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Re: [TCML] Muscial tesla coils a gimmick?

I never really thought about this much. I don't really know what drew me to musical Tesla coils but this is an interesting subject that has really forced me to think about where I came from. 

Like many other people, I first began with a couple of spark gap coils because I was too young and inexperienced to try any sort of solid state version. I found them very daunting and beyond my reach (at the time any components I had were salvaged from old circuit boards, so finding exactly the components I needed was very unlikely). I built a few spark gap coils but over time I felt like I wasn't really going anywhere with them. Now I'LL probably get a lot of responses telling me that I am out of line (my apologies in advance), but I found SGTCs rather boring and one-dimensional. That's not to say I didn't have a blast building them, and I most definitely will build more, but in my mind there's not really much of a way to move up with SGTCs.

One day when I was still in high school I was watching videos of Tesla coils on Youtube and I stumbled across one that Steve Ward built and it completely blew me away. Before this video, I had no idea that it was even remotely possible to make a Tesla coil play music:


Naturally I showed this to just about everyone I knew and they also seemed amazed. From then on I had more of an interest in exploring different types of Tesla coils. It was like that video opened up new paths for my relatively new hobby with which I was already getting somewhat bored.

I have currently built a musical DRSSTC, though it uses a very basic driver that requires the pulse widths to be very short. This leads to the very harsh sound that someone just mentioned. I got pretty bored with my musical Tesla coil as it was, so I started designing my own controller for it - this one based around a Xilinx Spartan FPGA. I know it's overkill, but it's what I have available to me. With the added control I will be able to lengthen the pulse widths substantially and soften the musical tone (this has also been done before), as well as adding a wide variety of new features. Anyway, for me I think it's the interest in innovation that keeps me going. There just seems to be more room for new ideas and improvements on solid-state coils than there is on spark-gap coils.

To sum up, I don't really know if it was the musical ability of solid-state Tesla coils that captured my interest as much as it was the idea of a whole new world that that sort of control opened up for my coil building. I hope this makes sense.

Just my $0.02.

Matt, Fairlee VT

-----Original Message-----
From: Steve White <steve.white1@xxxxxxxxx>
To: Tesla Coil List <tesla@xxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Mon, Feb 4, 2019 1:12 pm
Subject: [TCML] Muscial tesla coils a gimmick?

I will probably get a lot of responses telling me that I am stepping on their main interest and to each his own but here goes anyway. Are there others besides myself that think that musical tesla coils are a gimmick? It seems that Youtube is just flooded with these things. I have got to the point where I skip over them. I will admit that it was interesting to hear music played on a TC for a few times, but after that it got old very quickly. In my opinion, using these coils to play music subtracts from the inherent majesty of high voltage generation and discharge. The observers are too busy listening to the music instead of admiring the high voltage fury.  They might as well go home and listen to their stereo. Some might say that the only practical use for tesla coils is entertainment, and I would agree, so why not add music as another dimension of the entertainment? I hear this argument but I just don't agree because music is too distracting. When I have observers stop by dur
 ing Halloween, some of them ask if my coil can play music. I happily say no because it is a spark gap coil even though they probably don't know what I am talking about.

It seems that the ability to play music was an unexpected accidental capability of a DRSSTC when they were first built. I expect I will probably hear from some telling me that the main reason that they built their TC was to play music. What do you think?

Steve White
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
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