TESLA COIL ON PCBS
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Author Andrei
06/05/2019
Hmm, a tesla coil on a pcb? Well, yes, tesla coil that can generate 5cm arcs into the air, powered from my 5V 3A USB C laptop jack. The tesla coil enumerates as a USB MIDI device and can be used from any synthesizer software like LMMS or Ableton. This project was posted by Niklas Fauth on this hackaday post. Instead of the usual tall coil that we see always and doughnut-shaped capacity ball on top it took the form of 3 PCBs with spacers between them, and because Tesla coils are simply cooler that way, he had it playing music as an impromptu MIDI-driven plasma-ball lousdpeaker. Now he’s been able to write up the project we can take a closer look, and it makes for a fascinating intro not only to double-resonant Tesla coils but also to Galium Nitride transistors.

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If you are planning to make a coil, the limiting factor on Tesla coils comes from the abilities of a transistor to efficiently switch at higher frequencies. Few designs make it above the tens of kHz switching frequencies, and thus they rely on the large coils we’re used to. A PCB coil can not practically have enough inductance for these lower frequencies, thus Niklas’ design employs a very high frequency indeed for a Tesla coil design, 2.6 MHz with both primary and secondary coils being resonant. His write-up sets out in detail the shortcomings of conventional MOSFETS and bipolar transistors in this application, and sets out his design choices in using the GaN FETs.

The device he’s using is the TI LMG5200 GaN half-bridge driver, that includes all the necessary circuitry to produce the GaN FET’s demanding drive requirements.


We can see here the layout of the PCBs and all the small components he used. The top PCB is just a huge coil made with the copper ont eh PCB. For more info you could wathc the vide they posted on YouTube and see the music example with this awesome coil. The idea is brilliant. The design files can be found in a GitHub repository as well that they share in that video description.

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Blog#63 - TESLA COIL


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