Picture of How to build a Tesla Coil
This Instructable will walk you through building a medium sized Tesla coil.
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Step 1: DANGER

Picture of DANGER
Unlike some other high voltage experiments, a Tesla coil's streamers can be very harmful. If you are shocked by the streamers, you will not feel pain, but your circulatory and nervous system can sustain severe damage. DO NOT TOUCH IT WHILE ON UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES.

Also, I don't take any responsibility for you hurting yourself.

This isn't to say that you shouldn't get into high voltage though, its just that if you are planning for this to be your first HV project, its a little to involved. Instead, try out a nice microwave oven transformer, and be safe!

Step 2: Gather the Materials

Picture of Gather the Materials
The total cost came to around $25, being that I already had the wood, Snapple bottles, PVC, and glue.

Secondary Coil:
  • A length of 1.5" PVC (the longer the better)
  • About 300 feet of 24 AWG copper enameled wire
  • 1.5" PVC screw-thing (see picture)
  • 1.5" metal floor flange with threads
  • Spray on enamel
  • Circular, smooth metallic object for the discharge terminal
Base and Supra-base
  • Various pieces of wood
  • Long bolts, nuts, and washers
Primary Coil:
  • About 10 feet of thin copper tubing
  • 6 Glass bottles (Snapple bottles work really well)
  • Table Salt
  • Oil (I used canola. Mineral oil (horse laxative) it preferable as it doesn't mold, but I didn't have any.)
  • Lots of aluminum foil
And a HV power source such as a NST, OBIT, or other transformer that gives off at least 9 kV at around 30 mA.
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red_green12 days ago

Uhh, now that I look at this diagram again, wouldn't you want the capacitors in parallel with the NST and the spark gap in series?

have you tried lighting a fluorescent bulb? does it work

gencodeinc4 months ago

Finished my secondary winding, does the bottom of the secondary winding wire connect to anything or should I just cut it off flush to my pvc?

it connects to ground.

Thanks, I assume you mean a grounding rod outside or can I use a wire to the house ground?

derekiswise2 months ago
I am sorry for the stupid question but how do I physically connect the capacitors to the coil. Wouldn't using capacitors with alternating current cause this top cancel out? Could you very a close up picture of how it is connecting. Sorry about this, any help would be great, I am building one this summer
Glenn7815 years ago
 for the love of god do not use 6 snapple  jars with a 15kv 30ma nst you will get about 10 min of run time out b4 1 or more blow!!! all 6 were leaking badly. i think ill try a serise/parallel with 12 of them
HaykD Glenn7814 months ago

Why do they leak? Isn't there any way to prevent leakage. Or how you know that caps are leaking?

Glenn781 HaykD4 months ago

they would leak at the top of the foil with streamers moving to the lip of the bottle at 15kv

HaykD Glenn7814 months ago

But as i see from your picture that they are too far for arcing at 15kv if considering that you need 1kv per 1mm to break the air. Anyway is there a way to correct it?

Glenn781 HaykD4 months ago

there is far more then 1.5 cm gap! It was do to leaking. When it leaks you will see dim looking feelers bleed from the edges of the foil

how many volts will one of the snapple bottles produce?
lol!!! good thing you did cause I have 4 litle girls in my house, is it ok if i use 9 small mouth pint jars instead?

(i only would have done 3)

thanks alot for makeing these instructions.

ps i couldn' comment on the right one so this is for DevCoder
DevCoder (author)  electridanger4 years ago
DevCoder (author)  Glenn7815 years ago

I just fixed the Instructable!
gencodeinc5 months ago

Does the winding direction matter?

Cuanto tiene que medir el tubo de pvc y el de cobre

Also, what wire is used for connecting the NST, capacitors, spark gap, ect...

Also, how can I ground the primary and the secondary coil if they can't be grounded in the same area?

what is the "1.5" PVC screw-thing" used for?

ZariusI6 months ago

You should try to update your directions cause they are hard to understand and how long should are bolts, washers, nuts, wood and PVC pipe should be. Also what is a circular, smooth metallic object for the discharge terminal is what did you use ..maybe a metal bowl. But anyway thanks for making this and tell us were to go for the next Tesla Coil.

gencodeinc7 months ago

Is there an alternative to using Snapple for the capacitor.

gencodeinc7 months ago

Will this work for the secondary coil?


science mad7 months ago
i want to made this i dont have 9kv trans for mer
Luis967 months ago

Can someone please clarify me on this aspect of Tesla Coils: when building one, do we have to calculate anything, like how many windings, or the capacitor's capacitance, or can we just move on without doing any math?

Thank you!

you shouldn't have to calculate the windings, but you might want to find the capacitors capacitance.

How much oil did you use and what kind of wire is that?

I'm doing this for my science fair so I would very much appreciate a quick response please.

CCube5511 months ago
how many for a 3 kv nst? (snaple LEYDEN Jars) And what would happen if I did not have 6 jars...?
azvampyre1 year ago

Do we need a live cat, or can I scrape one off the road. The instructions werent clear on that point.

ChadC11 year ago

What does that cat have to do with a Tesla Coil?

Jknapp252 years ago
It looks like your capacitors are in series, why aren't they in parallel? Also deep should the wire go into the bottle? Does it even matter because the salt water mix is considered the inner plate, the salt is all at the bottom though. Lastly, if the foil is the outer plate, how do you connect a wire to it?

they prevent the coil from short circuiting... :)

current limiting capacitors, not smoothing
stevo-d4 years ago
Ummm, harmful amounts of UV light appears to be visible at your spark gap... I'm no expert here, but from what I've read, you really should have that enclosed for the safety of your eyes... Has been described elsewhere as like watching an arc welder, and use arc welding eye protection if you DO NEED to look at it for any reason.

I would care more about the radiation ;) but youre right, the UV light isnt very healthy for your eyes :P

does this just mean to wear sunglasses during use? If so, I am fine with that.

the current is only ~20mA, essentially the amount of power to drive an led
Your probabally going to get hurt anyway, so it doesent matter. I highly doubt that it is as bright as an arc welder, and will harm your eyes that much
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