Over the past Summer I built two Tesla Coils. The first one didn't work, so I started building this one. This instructable will outline the steps I took.

Before I begin, I feel it is necessary to go over some safety guidelines. Please read each of these points thoroughly before starting this project.

-Tesla Coils are potentially dangerous devices and precautions must be taken before every operation to help prevent possible damage to property, injury, or death. Prior knowledge of high voltage electrical safety is required, and assumed.

-The arcs from the Tesla Coil produce ozone and other gasses, which can build up to toxic levels in unventilated areas. Do not allow this to occur.

-Tesla Coils can damage or destroy hearing aids and cardiac pacemakers in the proximity of the unit. This means that Tesla Coils are capable of killing a person wearing a pacemaker. It is imperative to verify that anyone using one of these devices maintains a good distance from an operating Tesla Coil.

With that being said, here is what you're going to need for this project.

Materials :


-4' of 1.5" PVC
-8 pieces of 5"x5" plywood
-2 pieces of 3'x2' plywood
-4 caster wheels


-15kV 60ma transformer with no GFCI

Spark Gap:

-1' of 3" PVC
-2 brass bolts the same size, plus 2 nuts and 2 washers that fit the bolts
-2 1" brass balls
-1 Computer fan
-1 8 AA battery holder

Capacitor Array:

-40 Cornell-Dubillier capacitors, (Model# 942C20P15K-F)
-40 10MΩ resistors
-Material to mount your capacitors to (I mounted mine to sheets of lexan, with ceramic stand-offs as legs.)

Primary Coil:

-4 pieces of 10"x3" plywood
-50' roll of 1/4" copper tubing
-20' of 3/8" copper tubing

Secondary Coil:

-2' of 4" PVC
-1 piece of 4.5"x4.5" plywood
-~1200 ft. roll of magnet wire


-2 aluminum pie pans
-Aluminum dryer duct
-Nylon nuts and bolts


-3 copper lug terminals
-High voltage wire
-Gorilla glue
-Drill press
-Table saw

Step 1: The Transformer

Before you start this project, you may want to consider finding a good transformer. This will likely be the most expensive part of the project and the hardest thing to find. Most transformers today have a built in GFCI circuit, this circuit is designed to shut down the transformer if it senses any unusual fluctuations. These types of transformers are terrible for Tesla Coil use, due to the Coil's sporadic nature. Transformers with a GFCI circuit will have some sort of reset switch and an LED indicator light. There's a website called Info Unlimited that sells very nice ones with no GFCI, that's where I got mine but if you can find one cheaper then go for it.

For this instructable, I will be using a 15kv 60ma transformer from Info Unlimited.

Edit - 9/16/2013 

Since creating this instructable, I've figured out how to remove the GFCI circuitry from certain NST's. Since there seems to be a deficiency of online resources as to how this procedure is performed, I've decided to cover it here. The following process will only work with transformers that have the GFCI circuit exposed. In some transformers it is impossible to remove the GFCI because it is surrounded in tar and is inaccessible. As of this writing, I am aware of only two companies that leave the GFCI exposed, those being "Transco" and "France".

The following procedure is for "Transco" transformers, "France" transformers have a slightly different but similar procedure:

Safety Note
NEVER touch EITHER output terminal of the transformer while it is plugged in. 

1. Unplug your transformer.

Remove the access panel from the top of your transformer. "Transco" transformers have one screw and one rivet holding the access panel on, remove the screw and cut off the rivet with some pliers. For this step, please refer to pictures 3 - 6.

3. With the access panel removed, you should see two partitions on the inside of the transformer. The first partition will be completely filled in with tar and is inaccessible, the second partition will contain the GFCI circuitry. The blue box shown in the pictures is the GFCI. See pictures 7 - 8.

4.  Pull the GFCI box out of the transformer so you can get a better look at it. Notice that all of the wires coming from the transformer go through a terminal block to connect to the GFCI box. Use a screw driver to disconnect all of the transformer wires from the terminal block and set the GFCI box to the side, we are done with it. See pictures 9 - 12.

