PowerLabs Rotary Spark Gap.
After a most enlightening conversation over the #Tesla_Coil
IRC chat channel with the expert Tesla Coil builder Terry Fritz, it became clear
to me that, if the POWERLABS Tesla Coils were ever to achieve their maximum
possible efficiency, a synchronous rotary spark gap would be necessary; As
efficient as multi section vacuum quenched linear static gaps may be (they are,
in fact, considered by many to be the the most efficient Tesla Coil static gap),
they still lack control over the firing cycle: In theory the transformer would
fully charge the capacitor twice during the AC cycle: Once at the positive peak
of the sine wave, and the second time at its negative peak; and in theory, the
gap would be set so that it would only fire at these maximum (peak) values...
But reality is other, and as oscilloscope waveforms show, partial ionization, localized
electrode vaporization, gap heating, and several other factors cause static gaps
to fire erratically and somewhat unpredictably, leading to the need of choosing
smaller tank transformers and sometimes even leading to over voltage of neon
sign transformers. Also, with static gaps running at high powers, continuous
duty quickly causes performance to deteriorate once the gap begins to overheat.
The synchronous rotary spark gap represents the leading edge of high voltage power switching technology. It is capable of firing each time at exactly the same place in the AC cycle, as its rotational speed is locked in synchrony with the AC sine wave feeding it. By utilizing such gaps in a Tesla Coil system, it is possible to choose the largest possible tank capacitor, and be sure that the transformer will have it fully charged every time the electrodes line up. With the SRSG, it is possible to obtain the true maximum performance a Tesla Coil system can deliver.
Below you will find the fully documented POWERLABS SRSG construction effort:
motors are very different from those found in electro domestic appliances or on
electric tools. Back in the old days they were used on some sewing machines or
even on reel-to-reel tape decks, but they are virtually impossible to obtain
nowadays. Or so a thought, for after several months looking for one in surplus
shops and electronic stores, I was about to try my chances milling grooves on
the armature of a non synchronous motor in an attempt to make it suit my needs.
The process is not overly complicated but it would be rather difficult to do
without specialized tools. Well, to my surprise I happened to run across not
one, but rather two boxes full with at least 30 such motors! The price made it
all the more attractive: Being sold as junk, those motors were going for $25 a
piece! I didn't think twice before buying one. This particular model has the
115V at 0.65A (62W) input. 25W power output
Constant Duty cycle, thermally protected. 1900RPM.
It was impossible to determine what kind of machine it came from; however, the fact that it had a 1:36 gearbox attached to it seems to indicate it was meant for some kind of slow, repetitive work... Maybe draw curtains for a stage? Beats me... Well, being useless for my needs, the gearbox and its attachment plate were thrown away, and the motor was disassembled, as can be seen to the right. It is interesting to note that the armature (the shiny metal cylinder below the coils) consists merely of a metal cylinder! This is odd for someone who is used to rotating magnets found on DC or on rotating electromagnets on AC motors. On close inspection both the armature and the coils were found to be rusted, and covered with some sort of black solidified dirt which also found itself all over the other motor parts. Hence everything was carefully dismantled and cleaned with water and soap (for the non electrical parts) or ethanol (for the coils). Finally everything was given a metal coat and the ball bearings were re-greased with some light engine grease. Here is what the motor looks like now, reassembled. Its dimensions are approximately 12 X 10cm, and I reckon it weights around one kilogram.
Because this is a rather low power motor, everything will have
to be kept as light as possible, and yet sturdy enough to handle up to 5kW. I am currently considering a 15cm (6")
diameter, 8mm (1/4") thick polycarbonate disk with eight 3cm (1.2") long,
6mm (1/4") diameter thoriated tungsten electrodes press-fitted into it.
Static electrodes will probably be two, made from the same material but mounted
on tall heat sinked brass blocks. The entire assembly should be polycarbonate
(bullet proof polymer), depending on the price of that material.
Currently being designed. $$$ needed for the polycarbonate disk and I need someone to cut the tungsten rods for me since I don't have a table saw with a tungsten carbide cutting wheel...
Questions? Comments? Suggestions? Don't hesitate to e-mail me!
visits since 03/05/00
Last updated 11/02/10
� 2000 - 2002 by Sam Barros. All rights reserved.
Removing any material from this site for display without consent from its author consists in an infringement of international copyright laws and can result in fines up to $50000 per infringement, plus legal costs. So ASK ME before you remove anything from here.