What are the must haves and nice to haves in a Fusor Lab?

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denergyguy
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What are the must haves and nice to haves in a Fusor Lab?

Post by denergyguy » Thu Mar 08, 2007 6:29 pm

After reading a large number of posts this thought kept coming into my head, If you were looking to set up a fusor lab, what types of things should you have?

What triggered this was a statement from Tom Ligon in a DC power thread which said "If 3-phase power is available, using 3 transformers in place of one means they overlap each other's half-wave pulses. You get about 7% ripple with no capacitor at all."

It made me think that it might be of benefit to have a connection for a stove or AC in such a lab to run your Fusor from. But what else is really good to have available?

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Richard Hull
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Re: What are the must haves and nice to haves in a Fusor Lab?

Post by Richard Hull » Thu Mar 08, 2007 8:50 pm

The fusor steps on so many disciplines you would be looking at $20,000 worth of gear minimum if a lot of it were scrounged or surplused gear. you could not assemlbe a fusor lab that was truly versatile for much less. With all the stuff below new and shiney at list prices, $60,000 could easily be dropped.

Vacuum.......

2 mechanical pumps minimum with 3 or 4 best.
1 diff pump
1 one turbo pump and one diff pump
1 micromaze
a whole lot of KF25 and or KF40 flanges, tees, valves, etc. $2000 right here alone.
Awhole lot of conflat 2.75 hardware with a valve or two and a tee, a cross, flex ss hose, etc. $1000.00
A useful and mated gate valve in a main vacuum setup (manually or electrically powered.)
One good bell jar and base.
2 TC gauges with controllers
1 capacitive gauge with controller
1 ion gauge with controller
1 mass flow valve with controller

Mechanical....................

An amazingly complete set of hand tools with duplicates in various sizes and types including common small power tools, hand drills, sander, grinder, etc.

fastener hardware, screws nuts and bolts from 2-56 thorugh 1/2"-10

1 lathe 6" minimum
1 milling machine 30" table minimum
1 powered hacksaw 7" cut minimum
1 superior grade drill press
calipers and micrometer
1 oxy-actylene setup
1 TIG welder setup
1 light duty precision spot welder
A decent stock pile of materials from plastics to metals, including tubing, angle and sheet and strap of copper, stainless, and aluminum. 200lbs in racks and on shelves is none too much.

Electrical..............

2 HV power supplies, one complementing the other in a stepped order of voltage and energy output.
2 power transformers of the neon type.
a specialized assortment of power/ballast resistors and very high ohm divider resistors. LED, LCD, and analog meters
Power FETS, Transistors, fast HV diodes, HV capacitors, HV cable (silicone or HDPE)
soldering gun
soldering iron
soldering pencil
2 variacs, one bench top 120 volt and one a 28amp 220v unit.

Radiation...........

one each of the following detectors with mated ratememters.

geiger counter
ionization chamber - "cutie pie"
dosimeter pens 3 or 4 with charger/reader
BF3 or He3 neutron detector
bubble detector, fast neutron type
NIM bin setup, at least one rack and several modules. They should be an amp, a preamp, discriminator, rate meter and HV precision supply, an SCA and a MCA system for more advance activation work.

Gas handling-............................

Several utility gases in suitably sized bottles including,
argon
helium
CO2
dry nitrogen
deuterium, of course

regulators to suit or match the above cyclinders.

A complete set of more common1/8 and 1/4 swagelock gas line valves, fittings,etc. Gas line tubing in 1/8 and 1/4" stainless steel.

Books and refs.................................

A minmalistic, but realistically useful library of books cover all of the technologies involved with the above in addition of fusion and nuclear physics and chemistry. Don't forget books on material science, industrial protection and poisoning. Lots of hazards here and you need to know about them and how to deal with them.

50 books might be a bare minimum in a good lab/study environment.

Emergency................

First aid kit (thanks capn' proton)
Fire fighting stuff.....
Bucket of sand
CO2 extinguisher
Dry chem fire extinguisher. (have them all at hand)

The above scratches the surface for a real working lab that can start and do work immediately without stopping to order more common items. You did ask about a lab and not a fusor playpen. Good folks have built demo systems with about 3% of the above. Few folks here have all this material, but it would be common to a real dedicated amateur scientist who has a good job and either lives alone or has an understanding wife. (a slim few of us do have all of the above and another small percentage probably have 70% of the above.)

There is so much I left out or forgot.

