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Electric Ring Wheel Prop - Is a Tesla Coil the way to go?

So here's the deal: 
I need to make an electrical ring prop, and while I have basic electrical knowledge, I'm a noob at High Voltage applications.  What I need is to produce electrical streamers, such as what you see from a Tesla coil (at least an inch if possible) to appear to be sparking off and around a spinning wheel held in a fork (ie. the front wheel of a bike).    What would be the safest and cheapest (in that order) way to accomplish this?  

Optional requirements: It would be perfect in all ways if it uses a DC power supply for locational freedom, and if it can be made so that a person can actually sit on the bike without you know, dying.  But work-arounds for those are doable, we just need the visual effect.

Edit:
CG isn't in the cards for us, and we've tried the others already.  LEDs and glowsticks etc. look just like what they are: cheap spinning lights, and pyrotechnic type sparks and such look more like the bike is busted and about to blow than anything else.  Your first thought is "oh my god you're frying the bearings!" 



jeff-o7 years ago
Why bother with electricity at all?  It's relatively easy to produce sparks, using flints like those found in cigarette lighters.

But if they must be electric sparks, then do a search for taser circuits or maybe something based on disposable camera flash circuits.  They can often be multiplied with a voltage multiplier to produce inch-long sparks.  Be aware, however, that the sparks will need to traverse a gap - they can't just discharge into the air in this case.  Fortunately, the current would be low enough (if using camera parts) that you could use the wheel itself as one end of the "spark gap."

Just don't ride it in the rain, OK?  ;)
A Tesla coil + a bicycle?

I look at the idea and all I see right now are problems...   First and foremost, if the thing is sitting on the ground; it's not going to arc and spark everywhere.  All the electricity is going to take the path of least resistance and just travel straight into the ground.  There'll be no show.

The bike itself is a problem as well.  Being made of metal, it will serve as a conductor.   Assuming you've raised the whole thing off of the ground, the arcs will likely travel from the "wheel," through the forks, and out from one or two points on the bike.  You won't get the intended show.

I think your best bet is computer graphics (which will be ideal if you're doing a short scene) either by filming an ordinary tesla coil and superimposing that footage onto the footage of a bike and rider or by digitally drawing the arcs on each frame. 

Other alternatives?  Pyrotechnics, LED lights, and/or glow sticks.
Its a motorcycle rather than a pedal bike,  so with the street tire it will be a good three inches or so above the ground, which I was hoping would be far enough not to arc to the ground with 1 inch streamers? But even that would be a passable show for what we need. 

The grounding to the frame is more of an issue.  We can easily coat it with layers and layers of fiberglass, or even replace the entire fork structurally with carbon fiber.  I don't understand the in's and out's of building a telso coil, but was hoping we could integrate the secondary resonant coil into the fork structure?

CG isn't in the cards for us, and we've tried the others already.  LEDs and glowsticks etc. look just like what they are: cheap spinning lights, and pyrotechnic type sparks and such look more like the bike is busted and about to blow than anything else.  Your first thought is "oh my god you're frying the bearings!"