Re: Mark's Big Coil
Subject: Re: Mark's Big Coil
From: mrbarton-at-ix-dot-netcom-dot-com (Mark Barton)
Date: Thu, 23 Nov 1995 01:59:16 -0800
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> I am curious, as I'd imagine many on this group are, about your
>giant coil. From your description it sounds like it was a very major
>undertaking - both time-wise and financially! From what I know of my
>Colorado Springs Notes, it sounds like your 25 ft. arcs are about as
>the longest Tesla ever reported (point to point).
> Was there some reason for building it other than for pure fun?
Actually, I believe Tesla reported 35 feet point-to-point and 75 feet
if you stretched them out. Yes, the big coil was a large undertaking
in both ways you mention. I did it because I wanted it to be the LAST
coil I ever made. This coiling thing has been a 20 year obsession with
bursts of major efforts going on from time to time. We just wanted to
build something very serious and then go on with our lives with TC's
being a done deal (yeah sure).
We (Steven Goldstein and myself) worked on it solid for about 9 months
at Boss Film Corp. They are a special effects house that did
Ghostbusters, 2010, and a zillion other movies. We had access to their
model shop (lots of good tools and supplies), their parking lot, and
their power. We were invited onto their lot by their pyrotechnic guy,
Thaine Morris (remember the flames up the elevator shaft in "Die
The coil lives horizontally on an 18x8ft trailer. It is raised to
vertical by a hydraulic gantry, and then the trailer is driven away.
The coil assembly stands 2 stories tall, the secondary winding being 4
x 11 feet. The idea was "Have Tesla Coil, Will Travel". We wanted to
build the world's biggest Tesla coil and gig with it. Well, we did do
a few gigs with it, such as the opening of the Nike Campus in
Beaverton, Oregon, and the "Back to the Future III" party on the
Universal lot, where the spark struck the clock tower on request. We
did "Terminator 2" with a much smaller 2.5KVA unit putting out 4
The total cost of the big coil was $30K (choke, gasp, wheeze!) I was
making real good money then and thought the project would pay off. Who
knows, it still might. The coil lay dormant in its trailer with flat
tires (cue violin music) at Boss for the next 5 years. Two weeks ago
we moved it to where Steve is now working. It seems it is to be
resurrected (yay!). Actually, we call the gantry mechanism "the
resurrector". I will keep all informed, and will probably be asking
for tech advice along the way.
I'm lying, I built it for fun.