Tesla Coil Setbacks

I just finished posting a reply to Ed Sonderman who lost a
tank circuit capacitor and most of his neon sign power supply
over the weekend. He did this while working towards peaking out
his brand new six inch system where the only components that he
did not design and/or hand-craft from scratch were the neons and
his variac. A capacitor failed while the system was producing
discharges up to 50 inches in length at 1.4 kVA with a secondary
winding of only 6 x 27 inches.

I can understand the frustration of seeing newly completed
components and subsystems go literally up in smoke. It has
happened to me many, many, many times: capacitors, coils, power
supplies, more coils, more capacitors, more power supplies.
If I had saved all of my smoked components in a pile, I would
literally need a pickup truck to get them to the dump.

This is not to say that this has to be repeated by every coiler
that comes along. I really do my best to pass what I have learned
on to others so that they may avoid some of the more common, and
easier to remedy, errors. Still, there is no substitute for
experience, and that means converting some Tesla components
(mainly neons) into "boat anchors". BTW, my brother who enjoys
Radio Controlled airplanes managed for several years to convert
at least two planes a season into kindling wood; at about $250.00
a plane, plus untold hours in construction and finishing. It took
him two or three planes in a row just to get a 20 minute
continuous flight as a beginner; now he instructs others.
But back to the hobby at hand: Tesla Coiling involves the art of 
producing, and to an extent controlling, enormous peak powers. 
Only experience can guide the advancing coiler as to how much
stress his equipment can take and for how long it can take it.
In order to learn the limits of the envelop, you must exceed it a
few times. Gradually over time (and with the experience gained)
the losses of equipment diminish as peak powers, spark lengths,
and run times, increase. 

And to you Ed Sonderman, don't be too discouraged. Your system
is basically intact, and power level tested. The bottom line is
you produced in excess of four feet of spark discharge at under
1.5 kVA. There are coilers out there who have been building coils
for years that have not produced four feet of spark, and others
who did but spent twice as much on coils that were three times as

Richard Quick

... If all else fails... Throw another megavolt across it!
___ Blue Wave/QWK v2.12