Posted on Feb 4, 2014

A low-voltage demonstration Tesla coil using a solid-state photovoltaic relay to replace the conventional spark gap has been analyzed and then built. This relay incorporates an isolated LED to illuminate a silicon photovoltaic stack which drives a bidirectional FET. Component values for the inductances and capacitances have been determined theoret

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ically from measured parameters. Computer simulation by integrating the coupled circuit equations shows excellent agreement with oscilloscope traces. Energy transfer between the primary and secondary circuits is demonstrated, along with continuous secondary oscillations after the primary circuit is interrupted. This low-voltage design is easier to build and diagnose than high-voltage Tesla coils. Nikola Tesla invented the Tesla coil late in the nineteenth century, exploring many high-power variations in his Colorado Springs laboratory (1). They were all basically air-cored high-frequency transformers, generating very high voltages. Many of his experiments were complicated, using large coils made with heavy copper wires to conduct very high currents. His high-voltage capacitors used hundreds of salt water-filled Leyden jars made from the local Manitou Springs mineral water bottling plant. Tesla documented his achievements with multiple-exposure photographs which show his small wooden building filled with curved sparks up to 40 m in length. Using spark length is how Tesla often diagnosed his experiments. Tesla`s ultimate goal was to generate high enough voltages that he could transmit useful electrical power freely through the atmosphere. One contemporary account claimed he succeeded in sending enough power to energize a bank of light bulbs 40 km away (2). However, he never completed his final and largest experiment on Long...

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