5. With the GFCI removed, we need to figure out which of the remaining wires are no longer needed and which of the remaining wires must be joined together. The remaining wires are green, brown, grey, blue, white and black. The green wire is ground for the components in the GFCI box. Since the GFCI box has been removed, we no longer need the green wire and it should be taped off to keep it insulated and out of the way. The brown wire is used to activate a relay in the GFCI box. Again, since the GFCI box has been removed, we no longer need the brown wire and it should be taped off to keep it insulated. The white wire and the black wire are the ends of the primary inductor within the tar-filled partition. In electrical terms, the white wire is neutral and the black wire is line voltage. The last two wires are blue and grey. The blue wire comes from the "line voltage" (L) terminal on the exterior of the transformer, where the power cord gets attached. The grey wire comes from the neutral (N) terminal on the exterior of the transformer. Connect the grey and white wires, since they both correspond to neutral. Solder them together and use tape to insulate everything. Connect the black and blue wires, since they both correspond to line voltage. Solder them together and use tape to insulate everything. See pictures 13 - 15.

6. Put the access plate back onto the transformer and get ready to give it a test run. Attach one electrode of your spark gap to each of the two output terminals on the transformer. If your spark gap fires when you plug in the transformer, you have successfully re-wired your transformer and removed the GFCI box.


When shopping for a transformer on online sites like eBay, transformers with no GFCI often cost significantly more money because of their increasing rarity. If you can, I would advise you to purchase a "France" or "Transco" transformer WITH a GFCI, then use the previous procedure to remove the circuitry. If you take my advice you could save upwards of $130 - $150.

The transformer I bought from Info Unlimited was $290 because it did not have a GFCI. Don't needlessly waste money like I did.


