DISCLAIMER: I am not responsible for any injuries or property damage that may befall you from following this instructable. High voltage electricity can be DANGEROUS and should only be worked with at your own risk. Proper safety precautions should always be followed.
That out of the way, welcome to my first instructable. Seeing as this is my first, any suggestions for improvements are greatly appreciated. Just go easy on me.
This is intended to be a how-to guide for a newbie to high voltage (like myself) looking for a quick, cheap, and relatively safe project. Although this is not a true tesla coil, as it does not utilize a resonant air-core transformer or operate at high frequencies, in effect it is similar. It still throws out plasma discharges from the top load and about 3.5 centimeter arcs to ground. Estimated output is about 100kv.
Step 1: Parts and Pieces
Bug zapper racquet: This can be purchased from Ocean State Job Lot for about 5 bucks, and is nifty for fending of mosquitos or high voltage experiments. There are probably other types of devices very similar, but I would recommend finding the racquet pictured to insure the internal circuitry is the same.
Flyback transformer: Any flyback transformer will do, though the bigger the better. Don't kill yourself looking for an old non-rectified design, since there are no benefits of it for this circuit.
Random assorted hardware: This circuit requires a spark gap to be constructed. The design of the spark gap can vary, as long as the two ends where the arc jumps is rounded, and the gap adjustable. For mine, two Erector set brackets were used. One had a ball bearing soldered to it, the other a nut over top the hole, so a bolt with an acorn nut on the end can be threaded through. See the attached picture for the details.
2xAA battery holder: Can be purchased from Radioshack or the bug zapper handle can be used to hold the batteries.
Additional Capacitors: Should be rated for at least 1.6 KV. The Bug zapper already contains one, but for bigger sparks more can be used.
Toggle Switch: The switch on the board of the bug zapper can be difficult to use, and because of the design of the bug zapper circuit, floats at high voltage, leading to a shock hazard when it is exposed. Because of this, a new switch is recommended.
Pen body or other plastic tube: To elevate the top load
Top load: I used a ball bearing, but anything smooth and without sharp edges or points can be substituted.
Of course, solder and a soldering iron as well as other general tools are needed, and wire for connecting everything together