Tesla Coils for baseplates

I would like to create my own wireless system, nested in the baseplate, as seen here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OwZtLHlH62M

Is there a Tesla Coil I could use that isn't going to melt the plates, something thin that wouldn't take up too much space ?

Also, I would like to confirm, if anybody knows, if the pico lights work with their wires snipped from the magnetic field of a pancake Tesla coil please ?

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  • Hi, thanks for your note.  We've worked with wireless systems for 5+ years-- we used to sell wireless power coils ourselves, but discontinued them due to lack of customer interest.  While the technology sounds amazing-- who doesn't like wireless lights?-- in practice the results are often less than expected.  The YouTube video you linked to was from iBrix, who launched their Kickstarter campaign several years ago and was unable to deliver their final product to all backers.  When you think about the realities involved in installing something like their system in even a small LEGO city, the prospects are daunting.  Coils run on 12-24 volts, are very large, and will only work for one building.  So for a city with 5 buildings, you need 5 coils, 5 separate 12-24V power supplies, and overall the amount of power you waste from heat and the inherent inefficiency of wireless power transfer negates any gains.

    Sorry, I don't mean to be pessimistic here, but trust me when I say we have conducted hundreds of tests using every means and technology available to try and create something that would work at scale, and the truth is that -- for the present time-- the technology does not exist.

    You can order something like this from Aliexpress and play with it-- perhaps you will get it to meet your needs.  There is much more to getting any wireless system to work than just the coil.  By itself, the coil does nothing.

    To answer your question about Pico LEDs working with their wires cut, the answer is absolutely not.  If you look at the Aliexpress product above, and if you look at the LEDs for the iBrix product, you'll see that every LED needs its own tiny inductor coil, to receive the resonant frequencies and translate them into power for the LED.

    I wish I could give more positive advice here, but this is definitely one of those "trust us, if it could be done, we'd do it" kinds of setups.

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  • Rob Klingberg 

    Thanks for the link, that's looks great.

    I take it that you've toyed with this setup, what kind of height can I expect ?

    The chip the coil is soldered to looks paramount, what is it called please ? I could just get one and make my own, and the lights separately (they look as though they've been factory made).

    I saw another iBrix video online where the coil they used affected lights below as well as above the plate, this an unintended consequence of the system they discovered.

    What about if the plate was not on the base of a single story building (with a ground floor), so that the first floor lights and ground lights could both be powered ?

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  • Lionel Steed One of the unique aspects of the iBrix setup was the range they achieved-- something like 18" I think, maybe more.  As for how they did this-- I don't know, that's the proprietary "secret sauce" of their product.  If you read the specs of online products like that link I shared, you'll see ranges are only a couple of millimeters.  Think about charging your cell phone if it has a wireless charger: how close do you need to be to the pad?  Pretty much right on top of it.  If you even have a case that's thick, it won't work.  It's the same with lights.  Poor range is the main reason this technology (in our opinion) isn't well-suited for LEGO.

    As for how/where to position the coil, I can't speak to that.  You can't bend a coil, so you need to be ok with having a giant flat copper ring right in the middle of your setup.  Again, not visually optimal.

    I think your best bet is to just buy one of those setups like I linked to on Aliexpress, and play around.  iBrix spent years and hundreds of thousands of dollars getting the LED and inductor coil small enough to fit inside a LEGO brick-- neither you nor I are going to be able to achieve what they did with off-the-shelf parts. :-)

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  • I think they're beginning to ship them now, it would be a shame to give up.

    I thought that it would be easy to make my own.

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  • Checking this out online I can see that there's no distance to this at all:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U0zpC4E7vMQ

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  • Lionel Steed Yes, precisely the issue.  There are two things to keep in mind:

    1. Are you wanting to just power LEDs individually?
    2. Are you wanting to power anything else in addition to the LED?

    The video you linked shows them powering a motor, which takes a lot of current (relatively).  Powering just one LED though can be done over longer distances, though still probably not in the range you're hoping for.

    Here's another good resource that may help: this tells a bit about the parts you'd need to buy and assemble yourself to make something work:

    https://hackaday.com/2019/05/28/wireless-leds-arent-a-first-but-you-can-make-your-own/

    In this video you'll also see how large the coil needs to be, and also how power is only transmitted in very specific patterns above the coil itself.

    Again, if this was "easy" we'd be able to buy these things on Amazon and everywhere else! 😄

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  • Interesting, I learnt that the diameter is relative and the number of turns matter, both of which favour pico lights.

    I just need lighting for my Lego models, so this is fine. The lights I am sure that I could get, there's little point in me fussing with a ferrite core, they come ready made, the base is the issue for me.

    The X-board used in the video had the circumference of its perimeter lapped with wire, but there wasn't any great detail on what the other components were needed, nor why there was a backing board similar to the base (which was not connected).

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