Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Back in junior high and early high school I had a serious fascination with high voltage, I built leyden jars and used foil and our CRT television to charge them up, built Franklin's bells out of soda cans, and even tried unsuccessfully to build a small Van de Graaff generator and lord kelvin's thunderstorm. I read all about this strange science on the internet, and as my fascination grew I knew that I had to make a Tesla coil. I gathered the parts, spending my allowance on neon sign transformers and HV capacitors on eBay. With my dad's help the device came together, and soon the day came to try it out. We placed it in the middle of the garage floor, and stood far back as I plugged in the extension cord. The device only produced about six inch sparks, and the spark gap crackled loudly at 60 hertz. I remember being simultaneously proud to have built something so cool, disappointed it didn't make 4 foot streamers, and terrified at how loud and dangerous it was. The air smelled like ozone every time I turned it on, and I would bring it out whenever friends or relatives were over to show it off. I think my high voltage fascination fell of after that, but I was always proud of my Tesla coil. Any photos I had of it are unfortunately long gone, but I thought I would share the story of my first real project.