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Re: [TCML] Tesla Gun

A) thats is truly awesome, i wish i had close to your understanding of solid state circuitry. 
B) You do not want that RF current going through you, esspecially since you know its 1A?!? 30mA can stop your heart so its really not a good idea at all to tempt fate here. 
With RF currents what happens is you don't feel it because of the high frequency, but its still flowing slowing cooking your nervous system or blood vessels which are typically more conductive than the rest of you. 
I recommend you invest in some high strand count wire somewhere in #10 to #6 gauge range (for superior flexibility and break resistance, check mcmaster carr they have everything ) and run a wire to each foot plate that way you have the highly conductive wire as a nice alternative to your body, meaning the overwhelming majority of the current will flow through the wire leaving micor or nano amps flowing through you. Allowing you to still be mobile =) 

pl ug this term into mcmaster Continuous-Flex Wire 
392° F High-Voltage/High-Flex Wire 

and you will see what i mean 

John "Jay" Howson IV 

"Why thank you, I will be happy to take those electrons off your hands." 

----- Original Message -----
From: "Steve Ward" <steve.ward@xxxxxxxxx> 
To: "Tesla list" <tesla@xxxxxxxxxx> 
Sent: Monday, June 18, 2012 3:15:20 PM 
Subject: [TCML] Tesla Gun 

Hi Guys, 

Recently got a project running here thats been a lot of fun. Well, as 
fun as fiddling with electronics stuff gets... I think this one 
certainly pushes the state of the art in terms of tesla coils driven 
by electronics! I'll cut to the chase with a link to some pictures of 
the device: 


Where to begin... 

Essentially its a DRSSTC that runs extra long pulses to grow sparks at 
a low voltage of about 55kV pk. I believe the reason the sparks stay 
pretty straight instead of splitting is that the low voltage allows 
growth only with negative coronas, which have been shown to make 
branchless sparks, whereas positive coronas tend to branch. But this 
is merely my speculation! I've not seen any research on spark 
development under these conditions (~400khz). 

In order to maximally control the straightness of the sparks, the 
electronics driving the primary circuit are fairly sophisticated. 
Essentially im using a "phase shifted full bridge", where 1 leg of 
the AC output is perfectly in phase with the primary current (so it 
experiences wonderful zero current switching), but the other leg of 
the AC output is phase shifted, which essentially controls the drive 
voltage. If the 2 AC legs are 0 degrees phase, then the effective 
output voltage (differential mode) is zero. If the 2 AC legs are 180 
degrees, then the entire 395V is applied to the primary circuit. So 
what happens is the phase is "ramped" over a period of about 17mS in 
order to gradually drive more and more power into the coil. This 
allows for growing long straight sparks that do not branch. If the 
voltage (or phase) is ramped too quickly, the sparks become very 
forked and jagged, forming multiple branches in 1 shot. This 
parameter is of course tweakable during operation ;-). 

The bridges themselves utilize some cheap little IGBTs (FGH60N60SMD). 
Each bridge has been tested to 60A peak, hard switched (due to the 
phase shifted bridge control) for 17mS pulse durations at 400khz. The 
calculated thermal rise for the die is 52*C during such a pulse. 
Luckily real operation is not this harsh. 

The output of 2 bridges (operating synchronously) is combined through 
a pair of transformers, with the secondary windings in series. Each 
transformer is wound 6:3, so with 2 combined, its a 1:1 ratio. The 
reason for doing this is 1) i can ground one end of the primary now, 
and 2) it absolutely forces equal current sharing between the 2 

Power is derived from a 22.2V 5000mAHr LiPo battery, the type used for 
RC helicopters. It only lasts for about 8 minutes of continuous fun 
as the DC-DC converter uses about 700W. The DC-DC conversion itself 
is a resonant type converter used very commonly for capacitor charging 
supplies, as its short-circuit tolerant. The DC bus for the bridges 
is then 395VDC with 20,000uF of storage capacity. One spark eats up 
200-250 Joules of this capacitors energy, so even 20k uF is a bit 
insufficient, the DC voltage drops by about 30V at the end of the 17mS 

Another interesting feature of this system is a secondary MMC. That 
is, there is a string of 72 x 1.2nF 700VAC capacitors INSIDE of the 
secondary coil. This capacitor adds about 17pF to the coil. There 
are a few reasons for this. 1) due to the gigantic streamers this 
thing produces, detuning is a serious issue, so the coil needs to have 
a pretty decent amount of self capacitance. 2) more Csec drops the 
impedance of the coil, which seems to improve spark growth behavior. 
3) adding more energy storage to the secondary coil means slightly 
less circulating current in the primary. The way i think of it is 
that the system Q probably stays about the same, but since there is 
more energy in the secondary, there is less stored in the primary. 
This capacitor also provides convenient measurement of the toroid 
voltage by measuring the current through this capacitor only. This is 
where i obtained the 55kV number, which is in good agreement with 
previous direct HV measurement of my last QCW system using a Jennings 
HV vacuum cap divider. So indeed, the voltage is low. 

The primary coil is wound with home-made Litz wire. 4 bundles of 4 
strands of 24awg were twisted such that each strand sees the outside 
equally. Its important to do this, otherwise strands that remain 
burried inside the bundle will not carry their share of current. This 
is more surface area than 1/4" copper tubing at a fraction of the size 
and weight. Only needed about 18 feet of the litz, so it wasnt a big 
deal to make it using a drill with a jig. 

Grounding for the system is questionable! To be totally un-tethered, 
i have a pair of shoes with steel mesh on the bottom for contact with 
the floor (dont stand on anything flammable!). My body is charged to 
a few kV with the 2.5A of secondary ground current. Generally, 
though, i prefer to add an additional connection to mains ground. The 
current into mains ground is about 1.5A, meaning my body capacitance 
is still seeing about 1A in this condition. I'm uncertain of the 
effects of this current through my body (it must primarily go through 
my right arm, which is gripping the conductive gun grip which is the 
only connection between me and the electronics). Anyone have any 
research on RF currents in the human body? People expose themselves 
to pretty similar fields when playing with SSTCs and VTTCs, just being 
up close to the secondary coil must induce quite a bit of current in 
them (according to the mutual capacitance between the person and the 

Well, im sure i forgot to describe certain aspects of the project, so 
ask questions if you like. 

Steve Ward 
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