Well, Richard Hull should be considered a national treasure. The man is
simply the epitome of the stereotype of a truly serious amateur scientist.
He is a continual source of amazing information, tireless effort on experiments
and a fount of wisdom. He just put out a wonderful
post on Neutron Safety that you absolutely must read. You should
pretty much search www.fusor.net for the name
Richard Hull and you’ll see what I mean. Just simply amazing.
Well, everyone seems to be working hard. Me? I’m laying down
safety procedures. I’ve got a gas line spur that I need to get rid of.
It was put in for an eventual change from the electric water heater to a gas
heated system. Well, that ain’t happening anytime soon, as we just
replaced the water heater in the great flood of 2002. Basically, some
valve broke on the water heater unit and I woke up to 6" of water in the lab @
6:00am one fine Friday morning. Something like this once happened at UCCS.
And like a fool, I waded into it to open the sealed doors so the water can flow
out to the drain. Who would build a basement without a drain?
Especially a drain by the water heater? Well, that’s not the kind of
planning one gets from a Hellblazer education.
Tim and Richard are still going strong on the ion gun front.
Posted their design and progress. Looks pretty cool. I can’t
wait to see the result.
Yesterday I got the 40 kV wire, the LabJack and the ceramic high voltage
stand offs. SmallParts back
ordered the ceramic balls – figures. So I spent the day trying to decipher
and learn LabVIEW… Man, what a frickin’ complicated program. But
I’m coming along okay. It takes some getting used to, being dataflow and
graphical. Normally I despise graphical programming languages, but it
really makes sense with LabVIEW. We’ll see.
Not much else going on. Tomorrow is the peace march in SF – today was
Chinese new year, and they bowed out in favor of the traditional celebration.
Millions of people marched all over the world today, though. Sorry to
bring politics in here, but it’s something important… So tomorrow is
basically hosed. Brent is coming over tomorrow night or Monday, so we’ll
mess around in the lab a bit. I got some 15 kV 1 G ohm resistors, so we’ll
crank up the power supplies and do a load test. Have been thinking quite a
bit about the gas subsystem. Need to think much more.
Well, I got a copy of LabVIEW today. No, I didn’t pay 2G’s for it, I
got it from an Angel. Thanks, BTW. Ye gods, yet another complicated
and horribly useful program to figure out. But it’ll be worth it.
Fusor forum is still running hot. Seems to be a lot of people getting
into building these beasts. Kerry Bonin has a new
site that I just found. Looks
like they’re going to be having a lot of fun soon. Must be nice working in
a group <heh>. Looks like there’s at least three people involved and
all of them smart.
this amateur lab. This is a picture of Richard Hull and Tim Raney in a
planning session for development of an ion gun. <heh> Very cool.
Another amazing thing about the web – i.e. community. Phil and now Richard
and Tim doing serious research on amateur ion gun development. Again, very
Me? Well, I’m still straggling along. Tonight I’m going to
construct a new cage out of the stainless steel pieces I got a while back.
The problem with the mild steel cage I currently have – besides having to keep
it in a desiccated environment so it won’t rust – is the question of a magnetic
circuit. The mild steel cage forms an incredibly complicated magnetic
circuit, which means I don’t stand a snow ball’s chance in analyzing this short
of using Deep Blue – not anything remotely possible. Secondly, the
magnetic permeability significantly changes the magnetic fields which extend
outside the cage which are used to bottle up the electrons. The second
follows from the first, but it’s significant in that the field flux lines are
concentrated in the mild steel, not distributed where I want them. D’oh!
But I’m still going to use this cage for my first experiments. I want
to see if I can use this cage as a normal, glow discharge fusor, just to see
what it can do. It’ll be neat to see if I can produce neutrons from it.
Should be able to, with no problems. We’ll see.
Ordered the high voltage cable for the Bertan power supply. Geesh.
What a frickin’ monster. One inch thick, 60 kV cable. Very cool,
though. It’ll be here "sometime". Couldn’t get a hard date out of
Del, but who knows. I’ve got more than enough to do in the mean time.
So… Off to work after a glass of wine…
finally got all the gaskets and bolt fittings. Well, mostly. But I
did the first vacuum test tonight after getting home from work. To the
left is the chamber now complete – well, sans any electron or ion gun. The
red plastic is covering up the view ports so I don’t scratch them. Just
click on the picture for a larger view.
If you look at the larger picture, you can tell that there are three bolts on
the main 14.5" flange missing above the electrical feed through on the bottom
hemisphere. Directly opposite, where the cold cathode ion gauge is
attached, another three bolts are missing. I can’t get the bolts in, due
to the flange configuration – something that I thought would happen. I’ll
have to see if I can get some double threaded bolts so I can get these puppies
bolted down firmly.
any event, the vacuum test went well. I got the chamber down to 2×10-6
torr. There were a few fits and starts as I tightened the zillion seals on
the chamber, but after everything tightened up it dropped like a stone. I
turned off the turbo and the pressure held for about 15 minutes before I had to
close down the shop for the night. The fore line pressure on the
roughing pump held at 1 millitorr. Very cool. I think this will do
Now the real work will start – building ion guns, setting up the high voltage
and gas lines and…
have the semblance of the beast. Ye gods. My fingers are numb from
screwing in a thousand (or so) 12 point screws. Not to mention removing
the vacuum tight seals from all the flanges and such. I can barely type
because my fingers have no feeling. Oh well, it was worth it. The
picture on the left is the beast as it
looks mostly assembled. Click on the picture for a larger view.
When it rains, it pours. To top off all the other shit that happened
since 9/11 the space shuttle disintegrated during the
landing descent yesterday. This tragedy underscores the tremendous
risk Astronauts take while they are doing their job. It reminds us about
what exploration actually is – pushing the engineering envelope beyond our
current industrial understanding. And the dangers involved. My heart
goes out to the people who loved them. My salute and deepest respect to
those with the tremendous courage it takes to ride the fire into the future.
You are all truly brave souls to which we owe our future.