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These are a few shots of the first sparks from the coil.  These are full power runs, but I was using a .013 uF salt water cap at the time, which was about half of the capacitance the coil was designed for.  Compare these photos with the ones taken of the 51" arcs for a quick lesson in how important resonant voltage rise is to Tesla Coil output.  Superior output can only be achieved with carefully matched components working as a system.