Jon Rosenstiel

Compilations of the works of significant long term members of the site. Induction into this area is by long term contribution and by nomination only.
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Jon Rosenstiel
Posts: 1391
Joined: Thu Jun 28, 2001 5:30 am
Real name: Jon Rosenstiel
Location: Southern California

Jon Rosenstiel

Post by Jon Rosenstiel » Sat Feb 22, 2020 1:44 am

I grew up on a farm in northern Illinois during the 1940’s and 1950’s. By the time I was six I already had an intense interest (obsession) with electrical and mechanical things. Fortunately, my parents were supportive of this obsession, the result being a somewhat steady supply of mostly worn out appliances, electric clocks, radios, TV’s, antenna rotators, etc., etc. And then there were the old and mostly worn out automotive/truck/tractor goodies. Starters, generators, speedometers, magnetos, ignition coils, heater motors, voltage regulators, windshield wiper motors, etc. (The wiper motors came in three flavors, electric, vacuum, and compressed air operated) Everything I could get my hands on I took apart to see what made it tick. And if it didn’t work, I tried to fix it.

As far as reading materials, I had subscriptions to a couple of electronics magazines, and sometimes my dad would bring home books on electricity. Once dad brought home a set of Audels electrical books from the 1920’s. Lots of fantastic illustrations in those books. Anyone familiar with the crowfoot cell?

My first kit was a crystal radio kit that I put together when I was nine or ten. (How the Galena crystal/cat whisker worked was a real puzzler) In my teens I built quite a few Heathkits, got a novice/technician amateur radio license, built a simple Geiger counter and on and on.

As a side note as to how times have changed since the late 1950’s consider that the following took place in our high school’s electronics lab during school hours: One of my buddies had an Heathkit VTVM that I wanted, and I had a couple dozen cherry bombs that he wanted. We each brought our trading items to school and made the trade right there in the lab! (BTW, I still have that Heathkit VTVM)

By the time I graduated from high school I was starting to figure out that “classroom learning” was not one of my strong points. At that time (1960) the draft was still a real thing so the choices I faced upon graduation were either college or the military. I chose the latter. The Navy had a deal going that if you signed on the dotted line before your 18th birthday you’d be discharged the day before you’re 21.

So, it was off to the US Navy. First came boot camp, and after that, radar school. Upon finishing radar school, I was assigned to a carrier-based attack/bomber squadron, VAH-1. I managed to get in a couple of 18-week long Mediterranean cruises on board the USS Independence, CVA-62. Evidently my squadron didn’t need radar techs as I ended up being an aircraft radio / electronics trouble-shooter / black-box changer. All of the electronic equipment in our squadron’s “close-to-retirement” aircraft used vacuum tubes and dynamotors, so lugging around large and heavy black-boxes was the order of the day. (More often than not, the only way to get a problematic 70-pound UHF transceiver from a plane tied down on the aft flight deck to the repair shop three decks below was via the shoulder express) In reality, the trouble-shooter/black-box changer job turned out to be a great job, much better than spending all day cooped up in some windowless (porthole-less?) compartment undercutting commutator mica on dynamotors. I ended up spending quite a bit of time on the flight deck, either working on our squadron’s aircraft or when off-duty, watching flight operations. Night operations were really cool, watching F-4 Phantom II’s with their throttles pinned and afterburners-a-blazing being catapulted off the ship was an awesome sight. And I have to mention another neat (in my mind) plane on our ship, the Douglas AD-6 Skyraider. It was designed during WW2, had an 18 cylinder, 2800 hp, Wright R-3350 radial air-cooled engine that made the sweetest sound ever. And when the pilot throttled back the engine the stubby exhaust stacks emitted short blue flames.

I was quite lucky to have served when I did because there were no active military conflicts going on. But I was called back (I was home on leave) to our squadron’s home-base in Florida because of the Cuban missile crisis. But the military lifestyle wasn’t for me, when my time was up, I headed (post-haste) for the door.

