Mini Tabletop Tesla Coil Powered by an Arc Lighter

Rechargeable Portable Spark Gap Tesla Coil for Science Demonstrations

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This coil was inspired by a build by Jay over at the Plasma Channel on YouTube

I began this adventure while attempting to rebuild a tabletop spark gap Tesla coil I previously used in demonstrations at some Maker Faire's. That coil was a basic spark gap coil using a 12 volt power supply, a television fly-back coil driven by a ZVS circuit and hand rolled high voltage capacitors. My primary goal was to make a small and safe (table top sized) spark gap Tesla Coil with an integral and rechargeable power supply to use for demonstrations at a local science museum as well as in classrooms at local schools.

Since I achieved my primary goal, my new goal is to provide the information for anyone to build a similar coil, including how to change design parameters based on what resources they have available.

I will be posting links to all files and resources used to build this Mini Tabletop Tesla Coil Powered by an Arc Lighter.

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  • JAVATC Calculations for this Mini SGTC

    Tom Meehan12/06/2021 at 02:32 0 comments

    This is a copy of my inputs to JAVATC and the values it returned:  Mini Tabletop SGTC (inspired by Plasma Channel)

    Calculations made using: J A V A T C version 13.1 - CONSOLIDATED OUTPUT

            Units = Inches

            Ambient Temp = 68°F

    Surrounding Inputs:

    • 100 = Ground Plane Radius
    • 0 = Wall Radius
    • 0 = Ceiling Height


    Secondary Coil Inputs:


    • 0.83 = Radius of Secondary
    • 3.5 = Height 1 (start height of winding)
    • 8.5 = Height 2 (end height of winding)
    • 570 = Turns
    • 32 = Wire AWG


    Primary Coil Inputs:


    Helical primary coil form (not a pancake coil)

    • 1.5 = Radius
    • 2.83 = Height 1
    • 3.368 = Height 2
    • 11.0339 = Turns
    • 0.0253 = Wire Diameter
    • 0.0013 = Primary Cap (uF)


    Top Load Inputs:

    Toroid :

    • minor diameter = 1"
    • major diameter = 4"
    • height = 9" (above ground plane)


    Secondary Outputs:


    • 1132.46 kHz = Secondary Resonant Frequency
    • 90 deg° = Angle of Secondary
    • 5 inch = Length of Winding
    • 114 inch = Turns Per Unit
    • 0.00082 inch = Space Between Turns (edge to edge)
    • 247.7 ft = Length of Wire
    • 3.01:1 = H/D Aspect Ratio
    • 40.3133 Ohms = DC Resistance
    • 27605 Ohms = Reactance at Resonance
    • 0.05 lbs = Weight of Wire
    • 3.88 mH = Les-Effective Series Inductance
    • 4.028 mH = Lee-Equivalent Energy Inductance
    • 3.912 mH = Ldc-Low Frequency Inductance
    • 5.091 pF = Ces-Effective Shunt Capacitance
    • 4.903 pF = Cee-Equivalent Energy Capacitance
    • 8.236 pF = Cdc-Low Frequency Capacitance
    • 2.73 mils = Skin Depth
    • 3.764 pF = Topload Effective Capacitance
    • 134.7194 Ohms = Effective AC Resistance
    • 205 = Q


    Primary Outputs:


    • 1132.45 kHz = Primary Resonant Frequency
    • 0 % = Percent Detuned
    • 90 deg° = Angle of Primary
    • 8.67 ft = Length of Wire
    • 140.4 mOhms = DC Resistance
    • 0.023 inch = Average spacing between turns (edge to edge)
    • 0.666 inch = Proximity between coils
    • 0 inch = Recommended minimum proximity between coils
    • 15.193 µH = Ldc-Low Frequency Inductance
    • 0.0013 µF = Cap size needed with Primary L (reference)
    • 0 µH = Lead Length Inductance
    • 29.604 µH = Lm-Mutual Inductance
    • 0.121 k = Coupling Coefficient
    • 0.122 k = Recommended Coupling Coefficient
    • 8.26 = Number of half cycles for energy transfer at K
    • 3.62 µs = Time for total energy transfer (ideal quench time)


    I'm putting together a few diagrams to make values like major and minor diameter of toroid, as well as the various heights mentioned.  There may be some missing dimensions (like insulation on wire in primary coil)  but I will add these.

