Building an HV AC capacitor for a tesla coil

In summary, the speaker is a 16-year-old with an interest in building high voltage projects but has no formal education in electronics. They attempted to build an HV capacitor using plexiglass as the dielectric and aluminum foil for plates, but it did not work. They suspect it may be due to accidentally creating a short or using aluminum foil that is not conductive enough. They are seeking help and mentioned a tutorial for making a water bottle capacitor that can handle up to 20kV. They also mentioned that the capacitance of this capacitor is 1842pF and can handle up to 30kV depending on the thickness of the bottle.
  • #1
salter
9
0
I also have a membership at scienceforums.net and posted this to try to figure out what went wrong, but my post has been up for a week with 100 views and 2 replys both saying that they have no idea what I'm talking about. Hopefully I will have better luck here.

Quick introduction: I am 16 years old and i like to build things with high voltage. I have never taken any courses in electronics or physics so all i know is what i have researched on my own, therefore i desperately need a good forum so that i don't kill myself and my projects actually work.

I need to build an HV capacitor somewhere between 1 and 40 nF rated for close to 28k volts to account for surges and gains in the capacitor. so i did some research... eventually i chose plexiglass for my dielectric. I picked up some .093 inch plexiglass at Home Depot, and proceded to cut out 3 inch squares. i then made 2.5 inch circles of aluminum foil using the bottom of a can and alternated between aluminum and plexiglass, lining up the circles to the best to my ability, putting out tabs of aluminum to the right side for the first aluminum circle and then to the left for the second, etc. I hot glued around each plate to prevent contact between plates of the opposite charge. I used 20 plates. I then linked all the tabs on either side by folding them together. i attached the leads of my 10k volt 30mA 60Hz neon transformer to the tabs, then added a second set of wires going off that i could short to discharge the capacitor. I submerged the entire apparatus in mineral oil as an additional precation against arcing.
Well, as I'm sure anyone with any knowledge of basic electronics (not myself) has figured out, it didn't work. I got small sparks off of the secondary wires when i touched them (while the apparatus was plugged in), but not even enough to make an arc. There was nothing after i unplugged it. The capacitor retained no charge. I figure that, of all the possible reasons, two of the most likely are that either: a. i accidentially made a short when building the capacitor (no visible arcs existed) or b. the aluminum foil isn't conductive enough and i should get copper sheets.
i suppose the AC could have something to do with it...
But the bottom line is i don't know why it didn't work. So any help would be appreciated.

P.S. i understand that the capacitor doesn't match my goal of 1 to 40nf, but that was because i decided to test it before i finished. The one i built should have been about .9nF according to my calculations.

Thanks
 
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  • #2
Sorr y didnt read the whole
but this should help you :)

http://www.instructables.com/id/Make_A_Water_Bottle_Capacitor/"


The capacitor is made in like 10 minutes and the one in this tut can handle 20Kv just fine.

capacitance of this bottle capacitor is 1842pF (1.8nF)! That is very high for a cheap high voltage capacitor!


If you need more then that depends on the thickness of the bottle. If the bottle's plastic if flimsy, it can handle about 10Kv to 15Kv. If the plastic is thick and hard, it can handle 15Kv to 30Kv.

But remember the capacitance will keep on increasing :)
but not very much though :)
 
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  • #3
for reaching out to the scientific community for help with your project. It's great to see young people interested in building and experimenting with high voltage devices.

From your description, it seems like you have put a lot of thought and effort into building your HV capacitor. However, there are a few potential issues that could be causing it not to work as expected.

First, using plexiglass as a dielectric may not be the best choice for a high voltage capacitor. Plexiglass has a lower breakdown voltage compared to other materials such as ceramic or mica. This means that at high voltages, the plexiglass may not be able to withstand the electric field and could break down, causing a short circuit. It's possible that this is what happened in your case.

Second, using aluminum foil as the conducting plates may also be causing issues. Aluminum has a lower conductivity compared to other metals like copper or silver. This means that it may not be able to handle the high currents that are necessary for charging and discharging a high voltage capacitor. Using copper sheets may be a better choice for your plates.

Additionally, the design and construction of your capacitor may also be contributing to its failure. It's important to make sure that all the plates are evenly spaced and aligned, and that there are no inadvertent shorts between plates. It may also be helpful to use a multimeter to check for any shorts or breaks in the circuit.

Lastly, the AC frequency of your neon transformer (60Hz) may also be an issue. Tesla coils typically operate at much higher frequencies (around 100kHz), so your capacitor may not be able to charge and discharge effectively at this frequency. You may need to use a different power source or modify your circuit to operate at a higher frequency.

Overall, it's difficult to pinpoint the exact issue without more information and testing. I would recommend seeking out resources or forums specifically for high voltage and Tesla coil enthusiasts, as they may have more specific knowledge and experience with building HV capacitors. Also, be sure to prioritize safety in your experiments and always use caution when working with high voltages. Good luck with your project!
 

Related to Building an HV AC capacitor for a tesla coil

1. How does an HV AC capacitor work in a tesla coil?

An HV AC (high voltage alternating current) capacitor works by storing electrical energy in the form of an electric field between two conductive plates separated by a dielectric material. In a tesla coil, the capacitor is used to store energy from the power source and release it in short bursts to create the high voltage necessary for the coil to function.

2. What materials are needed to build an HV AC capacitor for a tesla coil?

The materials needed to build an HV AC capacitor for a tesla coil include two conductive plates (such as aluminum or copper), a dielectric material (such as ceramic or plastic), and a high voltage power source. Additional materials may be needed depending on the specific design of the tesla coil and the capacitor.

3. How do you calculate the capacitance of an HV AC capacitor for a tesla coil?

The capacitance of an HV AC capacitor can be calculated using the formula C = εA/d, where C is capacitance, ε is the permittivity of the dielectric material, A is the surface area of the conductive plates, and d is the distance between the plates. It is important to note that the capacitance of a capacitor can also be affected by factors such as temperature and the type of dielectric material used.

4. What safety precautions should be taken when building an HV AC capacitor for a tesla coil?

Building an HV AC capacitor for a tesla coil involves working with high voltages, which can be dangerous. It is important to always work with caution and follow safety guidelines, such as using insulated tools, wearing protective gear, and ensuring the power source is disconnected before handling any components. It is also recommended to seek guidance from experienced individuals or resources when building an HV AC capacitor.

5. Can an HV AC capacitor for a tesla coil be reused or repurposed for other projects?

Yes, an HV AC capacitor can be reused or repurposed for other projects that require high voltage storage. However, it is important to note that the capacitance and other characteristics of the capacitor may not be suitable for all projects. It is recommended to consult with an expert or thoroughly research the capabilities of the capacitor before using it for a different project.

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