It is easy to forget that even with an unlimited purse in hand, that the requisite skills and planning ability will be demanded to make any lab really work.

If you never took shop or used large tools, you can easily loose a finger, an eye or smash a hand.

If you never welded you can wind up burned by flame or painful UV light skin burns or be injured in a gas explosion.

If you never worked with electricity or electronics, you could be electrocuted or set a home on fire.

If you never paid attention in school and read regularly, the texts with valuable data and info will forever be a foreign and alien environment for you.

I might parphrase Bob Hirsch here......."There is something to be said for a good pair of hands, provided the head attached has a bit of ability as well." One need not be a genius or even a particularly learned person to do good fusor work as long as the brain is eager to learn and the hands eager and capable to create.

There is so very much to learn and know at each step, that this is the kind of project work that will determine who is who and quickly sort the wheat from the chaff.

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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Re: What are the must haves and nice to haves in a Fusor Lab?

Post by Captain_Proton » Fri Mar 09, 2007 12:55 pm

Most importantly in my lab, the first aid kit.
Oh, and a picture of your hero on the wall...
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Richard Hull
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Re: What are the must haves and nice to haves in a Fusor Lab?

Post by Richard Hull » Fri Mar 09, 2007 2:58 pm

Yes...........The first aid kit. This is most important for the well versed and intelligent experimenter. The occasional boo-boo does occur through a moments inattention to the little details.

However.......................For some people who rush right into the deep end, a medivac helicopter with a defibrulator on board attended by trained EMTs in it and a surgical team standing by at the local hospital would be more appropriate.

I have appended to my orignal post, above, the first aid kit plus reference to fire fighting gear which I do have in my lab, already, but forgot about.

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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Steven Sesselmann
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Re: What are the must haves and nice to haves in a Fusor Lab?

Post by Steven Sesselmann » Fri Mar 09, 2007 10:00 pm

Richard,

I think some of the most brilliant ideas in this group are how to achieve more with less. Experiments that government or private industry labs spend million on, are acheived here on a shoestring.

And unless we don't hear about it, there are remarkably few injuries, fires and disasters.

PS:
Would anyone notice if someone suddenly stopped posting?
The next of kin may not know how to post :-/

Steven
http://www.gammaspectacular.com - Gamma Spectrometry Systems
https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Steven_Sesselmann - Various papers and patents on RG

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Re: What are the must haves and nice to haves in a Fusor Lab?

Post by sroys » Wed Mar 14, 2007 5:38 pm

> Yes...........The first aid kit. This is most important for the well versed and intelligent experimenter. The occasional boo-boo does occur through a moments inattention to the little details.
> Richard Hull

Wasn't it you, Richard, who also suggested working in pairs and keeping a nice, long 2x4 handy?

That way, in case of mishap, the survivor has something with which to push the body off the exposed wiring... ;-)

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Richard Hull
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Re: What are the must haves and nice to haves in a Fusor Lab?

Post by Richard Hull » Thu Mar 15, 2007 1:52 pm

I am sure I have said that or something like it in jest, Steve.

As regards...Would anyone notice a lost fusioneer?

Well, I would say, yes, there would be a quick sense of loss, provided the person seemingly lost, posted regularly.

The classic example already in hand is Larry Leins. He suddenly went silent and everyone immediately noticed. Fortunately for our group's track record on safety, Larry's disappearance had nothing to do with a fusor or HV related issue. Rather, sadly, it was a car accident and followup collateral issues which still keep him from returning to the fray. I am sure we all continue to wish him well.

Likewise, if say, I or Jon or Dave or Carl stopped posting, it would be readily apparent. Though in my case, for some, it might be a welcomed respite.

I feel that we try and watch out for our own and advise and shepherd ourselves to avoid things that might reflect a negative image towards the work at hand. Thus, avoiding serious misteps, mistakes and mishaps is sort of an assumed mantle of obligation for each would-be fusioneer towards the group effort.

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.

Chris Trent
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Re: What are the must haves and nice to haves in a Fusor Lab?

Post by Chris Trent » Thu Mar 15, 2007 3:36 pm

I think we'd probably notice if they were a regular poster.

I also think that one of us dying by Fusor or related equipment would probably make the news. They seem to have an obsession with unusual deaths.

Surely "Man dies building fusion reactor in basement" is too good of a headline to pass up.


(Actually with a headline like that it sounds like a candidate in for a Darwin Award)

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Re: What are the must haves and nice to haves in a Fusor Lab?

