Kaizer DRSSTC IV

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Introduction

DO NOT REPLICATE THIS PROJECT!

If you do anyway, be aware of large switching transients that may damage nearby electronics, read this entire article before proceeding.

The idea to this coil came with Steve Ward showing off his first QCW DRSSTC that used a buck regulated DC supply to ramp up the supply voltage along with a long on-time to grow straight and very long sparks compared to the secondary coil length.

I thought it could be done simpler, yet with less control, by using the rising edge of 50 Hz mains supply voltage. From start of the sine wave to the top it corresponds to a on-time of 5000 uS and to be able to use large IGBT bricks the frequency would have to be kept down. Sword like behaviour of sparks is however mostly seen at above 300-400 kHz, where as lower than that results in more branched sparks.

 

Considerations

A high impedance primary circuit is needed to keep peak current at a level that the IGBTs can handle to switch for very long pulses, for a DRSSTC, up to 5000 uS. In order to get enough primary windings, I went for a upside-down U shape primary as a regular helical coil with high enough coupling would quickly get as tall as the secondary coil itself.

To use 3 IGBT bricks in parallel it is important to ensure as even current sharing as possible, this is done by mounting them close to each other on the same heat sink, drive them from the same gate drive transformer with individual gate resistors matched as close as possible.

Steve Wards universal driver 2.1b only has a robust enough 24 VDC section to run up to about 300 uS on-time with large gate capacitance, when trying to run with longer on-times than that, the 24 VDC 1.5 A regulator is now longer enough to supply the needed current. A external 26 VDC 8 A power supply is used instead and output stage will have to be reinforced to conduct higher currents and dissipate more heat.

 

Specifications

Bridge 3x  SKM145GB123D IGBT bricks in a parallel half bridge configuration
Bridge supply 0 – 260VAC through a variac
Primary coil 21 turns of 8 mm copper tubing in a up-side-down U shape
MMC 10 strings in parallel of 10 in series Kemet
R474N247000A1K
 capacitors for 0.047 uF at 9000 VDC, 280 A peak and 40 A rms rating.
Secondary coil 160 mm diameter, 330 mm long, 1500 windings, 0.2 mm enamelled copper wire.
Resonant frequency Around 100 kHz.
Topload 100 x 330 mm spun aluminium toroid.
Input power 10BPS, 500 cycles, 50A limiter: 750W at 260VAC at 3A.
Spark length Up to 500 mm long sparks.

 

Schematic

Bridge section

no images were found

Driver section

Same as Steve Wards universal driver version 2.1b. Just made on single sided PCB without SMD components and the 24VDC part has traces reinforced, MOSFETs heat sinked and uses a external power supply. A external 26VDC / 8 Ampere power supply is used to ensure that under voltage will not be a problem, at least not before something starts to smoke.

 

Construction

31st October 2011
I put the bridge together on a heat sink with 3 phase rectifier used with all inputs in parallel for 1 phase supply and connected all 3 half bridge IGBT bricks in parallel with 3 straight bus bars. All recycled components from a DC link inverter.

Designed staccato PCB as the old layout used in my VTTC I was on a vero board. A optical output was added to use the interrupter with a standard DRSSTC driver.

Started construction of the secondary coil.

2nd November 2011

Etched PCB board for staccato controller.

Finished winding the secondary coil. It was made with a total of 1500 turns of 0.2 mm wire and dimensions 160 x 330 mm. Varnished the secondary coil with polyurethane varnish.

3rd November 2011
The secondary coil was given a second thick layer of varnish, not the most pretty job as I tried to pour as much varnish on as possible and let it rotate and settle it around the coil by itself. As the secondary coil was not completely in level it result in a little running, but overall a fair result of adding a lot of thin varnish.

Finished assembly of the staccato controller and bench tested it.

The project got shelved due to starting on a new job, after a long rest of over 3 years the box with parts was once again brought out in the light and construction could continue.

7th March 2015

Etched driver PCB and started populating the board with all passive components.

6th October 2015

Construction of a very cheap MMC from capacitors that was bought from a 10$ ebay auction for 100x Kemet R474N247000A1K, rated for 900VDC 28 A peak and 4 A rms. A easy and uniform construction, with current sharing in mind, is to construct it around a round piece of wood or plastic tube.

