: I have a small Tesla Coil that plugs into a regular household outlet. I
: want to do an experiment where a group of students holds hands and can
: feel the current flow through them. 1st question...is this safe? 2nd
: Question....how would this best be set up? Do the participants have to
: complete a circut...or in other words...do they have to hold hands in a
: circle? Or can it be a simple line of people. I don't want to hurt the
: poor kids....but I want them to feel the current. Can you help?
First, I do NOT recommend doing this experiment with children. Although this can be done safely, there are some things that can go wrong... possibly seriously wrong. And, the last thing you want is to hurt a child! If you STILL wish to perform the experiment, following are some precautions you'll need to take.
Tesla coils come in all flavors, sizes, and quality of design and assembly, so I cannot guarantee that YOUR coil is inherently "safe". Even a small coil can be quite dangerous. I'm going to assume that you have some type of spark-gap switched coil. You'll need to make sure that your coil is constructed with some type of shield or cover so that there is absolutely no way that any kid can come into contact with any portion of the Tesla Coil HV primary circuit or the incoming 120 volt line circuit. The TC primary circuit of even a small coil can kill. Kids tend to point at things, and they don;t expect that HV electricity can "jump" to get to them. It is essential that there be no way that any kid can contact any portion of the TC primary circuit including the primary winding, spark gap, HV transformer, or primary capacitor. Also, the bottom end of the Tesla Coil secondary winding MUST be solidly connected to solid ground using a separate wire. An ungrounded secondary may flash over to the TC primary circuit, with possibly fatal consequences if someone happens to be simultaneously drawing sparks to their fingers.
Also, reduce the input power via a Variac or by reducing the spacing of the spark gap in the primary circuit. You want to adjust the power so that the TC output sparks are no longer than 2-4". To avoid painful or surprising shocks, you also want the kid to hold a piece of metal and draw sparks to the metal instead of directly to his fingers. Finally, I'd recommend only one kid try this at any time, and that he stands on a large polypropylene milk crate so that he is well insulated (FLOATING) from ground. Make sure that he is far removed from any other child or any other object that could spark to any part of his body. By "floating" the child, you substantially reduce the risk of him becoming part of any dangerous high current discharge path to ground. You do NOT want the kid to have any chance of being grounded to something or someone else. And, you must be in control of the coil at all times.
If you have any questions or need more information, please contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org