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What do I need to know to build high voltage projects. Answered

Hello everybody.  I have, over the course of the last few months, had a growing desire to build a tesla coil.  It is something that I have always been interested in and I have decided to give it a go this summer.  However, from what I have read, it is very dangerous to just jump in to building high voltage projects when you don;t have any real experience in working with these kind of things.  Which is why I have come here.  With building a Tesla Coil (specifically a musical one) as my ultimate, or final, goal, what steps should I take to learn more about the process, circuits, and high voltage before beginning the attempt?  I am willing to do any kind of smaller project, read up on as much as I need to, and take as much time as necessary to be safe.  If anyone has links to somewhere I can read up on the info I will need to know and places to begin, that would be super helpful! 


Why not start with something a little more forgiving but still very high voltage and build a vandegraf generator.

Lots of build projects on the interweb and it's not likely to kill you or anyone else.

As for the tesla coil I admire your ambition but as the old saying has it - "if you have to ask" (you probably don't know enough about basic electricity to build it.)

there are a multitude of smaller projects here that will give you a basis of electrical and electronic knowledge.

  1. Important fact is that It tale very very little voltage and current to kill you - really kill you and it will totally spoil your day. Most people will quote someone who has had mains electricity shocks and is still fine and walking round. True but it only takes a small change in the circumstances to have made that shock fatal - they were lucky.

As an electronics engineer in my 20's I received a 10,000 volt shock at a few milliamps, fortunately across my hand and arm and not my heart. I flew across the room in a reflexive action, banged against the wall knocking myself out and spent 2 days in hospital with concussion. It's not always the shock that hurts.

That's exactly why I asked here. I realize that I have a long ways to go before building a Tesla Coil will be a possibility. I will take a look at the generator project. It looks interesting.

You really need to know what voltage you're working with and how far it can jump in free air.

Generally voltage above 1000V can jump through clothing so one hand in the pocket isnt going to save you here.


4 years ago

Start with one hand in your pocket whenever

you switch on the power to a project !!!!!!!!!!!


I think the really important thing is to just not touch anything while it's turned on.

In the event that you really want to poke, or prod, something in your scary high voltage circuit, the best way to do this is by using a big, long, insulating, plastic stick (also called a "chicken" stick).

Hold the chicken stick with one hand, and place the other hand in your back pocket. This is a posture that will avoid making a path for current that goes up one arm and down the other, and thus across your chest. Or at least that's the idea.

It's probably safer just to not touch anything while it's turned on.

Somewhere on this internet thing, I think noticed a forum that was pretty much nothing but homemade high voltage projects, and it was called:


I have not ever been a member of that place, but if there was somewhere on the web that might be able to tell you everything you need to know, it might be 4HV.