  • Parts for my Arc Light Powered Tabletop Tesla Coil Design

    Tom Meehan11/22/2021 at 05:52 0 comments

    My parts and design for Arc Lighter Powered Tabletop Tesla Coil:

    • Arc Lighter
    • 32 Gauge Magnet wire (Remington, cat.#32SNSP.25 – Solderable Polyurethane w/ Polyamide Overcoat, Diameter 0.0087”, bare wire thickness 0.00795” so spacing between windings ideally close to 0.00075”)
      • winding height for 570 turns equals 4.96”
    • Primary Wire (Gauge and diameter of insulated wire)
      • multicore xx guage wire with 0.x” insulation
    • Capacitors – 39000pF, 3kVDC, Polypropylene (Panasonic ECW-HC3F392J)
      • 3 in series 1.3nF 9KV capacitor bank
    • Diodes for Full Bridge Rectifier 2CL2FL 15KV 100mA 100nS High Voltage Diode ( )
    • 3mm expanded PVC sheet
      • 3 x 5"x5" squares
      • 4 x 1/4" hex machine screws 3" length
      • 12 x 1/4" machine nuts
      • 4 x 3/8" long nylon spacers with 1/4" I.D. hole 
    • Aluminum foil tape (for ground plane and to cover top-load)
    • Momentary button (SPST)
    • Primary coil – form, windings, height, etc. (3D printable parts with link in parts tab)
    • Secondary coil - form, 1.5” PVC (xx” OD) by xx” Height, 570 windings, etc.
    • Ground Plane (aluminum foil on bottom of lowest expanded PVC base/support)
    • Top-Load (3D printed toroid covered in aluminum tape)
      • I tried many different dimensions of spherical, torroidal and disc shaped top-loads
        • I prefer the look of torroidal top-loads but other shapes with similar capacitance should also work.
      • I should note that I did not take into account the thickness of the aluminum tape in the final dimensions of the top-load and this likely effects the reasonant frequency of the secondary coil!
      • Wiring for connecting parts (22 AWG single core wiring)

  • Plasma Channel's List of Parts

    Tom Meehan11/22/2021 at 05:49 0 comments

    Plasma Channel’s parts and design for Arc Lighter Powered Tabletop Tesla Coil:

    • Arc Lighter (can use other ones too):
    • Secondary Coil Wire - 32 gauge magnet wire:
      • BNTECHGO 32 AWG Magnet Wire - Enameled Magnet Winding Wire - 4 oz - 0.0078" Diameter
        • This 32AWG enameled magnet wire description states that it is 0.0078” diameter while un-insulated 32 AWG magnet wire is 0.00795” (enamel insulation would make it even thicker)
    • Primary Coil Wire:
      • Woods 0453 Bell Wire, 24/2, 50-Feet
        • AWG 24
        • no information on thickness of insulation
    • Capacitors: 39000pF, 3kVDC, Polypropylene
      • 3 in series 1.3nF 9KV capacitor bank
    • Diode :
    • Acrylic discs:
    • Nylon spacers:
    • Aluminum foil tape (counterpoise/for ground plane):
    • Primary Coil (diameter, height of start of coil)
      • # Turns = 8.5
      • no diameter for coil (or the distance between the primary and secondary)
      • no height for start of winding
      • no insulation thickness (so no spacing between turns)
    • Secondary Coil (1.25” I.D. equal to 1.66” O.D., height of start of coil, total winding height and number of windings)
      • 1.66” O.D. x about 4” height (as per video description)
        • 570 turns of the above 32 AWG enameled magnet wire (by calculation this equals 4.53” winding height – a half inch past the 4” length recommended coil form)
      • no height for start of winding
      • no height for placement of top-load
    • Top-Load
      • no dimensions given
      • no information on capacitance
      • nothing on distance from top of secondary windings
    • Ground Plane (aluminum foil on bottom of lowest acrylic base/support)

    What I used from Plasma Channel’s design in my Final design

    • capacitor bank
    • basic secondary coil dimensions (same form, AWG magnet wire, # of windings)
    • HV diodes (but used a full bridge configuration)

    For a more classic Tesla Coil look I redesigned the coil with a toroid for the top-load.

    Details, build instructions and links to 3D Printed parts, etc. coming very soon!

  • Inspiration from Plasma Channel

    Tom Meehan11/20/2021 at 22:13 0 comments

    I really love the high voltage projects Jay shows on Plasma Channel ( ). While it is sometimes difficult to replicate some of his designs they still provide excellent ideas and inspiration.

    Since I am frequently inspired by the content he produces I always keep my eye out for new projects he posts and that is how I came across his build of an arc lighter powered spark gap Tesla Coil.

    In attempting to replicate his build of an arc lighter powered spark gap Tesla Coil I ended up encountering a few Issues – the main one being that calculations based on his design didn’t seem to work out right.  In addition, missing information made it even more difficult to replicate:

    • top-load (what was used was some sort of drawer pull - no actual dimensions given).
      • no specifics on the distance from the top-load to the secondary coil windings
      • no estimated capacitance of top-load
    • no information on coupling between the primary and secondary coils or even just the distance between the 2 coil forms

    I did attempt to work around these issues since he did provide the capacitance of the primary tank circuit (capacitor bank) and the inductance of the secondary circuit (coil form dimensions including height of windings and wire gauge).

    In the end I designed a new coil based on the secondary coil geometry and the primary capacitance from Plasma Channels design since I had already made these 2 elements.  I also used the same High Voltage diodes that he listed except that I changed that portion of his power supply from a single diode rectifier to a full bridge rectifier (in the hopes of increasing power to the primary coil).

    To check all calculation's and optimize the design I used JavaTC.   

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