New Home for Doug's Fusor

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Bob Reite
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New Home for Doug's Fusor

Post by Bob Reite » Mon May 24, 2021 10:43 pm

Here I will be posting images and descriptions of setting up Doug's fusor at it's new home in PA. The ultimate goal is to reproduce the "Gonzo Mode" reported by Doug about seven years ago. Gonzo Mode is reputed to produce 100 times the neutron output of a standard fusor for the same input power. This photo shows the first step in reassembly, to get the vacuum chamber back onto the table. Here you can see how I rigged it.
fusor_newhome1.jpg
The more reactive the materials, the more spectacular the failures.
The testing isn't over until the prototype is destroyed.

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Joe Gayo
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Re: New Home for Doug's Fusor

Post by Joe Gayo » Mon May 24, 2021 10:50 pm

I would love to hear the theory and experimental design for "gonzo" mode.

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Mark Rowley
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Re: New Home for Doug's Fusor

Post by Mark Rowley » Mon May 24, 2021 11:48 pm

Looking at the old “gonzo mode” posts, it was claimed the neutron output was so intense it activated tools (iron, steel, cobalt ?) across the room to dangerous levels. Or at least to levels that necessitated their disposal. I can’t deny my skepticism here.

Aside from that, Dougs novel fusor design was a true performer and surely achieved some record events.

Bob, in no uncertain terms your commitment to rebuilding Dougs fusor is nothing short of commendable.

Mark Rowley

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Joe Gayo
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Re: New Home for Doug's Fusor

Post by Joe Gayo » Tue May 25, 2021 12:25 am

How would a "power triode armstrong oscillator" work with ions at mTorr pressures? The mean free path is less than a centimeter. I've looked at some old posts and I see a lot of references to D+ recirculation, which seems very unlikely. First, because most of the plasma is D2+ and second because of charge exchange collisions. RF tube amplifiers work because they rely on low pressures and electrons.

I think trying to repeat his experiment is a noble cause and I do applaud the efforts. I'm just trying to understand what's expected.

Joe

Cai Arcos
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Re: New Home for Doug's Fusor

Post by Cai Arcos » Tue May 25, 2021 6:19 am

Joe:

Doug always used to compare it to the "plasma triode", mainly because (if I understand this correctly) he was operating in a region where no breakdown happened between central grid and anode. Then, he used the auxiliary grid as an ion source, which could modulate the plasma density and thus have gain.

The whole thing is similar to the Plasmatron operated in diode mode designed by E.O. Johnson (https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/4051017), operated in a lower pressure regime and thus with a much higher breakdown voltage between cathode and central anode.

While that explains the gain (and thus the oscillator), I still don't really understand many more points about recirculation. In his theory page he compares his work to Barkhausen-Kurtz oscillations using ions. However, Barkhausen-Kurtz oscillations need a few transit times in order to form coherent bunches and start oscillating, which as you say doesn't seem plausible at this pressures. And all the posts about using various oscillating configurations always seemed to lead to relaxation waveforms, nothing about stable sines.

I believe he was well aware of this, and is the reason why in his later years he spent so much money in effort in designing broadband HV amps, and why he often talked about "driven recirculation", in order to exploit transit time effects to get bunching even with a lot of collisions.

I assume you have already checked his theory page: https://www.coultersmithing.com/Reports ... heory.html


Just my two cents. Hopefully his legacy (both his forum and his fusor work) can be preserved, because his work was outstanding.

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Richard Hull
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Re: New Home for Doug's Fusor

Post by Richard Hull » Tue May 25, 2021 6:43 am

I, too, was highly skeptical. But awaited more data, in the form of tool activation decay graphs to identify specific elemental isotopes created. Instead we are told they were so hazardous that they were discarded! I would never though away an activated hand tool. It would be my proof! Doubting colleges could bring their GM counters to a special gathering and I would lay out the tools for counting and let them use my gamma spec on the tool of their choice to make sure I had not salted the tool. I doubt if this kind of event took place. Throwing away tools is easy. Proving to a critical audience that those tools are dangerously neutron activated to the point of being no longer safe to use or possess takes real stones and confidence unbounded in what you have done. One must assume the word "tools", as mentioned in the original gonzo post, means tools of steel, iron, SS or of some metal tough enough to bear the moniker of "tool".

