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RE: [TCML] Comments please: Book review
I just ordered the book from amazon.com. ($28.04, shipping included).
The table of contents is at amazon. The word ULTIMATE should be omitted
from the title. I don't expect any revelations, but the book should be
on my shelf.
From: tesla-bounces@xxxxxxxxxx [mailto:tesla-bounces@xxxxxxxxxx] On
Behalf Of Chip Atkinson
Sent: Tuesday, January 15, 2008 9:48 PM
Subject: [TCML] Comments please: Book review
Ok, English majors and others...
Here is my review of "The Ultimate Tesla Coil Design and Construction
Guide". I got the book as a review copy, read as much as I could and
wrote a review of the book. Here is the review below.
I'd appreciate any comments ranging from typographical errors to major
questions raised and left unanswered.
Thanks in advance.
Review of Mitch Tilbury's "The Ultimate Tesla Coil Design and
In 2007, on my birthday, I recieved an email from Bettina Faltermeier of
McGraw-Hill asking me if I would be interested in reviewing this book
and posting the information about it on my website. With the prospect
of a minor amount of notoriety and a free book, I naturally said yes.
I promptely received the book and began reading it.
Safety should be always be the first topic when talking tesla coils.
Therefore I will start the review with this subject as well.
Understanding potential sources of danger in tesla coils is the first
step toward safety. After a few pages of introductory material, the
author spends six pages on safety issues, discussing various ways that
one may hurt themselves or others and how to avoid such injuries. I
felt that the topic was covered
to a suitable degree.
Over all, I am quite happy with the book. I did not arrive at this
feeling immediately but rather after thinking about the many aspects of
tesla coils that
the author had to cover in order to make his book complete.
To fully appreciate this book, one must understand the audience to which
this book is directed. It is my opinion that this book is directed
towards intermediate to advanced coilers or those with a background in
electrical engineering or physics.
Like a college physics book, this book is rather dense. It's not light
reading that you can pick up after a long hard day and lose yourself.
Rather, it's a very complete, well researched book that covers every
aspect of making a
tesla coil. If one steps back and looks at the book as a whole, they
can easily see the huge amount of effort expended by Mr. Tilbury in
making his creation as complete and in-depth as possible.
Beginning coilers should purchase this book as well but with the
understanding that much of it will not yet be accessible. Once they
have progressed beyond their first coil and have the desire to improve
their coil and their understanding of how
they work and how to design better coils in the future, they will find
a great reference.
One of the things that I appreciate most about this book is that it is
cross-referenced and well organized. It is easy to find the section,
equation, or graph that will answer your question.
I must confess too that as I started reading the book I had hoped to
from cover to cover. However, I only got as far as page 156. By this
time I relized that I'd better get this review done before McGraw-Hill
started thinking I wasn't going to uphold my end of the deal. However,
I feel that I can still evaluate it based on what I did read.
While I highly recommend this book, my one beef is that the author seems
to have conceded defeat when it comes to making one's own capacitors. As
the author states, "The cost of new commercial high-voltage capacitors
... can present a design challenge for even the experienced coiler".
Much discussion has taken place on the tesla coil mailing list as well
as research by many amateurs into the most economical way to manufacture
home-made capacitors. The current favorite, the MMC or multi-mini
capacitor, seems to be nearly as good as any commercial capacitor. It's
robustness is scalable and my experience is that it's superior to
Many years ago there was a group purchase of purpose-built tesla coil
capacitors from Plastic Capacitors Inc. The voltage rating was higher
than the 14,400 volt distribution transformer that I was using at the
time. I was using a rotary gap and running around 300-500 breaks per
second. The capacitor was a sealed unit without any venting or safety
pressure relief. It was halloween and I had the coil running on the top
of my garage. As it ran, it went silent. In the time it took for me to
wonder what was going on, a tremendous explosion followed. The capacitor
case had blown up. Thinking it was just that one capacitor that was
defective, I swapped in another capacitor of the same model. Within less
than a minute it too blew up. That was over $300 worth of capacitors
gone in an evening.
Later I built an MMC for $240 and it's been much more robust, taking all
that the earlier capacitors took without any problem. I've run the 4
electrode rotary gap at 5000 rpm without incident and the capacitor is
still in good shape.
The author goes into depth about derating capacitors and calculating
their expected life spans and voltage ratings. However, given the cost
and success or failure rate, I feel safe in saying that one can build
their own capacitors that are comparable to or better than commercial
capacitors on the market for slightly lower cost.
I feel that the author could have spent a bit more of his energy on
making one's own capacitors.
That said, I still feel that this book is well worth the price and
should be on the bookshelf of any coiler who wants such a wealth of
information in one volume
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