Richard Hull

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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Richard Hull
Posts: 13213
Joined: Fri Jun 15, 2001 1:44 pm
Real name: Richard Hull

Richard Hull

Post by Richard Hull » Mon Feb 17, 2020 4:31 pm

My Biographical Sketch

I was born in Richmond Virginia, shortly after the Atomic bombs were dropped ending WWII.
I have been a practicing amateur scientist all of my life. I was interested in electronics, chemistry, radiation and amateur rocketry in the 50's and 60's. I received my first GM counter at age 10. I tended towards physics as I grew older, but got my degree in electronics just in time for the Vietnam war. To avoid being drafted into the army, I joined the Air Force upon graduation from college. Once in the Air Force they wanted me to be an officer, (college grad). However, I had spent 4 years in high school in a west point-like ROTC program. (see Senior graduation photo below). I was smart enough to know that a "butter bars" lieutenant in the Air Force who did not fly was just an errand boy. I opt'd not to be an officer. To keep in electronics, I chose that field in the Air Force as an enlisted man. You got to choose your specialty provided you tested well for it before you joined up. They wanted a minimum IQ of 90 then. I was above 120. Now the army will accept 80, which is sad.

As I had just graduated from college, I still had to go through the Air Force 82 week electronics school. Needless to say, I tested out at 100 percentile all along the way. I was promoted upon graduation to Sergeant, but was not assigned to a squadron electronic unit. I did too good in school! I was sent to a short 2 week teaching academy to become an electronics instructor in the Air Force school I just graduated from! My specialty was in Inertial navigation electronics. I taught for about 1 year. It seems my MOS (specialty) was critically needed, so I was sent to Vietnam with the first F-4E squadron formed for ground attack. I was made a Staff-Sergeant and shift supervisor on the mid-night shift. All just in time for the Tet offensive. (nasty business). I survived several heavy rocket attacks cowering in some bunkers. Boy was I glad when those 4 years were up.

I came back and went to work with a local firm as an electronic engineer designing a number of circuits for educational A-V systems. My company morphed into the educational computer biz in the 70's. I adopted many hobbies. Some transferred from childhood. Hobbies and science were my passions while working and earning real money. Stamp collecting, Model railroading, Jewelry making, Telescope making, astronomy, astro-photography, (president of the Richmond Astronomical society 1974-76), microscopy, Bio feedback with self built electroencephalograph electronics. CEO of Electric Spacecraft , Inc. (4 years, 2004-2008), guns and shooting, photography, women, owning,driving and restoring a number of 50's and 60's Lincoln Continentals, women, Rock collecting, Tesla coiling (12 years 1988-2000), Computer and robot construction, women, (Nuclear fusion 23 years), etc.

I wrote and published the book, [/i]"The Tesla Coil Builder's Guide to the Colorado Springs Notes of Nikola Tesla", 1994 [/i] (Now out of print)

I tended to refuse any advancement offered by my company choosing to never take on more responsibility in management and to keep myself in the hands-on end of the work so I could go home at night free of "work-think"... Some where in the middle of all this, I got married. I retired in 2014 after 42 years with the same firm and am now married to the same gal for 40 years. I have received a number of professional awards from my peers, which along with $8.00 will entitle me to a whipped latte, mocha, supreme, grande at Starbucks. My wife and I have never taken a vacation together in our lives. A real vacation you take by yourself, alone!

I was like a wild rabbit hopping from hobby to hobby, interest to interest, while prostituting my skills and talents in exchange for the money substances. I would arrive home at 5:30 after a day of electronic prostitution, at which time, my real life and the living of it would begin. Hobbies, hobbies, ever active and always into something. No TV and no children, to distract me. During the growth of the internet I was almost never joining in. Most of my internet time was at work. I still allow myself only two hours of internet time a day in two sessions, usually. I didn't own a cell phone before 2005 and my current one is an old flip phone that is turned off 24-7 and no one knows my number but my wife. I refuse to own a smart phone, I-pad or such life sucking devices. All of my home phones are rotary dial only. I am a Luddite and a curmudgeon.

In retirement, I got much worse, but still remain active. I have learned a lot, lived a lot and done a lot. I formed The Richmond Rocket Society 1961-1964, The Richmond Robotics group, 80-88, The Tesla Coil Builders of Richmond 1988-2000, and the High Energy Amateur Science group of Richmond. 2000 to date. I coined the term "Teslathon". At the bottom are a bunch of images that partially trace my path through life and hobbies.