Post by MCL » Fri Mar 16, 2007 10:56 pm

Hi Drew;
I read your query, and facetiously wanted to shout out that the
key thing you better have in your lab is great, fat, rippingly large
budget! as that that is pretty often the key to success in any
sort of undertaking involving risk and uncertainty. Of course,
Richard has put some serious thought into giving you a very
good answer, but I fear that excellent and comprehensive list
will just discourage you from begining any sort of real
experimentation. So, let me add my two cents here...

You need all the stuff, and to get that, a big bag of money is
very helpful. But you need the desire and the attitude also.
Begin, and you will be surprised at what you can find. I just
burned out my fusor, but have also found a perfect piece of
circular 304 stainless steel, (cost $5), a unique, tubular
ceramic insulator, (cost, $7), and a local firm that specializes
in unique metal-bashing & cutting, who have turret lathes and
punch-presses and grinding equipment as big as Mack trucks.
I will be developing version 5 of my device. With microwaves
and magnetrons...

So, mainly, you need YOU in your lab. Be determined, and
focused, and all else will follow. The equipment will be
available, if you are clear what you need, and start to seriously
seek it. Sounds unlikely, but I have been astonished at what
I have been able to source, on a modest tiny shoestring of a
budget. As you improvise, you will learn, and as you learn,
you will get better at your improvisations.

You need in your lab a seriously curious person, who will just
not let a problem go - someone with the tenacity of a terrier
with a rat in its teeth, and yet who can also be aware of the
numerous stupid ways in which a person can easily dispatch
himself when using complicated, high-powered machinery
of any kind. You can die just as easily if you make a mistake
driving your big John Deere while plowing the field, as you can
putting 50,000 volts into some low-pressure gaseous deuterium.

So safety is critical, but it comes from having the right attitude.
All the techy stuff is pretty simple, really. It has lots of sharp
nasty, dangerous bits that can end your life real fast, and things
like high-voltage, and nuclear radiation, have the interesting
property that they cannot be seen, or even felt, until your
perception is being overwhelmed by their presence at levels
that are typically lethal.

This makes lab reseach a lot like investing in modern
financial markets, a place which is also absurdly dangerous
for those who do not have the right attitude. You need a weird,
kinky balance of willingness to jump into something everyone
says is impossible to do, combined with a healthy appreciation
of the absurdly high risks that exist. But, balance the two
motivations, and you can navigate and perhaps even succeed
in delightful and useful ways. Maybe even more so...

So don't let all this advice stop you. I had never held a welder
in my life - nor used a drill press properly, nor been very good
with numbers, etc. But there is this old Huron word, which was
once upon a time the name of a real, and very special company
of young adventurers... it is "Orenda" - and translates as
"the power of focused will" - and it is the source of all human
creativity. Nothing happens until someone decides he (or she)
will take action. Once you decide you will act, and have a clear
direction, you will be surprised at the curious support you will
encounter, if your action is correct, and aligned with your will.

Fusion is just stupid-obvious. Go outside on a sunny day and
just look up. There it is. Big, hot, and wonderful. If we can't
get it to work in the lab economically, it won't really matter.
We will just orbit big solar collectors, and microwave a few
terawatts down to earth-based collectors. Or we will locate
large power collectors in Ethiopia, Spain, and New Mexico,
where there are not many clouds... and so on. This stuff,
really, is pretty easy. It lies there, all rule-based and clear,
plainly evident, on the table of reality. The rules of physics don't
change, and yes, now you need to be well versed in the laws
of probability to really understand what the heck is happening,
but that is something tractable and will help you get the bag
of money you need, if you want to go there...
(Einstein was never comfortable with quantum uncertainty, and
yet his work was useful, many will still admit...)

I had a professor at University of Waterloo, a real character
who didn't even have a PhD. He was contemptuous of much of
what goes on in modern science politics. He only had a Masters,
and would say "If I need a PhD, I will hire one!" He had been
trained by and worked for, IBM for many years. He established
the Dept. of Computer Science at Waterloo U., and this was at
a time, when it was a small branch in the Math Faculty. The
whole approach was stupid in those days - the early 1970's.
The Mathies insisted that computer students study complex
numerical methods and goofy stuff that bore zero relation
to what was happening in the world - especially the world of
business. Professor Graham took the opposite approach,
and trained his students to program COBOL and ugly, practical
stuff that got them co-op jobs right away, just after being at
school for one year! This was a revolutionary thing - and the
pure-math guys hated it! They said Graham was turning the
University into a "business", and that it would "cheapen" the
education that students received. Can you imagine this?
Can you imagine anything so stupid? And yet, this was the
prevailing wisdom, which Graham fought against, and was
successful in challenging. The rest, as they say, is history.
An entire world exists around Waterloo, that came entirely
out of the head of this one guy, who pushed for a completely
different way for the University science community to teach,
research, and obtain funding. His "lab" was the University.

