On-Line and Catalog retailers:
Digikey, Thief River Falls, MN 1-800-digi-key www.digikey.com A full-price retailer and stocks a huge variety of new components. Their Panasonic ECW-H 16563JV 1600VDC 0.056uF Polypropylene caps (# P10516-ND) have made MMC's famous. Digikey is not the place to save money, but if you need something, odds are they will have it.
C and H Sales Company, Pasadina, CA 1-800-325-9465 www.candhsales.com An industrial surplus dealer with many items of interest to coilers. They have a wide selection of motors, robotics, transformers, switches, power supplies, variacs (not too cheap), capacitors (none suitable for MMC's just now, but keep checking!), power resistors (including a 1.8K/113W unit good for protection networks), wire & cable, and the ever popular, miscellaneous.
Herback and Rademan, Moorestown, NJ 1-800-848-8001, www.herbach.com Very similar to C&H in their product line. Again, motors, transformers, relays, variacs, also books, kits, tools, components, etc.
Fair Radio Sales, Lima, OH 419-227-6573 http://www.fairradio.com/ Specializing in surplus military and RF stuff, these guys are unique. Their web site has several featured items displayed and items listed by type, but unfortunately no on-line catalog. They once were the source of the famous "Fair Radio Sales caps", the .01uF/100kV FCI units, but these are unfortunately all gone. They presently have a 0.4uF/100kVDC cap for $350.00 And they still have an eclectic collection of military radios and test gear, and more importantly, power resistors, mica and doorknob caps, tubes, ceramic insulators, transformers, and more.
All Electronics Corporation, Van Nuys, CA 1-800-826-5432, www.allelectronics.com Another surplus dealer with a very worthwhile catalog. The have very good prices on mainly electronic components and tools. One good buy is a .001uF/10kV ceramic disk cap for $1, good for protection networks (NOT tank caps). One sometimes needs to check their descriptions for accuracy. I bought some caps that were listed as polypropylene motor run caps, which turned out to be electrolytic motor start caps. I was able to return them with no trouble and they've since corrected the description. Just beware.
Alltronics, San Jose, CA 1-408-275-8711 www.alltronics.com This outfit is all too easily confused with All Electronics, and it's not at all the same. Again, mostly industrial surplus electronics, but better, huge variety and not easily generalized. Download their 12.6MB full catalog now! Items of note: a fully metered, new 120V/20A variac for $129.95, Corcom 30Amp EMI filters for $9.95, Wima FKP-1 (VERY suitable for MMC's) polypropylene caps, .047uF/1250V for $0.75, Maxwell .03uF/35kV pulse caps for $195 (you're better off looking on ebay).
Electronic Goldmine, Scottsdale AZ 1-800-445-0697 www.goldmine-elec.com Very similar to Alltronics, all industrial surplus electronics, buth component and small assemblies. A wonderful catalog to browse if you ask them for a hard copy. Their web site suggests that the complete catalog is downloadable, but all they have is individual catalog fragments.
MECI Surplus, Dayton, OH 1-800-344-4465 www.meci.com A huge variety of electronic components and tools, and they have both a full (18.3MB) and chapter catalog downloads. Items of note: A 240V vacuum cleaner motor for $4.95 - good for a sucker spark gap (I never run a gap vacuum motor at full voltage, I'm sure that a 240V motor on 120V will be MORE than adequate), Corcom 37(!) Amp EMI filter for $3.95, 20 Amp Cornell-Dublier EMI filter for $1.95.
USA Manufacturing, Lebanon IN 1-800- 428-4339 http://www.usamfg.net/ These guys are for the most part a distributor of HVAC gear, but they advertise some excellent values on motor run caps that would be useful for Tesla Coil power Factor Correction (PFC) caps. Example - Aerovox Oval run capacitor, 40MFD/170V for $0.70, 1993 in stock. See: http://www.usamfg.net/files/august200166-79.pdf This link may expire so be prepared to search their newer catalog pages.
Hoffman Industries, http://www.hoffind.com/ Nothing remarkable, but worth bookmarking.
Apex Jr., http://www.apexjr.com/ There may be some radial caps that will work for an MMC. They have a Mallory .05 MFD 1600V Orange Drop cap for $0.60. I inquired, the Mallory part number is PVC-1615. This is a polypropylene cap, but may or may not be suitable for high pulse current work. Feel lucky?
Here's a link to someone else's list of sources: http://www.robotics.com/surplus.html
Hamfests and Swapmeets
A complete list of New England-area hamfests and swapmeets may be found at: http://www.k1ttt.net/flea.html
My particular favorites are:
The MIT swapmeet, meets the 3rd Sunday of each month from April through October at MIT in Cambridge, MA. See http://web.mit.edu/w1mx/www/swapfest.html for details and directions.
Hosstraders swapmeet. meets in May and October, now in Hopkinton NH. See http://www.qsl.net/k1rqg/
Rochester hamfest, next meeting is May 31/June 1, 2002, Rochester NY. See http://www.rochesterhamfest.org/rochester.asp
Home Depot is a great source for many things - 4" PVC (they don't seem to carry 6") for secondary forms, corrugated flex dryer duct for toroids in many sizes, adhesive-backed aluminum tape for covering toroids, 1/4" copper tubing for primaries (I've only seen 25 ft coils), copper roof flashing by the foot (may be regional?) for copper ribbon conductors, etc.
Neon sign shops are the obvious source for NST's. If you can, go there in person and ask for used NST's. Very often they will give you one or more for free. Sometimes they will charge exorbitant amounts. Look in the Yellow Pages under "Signs".
Ebay. No Tesla parts scrounging is complete without spending many hours perusing the www.ebay.com on-line auctions. Search for "Tesla" and "Hi* Volt*". Just beware that there are many people who will knowingly sell you junk that has absolutely no application to coiling, but advertise it as being somehow pertinent to "Tesla". Examples - Glassmike caps, electrolytic caps, pulse transformers, "protection" chokes. Always beware and know what it is you're buying. Don't assume it's useful because the word "Tesla" is used.
Take time to understand the bidding process. Don't assume that if the high bid for a Maxwell cap 5 minutes before the end of the auction is $40, that a $50 bid will clinch it. People who really want something will often wait until seconds before the close to place their bid. You don't have to do this, you just have to place a bid that represents the absolute maximum that you are willing to pay.
Excellent bargains may be had on ebay variacs (search for "variac"), and often on PFC-worthy motor run caps.