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DRSSTC design guide

Introduction to the guide

This is a guide that aims to explain a few in depth details and best practices that one should have in mind when designing and building a Dual Resonant Solid State Tesla Coil (DRSSTC).

It is not a complete instruction in how to make a entire DRSSTC system work, but food for thought and explanations on why some parts are chosen over others. The lessons learned over the years by other people who built Tesla coils have resulted in some parts being the only one used, just due to the fact that they were used by the original designer and proven to work good.

This guide should hopefully give you an insight to chose among a wider selection of parts for your DRSSTC and that could help on lowering the construction price and time spent looking for parts. The math and calculations used are simplified for practical use.

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Topics of the DRSSTC design guide

  1. Rectifiers
  2. Busbar and primary circuit
  3. IGBTs
  4. DC bus capacitor
  5. PFC (20% done)
  6. Snubber capacitor
  7. MMC / tank capacitors
  8. GDT / driver (20% done)
  9. Secondary coil
  10. Topload
  11. Grounding and EMI
  12. Tuning and testing (10% done)
  13. Featured Tesla coils (0% done)
  14. DRSSTC FAQ
  15. Online design tools

Remember that reading is only a fraction of the learning process. Design, build, blow it up, redesign, rebuild, blow it up again, redesign, rebuild and you are on your way to become a master of lightning 🙂

It is not as simple as pushing a button and receiving lightning, prepare to make an effort yourself.

Thanks to the fellow experimenters that helped me proof read, check data and many of them for providing much of the information and experiences collected in this guide.

You properly found this page from searching for diy tesla coil, how to make tesla coil, tesla coil diy, what is a tesla coil, what is the tesla coil or just tesla coil by itself. You found the right place!

Published January 27, 2015. Updated October 27, 2021.

58 thoughts on “DRSSTC design guide”

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  4. Hi William Hutchinson

    That article currently has a word count of 1700 and my best guess is that is is about 50% done.

    Since you are specifically asking about this article, I would like to give it more focus 🙂 In the mean time, is there anything specific you have a question about, please go register at http://www.highvoltageforum.net and we can take a good discussion there, if you can not find a suitable article to comment on here at my site.

    Kind regards
    Mads

  5. William Hutchinson

    Hey Mads,

    I thought I could go without the article when designing my DRSSTC. I’ve now come to realize I’m hopelessly confused and drowning in equations (oops). I just need to know how to select the capacitance for the MMC.

    I’ve got about 3300 turns of 36AWG wire on a 19″ long 4.5″ diameter PVC pipe.
    The primary is made of the standard flat spiral of 10mm copper tubing.
    The bridge is a full-bridge of IXGN60N60C2D1.
    Fres = 63khz, 500a limit.

    My concern is picking too large/small of a capacitance and exploding my bridge from over current. Any guidance would be greatly appreciated. (In hindsight 15 might have been a little too young to start a project like this)

  6. Hi William Hutchinson

    I do unfortunately not have the MMC chapter done yet, and even if I had, that would not help on the confusion, because you can design a DRSSTC from so many starting points, depending on what you have available, what is cheapest etc.

    Exactly the point of MMC capacitance was discussed a few days back here: https://highvoltageforum.net/index.php?topic=90.msg462#msg462

    Read that and the previous posts 🙂

    Kind regards
    Mads

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  9. Hello Mads,
    First of all thanks for this great guide. As part of a project seminar at our university, I’m building a similar sized Tesla coil as your DRSSTC III, together with two members. Therefore, we have used many tips and advices from your guide. Currently we are building up the power electronics. And that’s exactly where I have a question. In our laboratory we have about 20 IGBTs (1.2 kV / 300 A) in stock. We expect currents in the range of 1 kA, accordingly, we suspect that the IGBTs are a bit too weak for it. Therefore, our current idea would be to connect two IGBTs in parallel (corresponding to a total of 8 IGBTs for the entire full bridge). Do you have any experiences in this regard? On the one hand, we fear that the parallel IGBTs will not switch synchronously, since the gate capacities are not always the same size and this could lead to failure. On the other hand, we are concerned about whether the performance delivered by our controller (UD + from Steve Ward) is large enough to drive the IGBTs in parallel. We would be very grateful for any advice!
    Kind regards from Germany!

  10. Hi Michael

    You can parallel IGBT bricks as long as they share the same heat sink, has individual gate resistors and you beef up the gate driver power supply so that it can not dip in voltage.

    Alternatively you can run with 3 separate briges, primary coils and MMCs, Steve Ward has done this before. I think it was for the Gigantor project.

    I have beefed up a UD2.1 driver by simply removing the the small +24V supply on the board and use a external 26V supply (8A) to switch 3 parallel half-bridges, check out my DRSSTC4.

    Good luck with the project and please come by http://www.highvoltageforum.net and make a thread about your coil, progress and results 🙂

    Kind regards
    Mads

  11. Hi Mads,
    Thank you for your quick and helpful answer! That sounds very good. We will definitely test that. Ah cool, I did not know the forum yet. We are happy to make a thread about our coil when it’s done!

    Kind regards
    Michael

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  15. Hello mads, thank you so much for this guide it had been a tremendous help, I was wondering how far off the gdt/ driver section is, and if you had any tips for designing a full bridge like the one used in your drsstc 1.

    Regards, dmitri

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  53. Diego Martin

    Hi Mads, how are you?
    Every designs use gate transformers for turn on and turn off the IGBT or MOSFET transistors. Whay not use half bridge drivers like IR2104?

    Best regards !
    Diego, from Argentina.

  54. Hi Diego

    High side drivers have its own issues, are more complex and less robust to failures.

    Gate drive transformers are just cheap, easy and robust 🙂

    Kind regards
    Mads

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