Вы находитесь на странице: 1из 4

How to build a tesla coil!


Most of us suffer from a very poor education when it comes to basic electronics. The
thought of building a device with such high voltage output was very intimidating to
say the least! To my rescue came the Summer 1992 catalog from Information
Unlimited. Add to this that I had quit my job (i.e. I had some time on my hands) and
that $240 didn't seem to be an unreasonable amount of money to spend for a time
killer (when not searching for a new job) and dream fulfillment.

It occurred to me that there may be other Tesla novices out there who might be
interested in trying to "feel the power" of a real Tesla coil fashioned with their own
hands. This brief write-up will let a novice Tesla coil builder, whom chooses to start
their Tesla building career with a BTC-3 kit from Information Unlimited, to have a
better idea of what to expect if using the BTC-3 kit.


The BTC-3 kit, when finally put together, delivered the 12" sparks as promised from
the 250 KV output. However, a few screws necessary for the construction of the coil
were missing from the kit and necessitated a trip to the local hardware store. The
directions were cryptic and the drawings didn't match the eventual configuration as
built. Some parts appear to have been substituted for those that were described in the
directions requiring some improvisation in order to get things to work. The kit
required very little in the way of tools, or knowledge of electronics, to put together
and required a total of about 10 hours over two weekends to construct. In spite of
some of the changes required during construction, I found the kit satisfactory and
worth the price.

I also went on to buy the optional Toroid Terminal after completing the coil and I
would highly recommend it to anyone considering building the BTC-3 kit. While the
bare wire coming off the top of the coil produced considerable sparks, it was only
when I attached the Toroid to the secondary coil that the coil seemed to "come alive"
and produce an incredible discharge field and a constant output of 10" to 14" sparks.
Well worth the extra $69.

Now, I am ready to move on to building a 1 million volt coil that I hope to build from
scratch! (with plans yet to be determined....)



An initial quick inventory of the parts in the kit as compared to the parts list included
with the kit showed that several screws were missing. These are the kinds of missing
parts that are very frustrating. I figured the long distance phone call requesting
Information Unlimited to send me the screws would be more expensive than just
going out and buying the screws. Other than that, everything appeared to have been
included. I feel that potential purchasers of the kit should also be aware of the

- The secondary coil included in the kit was wound sloppily and required about two
hours of my time to get it wound tight and without any overlapping wires. I began
wondering if I couldn't have wound a coil from scratch in the same amount of time
and saved the money of having to buy a pre-wound coil.

- There were no screws included with the kit that could be used to attach the top (the
part that the secondary and primary coils rest on) to the tank enclosure containing the
transformer, capacitor, etc.

- There were no screws included that could be used to attach the transformer to the
bottom of the tank enclosure.

- The ON/OFF toggle switch included with kit did not match the switch in the plans
and because of a protruding tab could not be attached to the side of the tank
enclosure. I was forced to cut off and file down the tab.


The plans include a nice brief introduction on Tesla coils - what they are and are
supposed to do. The plans also include a nice conclusion that describe options that
the builder can add to the coil (that will produce additional effects and features for
the builder).

The drawings and diagrams in the plans appear to be taken from several different
sources, or at least drawn at different times by different people. The formats of the
drawings change frequently; in a couple of places two drawings of the same
assembly on separate pages didn't even match. The drawings at times do not reflect
the associated instructions. This led to occasional head scratching moments of
pondering on how to resolve the problem, "Do I go by the instructions or do I go by
the drawings?!" Generally speaking, the drawings were accurate and I used them
frequently to make sure I was on the right track.


The instructions were actually pretty good. Descriptions were clear and followed a
logical stepwise path through the construction of the kit. Thoughtful comments are
sprinkled throughout the instructions indicating pitfalls to avoid and/or variations that
are possible as the kit is put together. One gets the feeling that someone had written
the instructions and then had actually gone through them and tested them for
accuracy. The only exception to my praise of the instructions, though, is that the
instructions had not been modified to reflect obvious last minute parts changes that
were shipped with the kit. There were also a couple of instances where the
instructions were verbally correct, but the drawing referenced by the instructions
appeared inaccurate and did not reflect the associated instructions. I'm not sure that
this is a fault of the instructions or of the drawings?!


- An interesting conclusion drawn after the construction of the coil was complete,
was that the kit required no soldering at all. For peace of mind (and for habits sake) I
still soldered all the obvious connections, but in fact didn't really need too.

- A finer treaded screw should be used for the spark gap adjuster. It takes quite a bit
of fiddling to get the gap to the width that provides for continuous operation at
maximum output.

- Generally speaking, the initial output of the coil was much less than advertised;
perhaps 8" sparks at best. I added a second capacitor (identical to the one included
with the kit) and wired it in parallel with the first and then got the spark output I
desired. While it is possible that I didn't get the coil tuned properly initially, or that I
hadn't assembled something properly, the addition of the second capacitor did the
trick for output.

- The secondary coil comes with a plastic cap covering the top of the PVC tube used
for the coil. This appears to be unnecessary and in the end I had to remove it so that I
could patch some arcing that was occurring inside the tube.

- The plexiglass plate used in conjunction with the spark gap adjuster should have
had an adhesive included in the kit for attaching to the side of the enclosure. I had to
run out and buy some epoxy glue. It would have been a nice touch to have had this

- The power cord is supposed to be securely attached to the tank enclosure by using a
plastic grommet. Unfortunately, the hole cut for power cord grommet was much too
small for enclosed grommet.

- The neon bulb holder was too large to securely hold the bulb. This necessitated the
elimination of the use of the bulb as part of the finished kit. This didn't effect the
ability of the coil to run, but it probably would have added some "polish" to the look
of the coil when completed and operational.

- It is an absolute necessity to corona dope all exposed wire attachments in the tank
enclosure. Failing to do so leads to arcing inside the tank enclosure.

- I recommend that the secondary coil be insulated with a coating of paraffin wax as
opposed to corona dope. The coil arcs through a single coating of dope as if it weren't
even there. However, all arcing was eliminated with a single thin coat of paraffin
wax. Its a heck of a lot cheaper than dope as well!