MIT students Bayley Wang, Heidi Baumgartner and Daniel Kramnik have developed the oneTesla – a DIY kit for a solid-state MIDI Tesla coil that plays music, shoots 2-foot-long sparks, and teaches you about electronics.
oneTesla consists of several major parts:
- The driver board. This is what powers the whole Tesla coil. It plugs into the wall and sits inside the main chassis.
- The interrupter board. This little board takes a MIDI input, and outputs an optical signal, which travels along a fiber optic cable to the control board. This fiber link is necessary to isolate the high voltage from your delicate music-making electronics. It has a microcontroller that converts the music into an optical signal. The oneTesla interrupter is polyphonic – it can play 2 notes at once!
- The primary coil. A few turns of thick wire on an acrylic form, this coil is directly connected to the driver and excites the secondary and topload.
- The secondary coil. 1800 turns of fine wire on a long, thin form, which gives the Tesla coil its distinctive look.
- The topload. A toroid perched on top of the secondary coil, which forms a capacitor. Together with the secondary coil, it forms a resonant circuit that can build up to extremely high voltages.
Here’s a musical demo of the oneTesla in action:
oneTesla supports input from any MIDI source and can play multiple notes at once. According to the developers, it has stellar performance for its size – up to 23″ of sparks from a 10″ secondary, and at the same time runs off a simple 120V wall outlet.
oneTesla is being developed as a Kickstarter project. The kit is available for $209.