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Mr. Fusion
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February 13, 2003 — 17:30

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.

Carl Willis and Allen Wallace are smoking up the boards with some excellent
LabVIEW instrumentation of their fusor set up.  Check their

and operation

, as well as their manganese

experiment and

.  On a cautionary note, they fried their turbo pump while running
their system.  The whole

is a very great tip to make sure everything is properly shielded. 
I had thought the splinter shield on the turbo would have worked as a faraday
shield, but now I’m going to put some screening on the opening on the bottom
hemisphere of the chamber – just in case.  Yi.

Timothy Raney

his notes from his and Richard’s ion gun design session, as well as
progress so far.  David Hansen has also

his hat into the ring and started building an ion gun of his own. 
I think that makes 5 serious amateurs building ion guns so far.  If I can
ever get off my lazy ass and pulling my weight, I can add my own name to that
list :)

The lab is coming along fine, though.  Got a lot of stuff organized over
the weekend.  Fixed the dang florescent light that had been out for over a
year.  Lab’s much brighter now.  Got the rack installed – i.e. bolted
to the cement floor.  I picked up two shelves from work at cost, and the
Spellman and Bertan power supplies are held in quite nicely.  I was quite
skeptical the whole thing would be solid, but it really is.  I need to set
up some bracing, though – after all, this is earthquake country.

I’m going to order a lecture bottle of deuterium from
I’ve been looking for something cheaper, but no such luck.  I’m starting to
design a gas delivery and control system – something just basic – that has the
required safety features my wife is demanding.  I’m really nervous about
having hydrogen stored down there…  I’ll have to see what I can come up
with that satisfies my over cautious nature.

I picked up a Ludlum fast neutron detector (BF3 sensor with a cadmium
moderator) and counter from EBay.  Detector has never been used.  The
guy who sold it to me is really great.  He’s throwing in an electrostatic
voltage meter so I can calibrate the voltage correctly for the fast neutron
detector.  Amazing.  That’ll be here in a few days…

I’m hoping I can pick off the measurement data from the counter and monitor
it from LabVIEW instrumentation.  I don’t want to bust open the box to do
this, but if it looks feasible, I’ll give it a try.  I’m getting a
LabJack USB DAQ system –
should be here any day now.  For $199, this seems like an incredible deal. 
All the other USB systems I could find are at least 2.5 x in price. 
Couldn’t find any complaints about the system on the web, so hopefully it won’t
turn out to be a lemon – they’re obviously selling a reasonable amount of them. 
Comes with LabVIEW VI’s, so I won’t have to waste time interfacing to the

Well, I got to get going to talk by Steven Wolfram.  The guy’s obviously
a genius, and I’ve never heard him talk before.  The talk is at Xerox PARC,
and a bunch of my friends are going to hear what he has to say.  I’ve
always been a big fan of cellular automatas – yep, I’m one of those insane
people who believe in the digital universe.  Perhaps someday I’ll have a
chance to ramble on about my work there, but geesh.  I’ve got plenty of
work left to do on this fusion beast.  Work should be letting up a bit here
soon, so I’ll have more time.  Fingers crossed…

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