This entire claim just lacks any rigor in the experimental data taken over time. Multiple future super Gonzo runs with careful data collection and specific dangerous activations tracked over time as to decay, etc.. It does have a posited theoretical explanation by the claimant with a statement of thrown away activated tools. Nothing says I have gonzo mode like a tool so dangerous you don't want to lay hands on it ever again....Provided you follow its decay curve and identify specific isotopes of such half-lives as to present a long term health hazard.

Hopefully, Bob can hit Gonzo mode and place a very rusty old tool, wrench, hammer head, screwdriver, etc., in a moderator near the device and activate the iron, vanadium, chrome, nickel and whatever other alloy constituents might be present. I ain't holding my breath on this one. If Bob activates the tool to contain such long half-lived isotopes to the point of not being able to continue using it or be around that tool in future, I will make the pilgrimage to this shrine of a system. Still, as usual, all my best in the effort. Should Bob fail in this quest, the Gonzo mode will join the ever repeated Farnsworth team's "runaway fusor" as being relegated to mere "lore of yore" related to this effort.

Again, loads of good skeptics and a vast Gonzo mode booster following to match. As old Ben Franklin proclaimed...."Let the Experiment be done!"


Color me exceedingly skeptical....

Richard Hull
Progress may have been a good thing once, but it just went on too long. - Yogi Berra
Fusion is the energy of the future....and it always will be
Retired now...Doing only what I want and not what I should...every day is a saturday.

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Frank Sanns
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Re: New Home for Doug's Fusor

Post by Frank Sanns » Tue May 25, 2021 8:06 am

I want to be clear that I am not trying to throw cold water onto the claimed result. Sometimes Fusor.net gets a bad reputation for being harsh or overly critical of some of people’s work. This is not the case. The critical thinkers here are genuinely interested in the work but are asking questions that could easily confirm the results.

Activation is the figurative photographic proof of what was observed. If the tools were that hot afterwards, then there was a significant neutron event. But if the tool were that hot, so much should all else in the building. This would include the Fusor itself as well as even the nails or bolts of the table that the device sat on. Cables, connectors, detectors, power supplies and all other metal item would contain indisputable evidence. These metals would have been less activated farther away from the event so something reasonably radioactively would not have to be discarded. I had said this at the time but nothing was ever produced. People are mostly water so they are great moderators. As such zippers and buckles of people in the room would have been be prime items to verify an SNE (significant neutron event) had occurred.

Like I said, I don’t want to cast doubt on any of Doug’s work as he was really bright and he pushed the limits. But no verifiable lasting evidence and never a repeat of this experiment at a greater distance was ever done. Knowing Doug, I believe he would have been unstoppable at doing it again rather than just letting it fall into the abyss.

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Richard Hull
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Re: New Home for Doug's Fusor

Post by Richard Hull » Tue May 25, 2021 3:07 pm

As the now long dead Carl Sagan said.....extraordinary claims demand extraordinary proof. Thanks Frank. You are right to note we can seem nasty to delicate souls seemingly bound up in claimed revelations. Many here are engineers and scientists. All of these disciplines deal with precise measurement and well outlined and presented data. This is never too much to ask for in any scientific venue. We never seek to be hurtful, but just push hard for real organized experiment, collected data that is relevant to backup claims made of a nature seemingly out of line with current work in the area under study. If this hurts feelings, then those hurt need to put on their big boy scientific pants or develop much tougher skins.

Basically, if you, as a "believer" have never neutron activated an element with your own fusion device, you might want to get busy and do it. You will find out a lot of real world issues tear at your preconceptions regarding neutron activation. You will find that long-lived isotopes of common metals of low cross section are just about impossible to activate to a dangerous level in all but cores of operational fission power reactors.

