BCIT Physics Department

Demonstration Manual

Electricity and Magnetism

DEM59 - Hand-Held Tesla Coil and accessories


- To create an Argon Plasma with the use of high voltage electricity.



Plug the Tesla coil into the isolation transformer. Darken room lights. Hold point of Tesla Coil near bulb base or one of the binding posts. Turn on Tesla coil. Observe multiple "lightning" flashes from the filament to the glass envelope.


  1. The overall effect is 'striking'
  2. An arc may be drawn from the glass to a finger!

The hand-held Tesla coil (Model BD-10a high Frequency Generator) is a variation of a tesla coil. It generates a high voltage at a high frequency. It is intended for intermittent use, no more than a few minutes at a time.

It has an output of between 20,000 to 45,000 volts, at a frequency of approximately 500 kHz. When properly adjusted, when the electrode is held within 6 to 25 mm from a metal object, a spark will jump to the metal. Current output of the spark is about 1 mA.