Nicola Tesla has to be one of my favorite of the historical scientists that influences Steampunk as we know it at present. Tesla, for a number of reasons, (both deservedly and not) embodies the quintessential mad scientist. Many of his proposed ideas and inventions were so far ahead of his time that people were unable to comprehend them, and its quite likely that some of his inventions still remain out of our collective awareness because we either can’t understand his plans or he decided his inventions were simply too destructive for us to be privy to his discoveries.
One piece of technology we do know how to create and operate, however, is the Tesla Coil, which he created in 1891. The coil is a high voltage transformer for alternating current.
Against my better judgment, I’d like to point you to two tutorials for DIY Tesla coils. As a preliminary warning, don’t come crying to me if you destroy your nervous system putting one of these together. These things are not toys so be careful. Please. I’m not responsible for you zapping yourself or your friends if that’s what happens.
So without further ado or reservation, you can find two great resources for DIY Tesla Coils as Instructables and at Deep Fried Neon. Hopefully you can find one to be helpful as you construct your own coil.
So have fun, be safe, and let me know if you construct one and what you decide to use it for!