After the military I went to work for my dad (a farm tractor/implement dealer and soon to be Honda motorcycle dealer) and started taking a few classes at the local community college. But before long I had another choice, a full-time job working on motorcycles or community college. I chose the former. Learning by the doing was my thing. After a few years of repairing motorcycles I became bored and decided it was time to move on so I wrote up a resume and sent it off to American Honda Motor Co in California. A couple of interviews and a several months later (I thought they had forgotten about me) an engineer in the motorcycle testing department phoned and asked me how soon I could be there. I put a trailer hitch on the Camaro, packed up a U-Haul and headed for California.

I was soon involved in the pre-production testing of Honda’s latest creation, a 4-cylinder, 500 cc street bike. Our orders were to run the machines as hard as we could for as long as we could. We loaded up a truck with spare parts and equipment, jumped on our test bikes and headed for Nevada. (At that time many Nevada roads had no speed limit) After thoroughly abusing the bikes in Nevada we headed to Death Valley to see how the bikes handled the heat. But the bikes were typical Honda, nothing fell off and nothing broke.

Then a year of two later Honda decided to enter the motocross market with a 250 cc two-stroke. As it turned out, I was the only one in the testing department that knew anything about motocross racing. Bingo, a new career (obsession) as a mechanic in motocross and supercross racing that would last till I retired. (Eight-years at Honda and 25-years at Yamaha) Note: I know the word “technician” is preferred, but I like “mechanic”. (Damnit Jim, I’m a mechanic, not a technician)

As retirement approached, I started surfing the internet for projects to keep me busy. First it was Tesla coils. (Largest coil I built had a 10” diameter secondary and was powered by a 5-kVA pole pig. The arcs were quite intimidating, they tended to make one take a step or two back.

Next came a diffusion pumped vacuum system, a home-made x-ray tube, and other vacuum experiments. With the knowledge gained building and running a diffusion pumped vacuum system a Fusor project seemed achievable. Today, nearly twenty years since first neutrons, the fusor still offers up interesting and oft-times puzzling results. I should note that Richard Hull’s postings, writings, and video tapes have been a big help to me for both my Tesla coil and Fusor projects. Thanks, Richard.

The below quote was posted to one of the previous fusor forums by Richard Hull. For me, personally, this quote hits close to home.

The Franklin Imperative…
There is no illumination so bright as that which is borne out in experiment and no knowledge so gained that is more tightly held by the experimenter.

A few of my favorite posts:
FAQ – A Demo Fusor Plasma Pictorial… Thanks to R. Hull for the image annotations.

Inelastic Neutron Scattering Experiments… For me, a memorable experiment.

Neutron Flux Modulation by Power Supply Ripple… More fun and learning.

Cube Fusor Build… Neutron output was an eye-opener.

Jon Rosenstiel

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Richard Hull
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Joined: Fri Jun 15, 2001 1:44 pm
Real name: Richard Hull

Re: Jon Rosenstiel

Post by Richard Hull » Sat Jun 06, 2020 2:03 pm

Crows foot cell? You bet! Way back when I was young pup and saw a western movie with the interior of a telegraph office, I had to have some crows foot cells. At that time you could buy battery jars, the big zinc crows foot and the copper for the entire cell as separate parts from CENCO. I saved up and bought 3 sets! Wow, was I cookin'! My early electrical work began around 7 when I used to ride my bicycle along the railroad tracks to pick up discarded No.6 telephone batteries used in call boxes and signal gear that the railroad replaced on a timed basis. The railroad people would merely disconnect them and allow them to tumble onto the crushed rock road bed. I could get as many as 6 of those big batteries in my basket and peddle the 5 miles, uphill, back home. I made radios, electromagnets, thermal nichrome glass tubing cutters, Model T spark coil based Tesla coils, electrolysis experiments and more all with those big carbon-zinc batteries and crows foot cells.

I also, around that time caught the nuke, chemistry and amateur rocket bug and so on.... It was great to be a kid in 1952!

I have records of your buying a ton of my Tesla video tapes back in the 1990's. So you were no surprise when you showed up with the fusor effort.

I really enjoyed reading your back ground and thanks for the reference URLs

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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