Tesla Coil Security System 2.0

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Sponsors Dr. Herbert Hess
Team Name Security Shock Door (SSD)
Duration Fall 2020 - Spring 2021
Faculty Adviser Dr. Herbert Hess
Client Dr. Herbert Hess
Team Members
  • Justin D. Stephens
  • Connor Radford
  • Andrea Cardona
  • Nico Piccioni

The goal of the project is to design and construct a working prototype for an electrified security door.

Problem Definition[edit]

Design a system that causes high voltage arcs to pass across a doorway in a manner to discourage people from entering.


Currently, security systems are pretty lackluster when it comes to intimidating intruders. The average system consists of locks, cameras, and motion sensors. The goal of Security Shock Door is to construct a new security system utilizing a NASA built Tesla Coil arrangement to produce visible lightning bolts across a doorway; providing the alternative of a passive defense by having a strong intimidating presence. We will be building a demonstration unit that shows our application of intimidation.


- Agreement between team members for acceptable protocol and etiquette

- Breakdown of the intended funds for the project

- Documentation of the multi-functional requirements of the system

- Intended plan for time management of the project

- Description of the planned experiments and validation testing planned to confirm the intended design

  • Concept Design Review

- Formal "progress update" of the design for the project


The final design of this project should meet the following qualifications/Specifications:

User Interface Design

  • Arm/disarm the security system
  • Electing to ground to frame or potential intruder
  • Sense an approaching intruder

Mechanical Design

  • Use of a wooden door frame because of non-conductive properties
  • Use of replaceable arc nodes for maintenance

Electrical Design

  • Operate at a frequency of around 4 Hz
  • Arc from one side of the door to the opposite side horizontally
  • Sensors for detecting an incoming intruder
  • Appropriately sized Tesla coil
  • Controlling grounding of non-source nodes


  • Scare away the intruder without serious injury or death
  • Minimal risk of unwanted shock while the system is armed
  • Effective arming/disarming feature


  • Keep the cost under $800

Design Considerations[edit]

Project Learning[edit]

Solidworks Modeling[edit]

Justin has been working on modeling the door frame as to provide an accurate representation of our intended working space. Due to COVID the ability to determine the sizing of our work space is highly valuable and something that will continue to be needed as our lab space is closed to in person activity. All of the surfaces of the doorframe have been constructed even down to the door hinges in order to provide as accurate representation as possible.

Figure Description
Solidworks Door Model Closed
  • Solidworks door model in the closed position.
Solidworks Door Model Open
  • Solidworks door model in the open position. Note: See properly modeled door hinges on the right side of door.
Solidworks Door Model with Electric Representation
  • Solidworks door model in the open position. Note: The blue rods passing horizontally over the door is a physical representation of what the final designs electrical arcing should look like.

Heat Management[edit]

Nico has been working on managing our current over heating dilemma with the current Tesla Coil design. He has selected gold plated copper with a nickel undercoating as the material for our nodes, which will give us the lowest electrical resistance while maintaining a high quality with no corrosion. Using a thermal imaging camera Nico has also able to detect where the tesla coil is experiencing heat issues. Currently our 6 transistors are overheating so his plan is to use proper heatsinks and a fan to cool them but if they’re still overheating, he'd like to use a liquid CPU cooler to prevent our transistors from overheating.

Circuit Board Reverse Engineering[edit]

Andrea has been working on the reverse engineering of the Tesla Coil circuit that was acquired by our team. She has been able to map the components from the circuit board onto a schematic diagram in simulation software. Because of the intricacy of the circuit, some delays were experienced but the goal is to have this circuit simulated. In time, this data will be further simulated to demonstrate that our electric arc will meet our objective.

Figure Description
Circuit Disassembly
  • Partially disassembled circuit board that runs the Tesla coil.

FEKO Simulation[edit]

Connor has been working on simulations of the behavior of the Tesla Coil. All the work so far in Altair FEKO is strictly to gather behavioral data which means nominal values are being normalized and converted to decibels. Along with that the general setup for the tesla coil model is very simple. It has a turns ratio of 1:100 and a source of 120V attached to the primary coil. This will be changed in future testing when reverse engineering the physical tesla coil is completed and modeled in other software. The behavior that has been tested is to see how electric flux density is distributed on different emitter shapes, how intense the electric field is in between the emitter and receiver, and how the electric flux density is distributed on the receiver. Results so far show expected behavior.

Figure Description
Cone Plate Bias
  • Electric Flux density on a negatively biased receiver plate. Also includes Electric field segment between emitter and receiver.
Cone to Cone
  • Electric Flux density on emitter and on receiver cone. Also includes Electric field segment between emitter and receiver.
Simple Coil
  • First model made to benchmark expected behavior. Electric flux density on a sphere emitter.

Final Design[edit]


Team Members[edit]

Security Shock Door Photo Justin Team.PNG

Justin D. Stephens

Major: Mechanical Engineering

Hometown: Oregon City, OR

Responsibility: Solidworks Modeling, Wikimaster

Email: Step5888@Vandals.UIdaho.Edu

Security Shock Door Connor Team.jpg

Connor Radford

Major: Electrical Engineering

Hometown: Spokane, WA

Responsibility: Feko Modeling

Email: Radf2235@Vandals.UIdaho.Edu

Security Shock Door Photo Andrea Team.jpg

Andrea Cardona

Major: Electrical Engineering

Hometown: Boise, ID

Responsibility: ADS Modeling

Email: Card5013@Vandals.UIdaho.Edu

Security Shock Door Photo Nico Team.jpg

Nico Piccioni

Major: Mechanical Engineering

Hometown: Eagle, ID

Responsibility: Material Selection and Heat Management

Email: Picc5382@Vandals.UIdaho.Edu

Additional Documentation[edit]

Project Schedule

Gantt Chart

Meeting Minutes

Meeting Minutes Folder



Client Interview