Iron for example, the largest constituent of most all tools (~95% or more) has 4 stable isotopes ....(Fe 54,56,57,58)....Fe 54-6%, can be activated with a cross section of ~3 to create Fe 55 with a 2.6 year half life, but decays by EC and emits only very weak x rays and no Beta. Fe56, Fe57 make up the bulk of all iron metal, (93%), and cannot be made active by simple neutron bombardment, this leaves the best candidate of Iron 58 making up only 0.3% of stable iron with the tiny cross section of 1.1 it activates only in intense fluxes to Fe 59 with a 46 day half life. It emits hot 1.6 mev max betas and 1.0 to 1.2 mev gammas.
Thus, the sole candidate for intensely hot iron activation is the 0.3% content of iron 58 to iron 59 with the tiny cross section of 1.1 in a fully thermalized flux of neutrons. the above data taken from the table of the isotopes.

Gleaning more data from the radio chemical manual........... Iron 55 is produced again, by neutron activation of iron 54. In the seething hot core of a fission reactor in a flux of 10e12 neutrons/sq cm/sec and cooking it for a week in the reactor would make only 190uCi of Fe 55/gm of iron, emitting a 5.9kev x-ray and nothing more. Finally, dropping the stable isotope of 0.3% Fe 58 in the same hot core of a working reactor for a week would make only 84uci of Fe59/gram which could produce lots of hots betas and hot gammas with a 46 day half life.
In the end, only the Fe59 would be tracked by a nuclear detector such as a GM counter.
Using logic and the above data, it would be effectively impossible to activate a mostly iron tool over a short run with any flux available from a residential electrical drop in any home made device.
I am stunned no one ran the numbers on this issue once Doug made his claim.

True, there are many grams of iron in any useful tool but the stable iron Fe56 and 57 would shield any internal betas from Fe59. In addition his neutrons were not fully moderately (mostly fast only). In the end, the numbers just don't allow for a dangerously radioactive tool.

It would be real cool to operate a fusor like device from the standard residential electrical drop and activate everything within a 20 foot radius to very dangerous levels. I am all for that.....But don't just tell me about it... show me real, acceptable, scientific proof that it was done.

Richard Hull
Progress may have been a good thing once, but it just went on too long. - Yogi Berra
Fusion is the energy of the future....and it always will be
Retired now...Doing only what I want and not what I should...every day is a saturday.

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Jim Kovalchick
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Re: New Home for Doug's Fusor

Post by Jim Kovalchick » Tue May 25, 2021 4:06 pm

Back in 2016 I exchanged a few private messages with Doug. There were a few take aways I had.
1. Doug was very bright and his mind was extremely active and innovative... the classic think-outside-the-box guy who are the kind that most typically become Richard's so-called lucky donkeys.
2. Doug honestly believed that gonzo mode happened. I saw no signs that he was making claims for attention except the tool activation piece.
3. I don't think that Doug had completely thought through some of the activation event. I have some university experience with neutron activation. Yes, you can activate with fast neutrons but a huge fluence is needed and in metals, most products decay quickly. He theorized that material in his shop thermalized the flux, and mentioned it was a damp crawl space. I remain skeptical to this day. If tools were activated and discarded, where were they discarded? To discard them as radwaste legally would have gathered some real attention. I also believe that long term activation of tools requiring their disposal would have killed Doug relatively quickly.
4. Doug was more open about his work than his posting secrecy would have people believe. He told me that he didn't want profit himself but didn't want someone else to grab his work and profit instead. He preferred open source.

When I looked back at Doug's messages to me from in 2016, I was reminded that he invited me to see his lab. I wondered why I hadn't gone and remembered that I was working away from home for 19 months back then. I wish now that I had found a way.

Jim K

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Joe Gayo
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Re: New Home for Doug's Fusor

Post by Joe Gayo » Tue May 25, 2021 4:16 pm

Cai:

Thanks for the response.

To be clear, my intention isn't to throw stones, but to understand.

Bob:

I assume you have private information from Doug. Is this information going to be posted?

Joe

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