A SCIPP Presentation

What is a Tesla Coil?

The Tesla Coil is used to produce fantastic high voltage long sparking displays. It takes the output from a 120vAC to a several kilovolt transformer and driver circuit and steps it up to an extremely high voltage. Voltages can get to be well above 1,000,000 volts and are discharged in the form of electrical arcs. Tesla coils are unique in the fact that they create extremely powerful electrical fields. Large coils have been known to wirelessly light up florescent lights up to 50 feet away, and because of the fact that it is an electric field that goes directly into the light and doesn't use the electrodes, even burnt-out florescent lights will glow. To learn more about Tesla Coils check out the resources in our Links page.

Our Tesla Coil

UCSC Tesla Coil Outreach Program has a Model S-5 Tesla Coil system that is a high efficiency Tesla Coil capable of producing electrical arcs greater than 5 feet (1.5 meters) in length. Model S-5 is unique in that it requires less than 2.4kW of input power at maximum output. The Tesla Coil that we have was built by UCSC student who started building them at the age of 12.

The UCSC Tesla Coil can be brought to your school for a spectacular high-voltage display with other awesome educational demonstrations!

As with most high-voltage electrical equipment, safety precautions must be taken to ensure safe usage of this device. All users of this apparatus must be familiar with high voltage electrical safety. Be sure to read all safety information if considering having a tesla coil demonstration at your school. This information is intended to supplement your own prior knowledge of high-voltage electrical safety, and does not in itself contain all information necessary to ensure safe operation.

Despite the frightening appearance of the arcs emitted from Model S-5, in many ways they are actually the safest form of electricity associated with the Tesla Coil system. If wired properly, the main output from smaller Tesla Coils poses little danger to a healthy person. If an arc directly strikes the skin, it gives a somewhat painful shock, as well as a small burn, but poses very little risk of permanent injury. There are a number of possible demonstrations that the UCSC staff will perform.

If you have any questions about any safety issues, scheduling a demonstration, or any other topics regarding the UCSC Tesla Coil, please contact us.

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