Step 6: Make the Tesla Spiral Antennas

Picture of Make the Tesla Spiral Antennas
"The Tesla antenna is a form of wireless antenna or wave launching structure developed by Nikola Tesla in which the transmitted energy propagates or is carried to the receiver by a combination of electrical current flowing through the earth, electrostatic induction and electrical conduction through plasma with an embedded magnetic field."
- Gary L Peterson in "Rediscovering The Zenneck Surface Wave"

This is an area for scientific and artistic license. There is still much debate as to what exactly Tesla was up to with his transmission and reception of power systems. ( See Joel Young's blog comments in Design News Magazine on July 8th, 16th and 28th...

I experimented with two types of Tesla antenna design. The first is similar to the flat spiral "Pancake" coil that is seen in several of Tesla's patents. The second is a peculiar "Football" coil made of two cones.

For the basic spiral antenna, I used a 6 foot length of 14 gauge solid copper wire, and bent the wires by hand, coil by coil. I used a needle nose pliers to begin the core spiral, and after a turn or two, gently but firmly worked the wire around with bare hands. I soldered on a short vertical antenna to the centre loop. In retrospect, It would have been better to make the vertical end part with a one piece construction.

Keep working the wire to eliminate kinks and bends, then make sure the coils are evenly spaced. I soldered on the vertical antenna last.
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onewheeltom11 months ago

wire gauge shouldn't matter, right? all I have in thick wire is 10 gauge. Was going to leave the insulation on it, though I could remove it.

mrfixitrick (author)  onewheeltom11 months ago
The wire gage doesn't matter very much for this application. It's best to remove the insulation.

I tired using 14 gauge wire and it is way to flimsy to make a pancake antenna like you are showing in the pictures. Am I doning something wrong or do I need thricker copper?

mrfixitrick (author)  AllenMcG11 months ago

My 14 gage antennas are quite springy and somewhat flimsy, but retain their shape. There may be different alloys of copper wire available. The closer to 100% copper, the softer and more flimsy it will be.

1.) Are you sure it is 14 gage (1.5 mm / .060 inch minimum) and not 16 gage (1.3 mm / .050 inch)?

2.) You can strain the wire first by pulling it over a couple of pipes. The idea is to work-harden the wire, so that it is more stiff to begin working with it.

3.)When making the antenna, pull the wire into a spiral circle on a flat surface, beginning in the centre. The tighter the circles, the better, as it will help harden the wire.

3.) Try using 12 gage wire instead. :)