I had an argument with a fellow a while back, who is on the
board of directors at the University. I told him point blank, we
need a medical school at the University. He told me, point
blank, that there would not be one, because it was too
much money, and the government could not afford to create
another one. I said - "you wait..." Last fall, we got the first
bunch of young doctors, who will do their training as students
of Hamilton's medical school, but will be students enrolled at
Waterloo. A solution was found (not because of me, but
because 5000 other people probably said the same thing!)
Money is always available, if the idea is right, and the need
is there. But it takes human action to make it happen.
My formal education was Economics. For an economist,
the whole economy is his lab. In a world of fiat money, one
learns quickly there is an infinite amount of the stuff. It is
wealth that is scarce. In the lab, you learn the difference.
(I have a cute collection of worthless 20,000 unit bank notes,
issued by various governments around the world - pesos,
zlotys, shillings, etc. Sadly, there is always lots of money.)

So, what goes into a successfull lab, is the right people.
That is the key determining factor. Everything else can
be purchased, borrowed, fabricated, or estimated. You need
people who want to learn something, and who want to make
something happen. Your lab need be nothing more than the
top of a desk. Look at Brian McDermott's work. His entire
system ran on a desk top. One of the first fusor video's I
saw, was a simple demo fusor, running in a bell jar, connected
to a half-wave rectified neon-sign transformer! It just blew me
away. I looked at it and thought, hell, I can build that in a week-
end! Which, of course, was not true. But it did make me jump
on a chance to by a big stainless-steel bell jar for US $800.00
It took weeks, and I had to wire-transfer funds to some guy in
New Mexico - completely on faith. Clearing it thru customs was
a nightmare - but boy, did I learn the process. Now, I have a
customs agent, and an import number. Note: If you are doing
fusion research outside of the USofA, you better have an
operational import-export business of some kind.
Your lab will need not just a bag of money, but a trade-network
and shipping/expiditing agency to allow you to source product.
But FedEx and UPS work pretty good for this, it turns out, and
the USPS (US Post Office) works best of all. But if you are
outside USA, you will need to set up something that works.

So, what started as a facetious reply, becomes a sermon, eh?
But the director of any serious research establishment, will
tell you that all his really valuable assets leave the building
each night. They go to the parking lots, and drive home. If
you are willing to put in the time, the effort, do the reading
and the learning, and have the drive, curiosity, and determination
to get to a truthful result, then I can honestly tell you, that the
lab will come to you. You will have in your lab, your most
outrageously useful, valuable device - you. The very best neural
network device for lab analysis is the computer behind our
eyes. Make sure that that device is operating correctly, and
giving you accurate data, and just move forward from there.
Really. Even if you don't find a positive-Q form of fusion, you
will learn skills, solve problems, and become a more valuable
resource for yourself and others.

- Mark Langdon

PS: I had to install a 240V outlet in my first lab (just a space
beside the sink, in the basement furnace room) to run both
my welder, (to make the grid), and also to power my vacuum
system's diffusion pump heater, which turned out to be 240v.
The new lab, also has a 240v outlet, which is critical, for the
opertion of the vacuum system. You can wire up a 240v
outlet yourself, if you have done electrical work before. If not,
get a book, and check your local electrical code. Home
appliances, such as electric dryers, stoves, and so on, all
run on 240v, but each plug is different. If you buy a welder,
get a TiG or MiG (not just plain arc), and try to get the 240v
version, as they have more ability, and use slightly less power.
TiG is best, but MiG can be used. I know, because I have done
it. I got a MiG machine that is made in Italy, DECA, and it works
well. I used it to make my inner grids (took 4 versions before I
got one that works well). Don't waste time with three phase,
unless you are planning to build a commercial opertion.

denergyguy
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Re: What are the must haves and nice to haves in a Fusor Lab?

Post by denergyguy » Sat Mar 17, 2007 9:09 am

Thank you all for your well thought out answers. Especially Richard and Mark. You guys have made me actually "think" which is always a good thing. Right now I am concentrating on learning physics, hopefully I can plug some of my woefully ignorant holes in knowledge.

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