<p>I'm making a 10&quot;x40&quot; DRSSTC that will hopefully do 10-12 feet. Only problem I foresee (other than cops to scare off) is having a lousy ground connection. For full power runs this will be ran in the park across the street on a 480v battery since I live in an apartment (only room for 4 feet indoors) so can't go around pounding pipes in the ground. Hopefully a 10-foot square of 1&quot; chicken netting will be enough.</p>
Hello friend <br>Could you please tell me what is the range of your project , because I also want to make this in my major project.<br>Give some advice to me how can I make this project .<br>My mail I'd - rkt.0072@gmail.comcom<br>Reply as soon as possibl .<br>Thanks
Google DRSSTC. There's a million websites explaining how it works and how to build one. I'd recommend building a spark gap version before converting it to IGBT's if you've never built a tesla coil before. And even then it's not easy without power electronics design experience (I built a big 16kW ZVS CCPS first for that experience). Steve Ward's HV website probably explains the details best. In short understanding his explanation of how his 12-foot one works is the prerequesite knowledge. Unlike some little Mazilli flyback driver you can't simply blindly copy some schematic from the internet and have it work perfectly, at least not without a lot of luck.
can the Tesla get connected to a computer out something that can make it play music?
Hello guys, <br> Can I know the maximum range of this project. Will it possible to make a range 2 meter.<br>Give mesuggestions, I need.
<p>I made this project, but I had to make some changes in order to make it adapt to Europe; I refer to International system of unit, and different voltage source. It's a very beautiful and functional project, thanks for havin' shared with us!</p>
<p>chicken wire ground is very interesting though will have to try and compare</p>
<p>i have found that the heavier you make the ground the better the arcs like atleast 3 pieces of 1/2 copper pipe 3ft long driven into the ground and connected together with heavy wire all the way to the base of the secondary OH WHAT A DIFFERENCE!!!!</p>
<p>great tutorial ive never tried making caps this way and wonder if they are as robust as the old school roof flashing and polyethylene ones immersed in mineral;oil</p>
<p>i have built many of these and have always gotten the best results by hooking the cap in parallel with the tranny and placing spark gap before the tuning connection running to the primary will work in different configs though </p>
Hello, you by far have the best tutorial I've seen. I'm currently making a coil my self but In smaller scale, im using a transformer from an old microwave and im making a capacitor out of glass bottles, water, salt, and canola oil. I was wondering if you could perhaps break down the formula of primary cool to secondary coil length. Also for home made capacitors how much of each listed material would be appropriate.
And Can U PlEASE tell How to remove the GFCI from the transformer of FRANCE ,-Franceformer....plzzz ( my is 7.5kv/30ma)
And Can U PlEASE tell How to remove the GFCI from the transformer of FRANCE ,-Franceformer....plzzz ( my is 7.5kv/30ma)
Hey....I got every single part EXCEPT those Apple pie Cans.....I'm from India .....can someone plzzzzz help me??? With the can I can easily construct this Tesla!!!!!plzzzzzz!
<p>Will a 3kv 30ma transformer be powerful enough?</p>
<p><a href="http://how-to-build-a-tesla-generator.blogspot.co.nz/" rel="nofollow">http://how-to-build-a-tesla-generator.blogspot.co....</a> </p><p>This is a great easy to follow guide, I also found one here that helped me build one in one day, I got to the stage that I was running some of my household appliances on it! </p>
<p>I have a different model Franceformer 15kv 60ma. After removing the GFCI I had 2 whites, 1 black/line, 1 blue and 1 orange. I had to connect white to white and black/line to orange. Blue left disconnected. </p>
<p>About 35 years ago as a teen I saw a Radio and Electronics type magazine that showed how to make a tesla coil. At 15 I built my first with no toroid, glass plate/foil capacitors, model T ford spark coil (later moved to a neon sign transformer), etc. and had sparks about a foot or so long. I showed it to my shop teacher in school and he told me about a city industrial arts contest. I made a base from wood with dowel rods for the primary coil and stained it. I took 1st place in the R&amp;D category at the contest. I read all I could about Tesla and even wrote a term paper. I don't know what ever happened to my tesla coil but I'm now an Electrical Engineer and I would like to build a bigger one with a torroid this time using the neon sign transformer 15kv 60mA. I would like about 2-4 feet but nothing too big as this idea already scares my wife. I have done some internet research and purchased the $5 Tesla Map software online. It says this transformer at 100% efficiency will have the potential of over 50 inch sparks. I understand your never going to get 100% efficiency but I would like to know how to design one of these spark lengths. I read that the diameter of the secondary coil affects the length. However, the software just shows the max spark length based on the neon sign transfomer specifications and nothing else. I want to make sure I can get all of the parts and do reseach before I buy anything. Comments or suggestions about this? Thanks!</p>
<p>In my experience with the Tesla Map software I have found it to be very accurate. If I were you I would definitely follow the software recommendations. Changing the shape and the length of the secondary will not provide noticeable power gains, the transformer size is the main factor of spark length and output. If you change the secondary coil then the primary coil and capacitor bank will need to be adjusted as well. IMO it's not worth it, it would be easier and more economical to follow the specs from my instructable</p>
<p>I have some doorknob caps rated for 20,000 v . will they work?</p>
<p>You should really try to stick to polypropylene capacitors</p>
<p>nice tutorial man ! I plan to build my own soon and I'll sure follow your instructable. And a question. If the secondary winding is more than 1100 turns then it will output more voltage right ? So it can produce bigger sparks (with a bigger toroid and all the adjustments) ?</p>
<p>Adding additional turns will change the frequency of the secondary coil. If you add additional turns to the secondary then the primary will need to be adjusted to match the frequency. I wouldn't recommend it.</p><p>The only way to get bigger sparks would be to use a larger size transformer.</p>
<p>THE INSIDE (glue side) of the aluminum does not conduct electricity!!! How to build that electrical path on the top of secondary using Al tape???</p>
<p>I never inferred that the glue side of the tape was conducting electricity. The wire coming off of the top end of the secondary is resting on the aluminum side of a piece of aluminum foil tape. I then placed a second piece of aluminum foil tape over top of the wire, just to secure it and hold it in place.</p>
