medical implants should not be in the area.
- Never touch the output of the Tesla coil! The sparks will burn you if you come in contact with them.
- Always follow the startup and shutdown procedures when turning on and off your Tesla coil detailed in Step 15.
- The biggest issue to watch for is flashover on the secondary, or any arcing in places you don’t want it. Upon seeing unwanted arcing, stop operating immediately and fix the problem, whether it’s moving a stray object or patching the secondary with a dab of glue.
- Your control laptop should be running off of its battery, and be unplugged from its charger.
- The best environment in which to run a Tesla coil is on a clear table away from other objects that the coil could potentially arc to. Unlike DRSSTCs, tinyTesla does not have stringent tuning requirements and is not highly sensitive to its environment.
- You should generally keep your Tesla coil away from other electronics, particularly sensitive devices like unshielded computers.
- It’s not a good idea to draw arcs from the coil using metal objects or a fluorescent gas tube, particularly at high power. Arcs draw a lot of current and can stress the IGBTs. A fluorescent tube put next to the Tesla coil will light up!
- To avoid failures due to overheating, don’t run your coil for more than a few minutes at a time. If doing an extended run, use your coil on half power or less. It will prolong its run time and spare you from a headache!
- To make your life a little easier, use a power strip with an on/off switch rather than using the cord to plug in and unplug your Tesla coil.