oneTesla shrinks its singing Tesla coil kit to palm-friendly proportions
By Paul Ridden
August 5, 2014
The folks who successfully crowdfunded a DIY singing Tesla coil kit last year have taken to Kickstarter again to bring a smaller version into production. Like its older and bigger brother, the tinyTesla shoots out bolts of artificial lightning while playing MIDI music using the electricity itself. It looks like that polyphonic MIDI version of Danger High Voltage by Electric Six might just come in handy after all.
As with the original coil kit, the aim of the tinyTesla kit is to make learning about electronics fun. This time around though, Bayley Wang, Heidi Baumgartner and the rest of the oneTesla team say that the new addition is even easier to assemble, as well as being a good deal shorter (it's about 6 inches tall).
The DIY coil kits will be made available in two versions: one for coilers who can handle a soldering iron and a solderless tinyTesla for folks who'd rather such things were done for them. Some helpful tutorials have been uploaded to oneTesla's YouTube channel, and there are plans to add more soon.
The tinyTesla is a solid-state Tesla coil that's said to offer a balance of performance, musical ability and reliability. It features a non-resonant primary coil, a pre-wound resonant secondary that's topped by an aluminum toroid topload, and a 3-inch circular control board powered by Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistor (IGBT) half-bridge inverters running on a 340 V bus sits atop a hedgehog heat sink. The device is available in both 110 and 220 V versions.
An interrupter connects to the tinyTesla by fiber optic cable and converts polyphonic MIDI audio files from a computer (or instrument) connected via USB into pulses of light that switch the entire coil on and off at frequencies within the audio range we can hear. The video below shows a tinyTesla taking care of business with some chirpy pirate music.
In response to feedback from builders of the first version, the oneTesla team has also produced a 12-inch TS dual-resonant solid state model "with a focus on reliability, portability and usability." It has its own MIDI-in port for direct interfacing with MIDI devices, but can also be connected to a computer via the included USB adapter, and supports MIDI features like note sustain and pitch bend. It's also designed to produce long sparks.
The current Kickstarter campaign smashed through its funding target in less than 12 hours, and ends on August 15. The first three rounds of rewards have all gone, so backers will now need to pledge at least US$149 for a tinyTesla kit with delivery estimated for January 2015, or $399 for a TS with December 2014 delivery, assuming all goes to plan.
Thanks to a few stretch goals being reached, a few extra features have been added to both devices (including a fixed frequency mode and SD card support).
Have a look at the pitch video for the educational Tesla coil kit below.