The resulting MMC has a capacitance of 0.047 uF at 9000 VDC, 280 A peak and 40 A rms rating. Which is spot on for this coil to be running with design goal primary inductance of around 100 uH, 300 A peak, 5000 uS on-time and maximum 10 BPS.

11th October 2015

Construction of acrylic primary supports, that has 21 slots and is formed for a up-side down U shape primary coil. A way of getting a large primary inductance and still maintain a certain distance to the topload as the secondary coil is very short.

The supports are made by hand using a saw, file and drill press.

16th October 2015

Getting the coil winded from the inside and out was no easy task, the whole large roll of copper tubing is heavy, easily bends too sharp and is like a spring. It will lock itself in the wrong slots and it can be a very frustrating piece of work. The complete result is however worth the effort, it looks smooth and even.

As the slots was not made to snap the copper tube in, from shear fear of cracking the acrylic, I made a small hole behind each slot that made it possible to tie each turn at each primary support, with a little piece of copper wire it is secured from deforming the coil.

As water cooling of the primary coil is going to be a must with the long on-times, simple clamps was made from copper sheet and two screws the fastens the 4 braided copper flexible wires to the tubing. The same 4 braided copper wires was soldered to the MMC terminals, as even as possible distributed around the circular copper wire terminal.

Having made the MMC on a wooden stick makes it easy to mount with two wooden blocks with holes in for the extra length of the round rod.

29th December 2015

Driver board populated with all active components. 24 VDC regulator is left out as this will be supplied externally from a 26 VDC, 8 A power supply. All traces related to the 24 VDC is reinforced by soldering a 0.5 mm2 copper wire along them. Four 2200 uF 35 VDC capacitors was added to the underside of the board, one at each N- and P-channel MOSFET. All output stage MOSFETs have heat sinks mounted.

All these precautions are hopefully enough to ensure no under voltage or over heating situation is possible when running at 5000 uS on-time.

25th July 2016

The coil have been put together with power supply, bridge, driver, platforms, secondary and topload. Two fuse holders for large bussman fuses was used at the end of the flexible copper braids for primary tap.

7th October 2016

First test of the coil after all the components have been put together, there are still a few things not in place, but it is good enough for initial testing.

The first test is without power on the DC bus. This is solely to test if the driver and power supply is good enough to drive the 3 IGBT bricks’ gates in parallel with a satisfying gate waveform. The following oscilloscope shots show the coil being driven at 5 ms on-time at 100 BPS, corresponding to every rising edge of the half wave rectified 50 Hz mains supply.

The following months, where I had only little time to do more testing, I could not get the coil to run properly with power on the DC bus. I could measure oscillation at the resonant frequency, but nowhere near enough for the coil to actually produce a output ever so slightly or just so small as to light up a close by fluorescent tube.

I tried running the coil with added 6000 uF capacitance, with normal interrupter, with and without DC bus snubber capacitor, with much fewer primary windings etc. I did a lot of changes to it, so it would be more like a regular DRSSTC, than a QCW, little did it help and I did not get much further before putting it away for Christmas holidays.

26th March 2017

After some online discussions as to what the problem could be, and showing off the coil for the first time, it was suggested that the regular 1:1000 cascaded current transformer for feedback was simply not delivering a strong enough signal as a high impedance coil naturally works with a much lower peak current. From the thread on the forum here https://highvoltageforum.net/index.php?topic=24.0 it is decided that I will try to make a new 1:50 turns ratio current transformer to see if increased feedback will help the coil oscillate.

The only capacitance on the DC bus was a 0.68 uF snubber capacitor, this was also increased to a 10 uF capacitor bank of MKP film capacitors. A small amount of energy storage is needed to make the phase correction driver able to run stable.

First light was achieved with some 20 cm long sparks, remember that the coil is far from tuned for maximum performance and the input voltage was only 200 VAC.

1st April 2017

I made a wide range of secondary and primary circuit measurements to find the resonant frequencies, as the U-shaped primary makes it difficult to simulate with tools like JavaTC.