Accomplishments at the three fusion forum iterations:

You pretty much have the history of amateur fusion at at the link below. I have posted over 12,000 times here. If that doesn't speak of commitment then I can't figure what does. The link Chronicles much of my involvement in the fusion effort here.


I have been here since the first internet posting on songs. My fusors are also well rehashed in the FAQs in the Construction forum. You will see these 5 fusor systems pretty much in order by just opening the FAQ section in the construction forum. #1 is found at....


Now for the thing I have done here that I feel have some merit

Wow! With 12,000 plus posts, I have been prolific! In fact, so prolific that I am often mistaken as the site owner/manager. Neither of which I am or wish to be. I am not a guru at this site nor do I speak from Mount Olympus. I just act as the site's garbage man clearing the occasional detritus. I try and speak from my own knowledge and experience. You will not be treated to a long list of URL's specific to what I think are good ones. There are many good ones I've churned out, too. The vast majority, however, are teaching posts. My greatest accomplishment is teaching and assisting. While teaching I have also learned from others here and that is my greatest benefit from associating with the best who have landed here. I often teach via the "tough love approach" which I have found tends to push the weak or timid either out of here or to become among our best people.

The only reason I do fusion is not for fusion and certainly not for advancing it, but to get my hands on those sacred neutrons. There is no way to legally and easily get them other than through amateur fusion. Atoms guard their neutrons jealously. I always wanted them in enough quantity to experiment with them.

The real innovations at, I have more or less left to my peers here. They can give their account in their own good time within this special venue.

I am most proud of my role in creating virtually the entire FAQ spectrum here. (There is that teaching role again) Others who have corrected errors in my FAQs via replies to them have helped me make them more accurate. Others have even helped expand the FAQs I presented to make them yet more valuable than my original posting! This is interactive teaching by all here who are knowledgeable regarding the subject of the FAQs which I have produced and the others who have helped expand them.

I feel that while Paul has created and supplied the three venues in a glorious continuous flow, I was the pump that started filling the very road worthy tires that got the forums "on the road" to grow and fill. I would post during the early moribund periods as others slowly appeared. In less than 1/2 year, we had "th' joint jumpin"! It was filled with eager activity of high value content. While the very early folks were not doers, they were intelligent and helped to flesh out the fusion physics for all who would be involved in amateur fusion. I was busy with demo fusors and built my first true fusor as the Songs forum blossomed. I spent a fortune on many items that would never be used as well as items that were to prove many times their worth in the endeavor. As a teacher and a doer, I was indeed the first in amateur fusion. This was a time when real interest in fusion fed the forums. This was well before the rather lame DIY folks started to think they could compete in a meaningful way. They came they failed, they left. The few who did succeed also left, after all, it was all about the win and the associated bragging rights. One kind of gets a feel for the serious folks who land here. Ultimately, and sadly, even the best of our best tend to get on with their lives. I miss many of them mightily. Many of these best early posters never did fusion either, they were just great regular contributors that added value to the site. Blessedly, we have a great bunch of new and old great contributors who carry us onward and upward.

I am very proud of my seeking out and talking to every living doer in the original Farnsworth ITT effort, (1958-1968). I listened as an engineer, very knowledgeable physics enthusiast, and ultimately, historian. This is something virtually no one who had interviewed any one of them could say. This technical data about the complex "doing" was key to amateur fusion, which I would take home and ultimately share over the years. Anyone can get the history, but there is a deeper understanding granted to one who knows the physics, the electronics, the vacuum work and the detection methods for heralding fusion. It helps if you have done fusion, as well. It puts you on somewhat of an equal footing, and the folks I interviewed really appreciated that. This allowed me to get into their heads on the fusion process as they saw it and did it. I got the info, data, details, success stories and failures, plus, a good bit of dirt. So many of the principal movers and shakers at the executive level had passed away, while all of the doers were still around. Tongues loosened. Now, all are dead, save Robert Hirsch.

I was the first amateur to do fusion in an "amateur spherical fusor" here or probably in the world. Over the years I have helped flesh out the theoretical possible paths over which the fusor does fusion. (There are more things going on in the simple amateur fusor than one might imagine) Most were never known until we started doing fusion and thinking about the theory. We came to the fusor, in the beginning, with wild eyes and totally wrong headed theoretical machinations. Myself and others came to question not only what really goes on within a working fusor to make it do fusion, but also noodled out what held it back. The result is another of my pride and joys here; that was the realization that the fusor is grossly inelegant and inefficient. It never works by any one mechanism, but by many methods. All these methods contribute to our "bull-heading" fusion and a virtual equal number of mechanisms thwart the process. Yes, it is a mess, but a beautiful one, doomed to success for many of the seemingly wrong and less than satisfying reasons.

