some questions about tc design

i was foolin around on the internet one day, and i came across a home brewed 
tesla coil page. it immediately caught my fascination, and for the past few 
weeks i've been cruising the tesla coil webring, reading all the information 
i possibly could, and i almost think i'm about ready to start designing my 
own coil.

I worked alot around high voltage when i was in the navy (as an electronics 
technician), and finally i might be able to put some of that education to 
use ;). I'm going to start small, but i'd like to throw a few ideas, and get 
some information, or some links.

first up, before i even think about starting construction, i need to think 
about protecting my mains :). This is one area that i haven't been able to 
find a whole lot of information on, just a few ascii-sketches. does anyone 
have any circuit schematics for keep the RF away from the power supply? I'd 
like to find a few circuits that have been tested, and are known to work 
before i try designing my own (and find that i've just blown up every 
electrical appliance in the house).

For the power transformer, i have several old computer monitors laying 
around. i was curious if anyone has/had hacked one up and use the flyback 
transformer inside as a supply.

for the capacitor, i was thinking about going with a plate-style design 
(since i dont have a fish tank laying around). any recommendations on 
materials? right now it looks like heavy-duty ziplock storage bags, aluminum 
foil, and a whole mess of mineral oil.

i dont think my spark gap is going to be that fancy (for my first project 
anyways). possibly some of the 1" copper tubing i've got laying around, in 
series. when i manage to free up some funds (and i've got my first coil 
working), i wouldn't mind trying to replace the gap with a hv circuit (maybe 
with a few power fets or something). i'd like to talk to anyone whos done 
this, mainly about aquiring the components. I doubt radio shack carries a 
ton of HV components :).

I still have yet to design the primary/secondary. I'll do that this weekend 
(hopefully i can get my hands on some of that software to help me out). any 
thoughts on a good diameteter/length for a small coil project? i was 
thinking 4" dia and 16-18" long. dont have any materials for the primary 
laying around unfortunately, so it'll have to be store bought *sigh*.

I'm not going for any kind of spark length on this one. if i can get the 
thing working, i'll be happy. once its working, i'll upgrade/redesign 
components as needed to get to an impressive spark length.

anyways, nothing is down on paper yet (i plan on doing that this weekend). 
hopefully before the end of the month i'll be almost finished constructing 
the individual components, and on my way to putting them all together and 
tuning it. *joy*.

any thoughts/ideas/useful links would be appreciated,although i've read 
about 1000 tesla pages (yes, about a thousand...i've been reading up for 
about the last week about 6-8 hours a day), and all of them provided a 
little more insight into construction, but most just had pictures (which 
make me drool at the thought of being able to do that myself ;)) and some 
stats on the persons coil.

after i get this coil finished, i think i'm going to do some work on 
experimenting with uses for it (and getting it down as small as possible, 
eventually). the mad scientist inside of me is screaming that there must be 
thousands upon thousands of uses for a few megawatts of power ;).

and so another eccentric soul joins the world of high voltage fun (god, my 
girlfriend is gonna freak out *insert insane cackling here*).
sorry for the long post, but its usually not till i'm about this hit the 
"SEND" button before i look back and it says 'message size : 8k' and realize 
i've written a small book :).

btw...anyone use thier tesla coil to power various HV devices? rail guns, 
lasers, etc? just curious :).

(alex-at-xecu-dot-net if you want to send an email to me)

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