The measurements was done with secondary in place inside the primary. But secondary ground was unconnected and primary circuit was left open loop by removing the tapping point. I am not sure if this is the correct method, as resonant frequencies are much different when measured with secondary ground or primary loop closed, this is because energy is then transferred between the two resonant systems. The results could however vary with 10-20 kHz compared to the open loop measurements…

Secondary circuit test results
Setup with a 80 cm long wire with 3 bend wires hanging over and pointing down to be “branches”. Signal from signal generator connected to ground terminal on the secondary coil, ground left floating. Signal into oscilloscope captured from open loop probe hanging next to secondary coil.

Unloaded result: 101 kHz, 80 cm wire result: 91 kHz and 80 cm wire with branches result: 88 kHz.

Primary circuit test results
Setup with signal generator and oscilloscope connected across the primary LC circuit and with a jumper across the IGBTs to have a closed loop. Signal generator is connected through a 10K resistor.

Primary resonance with secondary ungrounded – 7th turn from bottom 102kHz, 6th turn from bottom 96kHz, 5th turn from bottom 90kHz and 4th turn from bottom 86kHz.

Rest of the measurement results did not have individually saved oscilloscope shots, so here is a overview of the primary tapping frequencies.

I recorded video from oscilloscope and spark formation (dark dark video, blerg, sorry). There are 4 tests where primary is tapped at 96 kHz, 90 kHz, 86 kHz and last at 65 kHz, where it for reasons I still do not fully understand, performed the best! This is a huge detuning compared to the loaded 88 kHz secondary measurements. I also tried all the taps between 86 kHz and 65 kHz, with only increasing performance until I could detune it no further.

The staccato interrupter is not particular stable and does not really give a good clean 5ms on-time, it starts conducting before the zero crossing, possibly due to non-adjusted phase correction on the driver, this will get looked into next time its running. Waveforms are highly distorted, peak currents are low in the magnitude of 50 A peak. (Blue 100V/div inverter output – Yellow 100A/div current – 5-6 ms on-time)

and also some close up pictures of the beautiful sparks, still much shorter than what I expected, but maybe the very high impedance primary circuit just limits the current way too much, future experiments would be with a step up transformer for a higher primary peak voltage.

4th April 2017

From last nights experiments, I think that this idea might work on a small scale, the peak currents drawn by this large coil simply creates too large switching transients.

I tried tuning the coil at 120 kHz and 130 kHz, way above the estimated loaded secondary resonant frequency of 88 kHz. It performed better than ever before at 120 kHz tap, which properly makes a little sense compared to the better performance at 65 kHz, it certainly does seem to be a harmonics pattern here. But I do not think I can tap it any further down on the inner side of the primary coil right now.

There was however also much higher current draw, loud clunks from the variac and lights dimming! The voltage spikes on the mains supply are at levels where my voltmeter was damaged in my variac. This is also why I call quit on the project as it is, its future will be rebuilding it to a conventional, properly PWM controlled, QCW.

I had sparks fly out to about 50 cm as it can be seen in the video

Conclusion

So far the prototype has worked and shown that the concept works. The spark formation is more straight than first anticipated, as most QCW coils operate above 300-400 kHz to get long sword like sparks. It is however clear that the sparks produced by this coil, resonating below 100 kHz, is swirling a lot.

Tuning is very different from a regular DRSSTC where the sweet spot that produces the longest sparks at the lowest current can be within a few centimetre on the primary coil. Here I could get the same performance over a wide span of 60 kHz, tapping the primary anywhere would give me around 30 cm sparks, but it was easy to recognize when a true sweet spot was found, as the very abrupt current draw could be heard clearly from the variac clunking loudly and lights dimming slightly.

The switchings transients are however a great danger to nearby electronics and is of a magnitude where filtering is properly not enough, certainly it is not a solution to add more passive components to counter a problem that can be completely eliminated by using a different topology and have a control scheme that can control a ramped voltage from a capacitor energy storage, like the class D amplifier, phase shifted or PWM controlled QCW coils demonstrated by other Tesla coil builder.

I wanted to try this method, to see if simplicity could do the same job, it could not.

Demonstration

There is not a overall demonstration video yet, but the 3 videos from research development above.

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