<p>I would love to see pictures of it running.</p>
<p>I'll post a link to my youtube video</p>
<p>Done! </p><p>Sorry about that. The video had been posted before, but I guess something happened to it.</p>
<p>Hi, Tesla peeps! Can I use ignition coils of cars instead of capacitors? Can someone help me build one that is in Solid State? I'll be helping my son build his (and mine, as well) first Tesla coil for his Science Project (one that could play .mp3 music from his iShuffle). After which, we could use this on New Year's day &amp; 4th of July. This has to be done on or before December (2014).</p>
<p>Mate, you're a legend! I've been on a bit of a Tesla coil quest for months now, I've built it to the stage I can test it but nothing but a spark across the spark gap is all I have been able to get. I'm brand new to instructables so already had mine mostly built when I read this but your instructions are one of the better that I have seen that's for sure. to start with despite no lack of trying I had my spark gap &amp; capacitors around the wrong way (so I'm guessing that wasn't helping!). Also my top rail was a full circle &amp; u said not to do that. Plus the basic wiring up of the thing was poorly described in every other vid or write up I've seen so well done.<br>But unfortunately I still need some help if u can please. I'm running 2 MOTs with a voltage doubler off 240volts which I think is giving me close to 8kVAC, then I've got 2 MOCs in parallel &amp; an assortment of capacitors in series I've been trying to get right. I don't have any like yours, those suckers are expensive. I have several small capacitor banks made up &amp; soldered together in series but I have no idea how to work out what the total capacitance would be &amp; can't follow how to do it. I understand when I put 2 together I just add the voltage &amp; the capacitance halves etc. But what about when I combine 2 totally different capacitor values?<br>My primary is 3' x 3.5&quot; wound with 24G magnet wire &amp; the secondary is a 1/2&quot; tube with about 7 wraps ( I used exactly half of the reel). The spark gap improved 10 fold once I removed the capacitors &amp; ran just from the voltage doubler &amp; MOCs.<br>I'm guessing once I get the capacitors close I'll be right..?<br>Any ideas or assistance would be much appreciated..<br>Thanks heaps!<br>Mick :)</p>
<p>My main drama/question I think is how do I add up my capacitance when I have 2 separate banks with totally different capacitors in each?<br>Cheers! :)</p>
<p>WHY would you want this deleted? It was featured, and it won a contest. Looks to me like it was a great ible' before you removed all the content.</p>
My son and I are getting started on this Instructable and I rolled the dice and ordered a Franceformer off eBay. It's a 15KV 60mA but it arrived packed terribly and two of the ceramic terminals are bashed up badly. Two questions: Are these replaceable and if so, where can one buy these parts? I've been looking online for a while but no good so far.
<p>I'm sure you figured this out by now that sadly, the transformer is shot and most likely is not repairable. It might be possible to mold some new separators using epoxy putty. Could be worth a shot. Couldn't you get your money back? </p>
<p>Beachley is now selling this instructable for sale on Ebay in the form of a pfd document. I am really disappointed as well as I have numerous links to this site from my own tesla web site. http://www.twotowers.com/tesla/tessie_1_tesla_coil.html - Anyone one is free to meet me there. I offer all of the information necessary to build a tesla coil. I will have to expand informationally in areas where I was relying on Beachley's instructable. This is mainly in regards to the design and construction of the base for the primary coil.</p>
Beachley, what happened to your instructable? My son and I were using your instructions as a basis for his science project. Logged in today and *poof* it just says &quot;Please Delete.&quot; Your instructions and images were some of the best available. Any chance of sending me a PDF? I can send you my email. Let me know. <br>Thanks!
Did you use any diode in your circuit ?
Did you use any diode in your circuit ?
intead i use the same capacitor you use, can i use 146 capacitor with 2,2 uf and 250 v?
I forgot to say that they are electrolytic capacitors
or is better if i use polyester capacitors with 2,2 uf and 250v?
I am making a Tesla coil and I am only needing two parts the primary coil and plywood. But could I use adhesive to keep my toroid togethere? And what would be a good breakout point for the toroid?
You can use adhesive to keep the toroid together, it doesn't really matter what you use as long as there aren't gaps anywhere. I like to use a piece of copper wire for my breakout point. Bend one end of the wire into a circle to make a base, then point the wire straight up into the air and lay it in the middle of your toroid. I also like to take a straight piece of copper wire and tape it to the side of the toroid, pointing outwards.
The first point you bring up, about the size of my primary, can easily be explained. As the size of the primary decreases, the size of the secondary must increase and vice versa. I chose to make my primary longer because it is easier to do that than to wind a longer secondary. <br> <br>I can't explain the spark gap, I remember reading that you should close the gap until it first starts to fire. I started at 3&quot; and nothing happened. I shut the coil off and adjusted the gap to 2.75&quot;, nothing happened. I repeated this process until the gap fired at 2.5&quot;. <br> <br>The bottom of my secondary is laying flush on top of the plywood. The plywood is acting as the plexi-glass in your example. Underneath of where I have the secondary placed, I've drilled a very small hole in the plywood. The end of magnet wire coming off of the bottom of my secondary goes through this hole and attaches to a copper lug terminal, as you describe in your comment. <br> <br>So I guess the only thing I can't explain is the spark gap! <br> <br>Let me know if you have any other questions.
I just wanted to clarify that you were correct and my spark gap was not done correctly. I have since updated this instructable to reflect the corrections that I made. Thank you for pointing this out to me.
Hi Beachley, <br>Thanks for the update, and you can see on my TC, that I had to increase the size of my primary to 12 winds. I'm clipped onto the 11th wind for optimal performance. <br>http://twotowers.com/tesla/tessie_1_tesla_coil.html<br><br>I really like the look of your new Spark Gap with the ball electrodes. I'm currently looking into building a rotary spark gap. I hear the performance increase is incredible! Alan from http://www.teslastuff.com/ sells a kit so one can put together one's own synchronous rotary spark gap. He also sells a pre-made high pass filter that he has had great success with and also the components to build one's own Terry Filter.

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