If you are interested enough... read some of the theoretical postings.

I have also been the natural and much needed "Debbie downer" for power producing, controlled fusion. It is all part of my doctoral work in "Advanced Curmudgeonism". As I dash hopes and dreams, many say, "why are you so negative?". I smile realizing that 99.98% have no concept of the physics involved or the engineering involved. If they persist and scold me for my negativity, I say to them, "Have you done fusion yourself?"....... "I have done it and am currently doing fusion!"..."I see no clear path in the manner that it is pursued at this moment in time". As some of you know, we often have the "lost in their own space" people show up as dreamy-eyed DIY folks looking to power something up with the fusion they produce once they have their fusor running.

I have put up many posts explaining, in great detail, the limitations in the physics of doing controlled nuclear fusion. There have been many people far more brilliant and creative than I working on this issue for 70 years now. These great brains have now spent billions of the money in the effort. They have consistently succeeded in failing masterfully at the task. Yet, as we demonstrate, fusion, as a process, is easy to do.

I am a teacher-doer here exhorting others to join in the fun and learning processes that this forum provides...........IF ONLY THEY WOULD READ!

As I teach and impart wisdom, I am always careful to listen and learn from others, myself. I never stop reading or learning.

This is my story and I'm sticking to it.

Richard Hull

Get ready for pictures.... I'll add a couple more from time to time.
working on a robotic sensor assembly, circa 1984. I was a big part of the early micro computer revolution 1973- until I burned out on keeping up or caring, circa 1987. Went back to robotics and micro-controller apps on retiring, 2014.
During the period of the RRG (Richmond Robotics Group) 1980-88 one of my "Bots". We had about 10 members. No real micro controllers all assembly language needed to conserve memory space and execution time. 6502 based processor board in this robot. Used Apple II plus with a macro assembler program (amber monitor) to program the UV erasable eprom.
60 linc Christine.JPG
Crusiin' on a friday night with th' gals. My 60 Continental at Bills barbeque
MKIII 1.jpg
My last restored Lincoln Continental 69 MK III 460 V-8 It would pass anything on the road except a gas station.
our love.jpg
No kids for us. We have cats. They live their lives and we live ours unencumbered
Me with my wife, "kit", the old ball and chain. Long suffering, but still here...God, I don't know why!
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A bit of humor at HEAS. left to right. Paul Carlock, nuke buddy, Carl Willis, no intro needed, Tim Koeth, U of Maryland nuclear professor, me, Bill Kolb, nuke buddy and author of, "100 years, living with Radiation" and "Trinitite"
Vietnam 1969?. In a quiet moment, probably 3 AM, I leave my INS supervisor's board to visit my fellow staff sergeant the shift supervisor of the radio shop. Me in T-shirt. Penoyer was a stickler for staying in uniform at all times. We often visited each other as our shops were attached. Little was going on as you might guess.
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NightOldGuy (Best3).JPG
Night time #456 pulls out of the roundhouse onto the table. My HOn3 layout in 2010. Always loved those cute narrow gauge engines.
U hunting and collecting in Utah 2005. Bill Kolb, long time nuclear buddy, in background. We visited 12 mines and the trinity site over a 10 day period back then and went back for a week in 2009
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Nemesis texted.jpg
Nemesis, my largest Tesla coil doing its thing. circa 1993. I would ultimately make several Tesla magnifiers that outstriped nemesis at 1/2 the power input.
3 Axis finished (4).JPG
Small CNC mahine I built around an Arduino Mega. 2016
Me when Observatory Director of the RAS with our 7" Brashear refractor 1973?
Pre Geezers May 08 015.jpg
With my Quigley 1874 Sharps in 45-70. I love to shoot modern and older weapons. I also reload all my own ammunition.
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Sgt-Major Hull.ADJ.jpg
High School graduation photo. As battalion sergeant major, I was a squared away, sharp troop back then, but only back then. When you were a private you carried a real, working, M1 WWII battle rifle each day. We went to school to get guns back then. The one thing I learned was rigid and absolute self-discipline and self reliance
66 T-Bird convertible. Roof stored in trunk like a Continental. "Look Ma' no roof"
65 four door Continental convertible that I restored. The rag stored in the trunk with a finish panel that made the car look like it was made with no roof.

Last bumped by Richard Hull on Mon Feb 17, 2020 4:31 pm.
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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