Changing with the times: Tesla Cane electronics rebuild

It’s been a busy few months without posts, but there is lots of stuff going on, some of it even coming off the back burner!

Wild Wild West Con 4 is rapidly approaching…and since my Tesla Cane Mk II (with a copy of the Mk I electronics but with the original chip) is in the Sky Harbor Airport Steampunk Exhibition as I mentioned last time, I needed to rebuild the electronics for the Mk I cane itself. I somehow lost (or maybe they were …stolen by an Airship Pirate Gang?!?!) the original code for the flickering, I needed to recreate it. I actually found an earlier version I was fairly happy with in a separate backup, and it made sense to rebuild all the electronics using a Trinket instead of the barebones chip: easier programming (via the built-in mini-USB), battery/voltage management, easy reset, cleaner pinouts, etc.

The Mk I electronics were very simple (see here): I used a bare Atmel ATTiny chip, a resistor, and LED. In the last few years Adafruit and other companies have come along and make really awesome low-cost ATTiny-based boards (I covered them in this post about what to do when an Arduino is too big for your project), and I’d pickup up a couple of the Trinkets to play with. Since a bare ATTiny chip is $2-4 individually and a Trinket is $8…that seems a decent deal.

So, out with the old:

Tesla Cane Mk I Electronics
Tesla Cane Mk I Electronics

And in with the new:

Tesla Cane Mk II Electronics
Tesla Cane Mk II Electronics

The Trinket is slightly bigger, but being able to reprogram via USB is a great advantage!

3 Responses to Changing with the times: Tesla Cane electronics rebuild

  1. You could make a version where you build a actual mini Tesla coil to create a high frequency electromagnetic field that could activate the gas inside a flourescent tube, this way you have the tube galvanic separated from the secondary coil and it would looks like it lights up from nothing 🙂

  2. Avatar Bill Brown
    Bill Brown says:

    I am interested in the programing for the Trinket. I just bought my first Trinket. But have not learned how to program it yet. My Trinket has not arrived yet. Would it be possible that you would share the code used to make the LED work for the cane?