I spent the evening at the Victoria Maker Space playing with the 3-D printer. The result is one of the few pieces I needed to make for my Tesla coil (yes that same tesla coil I’ve been talking about building for the last two years, get off my back mum!).
What is a spark gap?
It’s basically a voltage controlled switch. The way this device works is surprisingly simple, when the voltage is low, no electrons can jump between the air gaps, preventing any current from flowing. When the voltage increases past a certain critical point the current is able to jump across the gap, charging up the primary coil of the Tesla coil.
The balls are brass, which I ordered online and I can adjust the spacing between them pretty easily by sliding them along a track.
Why 3-D print the plastic part?
Short answer? I’m lazy and a better at coding than I am at working with my hands. Using the program OpenSCAD, I was able to design the 3-D shape, from there it was just a matter of tracking down a 3-D printer and using it to print my new toy.